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The Muse's News

Issue 1.8 - November 1998
ISSN 1480-6975


In This Issue:


ISSN 1480-6975. Copyright 1998 - Jodi Krangle. For more info about placing ads, send an inquiry


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Editor's Musings:

Hi everyone. This issue is a little bit late due to my being incredibly busy over the weekend. The membership for this little publication is steadily growing and I hope that you will pass the word around if you think you know of someone who would find The Muse's News of interest. I'm also working on some new features for the upcoming publications. I'll have more information on that for you in the December issue.

Meanwhile, if any of you are interested in contributing articles, ideas for an interview, or most especially, reviews of a web site you've found to be particularly useful (frankly, I'm starting to wonder if that feature is of interest to anyone and so might reconsider using it in the coming issues unless someone speaks up) I hope that you'll contact me at editor@musesmuse.com to let me know. As always, I'd love to hear from you!

This month's winner of John Braheny'sTHE CRAFT & BUSINESS OF SONGWRITING is Amy Jeanette Hooper, a 24 year old music teacher from Austin, TX that is seeking to break into the contemporary Christian songwriting market. I definitely think this book will help her out. Next month's book giveaway is Steve Gillette's SONGWRITING & THE CREATIVE PROCESS - another fabulous book you won't want to miss.

And finally, I have wonderful news! In our upcoming issues, we will be joined by Nancy A. Reece of Carpe Diem Copyright Management who has kindly consented to answer questions about copyright and publishing issues. If you have such questions, please forward them to me at editor@musesmuse.com with "Carpe Diem" in your subject and I'll make sure that they're passed on to Nancy. I won't guarantee that she'll answer every one, but the resulting Q&A should be rewarding for us all. If you're interested in learning more about her company and the services they offer, feel free to drop by its web site at http://www.copperlakemedia.com/carpe_diem/ . The questions will be answered in the January issue but expect an article from Nancy in December!

And that's about it, folks. I'll let the interview and the article speak for themselves this time around. ;)

I hope you enjoy!

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Songwriting Book Review: by Jodi Krangle

THE CRAFT & BUSINESS OF SONGWRITING by John Braheny


Well folks, by now you should know how much I respect and admire John Braheny. He was kind enough to allow me to reprint one of his articles in the very first issue of The Muse's News and mentioned this very site in an article he wrote for Keyboard Magazine a while back. He's now been kind enough to allow me to give away a copy of his book and BOY - what a book it is. Ok. Be honest. You thought all that information couldn't possibly FIT in one book, right? I know. I confess to being skeptical myself. I can now say with some authority however, that not only did John manage it, but he managed it and made me laugh at the same time. The book itself, whether he's talking about the creative process or the nature of the business, is filled with snippets of humour that made me chuckle. Like Pat's book, John starts out with exercises and suggestions about how to get your creative juices flowing. He speaks of using his guidelines as "principles" rather than as "rules". After all, rules are made to be broken, right? Principles leave one much less constricted and guide rather than hem in. The book itself is designed with that in mind. There are examples and explanations about types of rhyme, different types of formatting for verses and choruses and even discussion about song dynamics such as changes in meter and density of lyrics. I'm only touching on a few of the *many* fine points raised. He even goes into details on different methods of writing music and talks about how to make the most of a collaboration along with the legalities involved. Mostly, the first section of the book dealing with the creation of the song itself, gets the reader *thinking*. I know from personal experience that I need exactly that when I'm sitting down to write. Where does one look for inspiration and what does one do with it once it's found? The second part of the book deals with the business - and that's where John's true mastery comes out in impressive detail. Having been involved in various parts of the business over a length of several years, he's very well suited to know what will work and what won't (though he's quick to admit there are exceptions to every rule). The business section deals with such gems as royalty questions, publishing issues, when and why to self-publish, how to choose a studio when making a demo and what you can get away with doing at home, and how to go about marketing your music. The bibliography even makes a very handy reference guide to trade magazines, songwriting organizations and other resources as well as many other books on the subject of songwriting. John addresses every point with his humorous, no-nonsense narrative and quite apart from being an extremely handy resource, it's a pleasure to read. I still don't believe he got all that information into one place. Talk about "bang for your buck"! This is a keeper I'll be going back to on a regular basis. 

*****

John Braheny's THE CRAFT & BUSINESS OF SONGWRITING was our book give-away for this month and I would like to thank all of you for taking part by subscribing to The Muse's News. The next book to be reviewed and given away in the December issue will be Steve Gillette's SONGWRITING & THE CREATIVE PROCESS - another wonderful addition to any songwriter's library, brought to you by the people at Sing Out! Publications.

