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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jamestoffee
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Finding Your Personal Constellation of Images

Post by jamestoffee » July 23rd, 2011, 12:19 am

This was an interesting experiment I was reading about from Rebecca McClananahan's book "Word Painting".

Definition: Constellation of Images -supplies the metaphor in everything the writer writes

She states that Stanley Kunitz referred to writer's having a "Constellation of Images" in them. For Kunitz, his constellation formed around his father. For McClananahan it was the death of an infant sister the year McClananahan was born.

The experiment: Look over your past lyrics for words or ideas that keep resurfacing. McClananahan states, "Paying attention to reurring motifs in our work can help us discover the sources of our originality....and extend isolated metaphores" (McClananahan page 100).

So one way to do this is to use wordle.com
You cut and paste your lyrics and press "go" and it generates word pictures.

You can try it for a group of your songs, or it's fun to do with lyrics for just one song as well.

I put a large group of my lyrics in and the strongest reoccurring words were the following: know, time, love.

It's fun to play around with the different settings in wordle. It could also be an interesting CD cover if you put all the lyrics to the CD in wordle and then make the picture part of the cover art :idea:

http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/3866448 ... uation_Day

http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/3866458 ... ckalope%29

http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/3866545 ... f_my_songs

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Vic Lewis VL
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Y10, Week 2.....

Post by Vic Lewis VL » November 12th, 2011, 5:18 pm

I enjoyed this week's assignment. I may have mentioned it before, but I'm a huge Springsteen Fan - I was the only person in my circle of friends who was into Bruce BEFORE Born To Run, and I used to take "Greetings From Asbury Park" and "The Wild, The Innocent(etc)" everywhere with me on the off chance I could get someone else to listen.

I found it pretty easy to get in a Springsteen state of mind....but there is one problem. No way this song's going to be a keeper, at least in it's present state....it sounds too much like a bad parody. Don't get me wrong, I do actually like what I've come up with...but one of the biggest problems I have as a songwriter is trying to find my own identity. I've written over 150 songs (!) for SSG assignments, and on nearly every one of them, I can tell who I was listening to at the time.....I can hear Kinks, Beatles, Stones, Manfred Mann, Who, Dylan (a LOT of Dylan - Blood On Your Hands [written in a hotel room in Texas] and Back On Track are the most obvious!) Mott The Hoople, Lou Reed, CCR, Status Quo, Hendrix, more Stones, more Beatles, blah blah blah. What I don't hear is an awful lot of Vic Lewis....about the only song on my soundclick site that doesn't sound like anyone else is Blink Of An Eye, and I'm quite proud of that one.

Maybe the ultimate SSG assignment would be to write a song that sounds uniquely you? A song that the listener COULDN'T tell who your musical influences are from listening to it? Now THAT would be a tough one!

Year 10, eh? Rock on, Nick!!!!

:D :D :D

Vic
"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

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Re: The feed-back thread - still going strong into YEAR 10

Post by Vic Lewis VL » November 12th, 2011, 5:58 pm

And then I thought - I found my own voice on "Shipyard Blues" and "Sentinels Of Democracy" - two fairly recent songs. They're both fairly highly charged political rants - us against them, if you like. yep, that's me speaking. Not Bob Dylan influenced at all. It's all me. Such a shame that one of them sounds like Wish You Were Here and the other one sounds like a Mott The Hoople rip-off.

Bugger, back to the drawing board. Why can't I just be ME?

:oops: :oops: :oops:

Vic
"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

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Re: The feed-back thread - still going strong into YEAR 10

Post by jamestoffee » November 13th, 2011, 3:07 am

Hi Vic,
Vic Lewis VL wrote:Bugger, back to the drawing board. Why can't I just be ME?
“Good writers borrow, Great writers steal.” :wink:
― T.S. Eliot
http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/236584

I'm carrying over from the "Y10W2 Wish" song. http://forums.guitarnoise.com/viewtopic ... 23&t=51967

I think we all feel this way. One way I think I am trying to be clever....maybe not....is don't take too much from one song....kind of like vampire rules about feeding :twisted: ......
:idea: just take one phrase from a song then mesh it together with a phrase from another song and do that about 3-5 times.....It's even better if the melody lines are from different artists.

:idea: once you have the "basic" idea for the melody, go back and re-sing the melody to fit the words.....underline or high light the most important words in the phrase and hold the note out a bit longer on that word....and/or go up in pitch on that key word(s) to add emphasis. I tried this idea with " Y9W51 Motor" The first version is a generic melody line....the second version, I tried to bring the words to life.
Version 1
http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11141252
Version 2
http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11143839

:idea: Use the "borrowed" sound, but layer something on top of it to make a new sound....When I first did this intro, it sounded way too much like U2's in the name of love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxtwKC5uB2A
.....so I added an ascending riff on top of the descending riff and it masked the original lick
http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11057984

Helpful?......other suggestions?

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Re: The feed-back thread - still going strong into YEAR 10

Post by Vic Lewis VL » December 5th, 2011, 5:52 pm

Hmm, here we go again....write a song in the style of your fave writer. Yes, I can do that....but that's not what I signed up for. It's not hard to write a pastiche, or even a complete rip-off - which is what I've done this week. I might be a little hypercritical here, but when I was settingthe assignments a couple of years ago, I was trying to get people thinking outside the box, yet developing their own personal style...

Seems to me, the last few assignments are trying to put me in the position of writing songs (maybe outside the usual AABC) for someone else....it might be just me, but I want something to stimulate me into writing something for MY voice, not for someone else. I can do Dylan, I can do Davies - I'd like to do ME!!!

:) :) :)

Vic
"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

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Re: The feed-back thread - still going strong into YEAR 10

Post by Nick » December 6th, 2011, 3:43 pm

By observing how other artists do what they do, you gain insight into how you can do what you want to do. Think about how many things are taught by imitating the experts. Just about any art form falls into that category.

