Monthly Archives: September 2007

songwriting and movement

I drove to the mountains west of Denver yesterday and went for an afternoon hike. One of the advantages of living in Denver is that I can go from being in the middle of the city to a mountain trail in 45 minutes. I took a cd I had made of musical ideas and listened to it on the car stereo while driving into the mountains. Sometimes I’ll sit with a guitar–electric or acoustic–and noodle around. I always record those noodlings–or I do now–I’ve lost so many good ideas because I didn’t record them. When I collect about 20 of them, I’ll burn them to a cd. Nothing fancy; in fact, very crude. Then I’ll listen to them later, and see if any of them might be a good match for some lyrical ideas I’ve written.

Anyway… I was listening to some of those while driving to the mountain. One I had come up with 2 years ago, I started singing a melody–la-la’s and nonsense, and started getting some lyrical ideas. The stuff started flowing out, and reminded me of a lyrical concept I had a couple years ago. It’s weird; if I’m sitting at a desk with a pen and paper, this doesn’t happen. I have to be moving. Even though I’m sitting while driving a car, for some reason, I get ideas while driving that I would never get sitting at home. It’s not very efficient; I have to sing these ideas into a mini-cassette recorder, and then transcribe them to paper when I get home. I wish I could get the same ideas sitting at my desk at home, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way for me, I have to be moving.

Once I got to the trailhead and parked my car, I started hiking. I get a lot of ideas hiking. I bring my notebooks and song folders with me in my backpack. If I don’t want to stop hiking I use the mini-cassette recorder (that’s old technology, I know; if I wanted to be modern I’d use a microphone with an ipod).

I jog 4-5 days a week to try and keep the fat off. I get ideas jogging. That’s the worst–can’t bring a notebook and pen while jogging, and can’t really bring the mini-cassette recorder either. I have to hope I remember the ideas when I get home.

I wrote the chorus to “Invisible Prison” while hiking, and the verses while jogging. The chorus to “When They Go” came to me while walking around the neighborhood on a beautiful fall Sunday afternoon. The melody to “The Screwup Song” came while jogging. The lyrical concept behind “Let it Go” came while driving (no surprise, given the second verse). A considerable part of the lyrical development of “A Special Request” came while hiking. Guess that explains why I don’t get as much songwriting done in the winter…

-Rob Roper

Welcome to my Blog

Welcome to my google blog site. Yes, I’m belatedly joining the blogging fad. I’ll probably use this mostly for music–to comment on what I’ve learned about songwriting, recommend musical artists I’ve discovered, and such. I might comment on politics, but probably not. I find that the political blogsites just become an insult contest; nobody ever convinces anyone to change their mind. So I’ll probably stick to music, but never say never…