Friday, September 28, 2007

Throwing some Rice at the Lloyd Webber

Source Article

There's a little ego involved in songwriting and splits/credits... The fights go on all the time and the bigger you are, the nastier it can get (well, I guess more's at stake then too...). As related in the Independent UK:

...Sir Tim Rice and Lord Lloyd Webber, are another case in point. While promoting a new production of their musical Joseph, Lloyd Webber inferred that his long-term collaborator prefers to see his name take prominence on the songsheet. "Tim Rice has written great lyrics for the new song," he said. "It's wonderful to hear a new Lloyd Webber/Rice song after all this time – or Rice/Lloyd Webber as he'd prefer."
Sir Tim, however, is quick to reject the claim. "I have never insisted, no," he says. "The order on the credit has varied over the years from one to another. And, as far as Joseph is concerned, it's an 'Andrew Lloyd Webber Production'. I couldn't give a stuff."

May the Muse be with us, we long-suffering, humble song-crafters, and away with "successful" egoists... okay, so I'm (a little bit) jealous...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pursuing Passion for Music: Justin Hines

I can't link to it as it was included in a special interest supplement to todays Globe & Mail, but there was a nice piece on Justin Hines, a local performing singer/songwriter who's just released a new CD, Sides.

Hines, who is confined to a wheelchair due to Larsen Syndrome, a rare joint condition that he was born with, discusses the honing of his "songwriting chops". Sides is all-acoustic and evokes the '70's greats (James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Harry Chapin and Jim Croce - I've Got A Name is covered on the album). Of that "golden age" era and those songwriters he states:
"A lot of time was taken to write great lyrics, and they never over-complicated
things. There was beauty in their simplicity. I think you can really
capture people's emotions with the most simple song."
And of the presence of the craft of songwriting in his life, Hines reflects:
"It is part of my life now, something I do every day whether I want to or
not. I have enough material for another record already, and that's a good
place to be in."

I think Hines is coming from the right place, doing something that is not "trendy", but just honest... I have to remember to keep that honesty going in my songs...

May the Muse be with him...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Songwriting Course

Well my Home Recording class was canceled (previous post) so I decided to try my luck at the local TDSB's course in songwriting offered in my neighbourhood and I signed up for it. Here's the details:

Are you interested in learning more about songwriting? Are you an emerging artist trying to find your voice? Would you like to co-write with fellow songwriters? This course will cover the main aspects of songwriting including: Song Form; Lyric-writing, Melody; Collaboration. Music business basics, including information on copyright protection, will also be taught. You will learn useful analytical and creative tools to enhance your Songwriting skills. You will also add several new and improved songs to your own song catalogues! In-class performances and collaboration will be encouraged. Some out-of-class preparation will be required. (material costs: $5)

Home Recording 201 - Canceled

Well, I had a message that my Home Recording 201 Class at Revolution Audio which was going to start on Thursday has been canceled. That's a bummer... but hopefully it will be offered in the new year...

Foster wants to pen the theme for Vancouver 2010

VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) - The man who wrote the theme song for Calgary’s Olympics in 1988 wants to do the same for Vancouver in 2010. But no one's officially asked him yet.

On top of working with some of the world's biggest stars, David Foster is also recognized for his own songwriting talents.

He says he'd love to pen a song for 2010.

"I was asked a couple of years ago and I think I’m a logical choice, but I haven't been formally asked, but I’d love to do it if I get asked."

Last week, Olympic organizers unveiled Australian David Atkins will oversee a team of ten putting together the opening and closing ceremonies for well as all the nightly entertainment.


I guess you have to have an ego in this game... Foster's certainly earned it, but a little humility goes a long way too I think... May the Muse be with him...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Patrick Watson wins 2007 Polaris Prize

Kudos to Patrick Watson for beating out the favourites for this year's Polaris Prize for its album: Close to Paradise. Check out Patrick Watson's MySpace site as well...