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Musical Notes: Songwriting Contests & Market Information

For Up-To-Date listings, please go to:

http://www.musesmuse.com/contests.html

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Songwriter In Profile: 
Mike Dalton

Question:
When did you first realize you wanted to be a musician/ songwriter?  Was it something that snuck up on you gradually or did it hit you like lightning all at once?

Answer:
I've had the desire to sing and play music for as long as I remember.  I was about 6 when I got my first guitar and drum set and I really haven't stopped yet.  I love what I do and I'm very, very lucky to be able to do it for a living. 

Question:
What were your early musical influences?

Answer:
Early on, the Beatles and the Beach Boys really hit me.  I remember being a huge fan of "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" by Jim Croce for some reason.  I would stand in my living room for hours and hours singing into a turkey baster (is that how you spell it?) along with my mom's records.  My parents used to go and see a local guy perform all the time, his name was Frankie Rendell. They used to take me along and he would let me come up and sing "Song Sung Blue" (Neil Diamond).  I used to live for those nights. He gave me a microphone stand in 1973 when I was 6 that I still use for EVERY show today (200 shows a year these days...) 

Question:
When did you do your first recording project?  How did it come about and were you happy with the results? 

Answer:
My first actual recording studio experience was on Feb 27, 1986 at a place called GPM Productions in Colonia, NJ.  We recorded 3 originals and 1 cover that day (for whatever reason we had at the time, recording the Romantics' "What I Like About You" was a must!!!!!) Makes me laugh to this day.  The originals weren't too bad for the first time but I still prefer to keep them hidden away!!

Prior to our big day in Colonia, I was trying to record stuff constantly on my own, rigging two cassette decks together, anything to allow me to get my songs on tape and to overdub harmony vocals. I still have all those recordings hidden safely away as well.  I finally got my own 16 track recording studio in the fall of 1991. 

Question:
When did you release your first CD?  What did you do with it once it was released?  Did you have help with the production? Distribution?

Answer:
I released a cassette called "Maryjane" in 1991.  We made 500 and sold all of 'em.  I  recorded 90% of it in my studio and pretty much directed the whole project with help from my management company at the time, Halo Management.  We didn't have distribution, we just sold 'em at shows and stuff. I played a lot of roles for that (as well as a lot of my recordings since then, too), writing, engineering, playing a good deal of the instruments, all the vocals, production, arrangement.  I was a busy boy, but i stay outa trouble that way. Eventually, in 1997, I released "Maryjane" on CD with some bonus tracks and we're still selling 'em....

Question:
After which recording did you start to feel like you were getting somewhere?

Answer:
Next, we (I used the band a lot more on this one) released "Sconsin Babu" on CD in 1993. Things started to roll with this one for a couple of reasons.  Our fan base had grown considerably AND a couple of network soap operas had discovered my songs. "Guiding Light" and "Another World" gave (and still give) my songs tons of airplay, i got some interviews from soap magazines and sold a lot of CDs through that. Every state in the US except for about 5 has a few "Sconsin Babu's" floatin' around ! We sold out of that one and had to reorder, etc. I was even up for a Daytime Emmy Award in 1994 (didn't win, but it was fun anyway).  A lot of the songs are still big favorites when we perform live....

Then, in 1996, we put out "POKER", our 3rd CD.  We've gotten a huge local response to the songs in this collection.  We've also recieved good airplay from radio stations in Jersey. "POKER" has been a vehicle for much progress for my band and my music.  For example, I met Jim Babjak, the guitarist for the Smithereen's, gave him a "POKER" CD, he liked it, and now we're writing songs together. 

Question:
How do you think your songwriting has changed from one project to the next?  Since 1991, what sorts of techniques are you using in your songwriting that it might not have occurred to you to use earlier on? 

Answer:
As far as my songwriting techniques, they really haven't changed since 1985.  I sit down at the piano or with the guitar and write what's on my mind.  That's it.  The only thing I don't really do anymore is write lyrics during my college classes at Rutgers when I was supposed to be taking notes.  Back when I went to college, I would write 3 or 4 poems during a class and then come back to my dorm and put some of 'em to music. Since I'm out of college now, that method has gone by the wayside.

Question:
Which comes more easily to you?  Words or music?  Can you explain why?

Answer:
I can't actually choose which comes easier.  Most of the time, they both come together.  When the "well runs dry" for that particular writing session, sometimes the music runs out, and sometimes it's the lyric.  They're pretty even.

Question:
What inspires you to write songs? Current events? Dreams? Personal tragedy?

