The feed-back thread - still going strong into YEAR 11

The Sunday Songwriters club is a stretching exercise for your mind. Arpeggios for the brain cells, so to speak. After all, writing is like playing - to get better, you have to practice.
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Chris C
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Re: SSG Year 9 Week 34

Post by Chris C » June 20th, 2011, 3:02 pm

Nick wrote:Hi Chris,

I don't want to do classic rock, unless it's a recent cover with airplay. I'd much rather you take a song that was a "hit" in any of the past five years. To clarify, by hit I mean something you could hear on the radio. Something you might find in the Billboard top 100 of the year for any genre.
Geez Nick, you may have just ruled me out...

I'm in an even more narrow boat than Vic. I just don't listen to pop radio at all, and haven't for years. It doesn't fit my way of life any more. Most of my music collection is classical (I had a shop for a while selling it). I have honestly never knowingly heard a song by Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, The Spice Girls, Greenday, Justin Bieber, etc. The only Madonna song I can remember hearing was Like A Virgin - many decades ago.Their publicity machinery ensures that I do see references to them all on the internet or in print media, but I just don't hear them. This is not because I'm making statements about them being not worth the effort, but I just don't seek them out or see any need to make room to listen to them. I've already got more music than I can listen to. I've worked from home for the last 20+ years, so I don't get music pressed on me in a workplace or bus, etc.

You might also note that the two submissions you've had already were both based on much older songs. Coldplay apparently released Yellow over a decade ago and Waterboys had a success with Fisherman's Blues more than 20 years ago. You may need to relax your 5 year rule a bit mate. What's the big deal about new? A good song is a good song, whenever it was written. :)

Chris

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Re: SSG Year 9 Week 34

Post by Chris C » June 20th, 2011, 3:48 pm

Blind Kiwi wrote: There must be a few Andre Rieu tunes you could try your hand at then Chris, Nick didn't say which demographic of popular music and he is getting a lot of airplay down here ;)
AAAARGHHHH! :shock: Not in this house he isn't.

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Re: SSG Year 9 Week 34

Post by jamestoffee » June 20th, 2011, 4:16 pm

Chris C wrote:Coldplay apparently released Yellow over a decade ago
Ok...I got caught :( It was the first song that popped into my mind. I didn't bother looking up the release date. I just jumped right in......

......I guess I was just thinking I had heard it in the last 5 years :P .....not the same though :roll:

Well if time permits, I might give it another go.......by checking the year released first :wink:

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Re: SSG Year 9 Week 34

Post by Chris C » June 20th, 2011, 6:12 pm

Nick wrote:
Why so limited? Writing style changes over time. Trying to write a song like Kern wouldn't translate to today.
I do get what you mean about some of today's disposal chart stuff Nick. But "wouldn't translate" for who? We're not all 13. It translates perfectly well if you're out of puberty. The average age of the people who actually write songs at the SSG would be what - around 40 to 50? Frank Zappa famously said that the commercial pop market was aimed at a 14 year old girl named Debbie, and all that's happened since is that the Debbie's are probably even younger now. But there are still plenty of people who buy music that isn't pulp pop. Including most of us here apparently. I'm not that fussed about trying to write songs that would sound cool to the kids that like the commercial chart stuff, now that I'm not a kid any more. It doesn't work.

Look at "The Great American Songbook" under its various names. It's still being enthusiastically mined by many artists. Rod Stewart sold zillions of copies of his version - four albums worth, or was it more? We have it in a 4 CD compilation released in 2007 - not that long ago. Michael Jackson recorded the Jerome Kern song I mentioned above , All The Things You Are, as did Pat Metheny and a busload of others. Brian Ferry's collection of older songs - "As Time Goes By" - is a gem (OK Jacko's dead, but some of them are still clinging on.. :wink: ). Some of the Beatles stuff is now almost 50 years old and it still gets played (see your own posting picture, taken from the Beatles number 1 hits CD for conformation of that). As do the songs of that dear old gentleman from Minnesota that just turned 70. Here's one of his songs on Youtube - nearly 27 million views now. Not bad. Make You Feel My Love. I've got that song on his 1997 album Time Out of Mind.

But, by a stroke of luck, the version I linked to was recorded in 2008 by Adele, who is apparently enjoying great success with her music. How could I have forgotten about her?? :shock: ...Darned senility...can't recall anything recent these days.... It's only a couple of weeks since I actually went out and bought both her albums, after stumbling across one of her clips on Youtube. Probably that one. Must be our only two 21st century CDs... Looks like I can sneak in under the ropes after all...

Cheers,

Chris

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Re: SSG Year 9 Week 34

Post by Nick » June 20th, 2011, 7:06 pm

Uhh Chris....there is a point to this exercise. That's why I made it like it is.

I'm not trying to get you to change your listening preferences. It can be all Jerome Kern all the time in your house. But this is an exercise about stretching. I don't want people to write a set of lyrics to match something they are comfortable with. The fact that writers here are in a demographic different then debbie makes this a good exercise.

