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The Muse's News
The Muse's News
The Muse's News
An E-zine For And About Songwriters.
Issue 17.9
December 2014

In This Issue:
* Editor's Musings
* Music Reviews - Cyrus Rhodes
* New Artist Spotlight Additions
* Songwriting Book Review - by Tim Zbikowski
* Musical Notes - Songwriting Contests & Market Info.
* Muse's Clues - Songwriting Web sites that inspire - by adventurer and songwriter, Richard Miller.
* Featured Article: Quick Tip: Wax On Wax Off by Brad Dunse
* On Site Featured Article - An article (or articles) already online for your viewing pleasure.
* Classifieds & Useful Services
* Contact information
ISSN 1480-6975. Copyright 1998-2014 - Jodi Krangle.
For more contact information, see end of issue.


All sorts of products and services especially for songwriters, negotiated so that you get the best price possible. You'll find means of promotion and distribution, songwriting aids, educational products, musical instruments and their accessories, and lots more. Any of these items would make a fantastic present for a songwriter in your life (even if it's you! :-) ) Have a Look!


I personally use HostDime - and LOVE them. Really. Their service is superb and prompt, they really know what they're doing, you can chat with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and their pricing (The Muse's Muse uses a dedicated server) is very reasonable. Check them out!

Sponsor Message:
(Many thanks to the sponsors that help support this newsletter!)

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“MasterWriter will not only help you write great songs, it will make you a better songwriter in the process.”
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“Producers have Pro Tools. Writers have Word. Songwriters have MasterWriter.”
–Rob Thomas

Editor's Musings:

Hello again for another month, my friends. :) For those of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope it's a wonderful holiday for you full of light and laughter and a great deal of healthy gratitude. Here in the Toronto area, we've already had a bunch of snow and a thorough thaw ... but winter is definitely setting in. Not looking forward to that... but it is what it is. What do you do to keep your spirits up when the weather gets cold and the sun is around for less and less time? I'd love to hear from you on that. (And of course, if you live somewhere where it's sunny and warm all the time, feel free to write and taunt me. :D )

In the meantime, here are the raffle winners for this month:

  • Mark Waldoch, from Milwaukee, WI, has won a copy of Virtual Studio Systems' Lyricist software.
  • Mark Ralske, from Petaluma, CA, has won a free 3 month membership to SongU, an Internet-based learning environment providing online coaching, co-writing and pitching opportunities, in addition to over 70 multi-level courses developed by award-winning songwriters.

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.)

I wish you much joy and inspiration!

All the best,


Sponsor Message:
(Many thanks to the sponsors that help support this newsletter!)


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Music Reviews:


Cyrus Rhodes

* New Latitude

Artist Spotlights:

Great music is only a click away!
Here is a selection of the great artists and bands highlighted
in the Artist Spotlight section of The Muse's Muse.


Terrell Bowers - Genre: ROCK

Turning Point acknowledges the darkness in life while it shines on the color. The earthy jamming rock runs deep with veins of blues, country, and funk. The stories strike a delicate balance of being light-hearted, serious, and uplifting at the same time. Eleven different musicians played on the album.

Songwriting Book Review By: Tim Zbikowski

Songwriting Strategies: A 360-Degree Approach
by Mark Simos

Very rarely I review a book which provides either a significant amount of technical songwriting details I haven’t read previously, or a novel approach to the craft of songwriting. This book surprised me by doing both.

Songwriting Strategies – A 360-Degree Approach, published by Berklee Press in 2014, is authored by Mark Simos, an associate professor of songwriting at Berklee College of Music. Simos has composed over one hundred songs recorded by well-known artists including Alison Krauss, Union Station, Ricky Skaggs, and Del McCoury. He’s also contributed his fiddle and guitar skills to multiple recordings and performs and teaches at worldwide workshops, festivals and retreats.

Songwriters love metaphors, and Simos utilizes a compass with its major directional markers pointing to the four facets of songwriting: Rhythm, Lyrics, Melody, and Harmony.

