Saturday, December 31, 2011

Songwriting & Production

Hey guys,

Here's my mumble on production and songwriting. 

I guess that the term “production” could mean different things to different bands and projects. To me, and as I refer to it with my good friend Sajid ‘Sarj’ Masood (Co-producer of Benevolent’s Divided EP), production is basically that part of the song’s life where the structure, the sounds, the textures, and all the “coloring” of the song happens.

It really is the most important aspect of a song’s life; it could take a song from being the most intuitive tune to being the most monotonous one. I find that for the most part we tend to enjoy songs because of their production more than anything. A true testament to that is the fact that so much pop music is based on similar chord progressions and what not, but the differentiating factor here is the choice of sounds, twists in structure, and the addition of an original ‘hook’ that ties the listener in to the song. (P.S: The whole ‘hook’ thing shouldn’t be taken as a must for every song; the songs that you intend to use as “promo” material for your band could use a memorable ‘hook’ but don’t fret on about making a Lady Gaga hit out of every song. I actually find songs with ‘hooks’ that catch on quick to have a short lifespan in your audience’s playlists. Easy come. Easy go)

How I approach songwriting and production

To give more info about how I approach the whole production process and it’s importance, here’s how I work (you’ll find that the entire songwriting process is built on the production aspect): Here are the steps in simple with explanation:

1. Get inspired

The first and most important step is to get inspired; what kind of song do you want to write? What sort of texture do you have in mind? What do you intend to have people feel when they listen to it? Do you have an existing lyric which could help inspire you?

Tips: Listen to a band that gets your creative juices flowing. Don’t be afraid that you might rip them off, the key word here is “CREATIVE JUICES” which means this music makes you want to create something of your own, in that similar feel.

2. Start up a recording session on your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)

What this step will allow you to do is to write songs instead of riffs, you have the recording software ready with all your plugins sitting right there in front of you and what you’re doing is writing a song from it’s very beginning to it’s very end.

I tried guitar tablatures before and they may work for many musicians, but I find them rather stale and often lead to writers block. The idea of having the ability to track and record your ideas down immediately is that you’ll be able to come up with the most organic feel to a song. And you’ll feel whether or not it’s working because you’re playing it as you go. PLUS, recording on a frequent level will keep you in shape as a musician, so come studio-time you’ll have the A game on.

3. Get to know your song

This is another crucial and interesting step. At this stage you’ve already got some riffs down; explore the feel of the song and just let it flow. I like to think that I’m letting the songs write themselves.

One more important thing, be ready to delete your most favorite riff in the song because sometimes we are under the illusion that some riffs are the IT factor in a song, when in reality they are causing more damage out of forced misplacement. It’s usually pretty difficult to delete a certain riff, BUT my indicator to doing that is when I try for days to continue a song off a certain riff and it’s not working, so I just lose the loose end that’s causing inspirational draught in the song.

4. Keep the structure inspiring

This part is straight to the point; don’t be afraid of trying things that you haven’t heard in other songs. Remember that the only limitation here is “Does it sound good?”

There’s no wrong or right; I even tend to forget all about the music theory I’ve learnt when writing songs (This works well for metal mostly, I’d be careful in other styles of letting go of theory).

5. Layers, textures, and colors

Add color to your song; listen to some of your favorite songs and tune into the sounds that you don’t necessarily listen to primarily but they are there in the song and subconsciously making you enjoy the song even more.

Those could be simple things like:

a. Guitar feedback crescendos leading to a heightened part

b. Drone effects in the background

c. Synths and pads

d. Orchestral sounds and choirs

e. Innovation in adding new guitar tones in repeated verses to add new elements for the listener to enjoy

f. ETC

6. Have fun, get it done, and write more songs

Once you’ve found your muse and a comfortable methodology of writing songs, recording them, and producing them, you’ll find yourself swimming in a sea of inspiration where you’re not sure how to start; the good news is, this inspiration is the most beautiful thing a musician can experience so make sure you are listening/watching bands (and even movies) that make you want to express something musically and don’t be afraid of discovering new things.

