Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Is It All Done With Magnets?

Use key words as magnets to create a field that attracts other phrases. That's electronic music pioneer John Foxx's secret for constructing lyrical language. He explains:

First gather a list of titles - which are really shorthand themes. Then you have to establish a wee magnetic field - in this way. You switch on the drum machine and find a jerky old pattern that the rhythm of the words can adhere to in some way. Then you switch on the synth and find a three or four note melody that seems to have some appropriate resonance with the title.

This is the main theme - I always see it as a sort of mysterious cinematic intro.
If all the foregoing meshes well enough, it will exert a magnetic attraction for other phrases - so, gradually you accumulate the nucleus of a song. Then you can begin to arrange it all.

Once you establish a main theme, the whole thing runs like a movie. In come the characters, they interact in some way and something is thereby revealed which is unexpected and rewarding and you hope has some universal emotional resonance.

Then circumstances are resolved - or not, and we go out on the main theme again. If you do this well enough, you now have a small universe with its own internal logic that you can adjust delicately over the rest of your life.
(Full interview at Electronically Yours, posted 17 May 2010)

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