It is hard to pin down or define the mechanism by which a blank page ends up as a song. Maybe I am thinking about music, maybe I am not but a tune insinuates itself in my head, a few words crop up, a riff on the guitar opens up possibilities, anything can start the process and there is no real pattern to the method. It might come in seconds and that is exhilarating. On the other hand it might involve hours of insane behaviour prowling round the place talking to myself. It is a madness much to be desired, for without it you are left stranded. Apparently the brain, which is only a small part of the body’s mass, uses up 20% of its energy. When I am on a musical roll it certainly feels that way with sounds, words and ideas pumping around in my head in a maelstrom of activity. There is no doubt in my opinion that it is a state of grace. I have to follow this new Pied Piper who has appeared wherever he or she goes. Whatever happens, it is worth the wait. It is a kind of trance or meditation when time plays tricks and the spirit is in focus.
I came late to writing musicals. Because the show already gives you a context, a plot, characters and interactions it clarifies what needs to be done. Because of this I am more prolific with my songs for musicals than I am writing in a totally free situation.
After the inspiration comes the perspiration. Shaping the song, moulding separate elements together and getting the lyrics to rhyme is a very different story. It can be a slog. I have a well-thumbed rhyming dictionary which bears witness to these efforts over the years. But then again, once the whole thing has taken shape and I start to sing my song then I am back up there with the birds, or maybe on my tropical island. Yes, that’s it, somewhere in the Pacific. On the wings of my music I am wafted away to an exotic place.