I’ve been working on a new idea. It’s taken a while to get there, but the journey has been quite fun and I’ve seen a few cool things along the way. Here’s roughly how it went:
- I like my 12-second songs. How can I make something cool with them?
- Blog them. Write and record one every day.
- Jan 1st: Started writing a 12-second song lyric every day in little notebooks. Recorded a couple.
- Jan 4th: Realised recording them every day would take too long.
- Not long after: Realised I’d missed loads of days.
- Recordings of 12-second songs are a bit pointless anyway - where do they fit in someone’s life?
- Instead of recording them, why not make scores like I did for 12×12?
- Even better, score them for full orchestra and make very tall, narrow prints.
- Started orchestrating a few recent songs on the plane to Phuket.
- While I’m at it, why not learn traditional music engraving?
- Asked Nick how that works. It’s quite complicated.
- Realised 12-second songs don’t have a lot of gaps in the lyric for interesting orchestration.
- OK then, how about piano/vocal/guitar editions? I grew up playing those.
- A p/v/g edition of a 12-second song is very small. I’ll need lots.
- I’ll make a book of 365 - a song a day.
- That’s insane. I’d have to produce 3 a day for the next 122 days to have it ready for 2012.
- Who’s this actually for?
- OK. How about a little spiral-bound book, like a busker’s book, of 100 or so 12-second songs that you can keep by the piano?
- Almost, but why 100? Why not 50 or 200 or 144? That’s it! 12×12 = 144… A score of short scores!
When I was young, I’d always have these busker’s editions lying around - 100 Great Pub Songs, 100 Hits of the 40s and 50s and so on. When I sat down at the piano to play I’d grab a book, flip open a new tune and play it. It would take a couple of times to work out how the melody fit over the chords, and to get it up to speed, and then I’d be rocking through Downtown or The White Cliffs Of Dover. After that, I’d think of other songs to play or just start making stuff up.
A little book of 12-second songs would be a great thing to have around. It’s a warm-up or a sorbet course between serious practice sessions for musicians. And I can always orchestrate a few and make some quality letterpress prints too.