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Songwriting--October 30th, 2012

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Tariq Hussain

on 16 November 2012

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Transcript of Songwriting--October 30th, 2012

Songwriting Pop Songwriting What are some of your favorite pop songs? What is "pop" music? Pop / Popular Music

Blues, Rock, Soul, R&B, Folk, Country, Gospel... When we think of Pop Music today, we also think of these genres potentially:

Hip Hop, Punk, Metal, Black Metal, Melodic Black Metal,Electronica, Disco, Latin, New Wave, Afropop, House, Acid House, Bluegrass, Hardcore, Cuddlecore, Ambient, Dubstep, Folktronica, Freestyle, Garage Rock, Glam Rock, Grindcore, Indie... Screamo, Laptop Pop, Psychedelic, Neo-Psychedelic, Horrorcore, Doom Metal, Spacesynth, Nintendocore...

And so on!

What are some elements of songs? Song Structure

Integrate lyrics, melody & rhythm into a basic song structure consisting of:

Instrumental Break
Conclusion Intro

Sets the song up by establishing a key, a rhythm, a musical "riff" (piano, guitar, vocal etc.) Verse

Exposition: tells us what the song is about

Sometimes it's a narrative:

"On a warm summer's evening, on a train bound for nowhere..."

"Now somewhere in the black mountain hills of Dakota there lived a young boy named..."

"A long, long time ago, I can still remember when that music used to make me smile..." Pre-Chorus

A transitional part leading from verse to chorus

A lyrical build to what's coming in the chorus

A melodic shift from the verse as well as a melodic rise into the chorus Chorus

The payoff!

Sums up, lyrically, what the song is about--the theme

Options: One-word chorus repeated over and over/song title as chorus/the OOH-OOH-OOH or LA-LA-LA kind of chorus

Melodic shift from the verse, perhaps a shift in the rhythm of the words to add contrast Bridge

A musical and lyrical change that usually occurs 3/4 of the way into a song

Lyric options: change the POV (first person to third person), introduce a new idea that hasn't been expressed in the song yet or perhaps even a new character

Musically, slow down the tempo perhaps, switch to a different key, use minor instead of major, hang on one chord Solo/Instrumental Break Conclusion

Wrapping up the song

Lyric options: Repeat the chorus to really drive the point home

Repeat chorus with a slight variation

Write new lyrics for the end so that you never go back to the original chorus

Musically: modulate to another key, slightly different harmonic voicings using similar chords Some Basic Elements of Songs

Lyrics, Melody, Rhythm Techniques for Songwriting

Songwriting is not the same as writing poetry, but some similar strategies do apply

Use of vivid imagery--what can you picture in your mind?

Use sensory details and specific, concrete details: what do things LOOK like, SMELL like, FEEL like to touch? In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway american dream
At night we ride through mansions of glory
in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway 9
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected
and steppin' out over the line
Baby this town rips the bones from your back Its a death trap, it's a suicide rap
We gotta get out while were young
'cause tramps like us,
Baby we were born to run

Wendy let me in I wanna be your friend
I want to guard your dreams and visions
Just wrap your legs round these velvet rims
And strap your hands across my engines
Together we could break this trap
Well run till we drop, baby well never go back
Will you walk with me out on the wire
`cause baby I'm just a scared and lonely rider
But I gotta find out how it feels
I want to know if love is wild, girl I want to know if love is real

Beyond the palace hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard
The girls comb their hair in rearview mirrors
And the boys try to look so hard
The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist
I wanna die with you wendy on the streets tonight
In an everlasting kiss

The highways jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive
Everybodys out on the run tonight but there's no place left to hide
Together wendy well live with the sadness
Ill love you with all the madness in my soul
Someday girl I don't know when were gonna get to that place
Where we really want to go and well walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us baby we were born to run

Born To Run--Bruce Springsteen Avoid Cliches, predictable lines, trite language and unnecessary rhyme.

Strive for clarity, directness and originality. I love you
I have loved you all along
And I miss you
Been far away for far too long
I keep dreaming you'll be with me
And you'll never go
Stop breathing if
I don't see you anymore The misconception that poetry is supposed to be about YOU also applies to songwriting.

Even if your song is in first person, the "I" doesn't have to be you personally. One Great City by The Weakerthans

Late afternoon, another day is nearly done
A darker grey is breaking through a lighter one
A thousand sharpened elbows in the underground

That hollow hurried sound, feet on polished floor
And in the dollar store, the clerk is closing up
And counting loonies trying not to say

I hate Winnipeg

The driver checks the mirror seven minutes late
The crowded riders' restlessness enunciates
The Guess Who sucked, the Jets were lousy anyway
The same route everyday

And in the turning lane
Someone's stalled again
He's talking to himself
And hears the price of gas repeat his phrase

I hate Winnipeg

And up above us all
Leaning into sky
Our golden business boy
Will watch the North End die
And sing, I love this town
Then let his arcing wrecking ball proclaim

I hate Winnipeg “You have your three big things that you can talk about, basically, if you’re going to write something that actually means something to you as a human being, which is Love, God and Death. That’s basically the thing. Love, which occupies a lot of our time, because we don’t like being lonely. God, because everyone wants to know that there’s a reason behind what they’re doing and what the hell is going on. And death is just the reality of your finite time here.”

Sam Beam of Iron & Wine I try to continue to surround myself with interesting experiences to spur on new creative ideas. I try to listen to good music, watch good films, read good books and go see some theatre or visual art as often as possible.

Dan Mangan What to write about? Songs About:

Historical events
Current events
A character in a book or short story
A sports figure (Tragically Hip's "50 Mission Cap" about Bill Barilko) Love Ballads

Murder Ballads (a narrative describing the events of a murder often including the lead up and aftermath)

Conversational songs (Space Oddity by David Bowie)

Advice Songs (Stand By Your Man)
Writing Exercise

Song Structure

Instrumental Break
Conclusion NPR Radio Feature

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4258547 Miriam by Norah Jones

Miriam, that’s such a pretty name
I’m gonna say it when I make you cry
Miriam, you know you done me wrong
I’m gonna smile when you say goodbye

I’m not the jealous type
Never been the killing kind
But you know I know what you did
So don’t put up a fight

Miriam when you were having fun
In my big pretty house did you think twice
Miriam was it a game to you?
Was it a game to him?
Don’t tell me lies

I know he said it’s not your fault
But I don’t believe that’s true
I’ve punished him for being too weak
Now I’ve saved the best for you

And I’m trying not to hurt you
‘Cause you might not be that bad
But it takes a lot to make me go this mad

Oh Miriam, that’s such a pretty name
And I’ll keep saying it until you die
Miriam, you know you done me wrong
I’m gonna smile when you say goodbye
You know you done me wrong
I’m gonna smile when I take your life According to Dictionary.com, pop music is defined as:

Music of general appeal to teenagers; a bland watered-down version of rock'n'roll with more rhythm and harmony and an emphasis on romantic love I love you
I have loved you all along
And I miss you
Been far away for far too long
I keep dreaming you'll be with me
And you'll never go
Stop breathing if
I don't see you anymore

Nickelback--Far Away Writing Exercise

Writing with pictures and images in mind
Full transcript