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The Muse's News

Issue 2.9 - December 1999
ISSN 1480-6975

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I n   T h i s   I s s u e :

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@-- Editor's Musings
@-- Q&A with Nancy A. Reece from Carpe Diem Copyright Management
@-- Music Reviews - by Ben Ohmart
@-- Featured Article - MAKE YOUR SONGS STAND OUT: Lyrical & 
    Musical Contrast by Danny Arena & Sara Light 
@-- Book Review - by Jodi Krangle
@-- Musical Notes - Songwriting Contests & Market Info.
@-- Muse's Clues - by Irene Jackson 
@-- Songwriter in Spotlight - James Martin, founder of the Tucson,
    Arizona band, PATHOS.
@-- On Site Featured Article - An article already online for your viewing pleasure. @-- Classifieds & Useful Services @-- Contact information ================================================================= ISSN 1480-6975. Copyright 1998 - Jodi Krangle. For more contact information, see end of issue. =================================================================
If you enjoy The Muse's News, why not suggest it to friends? http://recommend-it.com/l.z.e?s=333678 ----------------------------------------------------------------
This ezine featured at EzineCenter.com - the Ezine Search Engine(tm) - http://www.ezinecenter.com/ ================================================================= Sponsored in part by Samurai Consulting. For web hosting or UNIX consulting, please contact Bryan Fullerton (Owner) at maileo:bryanf@samurai.com, or see their website at http://www.samurai.com/ . ================================================================= Also sponsored by: -------------------------------------------------- WIN A THREE MONTH TRIAL MEMBERSHIP TO INDIEBIZ.COM MusicDish in collaboration with Indie Music Forum '99 is conducting an online survey on SDMI. The fifth in the MusicDish Industry Survey Series is sponsored by INDIEBIZ.COM who is making 5 three month trials of their valuable interactive web-based service aimed at musicians and other independent music business people - valued at $79.95. http://www.musicdish.com/survey/sdmi2/ ---------------------------------------------------- Please visit The Muse's News sponsors as they help to make this publication possible. Thank you!
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E d i t o r ' s   M u s i n g s :

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Well, after a few shorter issues, this one's a long one.  I would
have warned you beforehand, but it's a little too late now that
you're reading this. ;)  I hope you'll forgive me.  Mainly, this is
due to the fact that the entire "Songwriter In Profile" is in the
newsletter this time rather than a few questions and a link to the
web site.  I have some friends receiving this newsletter that don't
have access to the web for various reasons and like to give them a
completed interview as often as I can.  I hope the rest of you
don't mind too much.

As usual, there's a ton happening around here.  New articles at
http://www.musesmuse.com/articles.html, Mirko has a new article
online too.  That's at http://www.musesmuse.com/mirko.html .  And
Mary Dawson's newest article is mentioned below in the "On Site
Featured Article" section.  Both are *well* worth the read.

On December 6th at 9pm EST, Jeri Goldstein, author of HOW TO BE
YOUR OWN BOOK AGENT will be our guest speaker in the Songwriting
Lounge at http://www.musesmuse.com/songdisc.html .  I hope you'll
drop by and join us if you're able.  It's bound to be very
informative and a lot of fun, besides.  You can take a look at just
how much fun we have by reading over some logs of previous chats at
http://www.musesmuse.com/chatlogs.html .  We've been lucky enough
to have John & JoAnn Braheny, Pat Pattison, Harriet Schock, Pete &
Pat Luboff & American Songwriter Magazine staff (to name a few) by
as guest speakers in the past.  And there are more to come!  

The winner of MP3 AND THE DIGITAL MUSIC REVOLUTION (reviewed below)
is Greg White of Quebec, Canada.  Congratulations, Greg!  I know
you're going to like this one a lot.

Oh!  In the good news department, seems talented
songwriter/performer Don Bray, one of our featured performers here
(you can view his write-up and hear some of his music at
http://www.musesmuse.com/samplesong-b.html#donbray ) has been
chosen as one of five winners in the
contemporary acoustic/folk category of the 1999 Great American
Songwriting Contest for his song Too Much and Enough.
Congratulations, Don!  

