December 26th, 2009 | By Kal
All I Ever Wanted is the epitome of a Rob and Kal song. It may not be totally there yet as a sound – hey, it’s not my favourite of the 6 in the songs section – but the way it has developed is a great example of how Rob and I write music.
1) Chord Progression
The first step is for one of us to come up with a chord progression. For All I Ever Wanted, it was me. I remember randomly playing around with the guitar in my room at university and hearing the chords. Rob and I were in different cities at the time, so I recorded the chords using a cheap computer microphone and sent the audio over to him.
2) “Making a song of it”
The next step is making a song of it. When we collaborate, this is Rob’s domain. He’ll take the chord progression and play around with it, adding the structure to it that makes it feel like a song rather than a group of chords. With All I Ever Wanted, I thought nothing would come of the chord progression, having just sent the chords over because that was something we did, but when we got back home after uni, Rob had created a song.
Each step of the process moves the song on, so when I heard the song, I was able to hear additions I hadn’t heard before when I was just playing a cycle of three chords. Rob had used the chord progression to make a verse and chorus, and had made up a bridge from scratch – when I heard the arrangement, I added a pre-chorus and without using any more technical language(!) that pretty much got the basics of the song to where it is today.
In the process of creating a song structure, Rob will usually add lyrics. I assume that at first it helps him feel where the song should go and what new parts would work, and then it forms part of the song, but that would be something you’d have to ask him – he won’t tell me his secrets!
4) Switching Instruments
During a creative process, it’s hard to come up with a scientific way of working. This whole blog is just an example of an approach that has worked a few times, but many developments occur “by accident”. This next step is an example of these accidents that we have now started to use.
Rob and I play both guitar and piano, and as is only natural, we each have different strengths on each instrument. We use this to our advantage by learning potential song ideas on both instruments. Then as we get used to playing it on both instruments we naturally come up with some additions that occur to us on the guitar and some that are easier on the piano. This step keeps on cycling around until we know all of the additions and extras on both instruments and so it continues.
This was a significant step for All I Ever Wanted. As you can tell, this song idea stayed a song idea for a long time because we were unable to get it to sound right. It involved a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between guitar and piano – you can even see that happening really recently as version 1 was piano based and version 2 is guitar based, which we think sounds better.
Next step, you guessed it, we record the song idea in the studio. It’s hard to accept, but at this stage, what we record may not please us, but it will allow us to draw on our most powerful resource…
As soon as we’ve recorded the tracks, we put them up in our Songs Section where you give your thoughts. This really is the bit that helps us, be it to suggest radical changes, or just to polish off a song at the end of the creative process – it’s great to get other perspectives on the music.
With All I Ever Wanted, we definitely responded to comments that the songs sounded too samey, by basing it around the acoustic guitar, and we’re glad you like the harmonies in the song, but we want more of your views. Tell us what you think and rate everything about the song with out new 5 star rating system – that way, we can get a feel for what works and what doesn’t and maybe you’ll come up with that idea that we didn’t think of that fits the song perfectly.