I recommend getting a professional coach with some years of experience, who you respect as a musician, and who you admire as a singer (I’m simply describing my own vocal coach here).
My final point is to think about your instrument or gear setup, and anything else you’d want to dress the stage with. This one may take some years to fully conceptualize and realize, and it may be something that changes constantly. That’s all okay, but just know that it too matters.
Evan Zwisler is a NYC-based musician who is most notably known for his work with The Values as a songwriter and guitarist. He is an active member of the Brooklyn music scene, throwing fundraisers and organizing compilations for Planned Parenthood and the Anti-Violence Project. He started playing music in the underground punk scene of Shanghai with various local bands when he was in high school before going to California for college and finally moving to New York in 2012.
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We briefly mentioned “Suzanne” by Leonard Cohen earlier. Aside from the religious references, it was also originally a poem Cohen wrote and published before the song was ever recorded. Try writing a poem purely on pen and paper, without worrying about melody or rhythm at all. Once you’ve got a solid draft, try setting it to music. Ultimately, you might need to be inventive or make some changes to make everything flow nicely, but this can produce good results.
This tip is especially useful if you’re super strapped for time. When you sit down to do a thing — something that will move your career forward — set a timer. Whatever time you have. Fifteen minutes, an hour, two hours; set a timer to help you focus 100% on the task at hand. For some people, this may sound like a stressful idea. I get that. But maybe this tip can help you break through that stress and get stuff done.
This course is instructed by nine top sound engineers who have worked with artists such as Beyoncé, D’Angelo, Solange, Sia, Mark Ronson, the New York Philharmonic, the Dirty Projectors, and many more, and it’s navigated by our in-house hip-hop producer, Nyle Emerson.
+ Pursue your dreams faster with a Soundfly Mentor! Share your musical goals with us and we’ll pair you up with a professional musician, engineer, educator, or music industry veteran who will help you achieve them in a customized four-week session.
Not every house show needs to be strictly acoustic, but most don’t provide the space or gear for earth-shattering volumes or fancy sound effects. These limited setups sharpen an artist’s performance skills and often lead to new creative interpretations of their music, and more comfort in one’s ability to make do.
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All of our Mainstage courses come with six weeks of 1-on-1 professional mentorship, guidance and feedback on your work. It’s like having a personal trainer, but for music! Whether you’re interested to dive deep into a topic covered by one of our courses, like Orchestration for Strings, Introduction to the Composer’s Craft, or The Creative Power of Advanced Harmony, or just to work with a Mentor directly to achieve a specific goal, we can help you get there.
Whatever state the track is in, what will take it to the next level? If it’s a complete mess, what steps might begin to pull it together? If it’s a good idea that’s poorly executed, how could it be smoothed out? If it’s a promising fragment, how could it be developed into a full thought? If it’s a complete and polished track, could it have lyrics, or another section, or an alternative arrangement?
During this program, the initial conversations with your mentor allow you to articulate your targets and then make them explicit through your Learning Plan. You don’t have to adjust to generic goals — you’re setting your own objectives with your mentor.
A more recent experiment with the same harmonic structure was my 2015 piece Territories, commissioned by What a Neighborhood! and premiered by the viola da gamba quartet Parthenia. The piece undertakes a spiritual journey from “our” world of the everyday, symbolized by conventional piano-like tuning in the first movement, through a murky in-between harmonic world in the second movement, and finally to a place of “otherness” in the third movement, which undertakes three modulations up through one of those wide whole steps to arrive at the interval of a fifth above, rather than the tritone that would occur in conventional tuning.
Don’t make the mistake of running a crowdfunding campaign with little or no planning. Take the time to put these 6 things in place, and you’ll succeed.