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  • Terry Wigmore

A Musician Paints With Sound

As a chaser to my thoughts on rediscovering Bob Ross and his PBS "Joy Of Painting" series of how-to instructional videos, I would like to consider the song-writer's how-to : the step by step of selecting a sound palette and creating melodic ideas, layering them, and producing a final song as an mp3 or .wav file that can be played over and over. How is that done? Let me count the ways ;)

My process may be similar to any other song-writer's in some respects, and different in other regards because I am part of a virtual band with other musicians around the world. If you just click on the menu bar at the top and along the right side of my home screen you can peruse any number of songs that I've co-created with other musicians - Ray Brookes and Andrew Shields (Australia), Per-Olov Lemhagen (Sweden), Laurent (Brittany), Para Lia (Germany), Rich Lodato (US) among others, but the regular crew that I co-create with is in the UK, Kevin Gibbons (Wales) and Keith Allen (England). So, the creative process may be different if I am creating for myself as a solo project, or for others (in which my role is specific and limited) or with others (in which case my role may become quite expansive as the song develops.

My experience with music includes learning to play the cello beginning in Public school ( grade 4,) continuing with private lessons into high school, learning a little theory, as well as performing with my cello as a solo artist and as part of an orchestra, and learning guitar (self-taught) and using guitar in folk/pop/rock bands as my song-writing context for most of the rest of my life. I learned to sing as part of a church choir and continued singing as a folk artist, but I have recently enjoyed discovering my love of smooth jazz and the crooner style vocal. Armed with all of this experience and being willing to be the old dog who can always learn a new trick, I have ventured into digital audio recording and learned how to produce multi-track recordings in a modest home-based studio in the basement. I have tried many genres of music, but seem to do most of my personal creative work on whims without much structure and just using Bob Ross' approach of celebrating all the mistakes ( or denying that are made in the creative process, and wherever you want a sound, is where that sound was supposed to be ;)

I've wandered around a bit, in this blog, but I have not demonstrated how I sit down to create, so let me start by saying I create as a whim, in a moment of inspiration, and as a discipline, setting aside some specific time to sit down at an electronic keyboard, connected via midi to my computer and software (Digital Audio Workstation) and explore VST (Virtual Studio Technology including - virtual instruments, both electronic and orchestral. The process begins with exploring new sounds from new manufacturers or free downloads of sound banks which, for me, is like being a kid in a candy store, hands on the glass display cases drooling over all the new treats on display ;)

I create based on the sounds I hear. If want an ethereal sound I use droning synths and sounds that are vague, undefined and that move around Left to Right creating a sense of motion. If I need a more traditional sound I resort to samples of orchestral instruments and create music much like scoring a classical piece (knowing where and how the real instruments are played and should sound on stage at Massey Hall (Toronto) helps create the context for the authentic sounds. The 70s and 80s ushered in synthesizers and synth pop/rock and I was quickly enamoured with all of these electronic sounds created with oscillators and wave forms, and even now, these sounds find their way into what I create.

All of this can be discovered by clicking on the various tabs on my WIX home page, but if you want a brief curated explanation with examples of the Bob Ross palette of sounds, go to the Jim and Terry Show on You Tube, where my good friend Jim and I talk briefly about the

most recent Wigmore-Allen-Gibbons song and how the creative process of song-writing and producing took place -

The Song, The Worse The Fever, is the song posted at the bottom of the Wigmore-Allen-Gibbons tab here: songs for 2024:

Below: Me in my hobbit hole (the basement fruit cellar which I adopted as a small enclosed recording/producing space)

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