Songwriting Pup Style

If you filled a room with a bunch of monkeys and gave each a computer, would a great novel emerge?  A comprehensible sentence?  With auto-correct, you potentially would get words out of the random efforts.  The only question then is how well those words would hang together.

If you read many texts or emails from young folks these days, you might be thinking, “The monkeys could give those kids a run for their money!”

Sometimes, I feel that my songwriting style is akin to a monkey on a computer. 

As you read in our last blog, Ferenc Dobronyi -- an accomplished and respected surf songwriter -- writes songs that include plots and characters.  They come to life and play out through melodies, chords, and groove rather than words.  Hearing him talk about songwriting summons visions of some story taking place on the top of the three-legged table that he drew on a flip chart.

So I have two songs fluttering around in my mind.  One clearly has a “stomp” groove.  The other is start-up, slow-down, and speed-up again.  That is a groove, right?  The melodies are reasonably -- not crystal, but reasonably -- clear.  Given the grooves and the melodies, some very basic chord structures emerge.  They are basic because I do not know anything very complex.  I have no idea what a diminished minor 6th or minor 7th is.  If the melody starts with an E or a C, I tend to think the chord is an E or a C something.  It is all three-chord rock ‘n roll to me.

But try as I might, I cannot conjure up some enduring love story, tragedy, mystery, drag race, or whatever.  These songs are not the great American novel.  They do even rise to the trashy romance novel level.

The best I can do for one is something -- a tiki, a mouse, or a Menehune -- scampers across or in front of hot flowing lava and finds a cool place to contemplate the next flow.  Its eyes dart back and forth before scurrying off again.  For the other -- and this is really weak -- the Lava Pup is stomping and strutting about to the song.  He even might be doing a bit of a jig.  I am writing a cartoon or an ad, not a story.

How much of this is driven by the working titles?  “Lava Hoppin’” and “The Lava Pup Stomp.”  How much of this is the result of trying to put something on the top of the three-legged table?  If you dabbled in armchair Zen at all, you know that trying is not doing.

Maybe some of what Ferenc had to say rubbed off.  Or am I simply trying to make the monkey on the computer appear to be engaged in some intellectual or creative effort?  We may know sooner rather than later.  Stay tuned.

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