Public Post: Underwater Songwriting
Day Six of the Songwriters Circle 30 day Challenge, now open for February Registrations, was all about using a walking pace as a device for maintaining a steady rhythm while composing a new tune to the beat of the footsteps. It’s a technique I evolved years ago, which resulted in Mondura Dam. I mentioned that I was intending to try out the same principle applied to swimming, with no idea whether it would work or not. Well today was my day to visit the swimming pool and I gave it a good bash.
Normally I swim up and down, counting lengths. It’s hard enough not to lose count after a while, and most of the time I’m not thinking of anything else much except being there in water, in the moment, drilling back and fore and occasionally diverting to avoid other swimmers. Swimming has an invigorating effect for hours afterwards, but at the time it’s pure physical exercise with the mind relatively unstimulated, yet not bored either. More of a grounded, meditative state of sort of not thinking.
So today I had to stop the counting entirely, and see if I could think in words and phrases.
It took a little while to tune in to the rhythm of my stroke, it’s obviously slower than walking, but also more complicated with regular breathing in short bursts followed by arm and leg movements that are not quite together, in my case. But once I could hear a tune it stuck with me for the whole hour or so. Unlike when walking, being unable to sing or speak out loud makes it harder to grasp hold of words, and in my mind that also means ideas, because for me, ideas are mostly bound up with language. That doesn’t mean I need to talk out loud when I read or write of course but I usually do hum or sing to myself when playing around with a new tune or pattern for words to fit into, and it certainly makes it easier to commit to memory, which is a big concern.
After half an hour I had two couplets and a possible refrain, that’s all. And even those I was struggling to hang on to. But the endorphins from exercise kicked in and I was feeling happy about it all. Underwater songwriting works! The rhythm stayed with me, and I think it will provide me with an original tune framework that’s going to be interesting to play. The sparse lines I had fought to think up helped me to fix the tune for long enough, so many have been lost otherwise. I didn’t have the foresight to take my notebook or anything with me, so had to wait until I got home before I could jot anything down, and now I’ve made a brief audi memo to self, just in case I forget the tune.
I don’t know if I’ll progress the lyric idea, but I shall definitely develop the music. What I’ll need to do next though, is to go out to a cafe or somewhere by myself one day where’s there’s no guitar and no internet and see if I can write down the bulk of a whole song to fit the tune, then later work it out on the guitar as a complete whole, reworking the lyrics as necessary.