Most of all, make sure you’re having a good time writing songs. Your audience can hear your inspired organic take on your songs and will surely feel the connection that you have with your produced songs.

Feel free to shoot me a line if you’ve got some questions!

Happy writing!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Writing The New Benevolent Album 'B2': 40 MINUTES IN

Hey guys,

So at this point I’m 40 minutes into the next album’s (WORKING TITLE: B2. B for Brock Lesnar) playtime worth of finalized demo material. I would say that there are probably one or two songs that need some shuffelin’ and final touches as demoes to tighten up the structures and whatnot.

How happy am I with the material so far? I think it’s very different, I’ve got this tunnel vision thing going for the next album…the target is to get a very good collection of songs with lots of elements for us as a band to enjoy performing, and for the listeners to enjoy listening to.
There definitely seems to be a bit more of a technical edge to the material, lots of polyrhythms, lots of odd picking patterns, and a continuation with the background textures that fill up the space of the songs outside of the heavy barrage spectrum.

At this point, there’s about two short(er) songs (between 4 – 6 minutes), and there’s a few other songs that run over 7 minutes.

Inspirations for this album? I would say there’s a little bit of Meshuggah, Scar Symmetry, Arch Enemy, Alter Bridge, Lamb of God, and some Katatonia-esque moments. So it’s a blended mix of really heavy low-tuned polyrhythmic riffage swimming in a melancholy sky of colors and textures.

One other thing that I’ve taken up through the writing process of the album is the use of different tunings just to keep things fresh and intriguing!

More updates to come!

Hadi Sarieddine

Writing the new Benevolent album

Inspirations, visions, goals, and game plan

So I’ve been working on the follow up to Benevolent’s Divided EP roughly since November 2010 straight after the release of the album, the feedback we got from the album was so inspiring I’ve been jotting down ideas for the new record ever since then and now even a year’s later worth of roughly writing ideas down in the form of demo recordings, guitar tabs, and phone memo audio recording I still find myself hungry to write MORE and explore even further grounds that would push the limits of what can be achieved, or rather, delivered in the form of expression to the listening masses of the new album.

Late ’09, the entire of ’10, and the entire of ’11 has been a very big year for us. From writing the album, shaping up the sound and working diligently with Sarj (Sarj’s studio), to tracking it, releasing it, getting the feedback, the exposure and international attention, signing with Spellbind Records, and hitting up the stage in Dubai alongside experience bands from across the globe…it’s been insanely beautiful!

When the EP’s reviews came together, alongside all the joy and hype I had an influx of worry; what state of mind was in writing Divided EP? Would I be in a similar state of mind going into the second album? And after getting into a state of constant anxiousness on what/how the new record with come about and what it would sound like I just realized to myself that it’s going to be what it’s going to be. Simplicity taking over the complexion, the record is going to have to be an honest expression as to what the time it was written through is driving me to express; letting the songs write themselves, letting the lyrics tell the story…I become the instrument to my inspiration and hunger for expression, rather than take my instrument and forcefully produce tunes on an assumption that a demanding crowd has this to expect.

I will be updating posts with more notes in the time leading up to the band’s second release, giving very little detail as to not spoil the fun of experiencing the album for the very first listen…but keeping you all intact on what’s going on out here as the writing, living, and expressing process unveils new phrases.

Catch you rockers soon!

Hadi Sarieddine

Welcome to my blog!

Hey guys!

So for some reason I think that the gibberish that goes on down in Benevolent world and my musical endeavors is worth sharing with the general public! So here I am putting this blog up together. I don't have some master plan as to what will go on here, I guess I'll be posting about just about anything there is that would be interesting to share in my little artistic world.

You can my band's debut EP titled "Divided" for FREE right HERE.

Check us out on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter as well.