Really, did this go on every week before I got here?
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Re: SSG Year 9 Week 34

Post by Chris C » June 20th, 2011, 7:15 pm

Nick wrote:
Really, did this go on every week before I got here?
No. :)

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Re: SSG Year 9 Week 34

Post by katreich » June 21st, 2011, 4:32 am

"Really, did this go on every week before I got here?'

In all fairness, no one else has been so specific in the assignments. I'm not complaining at all. I, for one, really need the stretch, but I knew, as soon as I saw the assignment, that this would be an issue for some of the regulars here.

Guys, go online and listen! Chris, if you like the mutli- instrumentals of Mumford and son, check out Arcade Fire. The group I used, the Killers, have a couple of fantastic albums. You mentioned Adele, and if you'd like a new twist on R&B, try listening to Fitz and the Tantrums. There's a lot more out there than Brittany and Justin Bieber. Even our old friends like Paul Simon and Ray Davies have released new albums this year. Thank goodness, my favorite radio station(WXRT) plays a great mix of classics and new stuff like the people listed above.
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Re: SSG Year 9 Week 34

Post by Nick » June 21st, 2011, 3:38 pm

Good point.

Well I do have an end goal in mind, to help make all of us better writers. If it gets to be too much, someone IM me and let me know.

I'll try to do a better job of explaining the point of the exercise when I post it.

I have seen a lot of work put up pretty quickly though, something must be clicking. :D
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Re: SSG Year 9 Week 34

Post by jamestoffee » June 21st, 2011, 4:37 pm

Nick,

I've always enjoyed the weekly assignments.

What I particularly like about yours last week and this week is these are assignment types that can (and should) be repeated often on our own to add to our songwriting bag of tricks. They are specific in a way, but not specifically dependent on having to wait for the next post to try to write our next song.

James

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Re: SSG Year 9 Week 34

Post by Laz » June 22nd, 2011, 8:13 am

Chris C wrote:
Nick wrote:
Really, did this go on every week before I got here?
No. :)
Vic used to lock his assignments immediately after posting.

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Re: SSG Year 9 Week 34

Post by Nick » June 22nd, 2011, 9:11 am

Smart man, that Vic.
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Re: SSG Year 9 Week 34

Post by Chris C » June 22nd, 2011, 4:22 pm

katreich wrote: I'm not complaining at all. I, for one, really need the stretch, but I knew, as soon as I saw the assignment, that this would be an issue for some of the regulars here.
I'm not complaining either. :) :) If it comes across that way then it's simply that posts don't show voice tones. Apologies if it does seem that way. For people who listen to radio regularly a 5 year restriction is no problem. Those of you who posted quickly have clearly heard a fair bit of recent stuff and can select something to work on from a range. I simply haven't. It's not because I dislike it, it's because radio just hasn't been a part of my life for the last 18 years (I won't go into the reasons, but I had a major change in my way of life). Radio wasn't actively rejected or anything, it just stopped featuring. We also don't watch much TV. No big ‘anti' statements, just other things in its place.

If the idea is that we should be stretched by doing something structurally different then that's absolutely fine - it's a great idea - but that wasn't explained until part of the way through this discussion. Discussion seems like a good thing to me. It's also only a stretch if you don't normally favour that area. If you do listen to it a lot then the stretch would be going the other way, and attempting more traditional styles. Both are perfectly valid and useful exercises. I could find something that uses more familiar rhyming patterns (in fact I did - Adele's cover of Bob Dylan's song, which uses two different internal rhyming patterns). But that wouldn't be so much of a stretch. Nick is absolutely right about styles changing and the structures being different - so I've been trawling round the internet looking at recent stuff that's different.

It's certainly been an interesting exercise. Usually I can crank out words more or less at the drop of a hat. They might be corny, bad or unpolished, but the word tap is usually easy to turn on. But yesterday was a real struggle. I was hammering it out word by word, and getting nothing I liked. Even more intriguing was that I had no trouble strumming along and improvising new tunes to the unfamiliar lyrics. Normally it's exactly the other way around - words come fairly easily, but the music's a struggle.
Guys, go online and listen! Chris, if you like the mutli- instrumentals of Mumford and son, check out Arcade Fire. The group I used, the Killers, have a couple of fantastic albums. You mentioned Adele, and if you'd like a new twist on R&B, try listening to Fitz and the Tantrums. There's a lot more out there than Brittany and Justin Bieber. Even our old friends like Paul Simon and Ray Davies have released new albums this year.
Thanks very much for those suggestions Kathy. :D I'll check them out. I made a start on 3 different unfamiliar songs yesterday, but I couldn't get any traction.... yet. So I'll try targeting the bands you suggested. If you don't hear from me for a couple of weeks it won't be because I've walked off in disinterest, or whatever, it's because it's given me much more than a week's worth to chew on. I've also still got songs from David's assignments that I didn't finish in time. Lots to work on..

Thanks for the help Kathy, and thanks to Nick for the assignment and for hanging in there with the clarifications .
:)

Cheers,

Chris
Last edited by Chris C on June 22nd, 2011, 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: SSG Year 9 Week 34

Post by Chris C » June 22nd, 2011, 4:30 pm

Laz wrote:
Chris C wrote:
Nick wrote:
Really, did this go on every week before I got here?
No. :)
Vic used to lock his assignments immediately after posting.
But did you notice that Vic himself was an early responder to this thread? :wink:

Seriously though, I think discussion and debate about the topics can be worthwhile and interesting. :) It's why I come here rather than just follow the song-writing books. It's certainly good to talk about the specifics of people's posted songs in their own threads, but there are often broader things about the assignment or topic itself that are well worth debating too. Forums are great for that.

