As a recording artist, and one who comes from a family of visual artists, I have long been someone who often conceived the project on a larger scale, even before the individual parts were put together. This means some pretty extreme stuff, including even knowing what my album cover would look like before I had the songs! I know that this is quite a far out way to think ahead, but many times. It’s just my way.
I’m sure that most of you who are interested in being recording artists, or may already be, most likely work in the opposite direction of this, and make sure you have songs in order, etc.,before, for example, you know how your album cover will look! But still, I believe it’s important to find some happy “middle-ground” halfway between the inception and the conception of your projects.
For example, if you start to write songs for a new album, you may start to notice a “trend” in your themes, and you may find that you are writing from a group of experiences that represent a certain time in your life. It then becomes very important that you take notice of this, and be able to create a project that artistically truly represents you at this time and this place.
It is then and only then, that the piece of music or group of songs really begin to take shape as a whole, and that you can really feel that the work represents you, and can perhaps, even be called your “art”! Then is when you have a “concept”. You must remember, I come from the generation that started to see the advent of “concept” albums, such as “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, or even more subtley, records like Rubber Soul or Beggars Banquet by The Stones. These records always had, whether intentional or not, a kind of theme that ran through them, and a “point of view”. This is for many reasons, not the least are things like the studio recorded in, the consistency of the Producer, the musicians used, and the times when you recorded and/or wrote the music. I know there have been times when I’ve had to literally re-create this continuity, or make it happen again even though the record was made over a much longer time than usual. I had this recently with the new cd I did with Levon Helm, which was done over an entire year. The saving graces were the mainly consistent use of the same musicians, and the same studio being used. Even with all this consistency, there were still many variances to have to deal with in the end.
So, in closing…be sure to stay consistent within your project, because you’ll be surprised how many variances can be discovered in the course of putting it together! More on this later…stay tuned!
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