The Muse's News
||The Muse's News
|* Music Reviews - Ivan Nossa, Cyrus Rhodes, Jean-Baptiste Collinet, Dan Cohen & Don Sechelski
|* Featured Article: Quick Tip: To and fro, up and down, twist and turn all around - by Brad Dunse
Copyright 1998-2011 - Jodi Krangle.
For more contact information, see end of issue.
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Ok. Enough with winter already. Those of you in warmer climates, no taunting allowed. ;-) Here in Toronto, it's still in the minus degrees celcius Spring has supposedly sprung ... but not here, apparently. I think I'm *really* going to enjoy the warm weather this year when it finally comes.
Actually, and this has nothing to do with songwriting ... though I suppose our lives and living goes *into* our songwriting ... I'm wondering if you guys can help me with your experiences. I will be financing a car in a couple of months. I've taken some test drives, and I'm looking at something compact (or thereabouts). I've driven a VW Jetta, a Hyundai Elantra, a Chevy Cruze, a Mazda 3 and a Kia Forte. All of them 2011 models. I've gotten it narrowed down to the Mazda 3 (I'm currently leasing one of those though I'm not too impressed with the 2007 model) and a Kia Forte (173 horsepower! 17" wheels. Wow!). They're both excellent cars. And I know Kia is the newcomer to the market and therefore a lot of folks say they have cheap parts, etc. Still, they're offering an 8 year, 200,000 km warranty, which is hard to beat. I know Mazda is quality but I get less car for my money ... I'm torn. So I wonder - if you have a moment, and have dealt with either Mazda or Kia, I'd love to hear about your experiences. Email me! :-)
Oh - just as a quick mention in voice over news - those of you in the States might just be seeing a TV commercial I did the voice over for: Gold Bond Body Wash. It's supposed to be a national thing. If you see it (and hear it), I'd love to know about it. :-)
As for the newsletter, LOTS of great stuff in store for you here. The regulars have returned, there are tons of new CD reviews, new articles, and the season for songwriting contests is well under way so lots of new contests to choose from in case that interests you.
Here are the raffle winners for this month:
from Dameron, MD, has won a 6 month subscription to the Onlinegigs
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Linda Perry from Knoxville, TN, has won a beautiful
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Richard Hawk from Bridgeton, NJ, has won a 6 month membership to GuitarMasterClass.net. GMC has tons of helpful videos, instructors and lessons along with a forum for chatting with teachers and students 24/7, recording collaborations, attending video chats, & content for bass, drums, singing, piano, etc.
Ayodele Charles Medayedu, from Lagos, Nigeria, has won a downloadable
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If you'd like to be considered for a raffle prize yourself, have a look at the various prizes offered at the top of The Muse's News webpage, decide which prizes you'd most like, and email me with your top two choices along with your mailing address so that I can get the prizes to you. Yes, it's really that simple. :) (And yes, the mailing address is kinda important. I promise it won't be used for any other reason than to send you your raffle prize - and to mention your approximate location in the notice of raffle winners you see above here.)
Thank you for subscribing! I hope you have a hugely productive month, keep your creative heads up high, and enjoy life! That's one of the best ways to find inspiration for song.
All the best,
(Many thanks to the sponsors that help support this newsletter!)
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Here is a selection of the great artists and bands highlighted
the Artist Spotlight section of The Muse's Muse.
Scott Turchin - Genre: REGGAE
Southern Boy with Rasta attitude SCOTT TURCHIN sounds like John Hiatt meets Ziggy Marley, and his newly released album RIVER CAN CRY features real instruments and a great live sound! With soulful voice and irie intent, half American roots rock and half positive Reggae, Scott's music has won national recognition and fans worldwide.
Ann Mayo Muir - Genre: EASY LISTENING
Ann Mayo Muir composes original music emerging from a deep well of connection with the people and places she has known. Her CD,"Notes From Across The Sea" is a sinuous, snappy, energetic delight of interpretations with some pieces that feel American, many with a European twist, and a few that have run off with the Gypsies! Music played by Grammy nominated Ensemble Galilei.
|Songwriting Book Review
By: Anastasia Karalekas
“How To Write Songs On Guitar”
by Rikky Rooksby
When I got my first guitar, my intention was to learn to play other people’s songs. Eventually, I think like everyone, I got bitten by the bug and wanted to write my own songs. Rikky Rooksby’s book was the first one I ever bought. That was 10 years ago.
Fast-forward to today, and a completely updated AND expanded edition of the book that taught me a lot about writing songs on guitar. Although the book held its own as it was before, I must admit, it is a nice touch to include some more modern songs from the missing decade in the updating process.