One last plea from me: If you have a moment and haven't already
done me the honour of filling it out, please consider taking the
Muse's Muse demographics survey at
http://www.workwork.com/survey/58575.cfm .  Your responses to those
questions helps me make The Muse's Muse better for you and I'd love
to hear your opinions on things besides. 

Keep writing and best of luck to you all.

--Jodi
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================================================================= C o p y r i g h t & P u b l i s h i n g Q & A : with Nancy A. Reece of Carpe Diem Copyright Management ----------------------------------------------------------------- Hello and Happy Thanksgiving to those of us in the the middle part of North America!, And a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Winter Solstice to you all! I have been asked several times by people from all different paths, how to "pick a good song plugger". I believe that choosing to do business with anyone for any type of service can be approached the same way. How long have they been doing this? What in their background, or history makes them qualified? Those types of things. However, I also want to mention a couple of other things to look into when searching for someone to represent you material. Remember that you have to feel comfortable with the "style" of representation. You must speak to the person directly and ask them about their business. If you like the way that they sell themselves, you will probably like the way the pitch your compositions. Also, ask them for 2 current clients as references. It may be easy for them to drop names about what they did or used to do, but get references that are current. Call those people and ask for their opinion on the work ethic of the individual. Songs may or may not be licensed for use, but is the plugger in question getting them heard? This is the real plumb line. Your compositions may or may not be what someone is looking for at the time. 'How many cuts, or how many licenses did they get you?' is not as good a question as 'How many times has your work been pitched?' There are administration companies that are now also pitching as well as handling administration. Look that direction as well as a way to get some help while retaining ownership of the publishing. There are expenses involved and unless you are a proven writer you are looking at anywhere from $25 a week to $100 a week in retainer fees as well as a portion of the receipts. Be very sure that you understand any agreement offered to you. Have a competent entertainment attorney review and explain it to you. Be particularly careful about fully understanding any post term commission clauses that will have you paying the plugger long after the original agreement may end. Always ask for a pitch report so see the activity of the work you are paying for. You may even lock in a minimum pitch per month option, if you are lucky. You don't have to see all the vital statistics on the person they pitched it to, just the name of the artist, label, film, whatever, would be good. Just so you can know for sure how to judge the results. Again, in my book, good results mean your compositions are heard. It is up to you to write great songs that no one can refuse, it is up to your plugger to get them heard. I'd love to hear you comments and stories on your experiences with song pluggers! - write me about it. --Nancy ***** 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 nreece@musesmuse.com. She can't guarantee she'll get to all of the questions, but she'll certainly try.** Back to Menu
================================================================= M u s i c R e v i e w s : by Ben Ohmart -----------------------------------------------------------------
Grant Langston - All This and Pecan Pie 'she was friendly, in the way that only ugly women seem to be. she was nice to me.' This is the start off chorus to 'Ugly Women'. A good full sound, and I like the plethora of guitars and drums that come under Grant's fine voice. And of course I love the sense of humor, which is so typical of country. But 'The Real Man' isn't country. It's real rock, making fun of what a Real Man does. He doesn't care, he doesn't do anything For you, girl, he is crude, rude and selfish. And then GL flips the coin, saying he'll do anything for you, like make you 'Homemade Peach Ice Cream.' It's nice to see a singer taking on so many different characters like this. Peach is pretty, acoustic, simple in its reverence. 'Hopeless' is a sad piano song, like an old country 6/8 song updated for pop audiences. But I'll take the live version of 'Cameron Diaz', sort of about stalking from a distance. This guy is HOOKED on the lovely 90s star. Acoustic guitar and moaning voice, and the audience likes it. Me too. Thanks for the preview, Grant. I hope you sell a lot of cds. You've got a very good voice, and may your sense of humor conquer the deeper portions of the mainstream. http://www.msgrecords.com/ --------------- OTHER NEW MUSIC REVIEWS SINCE LAST MONTH INCLUDE: Larry Kucharz - http://www.musesmuse.com/mrev-kucharz.html Patti Witten - http://www.musesmuse.com/mrev-witten.html Norman Evans - http://www.musesmuse.com/mrev-evans.html The Whole Bolivian Army - http://www.musesmuse.com/mrev-twba.html Jane Fallon - http://www.musesmuse.com/mrev-fallon.html Clove - http://www.musesmuse.com/mrev-clove.html Wesley Dennis - http://www.musesmuse.com/mrev-dennis.html --------------- ****** Ben Ohmart has had 100s of stories and poems in zines and journals, and had 4 plays produced last year. His lyrics will be on 2 CDs this year, 1 a gothic album, the other a rock album. He's currently writing films, with hopes of having one done in Malaysia soon, and is also trying to break into the prison of television. He's white, 26, single and loves British comedy. He lives in Boalsburg, PA, and enjoys watching rabbits eat his garbage. Contact him at: ohmart@musesmuse.com . **Ben has kindly consented to do music reviews for this publication and also for The Muse's Muse itself. If you have an independently released CD or tape that you'd like to get reviewed, send it off to: Ben Ohmart, P O Box 750, Boalsburg, PA 16827 or drop by his Music Reviews web section at http://www.musesmuse.com/musicreviews.html for more details.** Back to Menu
================================================================= F e a t u r e d A r t i c l e : MAKE YOUR SONGS STAND OUT Lyrical & Musical Contrast by Danny Arena & Sara Light ----------------------------------------------------------------- One of the most obvious but easily overlooked songwriting devices is the use of contrast. Most successful songs incorporate this technique and once you are familiar with the various ways in which you can achieve contrast, you can begin to incorporate it into your own writing. Contrast is making each section of your song stand out and sound different from the other sections in your song. There are several ways you can do this both musically and lyrically. Creating MUSICAL Contrast: Musically, contrast can be achieved several ways: a. MELODICALLY. Try to make the melody higher in the chorus than the verse. It's a good practice to try to write your chorus in your highest comfortable range, giving you room to make the verse lower. b. RHYTHMICALLY. If the predominant rhythm for the verse melody is quarter notes, try making the chorus rhythm eighth notes. Even if you're solely a lyricist, you can build rhythmic contrast into your lyrics. A good example of a song that incorporates rhythmic contrast between two sections is the old standard, "Somewhere Over The Rainbow." c. HARMONICALLY. Try and change the chord progression between sections. An easy way to achieve this is simply by consciously choosing a different chord to start each section. For example, if your verse begins on a G chord, try starting your chorus on a C chord. Creating LYRICAL Contrast: Lyrically, contrast can be achieved several ways. a. RHYME PATTERN. Change the pattern or placement of the rhymes between verse and chorus. Let's say, for example, your verse has an A-B-A-B rhyme pattern: The sky above is blue A The ground below is green B When I look at you A It's the prettiest sight I've ever seen B You might try using an A-A-B-B pattern in the chorus. Remember, however, that whatever pattern you set up in the verse should remain consistent for all the verses. The same goes for your chorus. b. RHYME SOUNDS. Vary the primary vowel sounds of the rhymes throughout your song. For example, if you use a long "e" rhyme sound in your first two lines (be/see), use a different rhyme sound in your next two lines (light/night). c. RHYTHM. Change the rhythm of the words between sections. If your verses have long lines with lots of syllables, you might try using short lines without a lot of syllables in your chorus. This will automatically create contrast when the lyrics are set to music. d. PRONOUN EMPHASIS. If you are primarily talking about "I" and "me" in the verses, try emphasizing "you" in the chorus. You don't have to make use of every type of contrast in each song, but try to incorporate at least one type of musical contrast and one type of lyrical contrast. The trick is to keep the song interesting and contrast is a time proven technique for achieving this. Hope to see you on the charts! -Danny & Sara ****** Danny Arena & Sara Light are professional songwriters living in Nashville, TN. They teach songwriting courses and several artists have recorded their songs. Sara is the writer of the John Michael Montgomery hit single, "Home To You." They have just completed co-producing a tape series called "The Songwriters Survival Kit." For more information visit their website at http://www.craftofsongwriting.com/
Back to Menu ================================================================= B o o k R e v i e w : by Jodi Krangle MP3 AND THE DIGITAL MUSIC REVOLUTION by John Hedtke << http://www.topfloor.com/mp3/index.html >> -----------------------------------------------------------------
Here's a step by step instructional manual, plus a WHOLE lot more - to help you understand and use MP3s. It's laid out in a clear and concise manner, tips, notes, sidebars etc., and all, it comes with a CD attached to the back of the book that gives you all the software tools you'll need, and I was really impressed with the way John talks about the more technical information. I'm not particularly technical myself, so his seeming patience and attention to detail were appreciated. There's also a very interesting section about MP3s and the legalities associated with them that I think a lot of you will find an intriguing read. John talks about how to download MP3 files from sites (there are screen shots of several MP3-loaded web sites here) and how to create them - which will probably be the most important topic for most of you. His explanations