Howdy! A couple nights ago my sisters and I got together to write a song. I told them it would take less than twenty minutes, but we took about five times that. Nevertheless, we emerged from the darkness with a song which, out of the two I’ve written, might be my favorite musically. You know that cool thing they do in musicals where everyone’s singing a different tune at the exact same time? Yeah, we kinda did that.
Anyway, that’s me. You can listen to the song at the end of the post.
A lot of things have come together for this project in crazy ways. A friend gave us a pretty high-quality microphone several years ago, which we had never used until now. Only a couple days after I wrote my first song, a graduating senior gave me— completely free— a used computer. Immediately I set up Audacity (a sound-editing program) and LMMS (a program similar to GarageBand, but for Windows, meant for actually creating music). Even better, one of my brother’s old guitar pedals connects to a computer and can record to it fairly easily.
In short, I can record anything I can play, and I haven’t spent any money on it. I’d call that a blessing. (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on June 20, 2016
I told you it wasn’t my last post.
That last post still applies. Everything in it is true except the part where I say farewell. I learned how much I missed the blog about 24 hours after posting that. 24 hours after that, I realized how much time exists in a month and how much fun we can have together. And here I am, writing another blog post because honestly, if I really wanted to, I could write my 700th post before I leave. (This is #669, so I’m not sure I really want to, but it would be amusing.)
In trying to be dramatic and serious and stoic, I accidentally gave myself a five-month absence instead of just four months. Now I’m taking this month back. (To be clear: July, August, September, October, I’m still gone. June? Nope.)
Let me tell you about a project I started a couple months ago, and truly got working yesterday. I’ve been a pianist for a long time— it was my first musical instrument, at age 4, and I took lessons for a good ten years. Since I stopped, however, I’ve kept noodling. I’m particularly good at playing by ear, but I also enjoy improvising. In fact, if I have sheet music for a song, I will still improvise, by ear, that song. At this point I’d rather make my own version than be restricted.
If you think about it, that sums up my writing process too, at this point. I make a story up as I go along, to fit imperfectly the image I have in my head, rather than follow a set outline, even if I wrote it myself. I’d rather improvise an imperfect, but fair, solution than hammer down and get a perfect one that doesn’t allow for mistakes. At least, that’s how I feel about it. (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on June 3, 2015
Writing is hard. At the beginning, everything is NaNoWriMo and instincts and blissful ignorance. You begin to learn about the craft and get better, and while your first novel was truly terrible, you can laugh about it and move on. You take pride in calling yourself a writer, among all those people who want to write but never do. Then it begins to fade. You keep making the same mistakes. Words start coming slowly, and a bestselling author publishes two books in the time it takes you to get out of your slump. The real world tries to pull you out of your fictional one. Writing is hard.
Drawing is hard. You start out doodling, and it turns out well, so you look into what else you can do. It’s fun to experiment with colors, papers, and tools. You start learning the glories of shadows, shapes, and (what a thrill!) crosshatching. You’ve got your own sketchbook, and your doodles are getting more and more sophisticated. Gone are the days of simple stick figures— you’ve got dragons and your friends’ faces and every good thing. Then it begins to fade. You begin to realize your circles are lopsided. People look a little too noodly for your liking. You’re still working on depth. People want to see your sketchbook and start comparing you to other people. You start drawings but don’t finish them because they don’t look right. Drawing is hard.
Music. Crafts. Cooking. All of it is hard. Creating stuff is hard. Words, sounds, sights, tastes, smells… Well, anyone can make smells. But good smells! Creating is hard. You have to think it up, gather materials, put stuff together to make different stuff, and throw it out for the world to judge. When they get it, they might or might not like it. If you don’t have to redo it, you get to start all over again, using none of the same things you just used! Hurrah! (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on February 8, 2015
I’ve had the opportunity to see many creative people at work recently. I’ve begun to see a pattern: they all go through the same stages to achieve their success. These people are writers, composers, and artists, people who create for a living. When they first begin, they go through the same mindsets and cycles as everyone else– the same cycles as I am still going through. This isn’t a road map to success, but it gave me an idea of what I need to work on and how much work I still need to do.
The original idea that drives anyone to create anything is the thought that they can write, or compose, or paint, as well as everyone else– in fact, since they’re unique, their works will be unique as well. The world needs more originality. Thus, beginners start out wanting to create original stuff; they want to write, draw, or compose in a way completely separate from everything anyone has ever seen. They throw all their big ideas, the ones that Tolkien unbelievably missed, into their work. They’ll have fun with it.
I wrote my first two novels with this in mind. Wise was medieval fantasy, but it had brilliant characters– fourteen protagonists and no antagonist. Fathoming Egression had an original world, with talking rocks and assassin ducks and plenty of fun stuff. I had fun with both. (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on April 9, 2014
Today I played in a four hundred-strong youth orchestra that could barely keep the tempo and key through each piece. I’ve played in the same orchestra, with the same conductors (a different one for each piece), with the same pieces, for three years now. This massive orchestra played its music in the middle of a shopping mall, surrounded by a crowd of parents mixed with people who only wanted to get to the food court. The acoustics were horrible, the players varied from amazing to mediocre, the ages varied from eighteen to eight, and it wasn’t an astounding performance by any stretch of the imagination. These pieces were so familiar to me, I played half of them by memory.
I had so much fun.
There are things in life that aren’t fun. There are things in life that are boring. There are things in life that deserve to fall from the roof and spend the next three months in a coma, dreaming about purple canaries. But all of that can change, without ordering today– just call the number on your screen! (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on February 3, 2013
Engie (nevillegirl) at her blog posted her Ten All-Time Best Pieces From Film Scores, and I couldn’t resist. Here is my version of the list, with only one piece from each movie, no predominantly vocal pieces, and only pieces from movies I’ve seen. They are in no particular order, because I didn’t want to pick favorites. Because music plays such a large role in the presentation of a film, and because the conception of the film itself is often reflected in the conception of the music, many of these choices were personal favorites. For one who never saw the movie, perhaps the conclusion would be different. (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on December 30, 2012
There is an overwhelming urge to run screaming through whatever domicile you’re currently occupying when you’re sitting still, watching unrealistically good-looking people move across a luminescent screen, and suddenly they break into song.
Now, I love musicals. I love the music in them. Occasionally I’ll come to love the lyrics as well. What I do not love about musicals is the fact that the characters can’t resist exercising their vocal chords every five minutes. Yes, it’s in a musical’s nature to be musical, but does every soliloquy have to be in rhyme? (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on October 23, 2012