Songwriters Hall of Fame

Relive the magic on CBC Television Tuesday, September 25 at 9PM (ET) as the CSHF honours and celebrates Canada’s songwriting legends, featuring performances by David Clayton-Thomas (Spinning Wheel), James Taylor (Woodstock), Jim Cuddy and Oh Susanna (You Were On My Mind), Corb Lund (There’s A Love Knot in my Lariat), Divine Brown with Herbie Hancock (Help Me) and George Canyon (My Old Canadian Home). Also featured are Gemini nominated performances by Measha Brueggergosman (Both Sides Now) and Michael Bublé (How About You?) as well as a special appearance by 2007 Modern Era Inductee Joni Mitchell.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Great World of Sound

I read Simon Houpt's "New York Diary" article today on a mock-umentary that's playing there by the title of Great World of Sound. You can find the article here.

The concept: Advertise for "Serious Talent" and "Major Label Record Deal Search" and see who comes crawling in.. the "record producers" are fake, but the performers and wannabe songwriters aren't... some get hurt too in the end (but they get their money back at least if they were scammed out of it - lesson learned for entertainment purposes...). As the creator of the movie, Craig Zobel, put it:
"There's just something that is so much more empathetic when watching it with the real people, that I felt made it jump off the screen," he said. "I feel like they're the heart and soul of the movie." He swears he wasn't trying to exploit them. No one was paid; but then, even the professional actors deferred payment."

That led me to the research the movie and has a full plot summary here, reproduced below, and the trailer from the movie website follows. Just wish that I could find this playing in Toronto somewhere...

Martin answers an ad to train as a record producer, where he's excited by the prospect of signing undiscovered artists. The company, called Great World of Sound, partners shy, unassuming Martin with the gregarious Clarence and sends them on the road, visiting southern towns where the company has placed newspaper ads and turning motels into makeshift audition studios. Though an unlikely duo, they sign more acts than anyone else at the company. But when Martin takes a special interest in a young girl's "New National Anthem," putting up his own money and following her progress, he discovers that something's amiss with the enterprise. As things threaten to unravel, he's forced to weigh his nagging conscience against both his loyalty to Clarence and his own financial ruin. A playful, contemporary take on the classic American story of the confidence man, "Great World of Sound" evokes conflicted hucksters from Willy Loman and the Mayles Brothers' salesman to the seedy charmers of seventies Altman. With real-life audition footage weaved into the fictional narrative, Zobel's provocative debut explores the outer limits of our desire for celebrity, where big dreams beget bigger illusions, and fame always has its price.

Friday, September 21, 2007

From Second Cup to Starbucks...

I wrote about Second Cup yesterday and today it's Starbucks turn as I read this little item in The Globe and Mail's Social Studies page:
A New Jersey singer known only as DaVido says he has been "kicked out of" more than 200 Starbucks outlets in the New York-New Jersey area in his attempt to give a rendition of Java Jitters, an ode to caffeine that he has written. He is determined to get the song on a Starbucks retail CD, and regards himself as "the singing Rocky" who never gives up. DaVido is now brewing plans to go on an expanded "rejection tour" that could bring him to the coffee giant's hometown of Seattle, The Seattle Times reports.

DaVido has his won website here:

May the Muse and Java be with him... I think...

Vic Chesnutt in Montreal

Athenian singer/songwriter Vic Chesnutt made it up to Montreal to record his latest album and I think this article reproduced below is insightful with respect to the songwriting craft:

Crown Vic: Singer/songwriter Vic Chesnutt gets his collaboration on
by Andrew Clayman

“My songwriting process is a very lonely one,” says
Vic Chesnutt, Athens, Ga.’s resident, lo-fi folk legend. “It’s just me locked in a room and in my own little bubble. So it’s quite good for my heart to join in some sort of collaborative process for the recording itself.”

In the past, Chesnutt’s therapeutic recording sessions have seen him swapping brain cells with the likes of fellow Athenian Michael Stipe (1990’s Little), Nashville chamber-country collective Lambchop (1998’s The Salesman and Bernadette), and studio icons Bill Frisell and Van Dyke Parks (2005’s Ghetto Bells). In each case, Chesnutt’s absorbingly earnest but offbeat folk tales have held the foreground in the midst of his heavyweight collaborators. It’s a trend that continues on his latest
release, North Star Deserter, which pairs the acoustic balladeer with some unlikely cohorts in the form of Montreal post-rockers A Silver Mt. Zion (AKA Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band).