Answer:
Hmmmmm, what inspires me? Let's see Current events, dreams, personal tragedy, ...... !!!  EVERYTHING I can see, touch, feel, etc.  I try to take in everything around me.  If something presents itself to me, I'll write about it.  Sometimes I write just to get sadness, gladness, feelings, confusions, regrets, mistakes, etc out of my head.  It makes me feel better many times. 

References to my life are spread out all over almost all the songs.

Question:
What advice would you give to new songwriters?  What parts of the business should they watch out for?  What might help them improve their songwriting skills?  Do you think there *are* a set of skills that you need in order to write an effective song? What would you say they would be?

Answer:
I would tell new songwriters to write, write, write, write......! My first songs aren't all that good in my opinion.  I improved because I just kept doing it.

Watch out for all aspects of the business.  It's hard to do because it cuts into writing/creativity time, but I take care of all the books, money, etc so nothing gets too far away from me. You really can not trust a lot of people. Most people will rip you off given the chance.

Hmm, to improve the skills....I would have to say open up your eyes to this world, read a lot of different kinds of literature from classics to trashy novels to Mad Magazine to toothpaste tubes....Soak in as much as your mind will let you.  I can't tell you how many songs or ideas have grown from a single line in a book I was reading.  Also, I don't always write in the same place, I'll write in every room in the house that I can, outside, etc, parks, etc.  Anywhere you can go where your perspective could possibly change....

As far as a set of skills, I just think a command of the language and at least 2 or 3 chords can make for a great song !!  I absolutely am against rules of any kind when writing songs. A friend/songwriter of mine used to read on "songwriting technique" all the time and tell me things like, "a title should never be more than 3 words" and "you have to have a bridge, or two choruses" or whatever.  It's all rubbish to me.  If you want to strike one chord and yell "yumpin yiminy", then in my opinion, that's your song if you want it to be.  Creativity has no rules.

Question:
What's in store for you in the future, Mike?  Where do you think your songwriting and your music are heading?  Where would you *like* to see it go and do you think you're close?

Answer:
As long as there is a progression in my creativity and my success keeps going upward, my future is happening every day.  Sure, I'd like to "make it" overnight but that's not the hand I've been dealt.  Everything happens for a reason and I really do believe I'll achieve what I want whenever it's supposed to happen.  The ride toward my record deal, etc. is fun anyway, I'm going to enjoy it.  I really wanna see my songs reach a lot more people in this world, in any way I can.  For now, the soaps play my stuff a lot and I'm "reaching" a pretty good amount of people.  I want more. I want my music in the ears of a lot more people.  I'm getting the songs out to many important people in the industry, all facets, such as labels, tv, film, even country publishers in Nashville are listening to some of my stuff as I write this.  I'll take anything I can get.  That's not desperation, it's just a desire to have my songs heard by anybody who is willing to listen.  I'm doing a showcase for Arista, Mercury, and a few other labels in mid-sept (Nov. 9, 1998) at a place called Arlene's Grocery in Greenwich Village in NYC.  We'll see how it goes.....

I'm writing songs with Jim Babjak, the guitarist from the Smithereen's, we're having fun and getting some really good songs done, who knows what that could lead to.   Basically, I want to "make it" very badly, but I'm being patient and I'm enjoying the ride.

*******

Mike Dalton's original songs continually air on Major Network Television. His work has been heard over 200 times on such standout daytime programs as "Guiding Light", "As the World Turns" and "Another World".

One of his many songs, "Waiting in the Wings", was nominated in 1994 for a Daytime Emmy Award, under the category "Best Original Song".

Mike has written and performed over 300 original songs and is currently writing new songs with Jim Babjak, guitarist for The Smithereens.

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Muse's Clues - Web Site Review by Jodi Krangle

Songs Of Love: The Medicine of Music 
Created by: John Beltzer, President <SongsLove@aol.com>

It's actually the subject matter of the web site that drew me more than its design (though its design is quite good too). "Songs Of Love is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating personalized songs for chronically and terminally ill children and young adults. These one-of-a-kind compositions are a wonderful source of joy and inspiration to the special people who receive them." That's how they describe themselves - and the description is quite accurate. They've had some very famous songwriters devote their efforts to the cause such as Billy Joel, Ronnie Spector, Angela Workman (Ray Charles), & Tom Bowes (formerly of Tower of Power). Not only that, there are some very touching testimonials by both the kids and the songwriters themselves. If you're a songwriter interested in taking part in this worthy cause or would like to make a donation of some kind, please do drop by their web site for more information. You'll be glad you did.

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Feature Article: 
HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY By Shelley Jacobson

"When I was fifteen my friends, coaxed me into performing my original songs at the Labatt's "Real Jam" Songwriters Contest.

