The Joy of Songwriting
by Kilissa Cissoko
Ah ha!! This morning I realized that writing a song is very much like cooking! Perhaps I thought of it because in the car on the way home from dropping my son at daycamp I heard on NPR a review of a movie about Julia Childs. When I got home I set to work sketching out a new song and it came to me that I’m engaged in “The Joy of Songwriting”!
So, that’s the premise—here’s the connection. A delicious meal evolves through a set series of lovingly tended stages. My songs emerge through a comparable process. I hope the results are delicious!
- prep – includes planning and shopping! (listening, studying, reading about music, absorbing!!)
- deciding on the cuisine… flavors, styles (style, genre)
- selecting a dish (song topic, hook, etc)
- chopping, washing, getting ingredients together (sorting through the ideas)
- heating the pan (turning on the amp, the computer, tuning the guitar!)
- sautéing the onions, garlic (getting warmed up, trying out ideas)
- searing, stir-frying (getting the outer edges fixed, reigning in the ideas, finding the boundaries)
- steaming, simmering (deepening into the ideas, digging into the spirit of the emerging song)
- tasting (running through the song so far, recording rough demos, playbacks)
- adding spice (putting in details, lyrical, melodic, harmonic, instrumental)
- curing the sauce (rehearsing, refining)
- getting the side dishes ready – (different sections of the song are like the salad, the rice)
- baking, roasting (letting it sit and mellow for a while)
- setting the table (organizing a recording, or performance)
- gathering the guests (getting together musicians, audience)
- enjoying the meal (performing, enjoying)
- …and… lest we forget… the cleanup! (winding cables, making backups!!!)
So, when you are cooking and sitting down to eat, imagine that you just wrote a song! And I hope to be serving up songs to suit the appetite!
Kilissa Cissoko is a songwriter of longstanding on the Buffalo indie music scene.
©2009 Kilissa Cissoko