“It was the producer Jem Cohen’s idea to bring in the musicians he brought in,” says Chesnutt, referring to the full cast of
Silver Mt. Zion, as well as members from Fugazi and Godspeed You Black Emperor. “(Cohen) wanted to get me up to Montreal to record at Hotel2Tango with all those guys. And I’ve known Jem for 20 years—I’m a big fan of his. I’m a big fan of Godspeed, Silver Mt. Zion, and Fugazi, as well, so I was very excited about working with all of them. Unfortunately, I can’t take
credit for actually coming up with the idea.” One thing Chesnutt will take some credit for is understanding the subtleties of collaborative art, even when the down-to-earth Georgian is working with a roomful of Quebecois dramatists.

“The thing is, because I am this singer-songwriter guy—and not a band—it lends itself really well to collaboration,” he explains. “I think I have an ear for which one of my songs will go with certain bands. I have a good feeling for that kind of thing.

“This session (for North Star Deserter) wasn’t particularly different or unique from my other sessions. I wrote the songs and we presented them to the band, and we just kind of recorded it, you know, live in the studio—which is how I like to do it. It was a very organic process, quite a bit of fun, and quite a life nurturing experience, really.”

As a testament to Chesnutt’s craft and flexibility, North Star Deserter sounds as intimate and personal as the lo-fi recordings that earned him his cult following in the early ’90s. Somehow, a sense of continuity comes through the intermittent laces of strings, choral accompaniment, and electric guitar feedback on the album—which, incidentally, includes songs written across a span of more than 20 years.

“A lot of the songs on this record are really old,” Chesnutt says. “The first song, ‘Warm,’ I wrote in 1985. So it’s really old. But then there was another song, ‘Marathon,’ that I wrote the day before the session started. I played it in the studio, and everybody said, ‘Ah, let’s record it!’ So we did.”

According to Chesnutt, this blending of dusty, old songs and sparkling new ones is par for the course when he cuts a record, which helps explain why each successive album has managed to maintain such a great balance in its sensibilities. Some songs just have a longer gestation period than others, and for a prolific songwriter like Chesnutt, there’s a pretty massive archive of tunes to work from.

“(Songwriting) is a very natural thing for me,” he says. “I’ve been doing it since I was a little kid. And it’s a nervous habit. I do it all the time; I take notes all the time, I think about it all the time. It’s just something I do. It’s part of my personality.”

Chesnutt, now 42, has been relegated to a wheelchair since losing the use of his legs in a car accident at the age of 18. The music he’s written since stands alone without the context of such adversity, but the quality of his character is hard to ignore. Even after a couple decades of critical admiration, Chesnutt only seems stymied when asked to set his modesty aside and promote his own show.

“Well, I’m a unique songwriter,” he says. “I have my own vision of the world.” There’s a long pause. “And I’m not a great self-promoter, that’s for damn sure.”

Article Source:
Metro Pulse

Managing time, when music isn’t your “day job”

This is a nice article contained in the always-helpful songwriting resource at the Muses Muse website. One of the suggestions/tips is to:
Schedule time with yourself for your songwriting, collaborating and rehearsing. Keep these dates with yourself and others as sacred appointments!

That's really the crux of the matter. When Jeff and I had scheduled jamming/collaborating sessions, the music was flowing a lot easier than now when I'm looking at my home recording and NOT setting aside the time for it that I should...

Here's the link to the whole article:
Managing time, when music isn’t your “day job”

May the Muse be with you...

Karaoke on Demand

Rogers Cable here in Canada has introduced Karaoke on Demand for those who like to sing at home... There's quite a large selection (from Achy Breaky Heart to You're The One That I Want) so hook up your mic and sing to your heart's content...

If you don't have a digital cable receiver, and you get one (soon I would think), you'd also be eligible for a mic from Rogers (500 are available)...

The shower isn’t the only place you can sing like a rock star. PersonalTV from Rogers introduces The Karaoke Channel On Demand. Get free, unlimited access to hundreds of your favourite sing-along tracks anytime you want, with new songs added each month. Whether you want a solo practice session or you’re having a party, centre stage is now in your living room with The Karaoke Channel On Demand.