are easy to understand, and he talks about the theory behind it without going overboard. Ever wanted to know how to record an MP3 file onto a regular cassette tape? Have you thought about editing and improving your MP3 files but didn't know how to do it? Want a run-down of some of the more popular software packages for recording and listening to the MP3 format? This book is for you. The software included with the book is just icing on the cake, but it's tasty icing. I really think you'll enjoy this one. ****** John Hedtke's book, MP3 AND THE DIGITAL MUSIC REVOLUTION was our review and book give-away this month. Stay tuned for next month's book review, 6 STEPS TO SONGWRITING SUCCESS by well known lecturer and author, Jason Blume. Back to Menu ================================================================= M u s i c a l N o t e s : Songwriting Contests & Market Info. In the interest of conserving space, I will only be including 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 & http://www.musesmuse.com/markets.html . Please check there regularly for updates! ----------------------------------------------------------------- NOW ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS BSF Songs is currently accepting material for a new female artist demo/CD project. All submissions must be traditional country (cassette or CD). Strong hooks, all tempos. Only country music acceptable, ala Mandy Barnett, Lee Ann Womack, Sarah Evans, P. Loveless, etc. Submit only three songs. Include lyric sheets, name, address, telephone, and/or e-mail. Going in the studio right away. Material needed by December 30, 1999. All submissions screened on a yes/no basis. No critiques. No material returned without SASE. Nashville - E-mail: BSF Songs for more details: johnb@mis.net ----------------------------------------------------------------- MUSIC PUBLISHER ACCEPTING R&B/POP MATERIAL Sowf Paw Platinum (ASCAP) is currently looking for Hit R&B/Pop songs, for major label placement. Submit 1-3 quality songs along with lyric sheet. Bio and 8x10 optional (if you would like to be considered for label). Send songs to KD, Sowf Paw Platinum, 4565 Akron St., Temple Hills, MD 20748. Any question e-mail me: groovecontrolent@hotmail.com ----------------------------------------------------------------- MARS SOCIETY ANNOUNCES SONG CONTEST The Mars Society seeks to find songs that capture the sense of great adventure surrounding the first manned missions to Mars -- songs that will motivate people to get behind our movement. Individuals who seek to submit songs may compose within in any musical style or genre, and may enter as many songs as they wish. Entrants may compose an original melody, or adapt a public domain melody. Entry to the Rouget de Lisle contest is free of charge, and entrants need not be Mars Society members. Entries may be submitted by sending a tape cassette recording and lyric sheet along with a note giving the Mars Society permission to include the song on their Ares CD-ROMs to: Mars Society, Attn: Rouget de Lisle Contest, P.O. Box 273, Indian Hills, CO 80454. Entries must be received by March 1st, 2000. ----------------------------------------------------------------- REVIEWING SONGS & MATERIAL FOR TWO UPCOMING ALBUM PROJECTS One is contemporary female country, a trio of sisters - The Bullock Sisters. The second is contemporary Western swing songs. Jess Cullison is planning his second album. Sales on his first are doing very well. If you have specific material that you think we should hear, please EMAIL or TELEPHONE before mailing demos. We are going on a request-only basis on these works and projects (so we won't be swamped .) We WILL review your material if it sounds close to what we are looking for. Please affix A RED CIRCLE 'A' (@) to the OUTSIDE OF YOUR DEMO PACKAGE. And please make sure you FOLLOW SUBMISSION GUIDELINES here: http://TrowbridgePlanetEarth.com/T2/T2S1.html ----------------------------------------------------------------- THE 4TH ANNUAL "CRUISIN' FOR A HIT" SONGWRITERS CRUISE We value your time and money that's why we're offering you this fantastic deal! Join us on the Costa Victoria for 7 nights of learning and fun! Workshops, Seminars, Guitar Pulls, and Critiquing are just a few of the events that will be taking place! An incredible line-up of top faculty songwriters and pros! Prices start at $802 per person, dbl. occ. and include all port charges and taxes! Visit our site at: cruise-eta.com or call us toll-free at 888/711-7447. Space is limited so call us today!! ----------------------------------------------------------------- ONLINEROCK IS A WEB-BASED COMMUNITY FOR MUSICIANS, MUSIC PROFESSIONALS & DIE-HARD MUSIC FANS: Visit OnlineRock and build your free Web site, post classifieds on our musician's 'sounding board,' learn about the latest music gear, recording technology and more. OnlineRock's mission is to empower musicians so that they can promote, distribute (and soon sell) their own music to fans anywhere in the world. Drop on by http://www.onlinerock.com/ when you get a chance. (You can sign up for a free web site with OnlineRock directly through The Muse's Muse! Have a look at http://www.musesmuse.com/onlinerock-form.html ) ----------------------------------------------------------------- NEW PUBLISHER SEEKING ORIGINAL MATERIAL Now accepting songs of all styles. 