Creating the "Gettin' It On" single.
Updated: Jun 28, 2021
A few years ago my father made some joking, half-serious comment to me about the heavy music I typically make and how I should write something good, like a Country song. He knows Country is one of the few genres I don’t listen to, which added to the humor of his joke. I’ve always been able to appreciate talented country music artists, and can recognize when a song is good, but it’s never really done anything for me as a listener. But after his comment I thought it would be fun to try and write a song in a genre I never listen to, and be really funny if it turned out well.
This idea sat in the back of my mind for a while, but I never actively pursued it. I had so many other song ideas in the works it was just something I left to happen when it happened. Then, while in the early stages of writing Dragon for my Surface of the Sun project, the guitar riff that started Gettin' It On came out of nowhere.
The opening guitar riff was something that happened without thinking about it. But I quickly recognized it for what it could be the start of and recorded it into my phone using my acoustic guitar. This new riff actually pulled me away from writing Dragon for a bit as I tried to see where the new path would take me while it was still fresh. Soon, I had ideas for the entire bridge section, which changed little by the end.
After releasing Dragon, I went back to working on Sky View: Book 2. I wrote until I was ready to give it a final edit before sending it to the editor (I still haven’t been able to send it, unfortunately, but it’s done now), then brought my focus back to the Country-ish guitar riff. Now, I say Country-ish because in the end the song ended up far more Rock than Country, which I’m okay with. Each song I do rarely ends up where I anticipated it would. I’ve become comfortable with following my feelings and instincts and letting the song go where it feels natural.
One section of the song responsible for the shift to becoming more Rock is the chugging section of the bridge right before the last chorus. I created this riff early on, and always heard it being driven by distorted guitars. But to do that, and not have a taste of those guitars earlier on, risked it feeling very out of place. The other section of the song that drove the change was the chorus guitar riff. Choruses are often one part of a song I get caught up on, and I’d been without one for a few days. I had many ideas, but wasn’t satisfied. Then, one night while practicing performing The Science Says, I paused and improvised a simple chord progression, which immediately inspired a rough vocal melody, which turned out to be perfect for Gettin' It On. In fact, the words “getting it on” were improvised at that exact time, creating the entire theme of the song (mostly because I could not get that line out of my head. A side effect of being stuck alone during a pandemic I presume…). How The Science Says inspired the chorus for a completely unrelated song is one of the wonderful mysteries of creating art.
As the song continued to shift more towards Rock I considered elements to add specifically to keep the Country vibe. This included a banjitar, the way I sang, specific drum patterns, vocal harmonies, etc. I actually bought a couple Country/Rock songs to listen to since I was unfamiliar with the genre, just to see what was going on. These songs were still very different than what I was doing, but it helped give me a sense of what level of “heaviness” seemed the norm. Well, I’d already long surpassed that, so I just kept going.
This song presented some great opportunities to challenge my writing and producing abilities. I experimented with different sounds and arrangements, using a variety of programmed instruments to complement each other in creating chords. I’ve been studying a lot of musical theory the last while and I applied it where I could. One of the things I liked most that I did was how I used a trumpet section underneath the chugs before the last chorus. They’re not meant to stand out, so you might not have even known they are there, but removing them sucked a lot of energy out of that section. I built a chord progression underneath the guitars that I wouldn’t have ever thought about had I not been studying more theory.
Another thing I tried with this song—which was the first time I’d ever really tried it—was to test it in other key signatures. I normally never do this because when I create something using whatever notes it might be, those notes led to the melody or riff. It was the feeling created by those specific notes that took me down that path. I find changing the key while keeping the same note/chord progression compromises how I interpret the emotion of the piece (as a side note, I’ve since done this with a Surface of the Sun song I’ve been writing. I moved from G Phrygian to C Phrygian to allow me to use the Low C as a root note. It honestly took me a while to get comfortable with how the main riff feels in a slightly higher register). One main reason why I considered this change is because the Drop C power chords I play in it are pretty low and heavy for the genre, even with the increased Rock influence. I experimented in ways allowing me to raise this lowest chord, but ultimately, I kept it as it was when I wrote it because it felt best.
This song was really fun to write. It was a new challenge for me as I experimented in an area I’d never been before. It was also nice to write lyrics based on something fictitious and humorous. I’m looking forward to trying something like this again, but maybe leaning a little more towards Country music. You know, for my dad.
Thanks for reading.