Bernadette Saquibal – S.A.C. Challenge #3: CLARITY, COMMUNICATION, COLLABORATION

COMMUNICATION One main aspect of songwriting that has changed is my ability to have the courage to communicate my ideas to other musicians, producers, co-witers.  I was always afraid to voice my opinion in the past about what thoughts and feelings I had about a certain song or idea.  I have not been musically trained professionally.  I do not know anything other than extremely basic theory.  I do not play an instrument well, but I can play rhythm.  I am visceral when it comes to songs rather than technical, and although I do not necessarily know the true genre breakdowns, I have the ability to build structure, melody and write lyrics.  Knowing my weakness and strengths with writing and embracing it all was the only time I was able to begin effectively communicating. I was able to find the resources that fit what I needed for my style and capabilities as an artist.  In saying this, I reached out to my friend who specializes in Hip-Hop and R&B production to help me gain a vibe for this challenge.  It is a great feeling when two people come together and work on a piece that is within neither of our comfort zones.  Watching each other push and grow, build, learn and create is amazing!  You could imagine how much communication would be needed in order for two people to share their ideas in a realm neither has delved into before.  Haha. Trust played a large part of the great communication this week.  I usually express what sound or feel I am going for in a song with analogies, metaphors, visions, or random sounds I’ve put together.  Not everyone would be receptive nor understand this.  I imagine some other musicians would need technical lingo, theoretical explanations, or perhaps have me to play out the song I created on a piano, etc?  This would have been near impossible for me to do quickly if at all this week.  Fortunately, I was able to feel comfortable with the producer and therefore, had the courage to let him know exactly what my ideas were.  I used visions of a boy building a cardboard ship to entice a playmate to join his playtime.  Otherwise, I used to be afraid or too weak of in fear of being judged or criticized for not knowing my music theory.  I’ve come to realize that this is now so.  The communication could not have been better received, understood and relayed back in the final sounds of the product.

COLLABORATION With knowing the background music would be completed by a professional music composer, I was able to find my place in the studio and own it.  I am a singer songwriter.  With knowing this now, I was able to see what the boundaries and obligations were around my job.  I was to create a melody and write the lyrics to the song. When the scratch version was figured out, the song was sent to the producer, who then added and enhanced the song by doing what he knows best…composing music.  In the past, I did not know what I actually wanted for a sound because I felt that the sound wasn’t representing me, as an artist accurately.  In contrast, now working for a project or other artist, the pressures are different and definitely not as hard on myself.  I get to change up the tempo, vibe, rhythm, depending on what’s needed.  Nothing is necessarily about me anymore, it’s about the song. When the main focus is the song, and the best interest of the song is taken in to consideration during collaboration, then it all makes sense.  Each player in the project is able to come to the table with their best assets, and when all parties are able to share a common ground of what the product is supposed to be.  Magic happens!   The pressure is off as a performer.  The pressure is off to be a great vocalist.  The pressure is off regarding what I need to look like, etc.  Long story, short…I was able to let myself be completely myself, communicate my ideas much more comfortably, and with a bit more confidence knowing the way I need to do things right now is ok. This challenge is the best thing that could have happened to me regarding my desire to be a songwriting.  Regardless of what songs get written, what I end up knowing more of in the end, I will complete the challenge having had the opportunity to embrace how I function in my craft.  But I am also grateful that this challenge has also been teaching e how to embrace my weakness, but to also be pushed to get better and only stronger over time.


The creation of CARDBOARD SAILBOAT included the following procedures:

– listening to the reference songs and getting a feel and tempo of these

– collaborating with the producer to figure out the vibe and sounds I wanted to be part of the background music.  We spoke about finding childhood instruments such as a xylophone of glockenspiel for a bit of quirkiness, and then getting a laid back playful groove such as JACK JOHNSON for it.

– In this case, I distinguished the structure of the song first and then I started to fiddle with the melody.  This usually takes the longest to create.  I have become more meticulous than ever making sure each part of the song has some kind of catchy element to it.  Sometimes, the chorus, verse and pre-chorus may be interchangeable because I try to make them all catchy standing on their own. This is something I just realized I do as often as I do, as hope to enhance this behaviour.

– Once melody, is created, probably the easiest and most focussed part occurs.  Lyric writing.  I need to have the melody playing over and over in the background because it allows me to feel the groove.  I am usually dancing to the feel as I am very visceral when it comes to music.  And then I need the space and comfort to allow myself to let go and begin grabbing onto the flow of consciousness, and logging down ideas.  I see my songs as stories or short films and begin to clip the visual  pieces together this way in my mind.  Then I begin to write to each scene.

– I enjoy writing in descriptive form and trying to say the most simplest action in metaphorical or just an alternative way than the norm.  Sometimes I don’t even notice I do it.  Basically, the first rough draft usually consists of way too many words, a page filled with scribbles, or simply a list of rhyming vocabulary.  From this I begin to trim the fat off and refine the structure of things.  I begin to put the puzzle pieces into their templates slots.

– When a scratch layout of melody, lyrics and vocals are complete.  I then record the song and listen back to see if it flows nicely.  I try to see if I get annoyed by its sounds, bothered by the structure or flow of the words, or simply do not enjoy the concept no longer, etc.  When I am satisfied, I send off to the producer to allow him to work his magic and add his creative touches to the music composition.

– Last but not least, I record the song and finalize the product.  I then re-listen to it a few times again to see how I feel.  I leave it alone even and then get back to listening to it and then when I feel good, it’s finally deemed complete:)

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