3 songs on CD or cassette with lyric sheets and SASE. All songs will be considered. * prefer positive upbeat material, must be original and unique. Contact info: LISTEN LOUD PUBLISHING BMI 1006 HYDE PARK CT CLEBURNE TX 76031 jbeaurpe@flash.net ----------------------------------------------------------------- NEW SONGWRITING CONTEST: SongRider Studios, a music provider for major recording companies, has begun its quest to cluster good songwriters by sponsoring a new and unique songwriting contest for 1999. Four winners are chosen for every 64 song entries throughout the year in this ongoing tournament. First place wins $440 and a free track on our CD sampler, second place wins $120, third and fourth place win $40. You can enter by sending in your cassette or CD with the lyrics and your return snail and e-mail addresses with $20 to SongRider Studios, Lakeside Village, 8250 E. Golf Links #118, Tucson, Arizona 85730-1246. RECENT CHANGES: 1. We will now also accept entries which are contained in the songwriter's website. 2. We will link the winners to their websites, when applicable. 3. We will now accept sponsors to supplement our cash prizes for each contest and place their names along with the winners. For other details regarding copyright, the methods of selection, recording contracts, the lists of entries and winners, click onto our website at http://www.angelfire.com/biz2/songwritingcontest/index.html For any questions, e-mail us at SongRider8@webtv.net We look forward to listening to your songs. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Back to Menu ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ M u s e ' s C l u e s : by Irene Jackson ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The first time I was faced with a contract was with a local television station for the mechanical rights to some music I had produced for a television series. It's all of those "herewith" and "not withstanding" cluttered sentences taking up a whole paragraph that really make my eyes glaze over. Fortunately for me, I knew the producers really well because I'd worked at the station for a number of years and trusted them, so I read the contract through (ahem!), and signed. But what if I didn't know these people? It wouldn't make them any less trustworthy, but I would certainly have to consider that contract more carefully, even to the point of hiring a professional. The legal aspects of music tend to be rather overwhelming for most of us, especially when it comes to making a decision as to whether or not to sign a contract of some sort. As always, it is best to review any contractual agreement with an entertainment lawyer first before signing, but rather than allowing anyone to assume complete responsibility for that aspect of your career, why not arm yourself with a little knowledge too? Recently I came across a posting in the newsgroup rec.music.makers. songwriting from Toby Darling, who had come across a webpage chock FULL of sample contracts of all sorts! Do you want to get an idea of what a single song publishing contract looks like? A mechanical license? If you're a performer or in a band, there's also a Band Booking Agreement. There are contracts on this webpage for things I've never heard of!! Here's the url: http://www.bandradio.com/law/samples.html The website itself is called Band Radio (http://www.bandradio.com/), a very comprehensive site featuring an extensive resource for musicians with information on labels, radio, bands, artists, promotion, recording...SO many that it may take you a month to see it all. In spite of the obvious lean towards "bands" as opposed to artists or songwriters, this site has something for everyone involved, or about to be, in the business of music. Just go there, you'll see what I mean! ****** 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 more links of interest. Her latest CD "Motor Scooter" has had attention everywhere from Japan to South America, and a new release is due out sometime in 1999. Songwriting Tips: http://www.irenejackson.com/tips.html Homepage: http://www.irenejackson.com/ Songs on MP3: http://www.mp3.com/artists/20/irene_jackson.html Back to Menu ================================================================= S o n g w r i t e r I n P r o f i l e : James Martin, founder of the Tucson, Arizona band, PATHOS
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PATHOS is a band I chose to spotlight not all that long ago.  Their
music and their songwriting really impressed me.  (You can read
that review and hear a song of theirs by going to:
http://www.musesmuse.com/samplesong-p.html#pathos).  When I found
out James was the main songwriter for the group, I simply had to
interview him.  Where did all this great stuff COME from?  I wanted
to know - and I thought you would want to know too.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
*Q*: What got you writing songs in the first place?  Do you
remember the first song you wrote and why you wrote it?
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*A*: As a young child I would spend hours listening to the radio
and old reel to reel tapes, mostly Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Pink
Floyd, and The Beatles.  Neil Diamond was my favorite.  My mother
had bought me a ukulele and I would pretend to play along with the
music.  There were certain songs that I always wanted to fix
because I didn't like the direction they had taken.  I knew someday
I would have the opportunity to write songs the way I heard them.
I realized this around the age of 3 or 4.

