HomeBlogsbillhare's blogHappy Accidents And Other Works Of Genius

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OK, I'm going to come clean here. Probably half of the things that I get "genius" credit for are just the results of happy accidents. A missed beat here, hitting the wrong button there, a voice cracking, or just hitting such a wrong note that a new chord is invented and a CARA Award is just around the corner!

Now that I've admitted my biggest production secret, let me also say that I'm in good company - so many of the world's biggest hits came about this way as well. The Beatles et al just fooled around in the studio for countless hours on end until they would stumble across a sound or riff that could be turned into gold, or sometimes a string breaking on a guitar would make them have to play it in a whole different way. The main point of this is that they EMBRACED these "errors" rather than try to correct them. Just because something is written or arranged a certain way on paper doesn't mean that you have to stick to it.

Of course, there are times and reasons to stay with the black dots (like when doing a traditional piece that you want to keep traditional), but for most Pop work, the palette is wide open - you just need to be able to be open to it yourself!

For example, if the engineer got confused during editing vocal percussion and a couple of measures have the snare where the kick should be and vice-versa, maybe listen again before "fixing the problem". Is it an interesting change? Are you afraid people will think it is "wrong"? The most important thing is that if it sounds cool, it probably IS cool. Don't worry about that the arrangement says, or what the original version did, or even that people might think you made a mistake - sometimes these unintentional additions are what will rescue a mediocre arrangement or performance and put it on BOCA or get a good RARB review. I've seen it happen many times on songs I was ready to just toss off an album, and one little unintentional happening sparks an idea that not only saves it, but makes it the anchor song of that album!

In my next column I will talk about "planned randomness", but for now, look for the little hidden gems in your own work that you think don't belong there, and give them a second listen. When someone comes in on the "wrong part", make sure it's not a "new" part that could add more texture. Be open to stuff that's not printed in the arrangement, and do not be afraid of things you did by accident! It's worked very well for many of us in this business!