The Bookshop Band - writing songs inspired by books discussion

Composition process

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message 1: by Ciro (last edited Aug 02, 2014 04:43PM) (new)

Ciro (cirovelasquez) | 2 comments Hi there Ben & Co!

Just joining the group. Nice you've finally set up a Group on Goodreads.
First of all, I love the music you have made based on books.
Let's start some discussion on your composition process. Hope this become interesting for everyone.

Some questions to start:

1. How did you come to this idea?
2. How did you select a book to inspire your music? Or is it about each one of you and your literary taste (in a mmm... I've been reading about this and it would be great to have a song about it)?
3. How do you select a subject/chapter/idea on a book to compose a song?

Thanks for having a group to discuss about your project!

message 2: by Ben (new)

Ben Please | 4 comments Mod
Hi there Ciro.

1. I (Ben) was asked by our local independent bookshop, Mr Bs Emporium Of Reading Delights, to see if I could put together a little group of musicians to play some music at the bookshop's author events. As a songwriter (who had been having writers block for two years) I thought it'd be a good challenge for me to write the songs instead of just playing covers. I couldn't do it alone though, so I asked Beth Porter and Poppy Pitt, two wonderful songwriters who I had recently met, if they would be up for doing it with me too. They said yes, and so we started. The first season of five events was all about books which had a link to a particular country. It hadn't really crossed our mind to write a song insider by the actual book of the author who was visiting, so instead we picked folk tales from each of those countries, and wrote songs inspired by them. In three months we had done all five events, written 10 new songs (my writers block was finally over!), and released our first album ( When Mr Bs Emporium asked us to come back for the second event, we obviously said yes, but the first event was titled "Adultery Night", and so we were a bit nervous about doing it, and couldn't draw on our own experiences, so we turned to the book. You can find out more about this book, and this part of the story by reading my review here:

Save to say, it was such a wonderful experience to write inspired by the book, and what emotions and memories it brought out in us, that there was no turning back.

2) So, all the books are chosen for us by our local independent bookshop, Mr Bs Emporium Of Reading Delights. This is wonderful for four reasons: a) they chose wonderful books, books we'd have never read otherwise from all sorts of genres. b) If we could chose, where would we start? There's just so many c) each book comes with a deadline to have read it by and to perform the song - at the author event. This one is really important. Having a deadline means that you can't procrastinate, and when you write the song, you just go with your gut, which I thick helps us to be more creative. There is no time to second guess yourself. d) And we get to actually meet the author and play them our song inspired by their book, which although it is VERY scary / terrifying, is also a real privilege for us.

3) There is no formula other than to trust your gut. We don't have long to write the songs, and we have a deadline, which really helps us deciding. Generally if we have all had a chance to read the book, we'll all have our own response which we can either combine together, or it might warrant another song entirely. Generally speaking we do two songs per book, and occasionally more. When we write the song, it needs to be personal in some way, as well as inspired by the book, in order for it to be a 'real' song. The book inspires something in us, either we relate to something, or something in the book has really got our imaginations going. You just don't know what it is till you get there.

Thanks for the questions Ciro. Please keep them coming and we'll try to answer.

PS: we actually wrote a song about our process of songwriting, inspired by a dictionary of forgotten words. The book was called The Horologicon, by Mark Forsyth, and in it he went through a normal day at the office, using these forgotten english words. When Beth wrote the song, she went through a normal day in the life of The Bookshop Band, using lots of forgotten words in it. Hope you like it:

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