My mother bought a guitar and started taking classical lessons when
I was five.  I would watch her practice, and when she finished, I
would pick up the guitar and play what she had rehearsed.  It came
very easy to me.  It was around that time that I wrote my first
song.  It was a silly 3 chord song with each verse enthusiastically
naming a different kid in the neighborhood as my "very best
friend".  I'm not sure why I wrote it, I just felt the need. It was
an instant hit with all of the neighborhood kids.

When my mother heard the song, she got really excited and took me
to get lessons.  Unfortunately she took me to an all adult group
lesson that was into the seventh week. Coincidentally, they were
discussing 7th chords.  I knew nothing of theory and was very
intimidated.  To make matters worse, the guitar I carried was as
big as I and the adults got a kick out of teasing me.  Needless to
say, I never returned and would play the guitar only when my mother
was away for fear that she would take me back!
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*Q*: What do you find inspires you most into writing these days?
And how do you think that's changed from earlier years?
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*A*: This question is difficult as my muse is mysterious and shows
itself in many forms.  It is strange as I can sense it coming.
Sometimes I feel uneasy and other times become overwhelmed with an
intense anxiety that cannot be explained.  There have been times
where I have been overcome with trembling.  While composing, I feel
a great intensity within and cannot interact with people.  I feel
like I am stranded, seeking meaning and validation in a mystic,
untamed world.  By the time I am finished, I feel emotionally
exhausted.  If distractions keep me from composing, I slowly lose
touch with my surroundings and descend into a severe depression
that can last for weeks.