Simos begins the journey by discussing “song seeds”, where to find ideas for songs, how to nurture seeds, and actions to avoid heading in the wrong direction. Song seeds can come from any of the four facets, and Simos suggests writing down not only the kernel, but when and where it occurred and what you saw and sensed at that moment. These details may assist you later in developing the song.

Describing features of the compass, Simos links the four facets together in the center of the hub he references as Structure. The surrounding outer perimeter is the World. Using the compass, he discusses setting, casting, and framing the song, plus creative strategies for structuring it.

As you may have guessed, Simos devotes one chapter each to Rhythm, Lyrics, Melody and Harmony. To pique your interest, I offer only a small example of text in each chapter.

In Rhythm, Simos encourages you to use “mental imaging to hear the rhythm internally.” You can add body gestures, hand claps, finger snaps, foot taps or slides, even teeth clicking to develop rhythmic phrases. He describes the Pulse of the grove and notes lyrics usually are a combination of duple pulse words and triple pulse words. Examples of each include “Talking over” and “wondering”, “questioning.” Simos goes on to illustrate eight rhythmic qualities of sung lyric phrases.

In Lyrics, Simos hit me right off with a couple words describing phrasing I hadn’t learned previously. “A caesura is a pause in lyric flow in the middle of a line.” “An enjambment carries over a sense or thought phrase, across a line boundary to the next line.” He goes on to indicate sound is colored by, and pace of lyrics, is effected by the types of consonants and vowels you use. Things go a little crazy when he talks about dummy lines and “Seven Levels of Nonsense” in the“Gibberish Scale!” Simos gets back to reality describing energy level contours in rhythmic phrases.

Moving along to Melody, Simos challenges the reader to “think melody”, but not to settle for the “first melody that pops into your mind.” One exercise for strengthening melodic memory is to think of a melodic idea in the morning and see if you can remember it at the end of the day. Another tool is repeating the melody and changing only one note on each repetition. Simos illustrates mapping melody to rhythm (or it can be vice versa.) He also describes how our natural spoken intonation translates into a vocal melody.

In the Harmony chapter, Simos begins with a definition I think nails it as concisely as possible: “Harmony springs from multiple pitches sounding together: a chord. Harmonic progressions are sequences of chords flowing according to a particular logic or design.” My favorite exercise in this chapter he calls “Jackson Pollock”. Pollock is an artist famous for splashing paint on a canvas on the floor. To create interesting harmony sounds, Simos suggests repeatedly letting your fingers free fall on piano keys or guitar strings and listen to the resulting random chord. From a range of unfamiliar sounds, you may find something that feels and sounds good to you. He indicates a twofold goal for chord progressions including “expanding our strategies for writing interesting and varied chord progressions”, and to “develop our sense for emotional and narrative aspects of those progressions.”

Because the connections between melody and harmony are so important, Simos devotes one chapter specifically to that topic. He describes how the melody may move similar to the chord progression or contrary to it. Also, either the melody or harmony may remain constant while the other is moving in one direction or another.

Having covered the four points of the compass, Simos moves to the hub with a chapter on Structure. This includes topics of phrase structure, motivic structure, and song form. Finally, he ends with a chapter on using the compass in its entirety.

Given the amount of information in this book, I guarantee it will take me several re-reads to fully comprehend the wealth of material. I highly recommend you give it a read, or better yet, add Songwriting Strategies – A 360-Degree Approach to your holiday wish list. Good luck and write on!


Tim Zbikowski is an active member of the Minnesota Association of Songwriters, assisting with song critiques and presentations on songwriting. His introduction to music was piano lessons in the early 1960’s. He played drums in a garage band and in his high school’s band program. Tim bought his first personal computer in 1984 and by the 1990’s connected a keyboard to a computer. When notes appeared on a staff on the monitor, he was hooked forever! Tim is a free-lance audio engineer, seriously studies the craft of songwriting, and enjoys the mental recreation and stimulation of writing in multiple genres.

Sponsor Message:
(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 (when I need to), 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 &
Please check there regularly for updates!


