Friday, February 21, 2014

chaos/improv/jamming is not linear..U2 and the songwriting process

From Forbes article:
..."The thing about U2 songs,” guitarist The Edge told Rolling Stone about the making of their forthcoming album, “is there is no set way they come into being. A couple of songs on the album have literally been like, ‘We’re all together, here’s some chords, let’s see what happens.’ And suddenly, an hour later, there is a song, an arrangement and a recording. Other things, you know there is something great in there, how to make it really count.”

U2’s songwriting started out chaotic because they were four teenagers who didn’t know what they were doing. Nearly four decades later, and despite becoming accomplished musicians, they have held on to their chaotic method of songwriting.

Most bands have one or two primary songwriters who bring semi-completed songs to the rest of the band, who polish them and stamp the band’s sound onto them. U2 is one of the rare bands that initiates the songwriting process with skeletal ideas that they jam, or improvise on, until a song emerges. Or doesn’t. It’s an ambiguous, long, and frustrating process with many false starts and dead ends. It takes patience, commitment and faith.

Which U2 has. They’ve been through enough transitions as a band – for example from the soulful Joshua Tree to the edgy Achtung Baby and back – to know that as a creative unit, they are most likely to grow by maintaining this improvisational working method. Because it’s worked for them in the past, U2 has resisted the temptation to adopt a more formulaic approach.

Research shows that in other creative domains, significant work comes from a chaotic rather than a structured linear process....continued

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