||The Muse's News
Issue 1.10 - January 1999
In This Issue:
ISSN 1480-6975. Copyright 1998 - Jodi Krangle. For more info about placing ads, send an inquiry.
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Well, I'm really glad I managed to catch you at this time of the year. A very Happy New Year to everyone and thank you for helping to make The Muse's News a success! We're steadily approaching the thousandth subscriber. I'll let you know when the milestone is reached. Meanwhile, feel free to pass on this publication to friends. Who knows? It might be of interest to them too.
There are a couple of things I'd like to mention. Speaking of The Muse's News (well, you're reading it so it's kinda hard to avoid ;)) if you take a look at the web site beneath the box where people can subscribe for the newsletter on the top left hand side, you'll see that there's a little link there asking you if you'd like to submit a review of the publication. If you've enjoyed The Muse's News and would like to have your voice heard, please do submit a review. I would greatly appreciate it.
I should note that there have been a few changes around the Muse's Muse itself (http://www.musesmuse.com/) - including a bunch of very useful links and search options at the top of the index page. I hope that if you don't have a home page of your own, you'll consider making The Muse's Muse your home page. Instructions on how to do that are on the main page or you could e-mail me for more detailed help in that regard. If you'd like to suggest more links or handy utilities for the front page, please do so! I'll be constantly improving things to make it everything you could ever want in a resource and any suggestions you provide will be most appreciated. :)
I also received a very intriguing e-mail from a fellow that does CD reviews for www.atnzone.com (you *really* should check the place out, by the way. It's quite something!). It would appear that he'd also like to do reviews of independently released CD's. Not only that, he's agreed to allow me to publish them here in The Muse's News along with their release on atnzone. So if you have an independently released CD that you'd like to get reviewed, send it off to:
P O Box 750
Boalsburg, PA 16827
I'll keep you informed about which CDs he's chosen to review - so keep a look out!
This month's winner of Jerry Cupit's very useful book, NASHVILLE SONGWRITING, goes to John Common of Denver, CO. Thanks for subscribing to the newsletter! Next month's book giveaway will be a copy of Harriet Schock's BECOMING REMARKABLE which also includes a copy of her fabulous CD. This book has already been reviewed in a previous issue of The Muse's News at http://www.musesmuse.com/1.6-September98.html#book, so feel free to take a look and read why this book and accompanying CD will help you find the joy in writing songs once again if the everyday world of the "biz" has worn you down.
Once again, have a very Happy New Year, everyone. All the best.
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Songwriting Book Review: by Bill Frank
TUNESMITH: INSIDE THE ART OF SONGWRITINGby Jimmy Webb
NOTE: Amazon keeps running out of them but I have found copies at more than one Barnes & Noble so you need not wait to get a copy.
The only thing I love more than writing is talking to writers who truly love what they do. Reading TUNESMITH by Jimmy Webb (Hyperion, ISBN 0-7868-6I3I-2) has to be the next best thing. For those of you not familiar with Mr. Webb (I can't imagine there are many of you) He wrote "By the Time I Get To Phoenix", "Wichita Lineman", "MacArthur Park", "Didn't We?", and many others you have heard. Never have I read a book on songwriting that covered so much in such a conversational manner. If you are like me, you read anything and everything to be found written on the subject of songwriting. There are many wonderful books on lyric writing and a smaller number of books on writing pop music. But until now, I have never seen the lyrical, musical and even spiritual aspects of songwriting explained so well in a single volume. It has only been on the shelf for a few months and my copy is already well worn.
The first two chapters introduce us to what it means to be a songwriter. He speaks of how his own talent was nurtured and of a gift given to him. That gift was the understanding that "creativity is a blameless proccess". Who has not beat themselves up for a less than stellar verse upon completion of a first draft? Chapters 3 through 5 delve deep into lyric structure and song form. Here, he provides a well rounded discussion about "the rules" of lyric writing and when and why a writer may chose to break them. Chapters 6 through 8 deal with music composition. Here the book soars past every other "how to write a song" book I have ever read. Mr. Webb takes the time to talk about the basics for those unversed in music theory. Here, he provides practical music theory. Not the kind many of us studied in college. Chapters nine and ten offer some details about the job of songwriting. There are quotations from many of my favorite writers about the business, cowriting etc. Finally, in chapter 11, a real life reality check is offered in a discussion about some of the things wrong with the business. As if to say, 'if I haven't convinced you not to become a songwriter yet . . .' As if anything anyone could say would stop us (As I'm quite sure Mr. Webb knows). Once the voices start, we have to write.