If you have a digital box, you have The Karaoke Channel On Demand for FREE. Go to Channel 100 and become a rock star!

You’ll find The Karaoke Channel On Demand in the ‘Music’ section on Channel 100. Use your remote control to scroll through songs and find your favourite tunes. Sing as many songs as you like, as many times as you want. And best of all, new songs are added each month, so you always have a fresh selection of tunes to sing.

Sing your Heart Out with The Karaoke Chnnale On Demand on Channel 100.

You’ll find songs to suit your every mood, including:

  • Oldies
  • Pop
  • Standards
  • Country
  • R&B Hip Hop
  • Classic Rock
  • Modern Rock
  • and more!


Well, sort of... something I wrote was printed in the latest edition (Fall 2007) of SAC's Songwriters Magazine. There's an article on Regional Songwriters' Groups and the part of that which focuses on the Etobicoke Group (written by the group's leader, Liana DiMarco) quotes ME:
Lorenzo P., an active participant in the group, notes: "I know that being in the group and hearing others describe their writing processes has helped me become more conscious of something that I've done without thinking in the past... it's making me see this as a craft instead of a hobby."
Now, if I could just turn those into lyrics with some music!

The New Pornographers

There's an interview of The New Pornagraphers' founder, guitarist, singer and main songwriter, A.C. (Carl) Newman in the most recent edition (Fall 2007) of SAC's Songwriters Magazine. The article (not up onthe SAC website yet) concerned, amongst other items, Newman's growth as a songwriter and his influence from various 60's songwriters (Burt Bacharach, Brian Wilson and more). His advice to fellow songwriters, along the lines of perseverance and consistency, follows:

"Just hack away and do it and try to do something interesting," he advises. "And keep going. Who is it that said 90 percent of success is just showing up? I kind of feel that way.

"When I think of all the times I've played music, I feel like I've never really changed my plan. I've just kept playing music because I want to play music. Even when I had a day job, I still continued to play music and eventually that strategy worked.

"If you want to write songs, just write songs. Keep writing them until you get better."

Okay Carl... I'll just keep writing then... and may the Muse be with you...

Second Cup Opportunity

SAC has reached out on behalf of its members to partner with the Second Cup Coffee Chain to support Canadian singer/songwriters. The following item is from here:

Second Cup is looking for singer/songwriters across Canada to perform at local Second Cup cafés in the areas that the artists live. They are building a database of artists that their Franchise Partners will be able to access when searching for performers to hire at their café. Looking for artists who perform styles suitable for cafés (soul, instrumental: classical, jazz, flamenco, salsa etc…). Many artists who currently perform at our cafés do so for the opportunity to sell their CDs during their performance, however Second Cup is also open to listing artists who require payment per performance. Second Cup will not provide any speakers, mics etc for the performances. It is assumed that if the artist needs elements to perform at a café they will be responsible for bringing them at no additional cost.

Interested artists can apply immediately by sending an email to

The subject line of the email must be as follows:
(city the artist is from), (province the artists is from), (main genre(s) the artist performs).

This format must be adhered to.
The body of the email must list this information briefly in point form:

1) City the artist is from
2) Province the artist is from
3) Genre(s) the artist performs
4) Instruments the artist can play during a performance at Second Cup
5) How much the artist would charge the café to perform
6) How long the performance would be
7) Previous experience
8) Phone number
9) Email address
10) A photo of the artist in jpg format – this is the only element that is not absolutely essential
11) A direct link to samples of live recordings of the music. In the case that this is not available, a well marked CD can be rush mailed to:

Laura M.
The Second Cup Inc.
Second Cup
6303 Airport Road
Mississauga, Ontario
L4V 1R8

Applications will not necessarily receive a response. Selected artists will be added directly to the select database of Canadian artists for Franchise Partners to contact directly.