Rooksby believes that today’s pop song is just “an impoverished parody of itself.” (p.11) In the hopes that we will pick up our guitars and write songs that don’t have the same old chord progressions over and over, or that don’t require sampling, he is giving us all the tools we need to create fresh and unique sounds.
Excluding Section 3, which should be read in sequence, you can pretty much open the book up to any page and dive in. The chord dictionary alone is worth the price of this book. I grabbed my guitar and strummed each one to get an idea of Rooksby’s descriptions. Not only does he suggest what genre a particular chord works best in, or is typically used in, but he also suggests the tempo. It’s like having a teacher right by your side every time you sit down to write.
In fact, a huge part of the book deals with chords, anything and everything about chords: what chords work best together in two-, three-, or four-chord songs; developing sequences (with complete explanation of why each sequence works as well as it does); the rate of chord changes; unusual chord changes, and when to use them.
Chord sequences are also discussed, and again, from the usual to the unusual, and ways in which you can make them work to create a song that will keep your listeners guessing, but without any confusion.
The book is heavy on chords and everything about them, but it certainly does touch on other areas of songwriting as well. The section on song structures goes into every part of the song, from the intro to the outro, and everything in between. You’ll never be at a loss for ideas on how to build your song. Perhaps you need a pre-chorus? Or doubling up the chorus? There are great reasons for doing it all, and Rooksby leaves no possibility out.
The rhythm section contains many rhythmic variations in order to help you avoid the “tyranny of four”. Strumming patterns are abundant to show you how to get various rhythm techniques, change things up a bit or keep from settling into a comfort zone.
The lyrics section has many ideas and categories to write about. Many great examples showcased here! All aspects of song writing are covered, from rhyming to imagery to wordplay to clichés. This whole chapter combines the categories of ideas, the techniques and the aspects of language. Combining these will give you great tools to write really interesting songs.
At a later point in the book, the author revisits the chord dictionary. More exotic and complex chords are shown here. If you’re daring and you want to try your hand at it, once again, Rooksby treats all chords with the same detail and explanation as Part 1 of the chord dictionary, providing many examples to truly understand what a chord sounds like should you not have your guitar handy.
The sections on guitar resources is a great way to find different and effective ways to write songs with your guitar. Suggestions of using two guitars, choosing scales, harmonies, 12-string guitars, altered tunings; to me, these are like temptations – I just can’t wait to try them out. Plus, you’ll find a complete list of scales here!
In the section on making a demo, Rooksby includes some arrangements to help you put together a whole arrangement, guiding you along the way on how to record them on 8 tracks, and which track to record which instrument on. It’s like a mini course in arranging (but he does have another book dedicated entirely to arranging songs, if you want to have a further look).
Finally, at the end of the book, you get a non-comprehensive list of songs and albums that Rikky Rooksby recommends for songwriters. And taking into account the rest of the content in his book, I’ll take that advice. And I’ll recommend this book to any aspiring songwriter, too.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Anastasia Karalekas is a self-taught guitarist and music absorber. When she is not learning, learning, learning, she spends her time writing fiction and poetry. After taking some private guitar lessons, her teacher encouraged her to try putting some of her poems to music, and she's been writing songs ever since.
If you'd like *your* book reviewed (as long as it has something
to do with songwriting, of course!), please do email us and let
(Many thanks to the sponsors that help support this newsletter!)
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|Musical Notes: Songwriting Contests & Market Info.
In the interest of conserving space, I will be including only
changes to this listing in this newsletter. All other contests
and market information that have already been listed here, are
displayed at http://www.musesmuse.com/contests.html &
Please check there regularly for updates!
USA Songwriting Competition Launches "Songwriters For Japan", A Japan Relief Bid
The USA Songwriting Competition on Saturday launched a campaign to support relief in Japan as top names in the entertainment world offered condolences after the mega earthquake of a magnitude 9.0 and tsunami. Over 20 countries in the Pacific Rim were put on high alert on Friday, March 11, after a massive earthquake caused a tidal wave which devastated Japan.
SING A SONG SONGWRITERS CONTEST
Ever dream of writing your own words to a song but either didn’t play an instrument or weren’t in a band? Well, here’s your chance. You write the words to our music track, make a recording of it, burn a CD, and submit it. THAT’S IT! Grand Prize wins the song (music track and words) as well as tons of other prizes worth over $1000. Prizes will also be awarded to the top 20 runner-ups. Entries must be in by due date August 30, 2011. http://www.singasong.me
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REO RAFTING RESORT 12TH ANNUAL SONGWRITING RETREAT
What makes the REO Songwriters retreat different from any other songwriting camp? Start with an incredible setting right on the edge of a beautiful jade-green river canyon. Find out all the details here. Leading this years retreat is Berklee Music Professor Pat Pattison.
