"Alone in the darkness…before the crack of dawn...The angler will rise and put the coffee on".
I wrote a song with my KY buddy Dale Pyatt called "The Angler". It could have been called "The Songwriter" as the line applies to me and my songwriting and I think others find the quiet of the morning a perfect time to sit and try to fill a blank page with a new song :)
Remember my songwriter's mission statement: To drink coffee...and make stuff up!!!
So, sitting with a blank page I follow my usual procedure of pulling my guitar out, take a sip of java, make sure the pen and paper are at the "ready" and start strumming and "noodling" on the guitar. I think everyone has a "pet key". A chord when you pick up the guitar you automatically strum...like maybe a big old G chord...or maybe a D chord...or maybe I slap on the "drop D capo" and hit that big ol' E chord letting the low E just RING!! I go "AHHHH...all is right with the world :)
These are MY keys!!! I would say that most of my songs are written in one of 3-4 keys. Their sound is familiar to me and I'm comfortable with them. They reside in my "songwriting box" BUT sometimes we need to venture "outside of our songwriting box" to explore new sounds and maybe that will result in new sounding songs! So this morning I might put the capo on the 3rd fret and playing out of a C position resulting in playing in the key of Eb. Actually, Eb is a GREAT sounding key...I just don't go there often enough on the guitar...but...it is one of my "go to" keys on the piano. So, if I decide to write at the piano maybe I'll try Ab or maybe Db.
Every key has a distinct sound!!! With that distinct sound will come more and more musical ideas. You see, if you just tend to write in one key you are cheating yourself of so many other cool sounds!!! It is kind of like having more tools in your songwriting "tool box"!!! If all you have is a hammer...then all the world is a nail"!!! I have to remind myself of that all the time.
So, today when you pick up your guitar I challenge you to start out in a different key!! Put the capo on the 4th fret and play out of a D position so you are playing in the key of F#!!!! Whoa!!! How wild is that????? It just might be the key to writing that great song you've had in your gut for a long time but never could get the "sound" right. You know...as songwriters we all have a "fingerprint" or "style" no matter how hard we try to avoid it. Sometimes many of my songs start to sound kind of similar. When that happens I need to take my own advice and get out of my "comfort keys" and explore that uncomfortable zone"!!
So today I challenge all of us to get in the key of F# and write a song....you might be surprised how it will turn out with an entirely new sound!! Get wild and crazy and add some new tools to your toolbox. Have you found your key???
Have a great day and remember: Write more...whine less!