My only complaint about this book, and it is a very small complaint, is this. Great care was taken in providing a section in the back of the book listing all the publishing credits for examples provided in the text ... a commendable addition. I would have greatly appreciated a Bibliography as well, for I will certainly be reading the books Mr. Webb has quoted from in the creation of this fine work. I have listed below a list of texts that I have underlined in my copy to date. I am sure this is not the complete list but merely those that caught my eye and my highlighter on first reading: American Popular Song: The great innovators, 1900-1950 Gene Lee, Nice Work If You Can Get It Michael Feinstein, Blackbird Geoffrey Giuliano, Shout Philip Norman, Heroes and Villains Steve Gains, Notes On Lyrics Oscar Hammerstein, Talk On Lyrics Steven Soundheim, and anything written by Lloyd Biggles, but especially Tunesmith. (Heinlein and Clarke already own a good portion of my shelf space). Confused by this final Statement? - Read the Book.
Bill Frank is a songwriter from Indian Harbour Beach Florida. He moonlights for 50-60 hours a week as a Systems Engineer for a major aerospace corporation. He was Born under the sign Aquarius and conceived under the sign "NO PARKING". He Plays Keyboards and guitar and despite (or maybe because of) his moonlighting job designing computer systems, he prefers to write with a simple tape recorder, a pencil and a notebook. Bill can be reached via e-mail at <firstname.lastname@example.org>
If you would like to submit a book review for possible publication or a book about songwriting for possible review, please let me know by e-mailing me at <email@example.com>.
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COPYRIGHT & PUBLISHING Q & A
with Nancy A. Reece of Carpe Diem Copyright Management:
Q:Please talk about the options a songwriter/artist has re: recording their own songs after they have been published and recorded by other artists. I am interested in "pitching songs" now, but want to be able to perform and record my own songs later.-- Roy Orbison Jr. AKA Robert Smith
A: Hello Robert, thanks for the question. The compulsory right in the Copyright law allows for anyone to record songs that have been previously commercially released. However, they are obligated to pay the statutory rate for mechanical use. If the composition has not been commercially released then the first use of that composition must secure permission for that use.
All that to say, once you have one of your songs recorded and released (either by you or someone else) then anyone can also record and release the song. Producers and performers may be more excited about recording a song that no one else has cut because they get the jump on its popularity.
You may have heard of the phrase "placing a hold" on a song. This is the process that allows a publisher to negotiate an advance that secures the song for a project. The song is 'placed on hold' so that no one else is able to hear the unreleased composition while preparations are made for a project. If the producer or performer decides against the material, the song is released from that hold and the publisher is free to continue to shop the composition. Fees paid for this hold are forfeited if the song is not accessed, or made applicable as an advance if finally secured. (unless otherwise negotiated).
You will always be able to perform and record your own material without concern unless the material is transferred to a publisher prior to its initial release. At that point, you would be acting in the role of a performer wanting to use the material, and it would be up to the publisher to determine if your use as the original use is advantages to all parties.
Q:I write Lyrics profusely...1-2 Songs a DAY. I'm starting to deal with multiple Collaborators...in some cases folks I've met over the net...& don't, frankly, KNOW very well, while I get them all figured out.
I'm already aware of the "Anthology Copyright", where a songwriter can gang a batch of songs in a single cassette & file the form PA on the entirety... But this requires "Words AND Music"... So, what's a lyricist to do, PRIOR to the music being added, while this material is making the rounds? I haven't hit an unscrupulous collaborator yet...but it only takes one. Thanks for your insight!-- Stan
A: Hello Stan. It is good to hear that you are writing every day. We encourage our writers to write consistently. We tease that if it takes you 10 songs to write a good one, then you better get to work writing all the bad songs so they get out of the way for the good ones!