*No phone calls please

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lyrics From The Heart

Professional songwriter Greg Johnson instructs students on the process

Westfield Middle School eighth-grader Sam Solomon held his pencil to his face as he looked at the sheet of paper resting in front of him on the table before telling his group the idea he had for a song – “I’m Going to Save Myself from Loving You.”
“A guy really wants to change for this girl, but doesn’t want to change too much and lose his personality,” he said.
Each group, or sometimes pair, of eighth-grade students participated in one of two two-and-a-half-hour songwriting workshops Sept. 12. The workshops were led by professional songwriter Greg Johnson of Nashville.
“I know more about songwriting, because I listened to someone who does it for a living,” Solomon said.
Before beginning the assignment of writing a chorus and lyrics, Johnson performed a song he just sold and instructed them on the six traits of songwriting.
“I’m a pretty good writer, and I really enjoyed learning more about songwriting,” said eighth-grader Julia Barker.
As the students worked, Johnson and his sister WMS teacher Becky Brock walked around the school’s large group instruction room reading over songs and helping students focus topics, rhyme words and harness their writing potential.
“It’s neat. I enjoy getting to work with my sister,” Johnson said.
Before each workshop session concluded, Johnson picked a song and played the guitar as he sang through the lyrics illustrating to the students how the process worked. The result astonished the group as they heard the lyrics of one of their peers put to music.
“I’m surprised that girl was that good of a songwriter. I didn’t know she could write songs like that,” said Solomon of his classmate whose song was picked.
After Johnson returns to Nashville, he will critique all of the songs to inform the students what was good and what they can improve on. He will also pick the best writing from each session and record it with music onto a CD and send it back to the school for the students to have.
“It’s really cool. I’m really excited for my classmates,” said eighth-grader Stephanie Cadwallader.
“I’d be really happy. I’d probably listen to it all day,” added Barker.
Johnson said he hopes the workshop provides the students with a greater awareness for the craft of songwriting and how it pertains to country music.
“I think it’s important to have that difference between songwriting and other creative writing,” he said. “They are more likely to listen to the lyrics now, and it will broaden them culturally. Lyrics in country music aren’t much different than lyrics in other genres of music.”
After briefly reading over some of the papers turned in, Johnson said he was surprised at how hard and serious some of the groups took the task.
“Some of the students have a lot of potential. Some were surprisingly good,” said Johnson. “It helps another generation of songwriters to come along. Any little thing we can do to promote that will be better for Nashville in the end.”

By Robert Herrington in the Noblesville Daily Times.

Blunt denies songwriting rift

Tuesday, September 18 2007, 11:44 BST
Alex Fletcher

James Blunt has denied that new song 'Annie' is directed at his ex-songwriting partner Amanda Ghost.

Ghost, who helped pen the number one single 'You're Beautiful' with the popstar, has responded to the allegations the track is an attack on her by insisting she is a success in her own right. She is quoted as saying: "I'd hardly have said my dreams were 'crumbling'. James has had one number one hit, but I've since gone on to have two more."

The lyrics to Blunt's new track from his All The Lost Souls album include the line: "Annie, you had your dream on the bright lights/ You're just not going very far / Your dreams are crumbling." However, a spokesperson for the singer denied the song was a veiled attack on Ghost commenting: "'Annie' has nothing to do with Miss Ghost. James makes it a rule never to disclose the inspiration for his music."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Pause And Wonder recognition...

Just tooting my own horn here:

Song of the Year

songwriting contest lyric contest
JULY 2007

Awarded to Lorenzo D. Policelli

Lorenzo D. Policelli has been selected as a "Runner Up" in the July 2007 round of the Song of the Year song and lyric competition. Song of the Year receives entries from all over the world and only the most noteworthy artists receive such recognition.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Songwriting: Consider Collaboration

Check out Echoboost... a new on-line indie internet radio site (formerly RadioFire)... Here's an article that was published on 1888 Articles by Echoboost.

Author: Lathum

There is no shortage of successful songwriters who prefer to work alone. However, judging by the caliber of music that's been created by collaboration, there's an undeniable argument that two heads are better than one when it comes to songwriting.

In June, Rolling posted the results of a readers poll for the Ten Best Songwriting Duos Ever. A quick look at the top five proves two things: England has indisputably cornered the rock royalty market, and some of pop and rock's greatest songs were created by collaboration.

