Community September 27, 2019

Senior Projects 2019 – Music City Madness—More Than a Melody

Senior Projects 2019


High School: Sun Valley Community School

Post-Graduation Plans: Basic Cadet Training, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.

I walk into Legends Studio. The first image I recognize is a wall with the names and album covers of legends such as Lee Brice, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, and Merle Haggard. I hear the tapping on the engineer’s keyboard as he begins to open a new project for each of my songs about to be recorded, and I’m filled with nothing but excitement. I meet the studio musicians, show them my acoustic tracks, and they go into the sound room and start. Out of nowhere, I get thrown into the vocal booth, and the drummer exclaims “One, two, three, four… ”

Music has always been an important part of my life, not just because of good songs or the pleasure of writing one, but because it is an outlet that allows me to find bigger things than myself. I have been able to cope with issues pertaining to more than myself. And, I have been able to put my own feelings into words. Writing music is a unique experience for every song written, as each one is different from another. New stories, experiences, and wisdom are seen in each, and this is why I have found a strong love for writing songs and music itself. The lyrics and melodies in songs are what set songs apart. Jason Blume, journalist for Broadcast Music Incorporated, explains that these two components are what make songs famous. He writes:

“A new angle—a fresh way of expressing a topic that millions of listeners relate to coupled with unique lines of lyric can be the bait that hooks in an audience. Finding new ways to express ourselves becomes even more critical when writing about topics such as love and physical attraction, subjects that are frequently addressed in songs. Songs that rise above the competition rarely do so with lyrics that are predictable or cliché.”

Diehl in the recording studio. Photo courtesy Hunter Diehl

This quote explains how songs need to be “fresh” and “different” in order to become famous. And, when done correctly, the combination of unique lyrics and melodies brings about real topics in unparalleled ways, making particular songs relatable to listeners. The importance of connecting with listeners is what allows songs to gain traction and therefore be seen as new and popular.

For me, music comes naturally. There is a feeling that comes from music that allows us as humans to decompress and refresh ourselves. The Pfizer medical team writes, “The brain actually releases a chemical called dopamine that has positive effects on mood … According to some researchers, music may even have the power to improve our health and well-being.” This shows how we may actually be healthier when exposed to more music that relates to our mood. Music has always given me an outlet to escape personal troubles, while also being an area that I have a passion for. This idea seems to translate to all musicians such as those I met at Legends Studio. Their level of confidence and talent seemed to stem directly from their jobs as people who play music eight hours a day, five days a week.

I hadn’t thought that the second day of my project would turn out to be so monumental to my experience, but once I stepped foot in the vocal booth, my music came to life when I was in the company of such a high level of talent that the studio musicians encompassed. Many describe this part of music as magical, and it truly was, as my ears are still ringing from the allure of hearing my songs turned into masterpieces. And, in speaking with those in business positions of the music industry, I found that this business contains myriads of people all working for one musician or band. “It is like a bike wheel where the spokes, the managers, producers, lawyers, marketing agents, etc., all lead to the center of the wheel, known as the artist,” explains talent manager Zac Koffler. The music industry is unlike any other as the diversity of positions involved all require talent, hard work, and time, which is what I learned on my journey to discover how music is made, and how a song comes from a small town to a big time hit.

This article appears in the Fall 2019 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.