Cheers,

Chris

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Re: Comments on Week 33 if you please

Post by Vic Lewis VL » June 22nd, 2011, 4:56 pm

I found it interesting....different from anything we've tried before, which is always a good thing. Writers should experiment with genres and styles outside of their comfort zone, or else how are we/they going to keep our/their writing fresh?

My trouble is, even though I'm writing fairly regularly again, there are only so many ways I can write a song. If I'm writing about me, fine - I can call on past experiences and visualise them. If I'm writing about a subject I'm not too sure about, I have to put myself in someone else's shoes and visualise through their eyes.

I know my strengths - admittedly, not many, but I can usually come up with a few good phrases or lines that haven't been done to death over the years. I have a good and extensive vocabulary which I can always augment with a couple of phrases or good rhymes from a Thesaurus. I can put a catchy tune together from time to time.

My weaknesses are far more extensive. If I listen to a recording of any song I've written, I can tell exactly what I was listening to at the time. Listening to the songs I've written and recorded via sounclick, I can hear Dylan, Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Mott The Hoople, almost every song is derivative - to my ears. About the only two that don't sound like pastiches/ rip-offs are Blink Of An Eye and Nothing I Can Do (although I'm not sure about that one, sounds half-Beatles and some Dire Straits...) I'm not one for flowery imagery - I'm a blunt Northern bloke, call a spade a bloody shovel. I'm not good on love songs - find it hard to put my feelings down on paper for everyone to see.

So, in short, although I'm actually quite pleased with most of the songs I've recorded, there's always that nagging "I could do better if I REALLY stretched myself" feeling - all these years of writing songs (since I was a teenager - and I turned 54 this month) and I still feel as if I'm searching for my own identity.

I suppose I'll just have to keep on trying, then.....

BTW, the song I did come up with for this assignment was pretty close in mood and feel to one I wrote earlier this year for David's "not your grandad's SSG" assignment - I was pretty close to my grandad, and I think he'd have been pretty pleased with the way they turned out. Or at least, with my political leanings.....So thanks for that....

:D :D :D

Vic
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Re: Comments on Week 33 if you please

Post by Chris C » June 22nd, 2011, 5:42 pm

Vic Lewis VL wrote: So, in short, although I'm actually quite pleased with most of the songs I've recorded, there's always that nagging "I could do better if I REALLY stretched myself" feeling - all these years of writing songs (since I was a teenager - and I turned 54 this month) and I still feel as if I'm searching for my own identity.

I suppose I'll just have to keep on trying, then.....


:D :D :D

Vic
I know exactly what you mean Vic. I turn 65 this year, but the feeling is exactly the same "I could do better if..." :)

The stretching thing is a puzzle though. Pushing out of your comfort zone is often interesting and useful, but it does rather suggest that you have a "comfort zone" to push out from in the first place.... How many of us here do? I feel like an amateur in all areas. An improving amateur perhaps, but still very much an amateur.

My biggest problem with even the most basic SSG assignments is simply time. I've probably got more to spare than most posters here, but it's rare for me to finish one completely. So I have a big pile of partly done loose ends now. This was an interesting assignment, which I had a lot of fun with,but I don't think that anybody finished it. Most people either skipped or varied some of the 'rules' - which seems reasonable enough. Some got good photos but no song at all, others got a song but passed on the album art, etc. I got close but didn't record any music.

I think that as song-writers, most of us are still searching for our own identity. Writing is a bit like acting, you have to assume another identity but still draw on your own experience and identity to build something new. That can get the head spinning a bit at times, I think. :D So what do you and I do? Do we continue to try and build a solid core of 'comfort zone' or expand out on somewhat shaky foundations? I don't know the answer. :?

It's a balancing act. A week is very short time, even for many professional song-writers, to get a properly finished result. So do we just pick a topic per month or try to do one each week? Part of me says definitely do the first, but it's also hard to resist switching to a new challenge, especially as it usually comes along just when you've really got to roll up the sleeves and do some hard shovelling on the previous one... :wink:

So... the assignment was good fun, worth doing, and a new and interesting twist on doing things. I just wish I had a 1,000 hour week and a more solid foundation to build off quickly. Which is really a key point. Almost every song-writing forum I've seen ends up focusing mostly on lyrics. Probably because they're easy to see on a screen and easy to discuss. But the bed-rock has to be the music - which is much harder to get any comments or targeted assistance on. Unfortunately it seems that if you set music assignments then it's much harder to get submissions, which is a pity (there actually was a forum here for it for a while, but apart from Nuno and I hardly anybody joined in and it was removed. :( ). So I did enjoy this one, but I'm looking forward to Week 35. Just hope I can get something going for Week 34 first. If not I'll just take something else and do it off-line anyway.

Cheers,

Chris

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