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Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Song Soup

When I'm working on a song, I'm trying to distill it into its simplest
form, and this can only be done by re-writing. There are many
books and web pages that tell you that re-writing is the most
upsetting, frustrating and exhausting part of songwriting, and
unfortunately I have to agree.

The soup analogy seemed fitting because the whole song (the 'soup') that you're writing is made up of many parts, but what you're aiming for is something that tastes of one predominant flavour. This may well be enhanced by other flavours, and have a lingering aftertaste, but these other elements serve to back up the main flavour (as in, idea).

Soup can't be many things. You can have onion soup, or celery soup. Carrot and Corriander. Put too many ingredients in and you get a stew. Stew tends to be similar from one to the next. A lot of songwriters are making stew. Clear soups can be the hardest to make, but can be the most effective. Save those other ingredients for another soup or song.

Unlike cooking however, songwriting allows you to remove an entire ingredient as if it had never been there in the first place. If you add too much salt, you can take it out. It may have been interesting to see what it was like with MORE salt, but at least you can take it out later if you do realize that the soup is too salty.

When I'm writing a song, I try to let the flavours that seem irrelevant to 'boil away', and let others come to the fore. Also, flavours that become overpowering may well become what the song is all about. When you have too many competing flavours, you're making stew again.

Some soups need to be left to boil away on their own, and tasted at a much later date. Some soup tastes much better if it's just left to 'do its thing' for a while. It's easy to tell what's wrong with a soup after a break from it, and most importantly its good to let your MEMORY of what you thought it tasted like to run it's own course, as this tends to distill things in an entirely different way, and usually for the best.

To help you with the soup analogy, here are some of my thoughts on songs and soup:

'I Will Always Love You' - Potato Soup
'Perfect Day' - Celery Soup
'Kiss' - Carrot and Corriander
'Wish You Were Here' - Mushroom, Wild Asparagus, Cream, Anchovies and Garlic (it's nearly a stew but gets away with it)
'Kung Fu Fighting' - Noodle Soup
'When The Clock On The Wall Strikes Ten' - Duck Soup

If you think you know the soup of a song, let me know.

05:06 PM in General | Permalink


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I like the soup songwriting and I hope your idea would help me accompish my songwrititng skills

Posted by: Rasheda Thomas-King | Mar 31, 2005 3:37:52 AM