Where does the music comes from? 

I have written a lot of songs in my life. I've come to the conclusion that I am a discoverer of melodies and that my knowledge of music is only to provide harmony for those melodies. Those melodies come from God. I'm just the interpreter and it's a gift from Heaven.

The melodies are already there - up in the air - ready for me to reach up and grab onto. The better a musician I am and the more knowledgeable I am of music, the better the interpretation of that melody is and, the better that I can put my personality into the music.

It's hard for me to explain. When I set down to write the music, something comes over me and, I hear it all in my head at once. My hands glide over the guitar and I try to pick out the notes I hear. One note might be the beginning or a chord that I pick out on accident. There are times when the whole song comes out immediately and other times it takes week and maybe even years to complete. Sometimes the chords come first while I will hear the melody faintly in the background. Other times it's the melody that comes first and there are times when both the melody and chords come out at the same time.

A lot of the songs start on the guitar but I have also written on the piano and the mandolin. I have also written out complete songs without any instrument at all and then had to learn the song like it was written by someone else. There is no pattern to how the song might come into being.

After I have put a song together, I then use my knowledge of music to shape the song and to correct parts of the song that may have mistakes in them. I may change the song's key or I might change the chords. Then I will write the song out on paper. Sometimes it may be a simple chord charts and other times I might write out a complete score with drums, bass, guitar, & the melody. I may write it out by hand or I might put the song into a program on my computer. Then I work on arranging the music around the melody.

Eventually I put every song into my computer. I add bass & drums to the melody & guitar parts. I'll use the computer to record a demo of the song to give to the real musicians and then record the song with the musicians.

This is a long process but it is worth in the end. There are many other details to how I write songs but these are the basic steps that I take for writing music.


James Murrell