1. Paul McCartney/John Lennon (the Beatles)
2. Keith Richards/Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones)
3. Elton John/Bernie Taupin (Elton John)
4. Joe Strummer/Mick Jones (the Clash)
5. Johnny Marr/Morrissey (the Smiths)

Clearly, there is no shortage of successful songwriters who prefer to work alone (Pete Townshend, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen). However, judging by the caliber of music that's been created by collaboration, there's an undeniable argument that two heads are better than one when it comes to songwriting.

Indie darling Liz Phair put this theory to task and caused a stir when she elected to write songs for her 2003 self-titled album with Top 40 production team The Matrix. Phair, who enjoyed a faithful following and critical praise from previously released material, told Filter magazine: "I wanted to get on the radio really badly. And I don't write those kinds of songs. I write stuff that's quirky or more personal. So collaborating was a way to get some people who kind of know what they're doing with chord structures, plus they're all so talented and really great people."

Famed songwriter Dianne Warren told John Braheny about the professional advantages a young songwriter has in working with others: "When you write with someone else, you get their whole network of contacts and people they deal with. You have a double shot of getting some major stuff happening."

Traditionally, songwriters have found success by sitting down together with a piano and/or guitar to develop melodies and lyrics. While this method is the most obvious, it isn't always the easiest. If you don't have someone living relatively nearby you're faced with the task of traveling to meet musicians for writing sessions. Facing this dilemma, some artists have looked for other ways to create songs together.

A few years ago, the indie-electro duo The Postal Service "wrote and recorded the better part of their debut album, Give Up (Sub Pop), with no budget and while living 1,000 miles apart," according to Band members Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie) and Jimmy Tamborello (Dntel) overcame the distance between them by sending music back and forth through the mail, with Jimmy handling most of the music and Ben responding with lyrics and melody. The Gold-certified success of their album means the pair will repeat the songwriting formula for a follow-up release, this time exchanging song ideas over the Internet.

No surprise, the Internet has become a good source for finding people interested in sharing lyrics and music. In 1998, NME reported how legendary artist David Bowie recorded a song using lyrics "written by US fan Alex Grant, who entered a songwriting competition held by Bowie on his website."

A Google search reveals a number of sites dedicated to encouraging and connecting songwriters, such as MusesMuse, Songwriters101 and SongWriterForums. Going one step further, musicians have taken to YouTube to share ideas and invite collaborations. Once such posting by "chuckadile" includes a full backing track--complete with lead and rhythm guitars, drums and bass--with an invitation for viewers to come up with the lyrics and melody.

With thousands of people turning to sites like to share their music, you might just find somebody online right now with the same taste in music who's looking to collaborate with someone you.

About Author
To read additional music-related articles, visit

Article Source:

Monday, September 10, 2007

John Lydon on Songwriting

You can read the full article/interview of John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols) by Steve Baltan on here. I just wanted to select some of the interview questions and answers below:

  • Q: How does being a judge for the Bodog Battle of the Bands live series with all those young artists inspire you?
  • A: Oh, I find it thrilling. It's enjoyable in the extreme. Some of them are not great. Others are really quite startling, but not every time. But it's live music and it's their own songs, wonderful: These are two things that the music business is ignoring and actually trying to stop. I don't see any record companies really out there supporting live music or songwriting at all. In fact, they're all out to chisel us out of our copyrights one way or the other.
  • Q: Talking about music and songwriting, are there any pop songs or songwriters you really admire?
  • A: No. It's all been trivialized in a Britney Spears-y kind of way, hasn't it? They've taken it and killed off the energy and co-opted us into this commercialism that's really, really dull. Britney is Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart's all right for T-shirts and socks, that's about what she is. The industry for a long time now, going back for 20 years solidly, has not backed songwriting from the youth point of view. It's actually killed youth culture and rebellion and repackaged and remodeled it into very, very dreary things. There's powerful stuff in rap music, but honestly, 98 percent of it is mindless and repetitive and tedious. Now, I worked with Afrika Bambaataa some 20-plus years ago, and what's changed since then? What's as good as 'The Message'? Nothing comes to mind. Most of it is utterly selfish and it's all about acquiring goods and bragging about how much jewelry you can wear at once. If that's what the white man has taught the black man, that selfishness is the root to all success, they're wrong.