The Great American Song Contest features awards for 50 winners in 10 categories and provides $10,000 in Prizes. Entrants receive written song evaluations from music-industry judges, including publishers, music producers and recording artists. The event is open to songwriters, lyricists and composers around the world. Sponsored by Songwriters Resource Network, a trusted educational resource for songwriters everywhere. Submission deadline has been extended to December 18th, 2014!  For details, visit:


The IAP and the Best CD of the Year Awards gives recognition to outstanding innovative works of independent music from around the world. There is never a fee of any kind for any aspect of these awards. For more details, please visit our website at: , and click on Submissions.
Deadline: December 31st, 2014.


Women of Substance Radio is an Internet Radio Station (with our own Mobile App) that has been on the air for 7 years. Our review board hand-picks the BEST music by female artists in all genres from both label artists and Indies. New music is added weekly and promoted on Social Media. We also feature videos on our blog daily. WOSRadio is a unique platform for Female Indie Artists to showcase and promote their music to targeted listeners and music buyers.

Visit:  / Listen:


Songwriter Connect will connect you to established artists near you. We are creating a new platform for songwriters and composers. The main feature will be that we will connect you to established artists near you. We also cater for local, unrecognized singers and bands who are on the lookout for talented and screened songwriters to collaborate on their next project. Register now to be one of the first songwriters on this innovative platform!

A REVOLUTIONARY NEW WAY TO SHARE AND PROMOTE MUSIC pays Fans to Follow and Promote Songs and is 100% FREE to join for both recording artists and music fans. Join us in our mission of making Tunii the future of the music industry where together we can all share in the success for connecting artists and fans around the world. Sign up today through this special Muse's Muse link and please check out our short “How Tunii works video” It's Easy, it's FREE and it's Fun!


Getting great gigs, building your audience and selling more merchandise is exactly what your career is all about. This online course is jam-packed with 12 hours of downloadable audio mp3s and PDF Action Guides. There are 5 modules: Module 1: Tour Goals & Planning Strategies, Module 2: Routing Your Tours, Module 3: Negotiation Techniques & Contracts, Module 4: Working with Presenters, Bookers, Promoters/Advancing the Date, Module 5: Targeting Your Markets for Maximum Audiences. Plus 2 hours of bonus classes, BONUS #1: Website Maximizer-Is you’re your Website Selling You? Learn how. BONUS #2: Copy Writing: How to write fan emails, press releases and other promo copy that get responses. Bonus # 3: Three free Industry Biz Booster Monthly Mentor Interviews. And finally, weekly call-in office hours to talk with former agent, manager, author, creator, Jeri Goldstein directly, about the course and your career. Booking & Touring Success Strategies & Secrets gives you artist-tested, step-by-step strategies to help you reach your career goals and make all of your tours profitable.


Award winning songwriter Jane Eamon is offering songwriting one on one classes via Skype. These sessions are one hour in length and can cover any topic you'd like to address. From writing, to critique, to ideas and games. Or just to share your thoughts and get feedback. If you're interested in a session contact to schedule a class.


Hooktheory is a free resource that can show you how to integrate basic music theory into your songwriting process, making it easier to write catchy chord progressions and melody. Hooktheory currently consists of three main areas:
1. The Hookbook demonstrates basic principles of music theory and how they relate to popular music. It's filled with multimedia-rich content explaining musical concepts synchronized to real songs so you can hear what you are learning and make connections easier.
2. The Music Editor lets you write chord progressions in Roman Numeral notation and listen to them in any key. Add a melody, save your work, share it with friends, or export it to Garageband, sheet music, or guitar tab.
3. The Analysis Wiki is a user-generated collection of analyses of popular songs. Look up the chord progression and melody of a song, or use the music editor to create your own analyses.
Check it out now!

Muse's Clues - Richard Miller

©2014 Richard Miller. All Rights Reserved.
Used By Permission

Meet and Greet

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to attend the first Martin Taylor Guitar Retreat in the Shetland Islands in Scotland.  The retreat is designed for guitarists of all styles and skills, beginners are welcome, and, this time at least, it included seminars on singing, accompanying singers and a very good presentation on getting started in the music business.  Interestingly, the most significant, thing I took away from the retreat was the importance of human contact.

