Welcome back to another edition of Sharing Notes!
Take boredom as an invitation
When I'm bored, it's so easy to reach for a low-cost, high reward activity, like watching videos or playing games, that is, until that reward starts to diminish in value. I find the hunger for novelty is better sated by creativity rather than consumption. Something I gleaned from Lisa Congdon in her book Find Your Artistic Voice is that boredom is an invitation to try something new. Boredom is a regulatory emotion, like pain, something informative. So go ahead and get bored to get creative.
Write new lyrics to an existing melody
Here's a songwriting exercise for you, via Jeff Tweedy: take a song or a melody you love, and write new lyrics for it. This is something Woody Guthrie did often, allowing him to write a song almost everyday. Pop culture scholar Mark Allen Jackson says, "almost all of [Woody Guthrie's] lyrics simply ride on the back of someone else's music, both folk and commercial songs." If you like the lyrics enough and don't want to deal with copyright licensing (that is, unless you've written to a public domain tune), there's nothing stopping you from writing a new melody to your lyrics too.
An exercise for blending chest and head voice
A common trouble spot for vocalists is what we call mixed voice. This is simply because most people speak in chest voice, very few dip into head voice, and even fewer ever speak in mixed voice (which is a blend of the two). One exercise for developing and strengthening mixed voice is to first pick a medium-high note (one you can sing in both chest and head voice) and on a sustained "ah" vowel, crescendo from a soft to loud and back again. The softer timbre will naturally be more "heady" and the louder will be more "chesty."
- This cat actually says "mlem."
- And this crow says "woo."
- And this guy would've made a great bassist.