Gotta love it Johnny Rotten... always the anarchist and that's who stands up for the artist/songwriter... May the Muse be with Johnny...

Ci vedimes...

Saturday, September 08, 2007

How To Write the Perfect Song

Here's a nice collection of songwriting wisdom from some pros as condensed by The Q Daily from Q Magazine. These pearls speak for themselves:

How to write the perfect song

Flick through the new issue of Q magazine and you’ll find interviews with some of music’s most revered songwriters, including Burt Bacharach, Michael Stipe, Rufus Wainwright and Nick Cave. Here’s their wisdom condensed.

Melody comes first
Bjork: “When I write a song I start by singing the melodies live in my head. They go in circles. I guess I’m quite conservative and romantic about the power of melodies. I try not to record them on my Dictaphone when I first hear them. If I forget about all about it and it pops up later on, then I know it’s good enough. I let my subconscious do the editing for me.”

Treat it like a job
Nick Cave: “My writing environment is an office. It’s a daily routine. I’m in there about 9am and I finish about 4 or 5. Unless something’s going really well. I write in a pad, by hand, then I put it into the computer. I just sit there and write. Go back and forth on the piano and the guitar.”

Find the killer hook
Tim Rice-Oxley: “It’s always lyrical as well as musical. If you took All You Need Is Love and replaced it with something about shopping for vegetables, it wouldn’t be as good. You get those moments when a little genius phrase, musical or lyrical, comes out. Then you’ve broken the back of the song. And that can happen in five seconds. And the rest of the time that’s what you’re searching for.”

Burt Bacharach: “When I first met [songwriting partner] Hal David he looked like he could be an accountant, and he smoked all the time. We sat down in the room with a broken-down old piano. I got maybe more credit than I deserve, because it was a two-way thing. At the time, I wasn’t thinking what the lyrics meant. He’s an unbelievable talent.”

Steer clear of drugs
Pete Doherty: “I’d say drugs are an alternative to songwriting. It’s something else to do rather than play guitar. Sit down and have a pipe instead. It’s not conducive to concentrating and playing and singing. It’s not really a conscious thing – but I tend not to get a lot done when I’m battered.”

Not everything has to rhyme
Mchael Stipe: “I realised that for several records I’d automatically try to make everything rhyme. On our first EP [1982’s Chronic Town] none of the lyrics rhymed. Those songs worked. And I had this epiphany. Shit, I’ve been trying to rhyme things for a decade and I really don’t need to.”

Enjoy the buzz
Rufus Wainwright: “The most magnificent thing about the whole process of songwriting is the euphoria involved. Often you’ll be writing a song and you think at the time it’s going to be a Number 1 hit! It’s so far from that, but in the heat of it that’s what you feel. And that delusional belief pushes everything forward.”

Songwriting Crash Course

Just saw this "course" out on the net and thought I'd pass it on...

A Crash Course in Songwriting by DJ Rush... While it comes from a hip hop perspective, there's a couple of good points about beat and rhythm...

CSHF Repeat of Gala Event on CMT - Sept. 10/07 (Cable 38 in Toronto)

An FYI from an email received from the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame:

Hi Music Fans,

Relive the magic on CMT Canada Monday, September 10 at 7PM and 11PM (ET) as the CSHF honours and celebrates Canada’s songwriting legends, featuring performances by David Clayton-Thomas (Spinning Wheel), James Taylor (Woodstock), Jim Cuddy and Oh Susanna (You Were On My Mind), Corb Lund (There’s A Love Knot in my Lariat), Divine Brown with Herbie Hancock (Help Me) and George Canyon (My Old Canadian Home). Also featured are Gemini nominated performances by Measha Brueggergosman (Both Sides Now) and Michael Bublé (How About You?) as well as a special appearance by 2007 Modern Era Inductee Joni Mitchell.

You won’t want to miss this show!

To ensure that you are always up-to-date about the CSHF, make sure to sign up to our official newsletter.