The master classes given by Martin were inspiring and very informative but the contact with the other students was also significant.  Working with them gave the opportunity to focus more tightly on tempo, mood, getting into character, and delivery and the end product was far greater than anything I’d managed to create alone at home.  This led me to wonder what might the best way to meet real people with similar interests be.  Following on from that I began to wonder how to begin to develop useful contacts, contacts with influence.

The first site wasn’t an abundance of success.  It was a subscription site and generated two hits.  The first made four appointments, and cancelled everyone of them either on or the day before the meet, the second was a bass player who had no more sense of tempo and rhythm than I had of nuclear physics.  That was enough.  I decided to carry on alone until the guitar retreat opened my eyes to working with committed musicians.

My first search lead me to MusiciansConnection.  They charge $9.95 for a lifetime membership which sounds pretty reasonable.  Before opting in I tried to find an independent review of the site and then, that having failed, tried the search engine.  That revealed a heavy bias towards the United States and particularly California.  In the short time I looked I could find very few contacts in Europe nor were any testimonials readily available.  So, I decided not to pursue it any further.  That isn’t to say it wouldn’t work for someone in another part of the world but being a musician on a very limited, and at times non-existent, budget I decided to keep my wallet in my pocket.

The second website I found was Musicians Contact.  The business has been going since 1969 so it seemed to be worth having a look.  If you are looking for musicians the site is free.  If you are looking for work there is a  subscription to pay.  However, it should be noted you can deactivate your subscription and reactivate it later if you find work and don’t need to advertise for a period of time.  Anyway, for reasons noted above I opted for the free service.  It’s necessary to complete an ad, which can either be public or private, before browsing the musicians is possible.  Once done it too revealed a heavy bias towards the U.S. and, again, California but the recent ads showed a sprinkling of global opportunities which made this site interesting.  If anything comes of it I’ll let you know.

Finally, I wandered over to Music Starts Here, a site suggested to me (See, linking up with people works!!), which features connections in and around Nashville.  The site gives itself a very good introduction in the About Us section so there’s no need for me to repeat that here.  In short it is dedicated to those who wish to make the pilgrimage to Nashville, whether they are a songwriter, artist, musician, technician or interested in working in the industry, how to prepare for the journey and what to do upon arrival.  There’s a host of links and videos in every discipline offering experience and advice for the would be pilgrim.  It pays to look through all the links, even those that may not intuitively relate to your primary goal(s).  For instance in the technicians sections there’s a good article on recording rehearsals which could go along way towards improving delivery both on the record (yes, I am that old) or on stage.  Needless to say there are opportunities to connect with individuals of all stripes via this site.

Everywhere you look the advice runs along the same lines.  The internet is a wonderful place to study and learn but there is no substitute for direct contact.  It may be physical, if you happen to live near each other, or it could be virtual if you’ve got a decent connection and access to some form of online connection.  Whichever way works for you its reasonably certain that opportunities will increase with collaboration.


Richard Miller is a caterpillar who has begun his chrysalis phase. Originally from Maine, Richard has, via a series of mis-adventures and accidents, worked as an accountant in the English Midlands, a systems programmer on the South Coast of England (where he also pursued an illustrious career in rugby) and a statistical programmer in Belgium. Now he has put all that aside, bought a house, stripped it back to the brick and started to renovate it from top to bottom while simultaneously transforming himself from a results oriented automaton into a winged song writer. You can peak inside the chrysalis at:

Featured Article - By Brad Dunse

QUICK TIP: Wax On Wax Off

If I could give you one simple, easy exercise this month that would help you be a better songwriter, would you start it right now?

One that seems so effortless, but has proven instrumental in creating super star writers in other writing fields, and is totally adaptable to songwriting.

Lt me say it this way…

You’ve seen The movie, The Karate Kid haven’t you? They made two of them for crying out loud, you must have seen or heard of one of them. I still prefer the original 1984 version.

Anyway, What if I was Mr. Miyagi, you were Daniel LaRusso getting beat up by the Cobra Kai song evaluation gang, and I had a way of helping you out?

I knew you were up for it, great!

