Thought I’d start a new thread instead of derailing an existing one…

The backstory: A few years back, I got stuck in and was able to concentrate on finishing a concept album from start to finish. Although I have no real intention of releasing it for public consumption (beyond showing off a track here or there), it nevertheless gives me a sense of pride/achievement whenever I listen to it. Lately I’ve been thinking it’s time for round two, especially after seeing other people talking about it…

The question: So for any of you guys who would prefer to release a coherent body of work (ep, album, 3 album series etc) rather than individual tracks, how do you go about it?

Start with a concept and go with it? Write a shedload of music in one go and cherrypick? Methodical assembly line? Something else?

Very good plan !!!
I can’t help you I’m afraid, as i never managed to make an album…
Let us know when it’s finished, and I would be interested in your story > how you managed it :confused:

I/we never managed to finish an album. Well, the guys I jam with got a dozen or so tracks that sound good together but they never got finished off.

I sort of went down the “write shit loads and cherry pick those that work together” but have always been tempted to pick a theme/vibe and to force myself to stick to it. I wouldn’t say go full “concept album” as they are usually horrendous but some way of thematically linking things.

This is off on a tangent but I live in an area of town called “The Inches” and yesterday I was thinking about how cool it would be to say to a group of people that “The Inches” is the title of your work, write whatever you like. So you might get a WWI movie about small land gains for huge loss of life, or maybe an American Football story, or some horror set in an old sppoky house called The Inches, a biopipc about a journalist, etc etc. The reason I bring that brain fart up is that maybe there is a comparable approach to thematically linking songs. I have no idea! But it would be cool to look into.

That automatically made me think of Neil Gaiman.

It’d be kinda interesting to hand out a bunch postcards, magazine articles, old photos etc to different musicians, and get them to write a piece of theme music.

Story Time!!

At the time of the last one I was kinda frustrated about how by not working with any singers (had previously tried, failed, and eventually given up), and having decided to avoid sampling movie dialog I was having trouble with the idea of assigning any kind of meaning to the music. Which was really quite depressing.

At some point I started thinking about the old composers - and how so much of their music was based around themes & stories & events. Think Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite and the iconic “In the Hall of the Mountain King”. So I decided to try the same thing, but with electro-industrial etc.

I chose my story (“Ragnarok: The Musical” - cheesy I know, but I’ve always been sort of a mythology & history nerd, and it’s also a slight homage to Robert Rankin’s Armageddon: The Musical), broke it up into a few major scenes, and then used each scene as the basis of a thematic musical piece.

It almost feels like once I got to that point, the whole thing wrote itself! Doing it that way also gave the whole thing a flow where not every song sounded the same, but overall it managed to stay coherent. Hardest bit was getting a decent mix - didn’t have the greatest environment at the time. All up it only took a month or two, although I was unemployed and had a lot of free time.

Funny thing is, as enjoyable as the process was I haven’t found any other themes that hold my focus like that since. I imagine there’s probably all kinds of interesting stories and ideas out there though.

Thanks for the encouragement!

I also saw somebody on this forum was working on some sort of space opera involving martian goats(?) Awesome stuff!!

I’m sort of (very slowly) working on a concept album titled Ass. It’s basically an album with varied musical styles, where the recurring theme is the female bottom area.

for me the best way to do an album is to work with more tracks than you will be really releasing on the final album. choose what is best, etc.
have a concept is very important, but it can be done after some tracks ready.
my firth experience was the album “infusão” that was a collection of tracks that I did in 2010-2012. I just realize that was an album after I put it on soundcloud all together in a “set”. than I worked the concept and went further on it.
my second experience was an EP of my band (Tropical Selvagem). We have more than 13 songs, but the money was only for a fill or none (heheh) we made it all by our hands (including the hand made art cover)… so we had to choose 5 songs. And we did it always thinking about the concept of it all.
I don’t to fallow just one specific vibe or material. I like albuns that have a narrative. like a house with many ambients or a road with many ways.
I don’t recommend a fixed way to do it. the best way is always having fun.

I would definitely recommend having a central theme. You need some sort of glue to tie things together and to determine certain stylistic choices. Dark theme = minor chords, etc. I go so far as to make a backstory, like an actor writing a backstory for his character that might not even be in the script. It gives a bit more weight and makes it more fun for the creator.

I wrapped my latest album in a sort of loose narrative backstory about a mysterious government agency based on 70’s conspiracy thrillers, cult films, sci-fi, etc. Somewhat geeky, but it was fun and challenging to try and tie everything together in a package. It also helps with creating the artwork, website, and music videos. Everything will have a (somewhat) cohesive feel. Granted, it’s an evolution, sometimes over years, so things might blur a bit from original ideas.

My project… (sorry to spam, but you can see website, video, and listen to songs, as well as read a bit about the Mt Indigo “Institute”. :wink: )

Take your time coming up with the backstory. You don’t have to write a whole movie script, but a loose outline will lay a strong foundation for your project. Then break down that “script” into different clear scenes. For each scene, see if you can come up with a song. Kind of like a film composer scores a movie I guess, but in this case there’s no actual film, obviously, just a loose outline and collection of scenes that you wrote yourself and play inside your head. Now try and convey what you see to others through your music. 10-12 scenes = the album.

Good luck, rex! I agree with others, most of all, remember to have fun. No one will ever care about your project as much as you do, so might as well enjoy the process and satisfy yourself first, and others a waaaay distant second.

Funny thing is, as enjoyable as the process was I haven’t found any other themes that hold my focus like that since. I imagine there’s probably all kinds of interesting stories and ideas out there though.

1 Option could be waching your dreams, that’s where Edison found the solution for his light - bulb… sometimes we are fixed looking in 1 direction for an answer while it knoks at our door at the other side of the house :wink: