A Short Score

So I was all about the orchestral scores for tiny songs, and now I’m all about the book. It’s my project for the year, the thing I’m going to spend more time and energy on than any other. And I’m excited about it. So excited that I haven’t made it very clear what it is.

So here’s an explanation. As it stands now. This may change. It’s not definite. OK?

I’m making a book of printed music – 144 12-second songs, arranged for piano/guitar and vocal.

(This is a brief aside about the name. Firstly, it’s a working title. Don’t get too attached. But it’s good, and here’s why. The word score has a double meaning – it means written music and it also means 12 dozen, or 1441. The phrase short score also has a double meaning – it’s a technical term referring to a full orchestral score condensed to a playable two-stave version and it could also refer to the brevity of the songs. Only musicians will get some of this, but that goes for the whole concept so I’m not really bothered.)

It’s going to be a small, spiral-bound book, beautifully printed, that you can keep by the piano (or guitar). There will be tiny songs in every key, probably arranged in order by accidental – flat to sharp, front to back.

The reason

I can see myself using it as a sort of musical sorbet course, a palette-cleanser between weightier instrumental outings. Maybe you’ve just improvised a morose A-flat minor ballad called Take Me Away And Shoot Me and you want to switch direction and tinker with something jolly in E major. You open the book towards the end (the sharp end) and play through a short, but perfectly distracting tune. It’s fun, so you work out how to play that twisty bit in the middle and give yourself a little performance. Ha! Splendid. Now, where were you? Ah yes, ready to tackle something jolly.

They won’t be necessarily funny songs but I’m slowly discovering that it’s very difficult to write a humourless 12-second song, so playing a song at random is likely to cheer you up.

The plan

Before I figure out how to make it, and (God forbid!) sell it, I’ll have to write 144 short songs. That sounds like a lot, but I’m getting pretty quick. I’m writing minimum one a day at the moment, and often many more. I reckon I’ll have 144 good ones by July. Then I need to write good piano parts for them all (another few months). By the time I’ve sorted out the printing and binding, it’ll probably be Christmas. But what better way to spend a year, eh?

In the meantime, I’ll undoubtedly be posting hundreds of scraps – songs in progress, videos, blogs, a gazillion Instagrams and the occasional finished score. Lucky you.


  1. UPDATE This is a lie. And I am an idiot. As Trevor pointed out on Twitter, a score is 20. 144 is a gross. Which is less of a catchy title. 

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