All inclusive rates from $949 CDN. Book by April 15 and save up to $100. Don't wait as lodging options are limited. Call 1-800-736-7238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book now.
PHILADELPHIA SONGWRITERS PROJECT ANNOUNCES IT'S 2011 SONGWRITING CONTEST
The Theme this year is "REVOLUTION" and the prizes are as always High Profile performance opportunities at RoseTree Summer Festival and Bethlehem Musik Fest. Plus Opening slots with Sellersville Theater and BRE PRESENTS. Turtle Studios offers a generous recording package for the Producers Choice Award, and Howard Pitkow Photography offers a Live shoot. Tiered pricing and student discounts.
Please view all the details and submission guidelines at http://www.phillysongwriters.com/03_news.htm
HELP STARS UNCHARTED FEATURE THE BEST ORIGINAL MUSIC OUT THERE AND WIN GREAT PRIZES
Stars Uncharted is a new website that was created in order to feature the best music out there and encourage originality, creativity, imagination and authenticity. If you know a great solo artist / songwriter / band or want your music featured, Stars Uncharted offers prizes to whoever helps it feature extraordinary music. At the moment SU offers Sony PCMM10 Portable Linear PCM Recorders (List Price: $399.99) to anyone who introduces them to great music. Blow their virtual socks off and the music you suggest will be featured and you'll win a digital recorder.
MUSIKPITCH: NEW ONLINE MARKETPLACE FOR SONGWRITING OPPORTUNITIES
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SONGWRITING CONSULTATION SPECIAL OFFER:
Pete and Pat Luboff are offering a special rate to Muse's Muse
readers on a single song consultation: http://www.writesongs.com/consults.html MM readers get a $5
discount by sending $15 via PayPal to email@example.com instead of using the $20 single-song button on the site. Please
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Muse's Clues - By Irene Jackson
©1998-2011 Moonstone Productions All Rights Reserved.
Used By Permission
One of the most common questions songwriters ask is "where do I get song lyric ideas?". And the most common answer comes in the form of a list: read books and newspapers, listen to conversations, keep a journal and observe everything that's going on in your own life.
Quite often in songwriting workshops, other idea-generating games are used. For instance, one workshop I gave a few years back, I ripped out a bunch of magazine ads and gave each group a half-hour to come up with a :15 or :30 second jingle using one of the ads. There are other exercises like mind mapping where you take a central idea and write it down on a piece of paper, and then create all kinds of words or phrases that relate to that idea. And another game that works well in a group is having everyone write a line or phrase on a piece of paper and then passing the papers around, so that each person has to use a line written by someone else to come up with another line or verse. The whole purpose is to stimulate your thought processes and jump start your creativity with an idea from somewhere else, because sometimes you just don't have any more of your own!
If you are running dry on songwriting ideas and you're sitting there by yourself right now with a blank page in front of you, I've found a few websites that might help.
The first two come from the same website called Archetypewriting.com and are meant as generators for story ideas, but could easily be used for song ideas too. The first generator is for plots. These are scenarios using "protagonists" and characters, but there are some interesting ideas that could give you a little help in setting up a scene to use. You can refresh them and flip through a bunch of ideas until one interests you.
The next one is basically a character generator and comes up with traits and weaknesses and even prized possessions of that character. You don't have to use all of them, obviously, but one of those traits might help you with an idea too.
Another generator comes from SongFight and is specifically a song ideas generator. Whether or not you find something useful, it'll certainly be interesting :-) I got this: "Write a song trying to convince someone to do something with you" on one try, and "What it would be like if a particular person didn't exist. It would probably be better if you were indirect about it." Well, there could be something in there for you, you never know!
Another comes from Fifteenminutesoffiction.com, called the Grab Bag Writing Prompts. Again, this is not specifically a songwriting site, but you can pick from 1 to 10 random words, and it will generate them to give you some writing ideas. I asked for two words and got "floodlit" and "white wine" (well, white wine is two words, but why be picky?).
And last but not least, I found something written by a fellow who writes articles online...it's an article about coming up with ideas. Being a programmer, he was trying to create a "magic idea generator" for his articles, and he found it in a different way than he expected. I'll
let you read it for yourself to find out.