Okay, you’ll need something to write with.

Find yourself a pen and paper and let’s try an easy three step exercise.

1. Pick a song that is either a top hit or one that is really successful in its market.

2. Google up the lyrics and read them all the way through 10-times. That’s right, I said ten times. Don’t really want to read them ten times? Okay, drop what you’re doing and give me fifteen times then!

3. Now, write them out by hand exactly as they appear. Do this three-times. Oh, come on, humor me and try it.

I know if feels a little like “Wax on, wax off Daniel-son.” Actually, that isn’t too far off of why you’re doing this.

If you saw the movie, do you remember why Daniel was slaving over floors, fences, and old cars in the movie? Even if you hadn’t seen it, I’ll show you in just a second.

First, here’s the thing.  After you’ve read the lyrics and know them well, and as you are writing them out by hand, ask yourself these questions…

• What song form is this?

• How is each line constructed and metered?

• What words are getting the beat stresses, and why?

• What is the rhyme pattern?

• Do the vowel rhymes differ in the verses compared to the chorus?

• Is there equal number of syllables in each line, or are they toggled or differ in some way?

• Do the verses point towards the chorus?

• What kind of language is being used?

• Do the words “tell” me what is happening, or “show” me what is happening?

• What kind of images are given?

• How do the lyrics advance from verse to verse?

That’s it!

Try this with as many hit  or notable songs as you can, or if you want to study a certain writer, do this with his or her songs.

There is proof that writing by hand has a huge learning effect on the brain, and although it seems like you are waxing the paint off Mr. Miyagi’s car collection, or scribing your way to insanity for no reason at all; you are really etching songwriting techniques into your brain.

Take the time to study successful songs this way and you will begin to see your own writing markedly improve. Don’t ask why it works, it just does, so use it to your advantage.

So do you remember why Daniel was doing all that seemingly mindless work? It was so when he fought in the tournament, what he learned was engrained in his body language, pretty much without even thinking of it.

You are doing similar, so it is engrained in your songwriting. It really does work.

Here’s a clip from the movie to help the point. Some language in this clip, so there is my disclaimer.

Until next time… keep writing from the heart.


A performing songwriter, Brad Dunse is  member of ASCAP, NSAI, SongU, and Minnesota Association of Songwriters. His songs have been played on various independent, internet, and public radio stations across the country with The Wall touching a major country market station. Interested in song evaluations? Go to Brad's site for more information.


How To Know Whether You Can Become A Great Guitar Player Pt. 1: Do You Want It Bad Enough? - by Tom Hess

The biggest obstacle standing in the way of your guitar playing greatness is NOT learning complicated techniques, becoming a faster player, memorizing scale patterns or anything else musical.

Classifieds & Useful Services


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Lyricist is the first-of-its-kind word processor designed specifically for musicians, songwriters, and poets. The software includes a Rhyming Dictionary, Thesaurus, Album Categorization, Chord Charting, Chord Generator, Song Arrangement, and On-Line Copyright Link.

The new version 3 release adds support for "Piano Style" chord symbols, Nashville Number System, and Transposition features - all in one easy-to-use package - and all for only $54.95! (That's $5.00 off to all Muse's News readers who purchase from the review link at!)

This tool will revolutionize the way you write and organize your writing.
Be the best songwriter you can be and purchase Lyricist today!


Writing a great melody is the #1 component to writing a song your listeners will want to buy, and hear over and over again. If you want some easy ways to improve your melodies to start writing songs your fans will love, check out this FREE report. It'll teach you some great (and simple!) tricks for writing sophisticated and marketable melodies:

For Classifieds: US$50 Max. 7 lines (though I do make exceptions), where a line = 65 characters including spaces and punctuation. All contracts must be prepaid. Write to:

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Contact Info & Credits

Jodi Krangle, Editor:

The Muse's News is a free monthly newsletter for and about songwriters. Subscribers are welcome to recirculate or reprint The Muse's News for nonprofit use as long as the appropriate credit is given and the ENTIRE text of the newsletter is included (including credits and information at the end of each issue). Others should contact me at All articles copyrighted by their authors.

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