Monday, November 23, 2009

Another songwriting competition

The speaker of my 13-year old Electone Organ Yamaha EL 87 blew out during the recording process of the following song. Very distraught.

There's this Youth Olympic Games songwriting contest and I've submitted an entry. Amazing, if participants are unable to perform their songs, they'll be disqualified. But I'm just a songwriter, not a performer. How am I supposed to perform? Cloning technology isn't as advanced as I would like it to be and I cannot possibly multiply myself just to perform a song I wrote. Tough.

Worse, my EL 87 control menu is blurred. The signs of old age I guess. It is an expensive bit of equipment, costing about $15,000-$17,000 in 1996. I wonder if I should be getting this organ repaired, or just get a new keyboard that allows for the programming of drum/percussion tracks.

If there's a songwriting competition every month that has a prize range of $2000-$5000, I'll be a professional songwriter! It's not about the money, but it is about the food, shelter, bills and savings.

I've been in the musical closet for 16 years. When I started writing instrumentals at aged 9 or 10, I had dreams that I'll be a songwriter some day. But frequently got easily discouraged. The environment was a paper-chasing one and music was and is always relegated to just a mere hobby. In my late teens, I had brief meetings with Ken Lim and Clement Chow, and was even more discouraged by their honesty.

I wasn't armed with the technology I have now, when Ken asked me to submit a demo. I thought of my low tech cassette tape recorder and mono sound quality, which I used to record my demos from the late 1990s till early 2003. In shame created for myself for myself, I decided not to do any demos, because I believed that I was a lousy songwriter.

My dad brought me to City Music in Selegie in 2003, and we got the Zoom Multitrak Recording Studio MRS 1266 from Mike, this guy who played keyboards for Tokyo Square. It took about another 2 years before I got more savvy with the equipment.

I've spent many years honing the craft of writing guitar-driven pop songs, with musical styles borrowed from Brit rock, emo, the local indie movement, and a bit of post-grunge. And here I am, still studying, pursuing a Masters degree, and telling myself I should be an academic. I guess there are passions that are more practical than others.

It is a great shame that none of my songs get to see the light of day in my life time, so it's great there are songwriting competitions, which are good substitutes for a full-time career in the music industry, one that is being blighted by advances and changes in media technologies.

I guess it is okay to be a part-time musician, and it is better to be that than never ever having tried to be one. So 2010 will be hopeful and potentially disappointing as I have 3 songs sent for 3 different causes.

For this particular competition, I wrote the song entitled "Steps". I have to make it mainstream and ultra-cheesy. A good pop songwriter will know how to sell out and still write a catchy tune and have stamp his/her identity on the song. I believe I have. I've also taken many years to come to terms to the fact that I will never be original, and that is okay. This song has shades of Suede's "Stay Together", American Idol's "No Boundaries", Papa Roach's "Scars", and The Tears' "Beautiful Pain", songs which I've heard and admired. So consciously and unconsciously, they show in my song.

The songwriting process took about 4 hours, the recording took about 6 hours. So that is about 10 man-hours put into a competition that has a maximum $1000 reward.

I really hate the vocals. It's very flat, but I guess since I'm not a singer, I'll just try my best to keep in tune (which I can't sometimes). Hope you enjoy the song entry.

http://singsingapore2010.nyc.sg/ (You know what to do - i.e. vote)

Lyrics to "Steps":

Dreams are made of no regrets
They're waiting for the brave
To start the dreaming now
Dreams are reached with little steps
Everyone we take with faith
So don't give up now

Dream on, believe
We all can have it worked out
We'll stand and say,
"We always can"

We're going all the way
We'll soar, we'll fly
We'll make the steps today
Together we all may
Reach for the sky
We'll make the steps today

Dreams are not a fight or race
There are only steps to take
So start the dreaming now
Dreams are just a better place
There are little steps to make
Before we find ourselves

Dream on, believe
We all can have it worked out
We'll stand and say,
"We always can"

We're going all the way
We'll soar, we'll fly
We'll make the steps today
Together we all may
Reach for the sky
We'll make the steps today

We start with a heart
And though we\'re different faces
We're going many places
For every dream we'll stand
We all know that we can
Because we're made of dreams

We're going all the way
We'll soar, we'll fly
We'll make the steps today
Together we all may
Reach for the sky
We'll make the steps today

For more of my songs, refer to:
Songs from 1997-2003: http://www.myspace.com/samdrowner
Songs from 2004 onwards: http://www.myspace.com/samho

3 comments:

Weiye said...

Being an academic isn't necessary any easier. I guess it's about giving-and-taking, contentedness and regrets, not necessary a balance.

I love music. But my MP says music doesn't pay and it's better to be in OCS than SAF Bands. Oh well. The kind of nonsense they spout.

Good luck for your song writing and thesis writing. =) I'm sure you'll do well for both.

http://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2009/08/31/marinoff

nick said...

I had an EL-87 and an EL-37! Electone players represent woot woot. :p

Weiye said...

http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_magazine/previous_issues/articles/2009_11_13/caredit.a0900141

Interesting article about career in science. But "his general conclusions accord closely with other research into the social structure of academe and appear applicable to many other disciplines as well."

=)