Band playing instant songs

Instant Songs

I have always made songs for myself, and in groups, ever since quickly composing The Kidney Donor Song with my friend Blake as an 11 year old responding to my Mum – a GP – wondering why there was no advertising for kidney donors! Was it an Instant Song because it was written quickly – or is there more to it than that?

What is an instant song?

An instant song is made in one session – start to finish? It might be quite short with just a single four-line verse or chorus. It can take from a few minutes to a couple of hours. (Any longer than this and once there is any sort of reflection it becomes a ‘song song’). It might be written by me alone – perhaps responding to a dream or a news story – or it can be written with a group.

Creating instant songs
Band playing instant songs

Where did it start?

I had moved to Devon in 2007 and heard a BBC news story. I had time on my hands and was inspired. I made a song The Baby Black Rhino, mainly using the words from the news report. I recorded it at home. I sent it to the radio station and later that day it was played on the radio.

Creating instant songs

What happened next?

I continued making news stories (‘A Camel A Camel’, ‘The Brixham Bicycle Sandwich Theft Incident’…) and as a result of these was asked by a local high school (Coombeshead College in Newton Abbot) to come and make news songs each week with a group of students. Starting at 9.30am we chose a news story from that day and then had to have a written, recorded and mixed song ready by 11.30am to be played on the school radio. This then led onto a myriad of other instant songs projects – including working with children in Namibia (where I never had more than 40 minutes with a group to make a whole song…) in many other social and care settings and at festivals in addition to continuing to make instant news songs.

Playing instant songs

Instant News Songs

I had a regular spot on Soundart Radio each week making an instant news song after chatting with the presenter at about 7.10am what the story might be, and then having a recorded song played on the radio at 8.45am. You can hear a selection of these here –

This was both enjoyable and a great discipline to work quickly, making decisions, having fun and then seeing what happens to the songs. 

These are all personal songs and mostly written alone, but I have also been making group instant songs regularly.

Instant Group Songs

I lead song-making at festivals (including WOMAD, Cornbury, Wychwood, Interrogate), and have been making instant songs at End Of The Road for ten years now. Mixed ages and interests and abilities all come together and make a song. Everyone participates in creating the title, the lyrics, the melody, the chords, the rhythms and the performance. We take along some instruments for us to play (accordion, trumpet, percussion, violin etc) and a box of percussion for the participants. 

I also make up songs in schools, care homes, hospitals, family orchestras, for theatre companies and more. I am aware of the enjoyment and magic that results from something quickly being made out of nothing.

If you would like to have a song written for, or with, you then please get in touch and find out more.

Manuscript of instant song: "Delicious"
Manuscript of instant song: "Delicious"