Here’s a space pop ballad — a vocal pop song about fantastic giants and how they help us build dreams that are larger than life. And no, this isn’t a cover of the Backstreet Boys’ song. I honestly picked the title before I had a chance to Google the phrase.
New Year, New Songwriting Processes
I’m trying some new songwriting processes this 2021.
- Inspired by how classic songs from the 50s and 60s were able to tell a complete story or impart a total emotion in under 3 minutes, I’ve decided to restrict myself to that time limit. Songs with a maximum of 3 minutes, including any fade outs.
- The second process I’m sticking to is a weekly tune. If it turns out to be an instrumental, fantastic. If it’s a vocal song with lyrics, even better. But it has to be finished within the week, and it has to be posted online.
- I’m not actively limiting the instrument on which I’m composing these songs though. Traditionally, I’ve always written songs on a guitar or on a solo piano. But for the past month, I’ve been composing directly on my sequencer: I put together a scratch arrangement on my Reason software before improvising a melody over that, and from there, writing down lyrics using a mechanical pencil and an old lyrics notebook and immediately recording. For some reason, I’ve never been able to do this before. But now, the weekly deadline is forcing me to produce. And it’s been working so far!
More about the weekly challenge…
The MusicWeeklies Challenge
Sometimes the best way to motivate yourself to create is through external pressure. This past December, I stumbled upon a community called MusicWeeklies on Twitter that does a weekly musical challenge. They provide the prompt — typically a single word theme — and you make the music that fits it. Up to you what genre, or whether it’s instrumental or a vocal song.
This track, “Larger Than Life” was my first attempt at the challenge. The theme was “Giants.”
There are some songs that just stay with you through the years. Either because they move you, or are so well done, they serve as a standard — one that challenges you to do better or at least sets neurons off in your brain. One of those songs is “Down to Earth” by Peter Gabriel, which you might recall was the end credits theme song used in the animated Pixar classic, Wall-e. It’s one of those songs that I wish I’d written. And one of the tracks I return to when I’m trying to capture a feeling of hope amidst uncertainty. That was the seed for this track. I took the mood and built a groove that turned into “Larger Than Life.”
Here’s what “Down To Earth” sounds like.
Larger Than Life by Lionel Zivan Valdellon
December 18, 2020 Friday
01. We look skyward for the moving mountains
Those are giants roaming through these sacred lands.
In the silence, they will still remind us
To reach higher ground than we ever dreamed before.
02. We look forward to the clouds below us,
When we lumber through a world we’ve outgrown.
We look downward for the tiny people
And we lift them to the peaks we’ve left behind.