I have tried to analyze the difference between inspiration and
other states of mind.  I believe that inspiration causes me to hear
things differently.  A boring progression is heard in a new light
and the muse tantalizes my mind's ear into realms where it normally
would not venture.

If there is any one thread that ties my inspiration together, it
would have to be strife.  That being said, strife inevitably comes
from reflections on experience.  Love, death, and desire are all
experiences that cause strife.  Sometimes a traumatic event, like
the death of a friend or loved one, will spur the muses to quickly
descend on me.  And other experiences will cause them to gently
tickle my imagination. There always seems to be some lack of
satisfaction that presses me forward.

I don't believe that my sources of inspiration have changed over
the years.  I do believe that each song is a study in life, and
from these studies, new tools are forged.  The reflections that
lead us to strife are always changing.  Often a single experience,
revisited years later, bears fruit of new meaning.  Although the
inspiration doesn't seem to change, its interaction with a
constantly evolving human outlook, produces art in varied, evolving
forms.
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*Q*: What comes first for you - the music or the lyrics?  And why
do you think that is?
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*A*: Sometimes I go through stages where I will write poetry and no
music. This comes about three weeks after studying literature.  I
find this to be the second best situation as I possess more tools
in the music language to complement the written language,
especially when dealing with emotional subject matter.  A poem will
make me feel a certain way. After digesting that feeling for a week
or so, my subconscious works up music to complement it.

The worst writing situation that I have encountered is composing
music before lyric.  Music seems to inspire emotion much more
efficiently than poetry.  Poems require preparation and
understanding before they evoke emotional response.  The deeper the
response, the greater the preparation must be.  Not so with music.
Shubert's "Ave Maria" or the "Dies Irae" of Mozart's Requiem Mass
have immediate effect.  Poems by Yeats or Tennyson can be equally
moving, but first require the preparation and understanding.  (I
want to make clear that in song, music is not more important than
lyric or vice versa.  Both can individually serve the same purpose,
but in song, both should work synergistically to transcend the
effects of each individual medium.) Once I have crafted a musical
tone, I find it difficult to emulate that tone with word meaning
and preparation.  In cases like this, I will have music sometimes
for several months before the lyrics evolve.  I find this mode of
writing extremely frustrating and avoid it as much as possible.

Most often, music and lyrics come simultaneously. This is the best
situation because both components are drawn from the same
inspiration, allowing them to complement and strengthen each other.
When overcome by a writing urge, music and lyrics flow from the
same spring and song is briefly born.
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*Q*: Do you ever experience Writer's Block?  And if you do, what do
you do to beat it?
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*A*: I think that most artists experience "Writer's Block."  I view
it as a time when I am running low on ideas or inspiration.  When I
experience block, I abandon music for a while and indulge in
reading classic literature.  When tired of that, I create visual
art.  Eventually, I return to music, usually studying pieces by
composers or pop artists. Before I know it, composition returns
again.  This cycle is about a month in duration.  I visualize it in
terms of a bucket collecting water.   The bucket is filling up with
ideas and inspiration as I indulge in other arts.  When the bucket
is full, music and lyrics pour from it.  Then the cycle starts over
again.

If the block lasts too long, I fall into a gloomy depression that I
cannot shake.  The depression starts to grow intense like the cold,
in a late autumn morning when there is no heat in the house.
Eventually the sun returns, but it can seem like an eternity.
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*Q*: Have you collaborated with many songwriters? How do you find
that works for you? And have you ever experienced a disagreement
while collaborating? If so, how did you resolve the dispute?
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*A*: When Pathos works to arrange a song that I have written, we
approach that process as a songwriter collaboration.

I feel that it works wonderfully.  Typically I need to say very
little as the chemistry between us is tremendous.  There is intense
communication going on and each uses that to finely craft his part.
It is not uncommon to see each person offering suggestions to
another during the process.  Everyone puts his creative blood and
soul into it.

There are times when we disagree, but it always seems to indicate
that we are not in the same mindset.  When we approach a song from
the same page, it flows well.  I sometimes believe that the
collective draws the arrangement from the same inspiration that led
to the original composition.  The beauty of it is that each person
has a different interpretation, but because the inspiration is
common, there is a thread that lends cohesion to the work.

