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In this Lawless Luke blog post I thought it would be helpful to share with you, the 8 steps I used to compose my latest Delta Blues Slide Guitar song “I’ll See You At The Crossroads”. Hopefully you will find the post insightful and it may help you to write your own Delta Blues inspired song!
Step one – make sure you have fuel for your creativity
Making sure you have enough fuel to fire your creativity is so important! For me this means committing time to work on my technique, theory or expanding my repertoire. During these sessions I often find a creative idea will present itself, be it a guitar riff, lyric or melody. That’s exactly what happened with my new Delta Blues Slide Guitar Song “I’ll See You At The Crossroads”. I was learning a track by Buck “Babe” Turner called “The Black Ace”, and then all of a sudden BAM this awesome riff just appeared.
Step two – allow yourself time to create
The next step is always to allow yourself time to let the ideas flow. What I mean by this is make sure you have a regular scheduled amount of time in your calendar, that allows you to experiment with new musical ideas. I’d advise trying as best you can to get away from distractions. That means turning off phones, making loved ones aware you are not to be disturbed, etc. There’s nothing worse than a phone call or message interrupting you, especially when the creative juices are flowing! This was really important when writing “I’ll See You At The Crossroads” my latest Delta Blues Slide Guitar song. I was on the road in Australia when I came up with the idea, but I still made sure there was time in the day to compose even when travelling.
Step three – capture the idea before it floats away
There’s no point coming up with a great riff, if you then let it disappear into the ether. Make sure you have some way of capturing ideas as they appear. They definitely don’t have to be perfect, just record the riff, lyric or melody so you don’t forget it! I use my notepad on my phone or an audio capturing app to collect ideas. That’s exactly what happened when writing this Delta Blues Slide Guitar song. You may find you end up with different ideas that may be used in different songs or projects.
Step four – start developing the structure
Once you’ve got a great idea, or a riff that you’re happy with, it’s now time to start thinking about how you want the song to work structurally. What I mean by this is try and get to the point where you have a good idea, what the verse, chorus and bridge are going to sound like. This is the time where you may be thinking of using a typical intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge structure. For “I’ll See You At The Crossroads” my latest Delta Blues Slide Guitar song, I used a less than typical song structure. The structure looks a bit like this: intro, verse, chorus, verse, guitar solo, chorus, bridge, verse, guitar solo, and outro.
Step five – test out the idea
Before I start developing a song on Garageband, I test the song out on the acoustic guitar and sing it. I’ll usually ask the Mrs to pop in for a listen and get some feedback. If the feedback is good and I like what I’m playing, I will commit to producing the song in Garageband. Note – even if the Mrs doesn’t dig it I might still develop it anyway. You have to go with your instinct on this one and believe in yourself. Don’t ever kill a song just because somebody else told you it sucked! Only you can make that call.
Step six – record yourself
This is where the hard work really starts! I would always encourage you to record your song, even if you’re not planning to release it. The process of recording helps to develop the song ideas even further, and with a music tool like Garageband it’s dead easy to do. Now you can start to experiment with adding drum tracks, keyboards, synths, strings, additional vocals, whatever you want! The recording and production is another part of the creative process.
When recording “I’ll See You At the Crossroads” my new Delta Blues Slide Guitar song, so many possibilities presented them selves. During the recording process I was able to develop drum, organ, backing vocal and bass parts to really lift the song. For me this is invaluable as it means that what starts life as a simple guitar riff or vocal line, develops into a behemoth of a Delta Blues Slide Guitar song. Which would not be possible without modern recording technology.
Step seven – mix and produce the song
Once you have recorded your parts and all the elements are coming together, it’s time to mix and produce your song. You may have done some basic mixing during the recording process, but this is the stage where you really get into the nitty gritty. I could write a number of blogs just on the mixing and production process, and I will in future. As a very simplistic guide you will usually start with your drums, get them sounding good. Then add in the bass, then keys or guitar and finally layer the vocals on top. That’s the exact process I followed for this Delta Blues Slide Guitar inspired song.
After that it’s time to play about with some track wide FX if you so wish. Remember, when recording try and perform all the parts to the best of your ability. What I mean by this is try to perform in time, and hopefully without any major performance errors. The less stuff you have to try and doctor during the production process, will save you heaps of time. The old saying of “you can’t polish a turd” certainly rings true here!
Step eight – release and promote your stuff!
Once the track is finished it’s time to release it to the world! This is probably the most tedious part of music making and the part where a lot of musicians trip up. The old saying of “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” is very pertinent here. It probably does make a sound, and maybe a squirrel will hear it, but I’m not sure your target market is squirrels… In summary if you want people to buy your new Delta Blues Slide Guitar song, upload it to your favourite platforms and promote the hell out of it!
Make sure you have fun!
Remember making music and producing your own stuff is and should be fun! So don’t take yourself too seriously, and don’t strive for perfection as it’s not achievable and quite frankly it’s boring as hell. I hope the above blog is helpful, insightful and inspiring. I’d love to hear any comments or ideas on tips and tricks that have helped you when composing or songwriting. As always thanks for reading my Lawless Luke blog. If you like the song please buy it, like it or share it by clicking here. If you like the post please subscribe here for regular updates.