If you Google "idea generator", you'll probably find some interesting websites on your own...at least it'll give you something to do while you're waiting to be inspired :-)
Irene Jackson is a performing songwriter from Victoria, BC in
Canada. Aside from writing, recording and performing, she also
maintains a website for songwriters that includes tips, articles
and a songwriter's messageboard.
Songwriting Tips: http://www.irenejackson.com/tips.html
Featured Article - By Brad Dunse
QUICK TIP: To an Fro, Up and Down, Twist and Turn All Around
OK y'all. This month we're gonna talk a little about music and melody. Oh you're strictly a lyricist? Well, I'm not a landscaper either but I still don't want hideous shrubbery tossed around my yard. I know what looks good and what I'd want a landscaper to do, and you know good music and what you want your musician or singer to do with your song too.
We've all likely been to an open mic night and heard the 3 minute song we swore lasted 10 minutes because the melody took us on a road trip with no road signs along the way. It twisted, turned, folded over on itself, jumped to this section, to that section, then to another that sounded like one you might have heard before but you're really not sure, and anticipation of the verse's end is killing you inside. You get the picture. They've lost you.
Songs need identifiable patterns that are easily remembered. Melodic patterns can be made somewhat longer, but not so long the listener can't remember the beginning when they come back around again. Listeners have relatively short attention spans and need familiarity to keep them hooked into your tune.
Pull up your favorite internet resource and check out the below examples. When you listen though, try to focus in on the melody phrasing. If you're like me I have to force myself to listen to certain elements of a song because I naturally gravitate to the groove and melody. So when I'm meant to look at lyrics, I get distracted easily by the music. You word masters out there might gravitate towards the lyrics but just try to hone in on the melodic phrasings. Stay focused OK?
Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire". There's a ton of people, places, and historical events in this song. Billy knew his listeners weren't about to memorize all that stuff so the instrumentation, melody and music had to be very simple, catchy and cyclical to contrast the complex rapid fire laundry list of names. Though he doesn't hold to strict syllable uniformity, and their melodies are not identical, they are just different enough to keep us from being bored, and similar enough to enable us to feel comfortable singing along without being made a fool if we sing along and he changes it up some. Check it out and come back for the next song example. Go ahead, we'll stick around and wait for ya.
Wheeeeew! Billy take a breath dude! Lots of stuff in there uh? Hopefully you saw what I was getting at with the identifiable melody bit. If not here's another from the Country market. Dierks Bentley's "What Was I Thinkin'". Again a very repetitive familiar pattern with the choppy one line rhyme scheme to help it along. Another advantage to introducing your listener to this type of melodic repeat is it can serve as a catapult for your hook or chorus. Folks get just enough taste of the familiar phrasing and before they get to the point of "OK, I've heard this enough times now I'm ready for different", you take them to a pre-chorus or lift and slingshot them to the chorus. Check out Dierks tune and we'll go get a cup of coffee while you listen. See ya in a couple of minutes.
Makes you want to jump in your truck and steal the daughter of a south Alabamian doesn't it? Not! I'd like to keep my tailgate from getting peppered thank you very much. But hopefully you see the value of repetition in melody by now.
Some other examples to check out are: Runaway by Love and Theft, Sweet Thing by Keith Urban, Dirty Laundry by Don Henley, Ironic by Alanis Morissette, and maybe Enrique Iglesias's I Can Be Your Hero. All of these examples use short catchy repetitive phrases which have made them easy for people to remember, sing along with, and find on iTunes.
This next month as you listen to your radio or iPod, take note of the melodies you hear. Block out the rest of the song elements and realize just how much pattern use is happening, how much repetition is purposed to keep you in the song.
Then take a look at what you've been writing. Are your melody lines stretched out and complicated? Are they difficult for people to remember? Are you losing listener's attention? Maybe you realize "Hey dude! I'm doing the melodic pattern thing without even really thinking about it!" Awesome! Perhaps you can find an old one in your catalog to use as a re-write project.
Happy writing… See you next month!
Brad Dunse is a performing songwriter based deep in the country's heartland reflecting sensitivity of daily living in his songs. Writing primarily in Folk, Country, Pop, or Americana, he occasionally writes CCM. Co-writer of The Wall, a tribute to Viet Vets receiving major market airplay, he's also received airplay on NPR, local public, independent, and web radio. He is a freelance writer, is board member of Minnesota Association of Songwriters, been member or involved in ASCAP, NSAI, SongU and other organizations. You can visit his web site at WWW.BRADDUNSEMUSIC.COM as well Add As Facebook Friend or Follow Him On Twitter.
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