If it is a fundamental disagreement, we tend to let it rest, then
re-approach it a few days later.  In the end, each feels that his
part is a worthy contribution that lifts the song to a higher
place.
-----------------------------------------------------------------
*Q*: What are your thoughts on the MP3 format? Do you think it's a
good thing for songwriters or a bad thing?
-----------------------------------------------------------------
*A*: I think that the idea of quality digital music files on line
will grow more important as technology advances; however,  I don't
think it will totally replace manufactured CDs anytime soon.

Pathos has joined the "digital revolution" by posting songs on
MP3.com. I believe that the owner of MP3.com (and similar sites) is
a genius.  He owns a website and gives you a portion of it for
"free."  In reality visitors to your site are bombarded with ads.
Greater than that, he gets free promotion for his site every time
you send someone to hear your music, you are actually promoting his
site.  The more hits his site has, the more advertising dollars and
other business opportunities he generates.  A stroke of genius that
benefits many.

I think that MP3 is a good thing for songwriters.  Technology tends
to open up opportunities for people who would otherwise be
overlooked (just look at the impact of the printing press on the
world).  Songwriters who would normally never be heard can now be
part of a movement that makes their music available to anyone in
the world without having to leave home.  In that sense, I think it
represents a powerful tool.
-----------------------------------------------------------------
*Q*: How do you think writing songs for a band is different than
writing songs for yourself? Can you share some Pathos writing
experiences with us?
-----------------------------------------------------------------
*A*: When writing music for myself, the guitar texture is thicker
and the song layout is direct, leaving little to ambiguity.  When
writing for a band, space needs to be left for the other musicians'
imaginations to fill.  The guitar lines thin out and resemble a
part.  The more ambiguous the guitar and vocal lines, the greater
imagination the band has to use to build the foundation underneath.
I believe the trickiest element in band writing is knowing when not
to play. 

Just recently I wrote a song called "Not To Be."  It was a
situation where the music came first, but I squeezed out the lyrics
two days later and the song was born.  I sought to create a paradox
by laying mellow guitar and vocal lines over the top of a driving
rhythm section.  I wrote a bass theme from which Bob Thomas drew
clever variations.  I went through the same process with Andy Bell
on the drums.  In each case, I would provide a general theme and
mental imagery as guides.  James Tiscione (the keyboard player)
cleverly drew his entire theme from a short motif in the guitar
solo.  Starting with these basic elements, we worked up the song to
where we were comfortable with our parts.  We then collaborated to
create harmony and back up vocal lines.   From there, diligent
practice helped to hone the song into a finished piece.

I think of it as a sculpture.  In the beginning huge chunks are
knocked from the stone.  As the form begins to take shape, time is
generously spent on details.  Each member of the band approaches
their part in this fashion.  As the song begins to settle, each
member develops new ideas for the others.  In the end, it
generally takes a month or two for everyone to be satisfied and
comfortable with his part.  The beauty of chemistry in a band is
that everybody enjoys hearing and performing all of the parts.
-----------------------------------------------------------------
*Q*: What are the band's plans for the future? and how can people
pick up your CD?
-----------------------------------------------------------------
In early 2000, we intend to return to the studio to start work on a
new CD.  After we finish recording, we plan to tour the United
States (and, we hope, Canada) to promote the new release.  Our main
goal is to subsist on our art.  That is a tough proposition, but we
are all dedicated, focussed, determined, and definitely in it for
the long haul.

Our CDs are available through our website at
www.youthincrecords.com.
Catalogs are available by sending a request to:
Youth Inc. Records
PO Box 65802
Tucson, AZ 85728-5802
USA
                             ******
							 
James Martin was born and raised in Sierra Vista, Arizona.  He now
lives in Tucson where he works as a freelance graphic artist and
owner of Youth Inc. Records.  He founded Pathos in 1995 and
continues to perform and record with the band.  Over the past 12
years, James has written over 110 songs and has composed music
chamber ensembles, orchestra, and chorus.	

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