This is the official definition of the use of the PA form from the US Copyright Office: For Original Registration Form PA:
for published and unpublished works of the performing arts (musical and dramatic works, pantomimes and choreographic works, motion pictures and other audiovisual works)
You may file your collection of lyric separately if you like. I would file it as poetry intended for public performance. Feel free to consult an attorney or the Copyright Office directly if you have further concerns. http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/
I would not collaborate with those you do not know prior to registration of your work.
Carpe Diem's owner and president, Nancy A. Reece has been involved in the music business since 1983. She was the president of an independent advertising agency for eight years as well as a successful personal artist manager for nine years. She represented the careers of several recording artists and songwriters including those with EMI, Zomba and Liberty Records as well as Benson, Starsong, WoodBridge, Temple Hall and N'Soul Records. She also represented, for a number of years, a Grammy and Dove nominated record producer. Reece has won awards of excellence in print magazine advertising and has been named as one of 2,000 Notable American Women (1995) as well as being listed in the International Who's Who of Professional and Business Women (1993). She was also named Cashbox Magazine's Promoter of the Year (1989).
If you would like to ask Nancy a copyright or publishing question for our continuing Q&A section, please send your e-mail to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. We can't guarantee we'll get to all of the questions, but we'll certainly try.
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Musical Notes: Songwriting Contests & Market Information
For Up-To-Date listings, please go to:
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Songwriter In Profile:
When did you start writing songs and why? Do you remember a particular incident in childhood or later that got your started?
I wrote and finished my first song in junior high (Canada's grade 7-9 measurement) to enter a songwriting contest. I knew I was to be a performer...having already started acting, with recommendations from my teachers that I was destined for Broadway. I played a few chords on guitar, and basically the contest song was my first that I can recall.
"Keep On" tied for first place with a girl named Lesley (we were teenage arch enemies,) and it is the last song on my first album...a kind of tribute to beginnings.
It was not my first public performance however.
At the ripe 'ole age of almost 14, I performed Melissa Manchester's "Don't Cry Out Loud" to an audience of peers, teachers and parents for a school beauty contest. I knew three chords on guitar, so every time the chorus came around I stopped playing guitar and sang a capella...the judges et al thought that was on purpose, and pretty original.
I placed first runner-up to the queen, who was at least 5 years my senior.
I remember time standing still and the feeling of being one with the audience as if it were yesterday...very powerful, and I was hooked..
What were your early musical influences and how do you think they've affected your current style?
My dad played bass in bands when I was growing up, and so I would hear a lot of blues (Charlie Daniels Band, Willie Nelson, Powder Blues Band,) often during the wee hours of the morning as they had band parctise in our living room.
My mom would later play her Barbara Streisand cleaning house...so I learned appreciaiton for feeling/soul in music, and vocal prowess. I occasionally draw on these and similar artist's styling, but largely it made me aware of the disciplines of such mature presentations, that I hopefully translate in my own songs.
When was your first album release and how did it come about?
My first album really tested the adage "a learning experience."
After finishing it here in Alaska, I flew to Vancouver to proudly display/play it for my industry friends, who politely but firmly insisted it needed work.. lo, and behold, we began again, salvaging as much as possible from the AK. experience.
I arrived back in AK., to release it to the world.
The printing factory decided otherwise and delayed shipping, in favor of processing the big boys multi-unit orders first....and so my first release became a pre-release sold-out, packed to the wall, party. It arrived a week later, sold about 200 right out of the box and on I went.
That album, raw and powerful, is in its fourth pressing, fifth by the end of the year.
I was pleased as punch to finish and release it. Since it was my first, completion was an amazing feat. Since it clearly paralleled my growing experiences at that time, I am not suprised there were many delays to aid me to 'be ready.'
There are a couple of songs on that album I will re-record in the future...there were many compromises to get to "completion." I really needed that album to know I could do something, that I had a focus, a talent.
Did you enjoy the experience of creating that first album? What sorts of things did you vow you would never let happen again? What things did you promise yourself you would change?
