While I was in Houston, I had access to a little studio upright piano to work on while Jimmy was doing "Zero Hour." So, each night, as he was on the stage, I was writing music for a stack of lyrics, most of which came from Amy Lynn, my protege. I don't expect every lyric to work. I don't expect every song to be a good one. But I do love the process, and given the fact that she is depending upon me to mentor her as a lyricist, I feel I owe it to both of us to at least try to put music to each of them. You usually learn more from failures than successes.
Since I got back here, I've been in my studio working to set each of these songs to some kind of musical arrangement. It's tedious work and I suppose I could try to tell you about it in some detail, but I don't exactly know what to say.
First I record the song "raw." Just my voice and piano, no set tempo. It usually sounds really crappy, but it gives me a starting point. Then, I start looking for a tempo and I lay down a basic piano track. If it's a slow song, then I'll lay down a temp vocal and start playing around with other instruments, trying to set an arrangement. This is the part I'm not really great at. I arrange out of necessity. And even when I finish something, I consider it to be temporary until a "real" arranger comes along.
This week, I got a call from a friend of mine who works down at MCC-LA. His name is Sebastian and I've admired his musicianship for a number of years. We met, I think, during the Soul Force March on Lynchburg. He was playing guitar and leading a lot of the singing. He always impressed me as being someone with a tender heart and gentle manner.
These days, he's been working in the little television and media center they have down at the church. He edits the programs and makes them available for broadcast over local cable and the Internet.
Apparently, during an early visit to MCC-LA, I played "My Thanksgiving Prayer," a song I wrote and have been developing for my Peace cantata. When Sebastian called me this week, he said it's one of his favorite songs to listen to and that he'd love to just meet with me and talk about doing more together. As he's put together the pieces of the church studio, he's been working on expanding it into a full recording facility. These days, one can do these things easily because of how easily available most software is. (For instance, I make my demos in what I refer to as my "studio," but it's really just a computer, a keyboard and a microphone).
I went over to the church and we had a great time together. I played some songs. He played some songs. We shared folders of songs. Ever since he got the final touches put on the recording studio, he's been looking for material to help arrange and produce.
I gave him a ton of stuff and said, "Have at it, babe. Make it great."