I remember not wanting to participate because I didn't feel I had the musical training that some of the other writers had, and I was frightened out of my wits.

I finally decided to give it a go.  After all, what was the worst thing that could happen?  I'd get egged and my hair would receive a great conditioning!

I performed at that contest for the longest 30 minutes of my life, giving it everything I had and I won.  I know I didn't have any more talent than the others, but I do know that what I performed had heart and soul etched into every note I sang and played.  It was the honesty of my songs that clinched it for me I'm sure.

I've been writing now for over 20 years and I usually write about topics that I can relate to.

Sometimes it is difficult to write a song that has a different twist to it, a song that you can relate to but is written in a novel fashion.  I did this with a song called "If It Doesn't Fit".  The song was about ending a relationship but the analogies that I used in it to describe the relationship were really off the wall.

Ex..You're like my inline skates that are starting to smell
      You're like the slimy hair ball my cat expelled.
      We've got as much in common as black and white
      I'm moving on you'd better step aside......

I wasn't kidding when I said off the wall! This song won an award of achievement with UNISONG 97.  I wrote it as a joke really, because I was fed up with the industry telling me to write something different.  Well I did and look what happened.

I usually write my songs starting with the title first.  Then I come up with my story line.  I make a lyric map that states the ideas for the beginning/middle/ and end. This helps me stay focused and hopefully not have to experience 2nd verse hell.  My lyric map is simply a piece of paper with the following: (this is a condensed version)   

Beginning: (verse#1) (Idea)   The beginning of life...born into babes...

Middle: (Verse#2) Grow into adults...trying to figure out life...

End: (verse#3) Growing old too soon, wise too late   I'll enclose the song I wrote that this lyric map was linked to:

VERSE#1
We're born into life as innocent babes
Not knowing about anguish and pain
We move clumsily on with each unchartered step
Two moves back for each one ahead

CHORUS:
Tell me what life's all about
Tell me what this game of life is all about

VERSE#2
We grow into adults think we got it all figured out
Then hell breaks loose and we're filled with doubt
Day after day it all seems the same
Old too soon wise too late

CHORUS:
Tell me what life's all about
Tell me what this game of life's all about
Tell me what life's all about
Old too soon wise too late

VERSE#3
As we grow into our prime and the years start to show
The knowledge comes but the strength starts to go
They say youth is wasted on the likes of the young
Old too soon wise too late

CHORUS:( 2X OUT)
Tell me what life's all about
Tell me what this game of life is all about
Tell me what life's all about
Old too soon wise too late
Won't you tell me  

This song has a definite beginning, middle, and end.  If I hadn't prepared my story line and lyric map I'd probably still be writing it today.

The one thing that appeals to me the most about songwriting is the fact that I will never learn all there is to learn about my craft.  The day that I think I have, is the day that I will quit.

****** 

Shelley is an award winning singer/songwriter who is currently receiving airplay with her powerful rock cd entitled "1000 Miles". She has written and recorded with Earl Merrick (Roger Whittaker's touring guitarist 1986) and is writing material for her 2nd cd with various songwriters over the internet including Toby Darling, Rick Paul, Ricky Lee Ponder,  and currently working with Harriet Schock.

You can listen to her audio clips and order her cd at http//www.shellsong.com

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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 :

PUBLISHING - by Nancy A. Reece of Carpe Diem Copyright Management

Ever had questions about publishing and royalties? This excellent article will answer many of them. Watch for more from Nancy in the future! 


Classifieds & Useful Services:

GET NASHVILLE A & R, PRODUCER, MUSIC CONTRACTS HERE!
"The Ultimate Country Music Contacts Directory" - a powerful resource with hundreds of Nashville Record Label and Music Industry Insiders names.  You won't get your songs heard by the right people if you don't know who they are.  View website for complete details. http://www.maxpages.com/musiccontacts.

RECORDING SERVICE
Songwriters,musicians,small groups, check it out.  Record your demo or project here.  I can help. If you are in the Portland area, get in touch and we will discuss your needs. Steve Asplund <asplund@earthlink.net>

SONGWRITERS NEED GOOD DEMOS.
Our musicians and vocalists record good demo's. We create melodies for poems. Economy demos $100.00. Full production demos $250.00. Warner Anderson PO Box 19421 Louisville, KY. 40259 - 0421 <REELDEMO@aol.com

**********

CLASSIFIED RATES:
US$2/line/issue. Min. 2 lines, max. 7 lines, where a line = 65 characters including spaces and punctuation. All contracts must be prepaid. E-mail to: adinfo@musesmuse.com

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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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