I was in a fog doing that first album. I was aware I was to begin a huge healing journey, and "Say Anything" was the catalyst and grounding to begin it.
Sheer knowing and fire. I was not confident, but was full of spitfire, just lacking the piss and vinegar of empowerment that comes from experience, grounding and self-love.
I have travelled worlds in a short time!
My best friend of that time, a wonderful supporter of 'me' (to this day) married an extremely abusive man, (who was a beautiful, fascinating, tortured angel with demons like I have not seen since) who had a recording studio. They gave me the whole experience inasmuch as each was capable.
I grew up around abusive men who physically abused women...in the studio and related daily environment there was a constant blanket of such smoldering tension. My dear friend and I wanted this so much, we soothed the fires ignoring the obvious until the album was done.
My artwork on the first cover was a somewhat lewd, at the very least trashy shot of me that to me suggested a prostitution, which is what I did for that album.
I replaced that cover at second pressing, worked on myself so intensely, and vowed never to disavow all I know/am, or my friends, to live who I am. Happily, my friend has done the same. She shines. The man? We have no idea.
How did you get your music heard by those that could help your career? Was there a trick to it or were you just in the right place at the right time?
I just decided a long time ago, that if I wasn't going to be my own best salesman/friend, no one would be. So time and time again, if I am feeling like I have a small voice and I want a bigger one, I work myself into a little self-talk lather, and approach the apparent powers that be...press pack in hand...or voice or performance, whatever the case may be.
These days, there are many people in my corner, in varioius ways, doing the same for me/us. The ripple effect of staying true to your form, and honest in your expression.
Our fanbase has grown to a sizable team. With the band, a tour- de -force of four- it's easy to feel really 'backed-up.' Our live performance can move mountains, in any situation we find ourselves in...these boys shine.
The short of it is, you just have to believe in yourself. The other non-choice is let fear rule your life. But just open your future door to 10 years from now and see what's in store for you if you don't take your heart and soul in your own hands!
Have you ever gone through a songwriting dry period? What did you do to break out of it?
I played with an A circuit touring band from Montreal, Canada called "Fear of Flying" some years back. Whilst the onstage performance was flawless-we players had some tremendously dysfunctional relationships going on behind the scenes. I was utterly unhappy. Life was a huge black fog. I had no sense of who I was. I didn't write a song for four solid years.
My first trip to Alaska became my last with that band. This place will do that to you.
I shook myself free, and picked up the building blocks that were left scattered, and began to write what was inscribed on them. Music is my therapy. Raw and bittersweet
What mistakes do you think you've made in your career and how would you avoid them if you had it to do over again?
I don't believe anything is necessarily a mistake...we do the best we can in any given situation and time, and it's all perfect for where we are in that time and space. Doubt, and self esteem issues-which both boil down to fear, are the biggest culprits that can undermine one's best intentions...so if I have made mistakes, it's that fear has ruled my awareness at times, when I had the possibility of shining so much more.
What's in store for you in the future?
In the immediate future, I am presently juggling plans for our Anchorage release parties, and lining up tour dates for the new year. We, (the band and I) plan to tour support most of 1999, with a break in April to record the next album. We've just signed a national distribution deal with City Hall Records, so our music is now much more accessible, (especially since we have chosen to make Alaska home base.) Our web site has incredible amounts of info for everyone wanting the finer details of our musical lives, including tour dates and places, bios, pics, lyrics...http://www.colleen.org/. Anyone wanting to receive our free newsletter should write us at P.O. Box 190516 Anchorage, Alaska 99519-0516, or leave an address on our 24/7 info message line at 907-566-0694.
For a detailed bio of Colleen Coadic, you can visit: http://www.colleen.org/page/Colleen.html
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Muse's Clues - Web Site Review by Tommy Merry
"Hey I thought this column was supposed to be about web sites, not software?" Said my cat with a puzzled look in its eye. "Yes, that's true" I quipped. "But the sites I keep running into have such great utilities for songwriters that I just can't help myself. Besides, if you're so smart, go change your own litter box!"