So don't just write it, think about what you had to do to make it seem like that artist. What do they do to write? How is Springsteen different than what you wrote as your favorite artist? Can you take that knowledge and add it to your personal toolbox? Of course you can. That is the point of the past couple of exercises.
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My songs (Some not suitable for minors)

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Re: The feed-back thread - still going strong into YEAR 10

Post by Vic Lewis VL » December 6th, 2011, 4:15 pm

yeah, I get the point of the exercise Nick....I guess I'm just getting frustrated that I can't come up with a truly original song that sounds like me, rather than a weak rip-off of someone else. There are 30-odd songs on my Soundclick site....there's only one that I think doesn't sound like anyone else, and that's "Masquerade." Probably the song I'm most proud of, too - I had to work hard on the chords for that one. Everything else, I can tell exactly who I was listening to at the time.....

These assignments where you have to write a song in someone else's style, I find them easy, yet frustrating. It's all too easy for me to write lyrics in the style of Springsteen, Dylan, Ray Davies etc AND to rip off (or copy, or plagiarise) their musical style as well....I once wrote a song in the style of Jim Steinman, just to prove it could be done - my daughter took one look at the lyrics I'd written, and said, "which Meat Loaf song is that? I don't recognise it...." - and I threw it straight in the bin. Gone forever.

I have to say, though, you're doing a great job of making us think a lot more about what we're writing, and thinking ouside our normal comfort zone. That's what I tried to do when I was in charge, and I think there were some pretty good songs came from those two years. You've gone even further, and you're really s t r e t c h i n g us.....

What you haven't done yet, and what I tried to do wherever possible, was set a topical assignment....like flight 1549, or the 50th anniversry of Buddy's death. But hey, that's up to you, you're running the show.....

Anyway, you catch me b*tchin', just ignore it - just my way of letting off steam. I do have one quite original song up my sleeve that I've yet to record, but even that pinches part of the chord sequence from "Shelter From The Storm!"

:D :D :D

Vic
"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

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Re: The feed-back thread - still going strong into YEAR 10

Post by Nick » December 6th, 2011, 4:43 pm

Vic, I always know you have the best interest of this place at heart. I never take anything you say as just bitchin'. I take it as just how could we make it better. I appreciate that.
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Do you want to share?

Post by jamestoffee » January 9th, 2012, 2:45 am

Dear All,

I'm wondering how others would feel about this idea. It comes from my reading of Derek Sivers (founder of CD Baby) http://sivers.org/ and John's recent post http://forums.guitarnoise.com/viewtopic ... 23&t=52232

:idea: What if there was a "brainstorming post" for each SSG assignment?....It could be like a collaborative "bin" of ideas that anyone that wanted to could contribute to or draw from for their song assignment for the week.

Logistically, it could be done simply as replies to the assignment of the week.

Feedback?

James

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Alanis Morissette on Songwriting Process and Writer's Block

Post by jamestoffee » February 2nd, 2012, 6:08 pm

Alanis Morissette on her Songwriting Process and the meaning or cause of Writer's Block

http://www.alanis.com/category/news/

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Melody before chords approach to songwritng

Post by jamestoffee » February 10th, 2012, 6:54 pm

If you feel your chord progressions are domineering your songs and weakening your melodies and overall song, or if you can't break out of the same chord progressions every time you try to write a new song, try this approach to songwriting:

http://www.songwriting.net/blog/bid/100 ... t-Melodies

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Free Berklee Exclusive: Songwriting Handbook Vol. 1

Post by jamestoffee » March 10th, 2012, 1:11 am

Some tips on songwriting from the teachers at Berklee Music:

Handbook Topics

10-Step Process to Successful Commercial Songwriting
Song licensing and Placement Opportunities
How to Write a Hit Song
Making Your Melody Work
The Foundation of Your Song: Harmony
Setting Your Words to Music
How to Avoid Writer's Block

https://www.berkleemusic.com/welcome/so ... FaH/KecIVF

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Re: The feed-back thread - still going strong into YEAR 10

Post by Vic Lewis VL » October 22nd, 2012, 3:17 pm

Well I think I can say the last few months have been the worst period of my life - not just my personal life, but also in a songwriting sense. Just haven't been bothered putting chords to lyrics, pen to paper....it all seemed so trivial. However....I'm going to make a real effort to start writing again in year whatever-it-is-after next Sunday. I miss it. There's a lot of things I've missed these last few months. Writing songs is one of them, I've been doing it for so long it's like a part of me has gone walkabout this year.

Definitely been the worst (both in terms of quantity and quality) year of my SSG life.....I haven't been around for a while, but I'm just about getting back to grips with life again and I'm looking forwar to year (?11? has it really been so long? Oh my....)

So I'll see you all in week 1....hopefully.....good luck till then, and keep rockin' and rollin'!

All the very best, my friends.....

:D :D :D

Vic
"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

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Re: Free Berklee Exclusive: Songwriting Handbook Vol. 1

Post by John Sargent » October 25th, 2012, 9:29 am

jamestoffee wrote:Some tips on songwriting from the teachers at Berklee Music:

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
https://www.berkleemusic.com/welcome/so ... FaH/KecIVF
Got a link to the content? I don't feel like giving my spam receptor information to this place.

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Re: The feed-back thread - still going strong into YEAR 10

Post by jamestoffee » October 25th, 2012, 6:58 pm

MrEWorm wrote: Got a link to the content? I don't feel like giving my spam receptor information to this place.
Looks like you might need to sign up on the mail list. Then it lets you download the ebook.

It's a reputable music school, but if you don't want to bother getting their emails and canceling after you download the songwriting tips, then don't bother with it.

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