Diary of an Album - December 2000
First of all I would like to say that I appreciate the letters of all of you who wrote to me and especially of those who gave such a warm response to my Column. Thank You!
I have progressed quite far with the work on the compositions for my new Shrapnel album. I can say that now I see almost definite "contours" of songs forming and slowly shaping into the new album. I want this record to have a concept, a story to tell and a strong personal statement to make. After all, it is a part of my life since all this music is coming from my life experience translated to the language of music. I am also trying to musically make this record a crossing between new and old, modern and vintage - "incorporating" what I like best from all periods of Rock, Classical or any other music style, giving it my own touch in an attempt to create something unique.
I went into a lot of very different directions and influences with the songwriting, even more than I initially thought I would. I have about a dozen compositions stylistically very different, some (surprisingly) with very heavy dark sounding guitar riffs, some with sizzling arpeggios and fast scalar passages and others yet with strange mystical sounding harmonies or with simple but very energetic grooves. In fact it's like a mosaic in which every little piece (song) is a fragment connecting to others with equal importance - adding to the construction of one whole piece of art.
There were some conditions that I put before myself when I was writing the music. First of all I tried to build-in into songs the very feelings, moods and energy that inspired me in my beginnings and made me want to learn to play and make my own music. I hope to pass on the musical flame by doing this.
Second condition is that every song had to be special and different from others either by its mood or by particular musical content or technical elements displayed in it.
The third one is that I had to really make sure that I myself liked what I made and that the music I composed would really give listeners the impression (experience) that I wanted to bring through while writing the piece. I found that the best way for me to do this is to play back a demo I recorded and listen to it imagining that it's someone else playing. That way I can be really self-critical!
But the most important element to get anything going on concerning songwriting is of course its majesty INSPIRATION. But how to invite it? Where does it come from? It can't be planned, programmed, learned or taken for granted. Sometimes it comes "uninvited" when I least expect it and then I better be ready to capture that moment and make good use of it! As an example… Last night I was preparing for bed after a long, hard day and suddenly I found myself taking the guitar out of the case and starting to play a completely new song almost as if it was "dictated" from somewhere. It just flowed and involved harmonies and arpeggio combinations I've never really worked on before. To make things even more strange after that I "knew" all the exact bass lines and other arrangements for it! But at times when I am not that fortunate and when I spend days with the guitar without any exciting enough (for me) musical idea coming out - I try to light that spark of creation in any way I can. If it takes to read a paragraph from some book, buy a CD, see a movie, stay up all night with the guitar, go for a walk, revisit in my mind some event from the past or pretty much anything else that will ignite that fire - I'll do it (up to certain limits of course)! I am prepared to go quite far just as long as in the end I succeed in getting that precious, desired piece of music lying hidden behind that invisible "seal" which has to be broken for the "treasure" to pour out…
But there is still a lot of work to be done. It will take maybe a couple of weeks more to finalize all the arrangements and details and then move on to plan the recording (when the BIG work of a different kind will begin) so that this "baby" would get a life of its own making it possible for everybody to hear what it has to offer.