I recently ran across Syntrillium http://www.syntrillium.com/. No it's not an antidepressant for the holidays. It's a software corporation with musicians in mind. Although they offer several different programs, the one that jumped out at me was Cool Edit 96. I downloaded the working demo and was delighted with what I found. It is primarily a music editing program but its features are nothing short of awe-inspiring.
MY KEY OR YOURS?
The first and foremost feature for songwriters that it offers is the ability to change the tempo, or key of a song, without effecting the other. In other words, say you are working on a song demo on your 4 track, and after adding the guitar, bass and keys to your percussion tracks you begin the process of perfecting your vocal tracks prior to recording them. After several days of experimenting with the melody you come to the conclusion that the song should have been in a lower key and that your new arrangement is taking you a bit out of your vocal range. At this point you normally have two options:
1. Re-record the whole song in a lower key. (another week of evenings down the tube)
2. Use the pitch control to lower the key. (also slowing the tempo of your masterpiece from a Miami Sound Machine groove to a funeral dirge.)
Enter Cool Edit 96! Record a mix of your music into a Wav file on your computer and activate the time/pitch stretching function of the software. You now have the ability to lower the Key of the song without effecting the tempo! Alternately you may have a song you've recorded that IS in the perfect key but the tempo is too slow and could use a faster groove. It is just as easy to speed the entire song up without affecting the pitch.
GET YOUR HEAD STRAIGHT
Yes it is true, Cool Edit 96 also features the ability to mix Sound files and export them in a variety of formats, as well as adding echo, flange and EQ to your sound files. But one of the most interesting side features it offers is (as the theme for Frankenstein swells in the background) the Brainwave Synchronizer! This is an amazing feature that allows you to take your own music and apply this filter to it causing it to pulse in a way that actually affects your brain waves. By listening to these waved files, you can easily achieve states such as deep sleep, theta meditation, or alpha relaxation. If you don't want to use your own music, you can also create white noise and modify it to sound like the ocean and then apply the Synchronizer to it. For this to work you need to be wearing stereo headphones. So don't count on using this software on your next album to create millions of fans hypnotized by your songs. (hmmm? as the background theme switches to psycho)
Since there are too many features to list in one review, I will continue to describe the remainder In the next 12 issues of Muse's Clues. Just kidding! Go grab your own free demo copy of Cool Edit 96 at the web site, Change the pitch of that song, synchronize your hemispheres and have a great New Year!
Keeping an eye out for you
-- Tommy Merry
Tommy Merry is a songwriter and guitarist that produces music for television, radio and indie movies when he’s not busy being a webmaster/designer for Sun Microsystems. He also fronts the instrumental guitar project called Tommy and The Stompers. You can see them at http://www.shredzone.com/stompers.
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HOW TO GET A RUNNING START IN NASHVILLE by Mitch Ballard
"One of the most common questions I get from new writers is how to get started in Nashville. At least once a day, I receive either an e-mail from our web site, or a phone call from a writer planning to move to town.
Finding a place to start in Nashville can be confusing. First of all, you're in probably the most intimidating town in the world for songwriters. No other place has as many songwriters and places so much emphasis on the song. Second, there's no guide they give you when you move to town that says: ‘First do this, then do this, etc…'. A step by step guide to making it in the music business is not available on the newsstands here in Music City U.S.A. Plus, there's no real ONE single way to make it in the business. However, there are some very common denominators.
(For the rest of this article, please go to: http://www.musesmuse.com/nashville-art.html)
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" O N S I T E " F E A T U R E D A R T I C L E :
"DON'T BORE US, GET TO THE CHORUS / DON'T BE A SHNOOK, GET TO THE HOOK!" - by Larry Robkoff
Some great advice from a guy who knows what he's talking about - and a fun read besides.
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Contact Info & Credits:
Jodi Krangle ...........EDITOR
Kathryn Obenshain ......GRACIOUS PROOFREADER
Bryan Fullerton ............SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR
Back issues and other information available at: http://www.musesmuse.com/musenews.html The Muse's News is part of The Muse's Muse, a web resource for songwriters.
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