I am currently in the middle of working on a new album that was to be all-instrumental guitar. Now, even though this is something I’ve long been used to, especially when re-interpreting songs that normally have lyrics, I find that I exist very happily within the all-instrumental medium. This also carries over into my writing, as I often intend to write songs that have words, and are sung, but I find that I remain very happy with them as instrumentals, which is often how they are born, and remain for quite some time! In fact, many times, they simply remain as instrumentals permanently! The way I look at it, it’s just like when I interpret songs with words, only NOW I am interpreting a song that may have had words, but simply doesn’t. It still is a kind of interpretation, and also a kind of musical evolution to get to this instrumental juncture, and to feel satisfied with it.
If you are involved in writing, or preparing music for a recording, you will often find yourself at this critical juncture of is “is it instrumental, or is it vocal?” I know that most people tend to think that something is not a “song” unless it has words, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth. Anything with a great melody, when played with the right feeling, can in many ways, say more than lyrics can. I feel that words “lock you in” to a specific meaning that is intended by the writer, while a note that is expressively played can say more than just mere words. It also leaves the interpretation of its meaning more up to the performer and the listener, and in fact, says something that lyrics can’t even begin to express! This is what pure emotion is about, and that is why we are so drawn to what this wonderful 6-stringed instrument can do, and how well all its nuances can serve us.
Still, after all is said and done, you may record an instrumental, and then feel that it still has too much potential as a vocal song with lyrics, which of course, in most worlds, is considered more “commercial”, and is likely to reach a larger audience. It’s really all up to you…..it’s important to always retain your artistic integrity, and to do what is right for you and your music as opposed to just thinking about what might be the most popular way to approach the song. Satisfy your musical needs first, and then you can really “step back” from the song, and decide whether or not it should be instrumental or vocal. Only you can ever really know!