The CSHF Team
Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame
56 Wellesley Street West, Suite 320
Toronto, ON M5S 2S3
Tel: 416.926.7953/ Fax: 416.926.7958

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

SOCAN's ECHO Songwriting Prize

The 2nd ECHO Songwriting Prize is being presented by SOCAN. It is designed to identify what’s next and what’s best in current independent music. The prize honours some of the most innovative, creative and artistic songs created in the past year by emerging songwriters in Canada. Five songs, determined by a panel of respected, knowledgeable tastemakers in the music community, are posted for you to listen to and vote on. The writer(s) of the winning song will receive a $5,000 CDN cash prize. Be sure to scroll down the page to listen to all five songs before you vote. You can vote for your favourite once a day, from now until the deadline of 4:59 p.m. on September 28, 2007.

The 5 nominated ECHO Songwriting Prize songs are:

Devastation, performed by the Besnard Lakes
Composed by: Olga Goreas, Jace Lasek, Stephen Raegele, Nicole Lizee, Kevin Laing, Jeremiah Bullied and Jonathan Cummins

Doppelspiel, performed by Feuermusik
Composed by: Jeremy Strachan and David Weinkauf

Graveyard, performed by Chad VanGaalen
Composed by: Chad VanGaalen

Pedal Pusher, performed by Abdominal
Composed by: Andrew Bernstein and Rodney Pleasant

Scarecrow, performed by Nathan
Composed by: Keri Latimer

Hmm... I didn't make the short list this year... maybe next year...

And more Kijiji - Talented Singer/Songwriter Partner Wanted in London

Okay, I'm not in London, Ontario, so this isn't for me, but maybe somebody out there reading this will look at this ad on Kijiji and make beautiful music one day...

May the Muse be with you Chad... et al...

Local Songwriting Guitar Lessons

Just saw this ad on Kijiji and thought I'd pass it on...

I wonder who it is? If anybody finds out, please let me know by commenting on this post...

Rocking at the Château

I've read about Miles Copeland III's Château in France before and the songwriting workshops he's held there... Here's a recent article by Karen Robinson in the Times Online about it and the Château, but I've excerpted some of the more relevant notes below:

  • “At our workshops, we used to say that if you write a song that goes to No 1, we’ll knight you,” explains Miles Copeland III, the American music impresario who owns Château Marouatte. So, hanging from the beamed ceiling in the ballroom are silk pennants honouring “Lady” Carole King, “Sir” Mark Hudson (record producer and vocal coach on The X Factor) and “Sir” Greg Wells, a Canadian songwriter, who co-wrote the Céline Dion hit The Reason during their stay there.
  • Copeland, 63, is a music-industry veteran, whose most famous protégés were the Police – featuring his younger brother, Stewart, on drums. In the 1990s, he turned the fairy-tale castle, seven miles from Brantôme, in southwest France, into a hit factory. Here, promising unknowns and industry “names” could strike creative sparks off each other. Cher, Jon Bon Jovi and Keith Urban have stayed here, as has Ted Nugent, whose hunting bow and arrows hang on a wall.
  • “I had to validate it. I hit on the idea of songwriting retreats, and quickly organised the first one, for about 10 musicians, mainly Brits, including Chris Difford of Squeeze.”
  • The idea grew. “We converted the outbuildings and added rooms to expand to 25 songwriters. We did deals with companies who gave us equipment, and we installed a recording studio.” The synergy between country musicians, heavy rockers, household names and aspiring talent has produced hits such as Aaron Tippin’s country No 1, That’s as Close as I’ll Get to Loving You.
  • Urban, now a multimillionaire and married to Nicole Kidman, was virtually unknown when he wrote But for the Grace of God, with Charlotte Caffey of the Go-Go’s, at the chateau. Cher would hold court on a four-poster bed in the garden tower, urging fellow musicians to reveal their first sexual experiences.
  • Copeland plans to resume [the songwriting workshops] next year. He’ll still invite the British and American A list, but will also involve many of the Arabic musicians, such as Hakim and Tania Saleh, both from Lebanon, with whom he has been working for the past few years. Then there are his Bellydance Superstars – the Riverdance of Middle Eastern after-dinner entertainment – who will be coming for a week with their drummer to a workshop. Another barn will be converted into their studio.
  • Copeland is looking forward to the sound of music rocking the thick stone walls again, after his research into the history of the region revealed a centuries-old musical heritage. “Four of the top 10 songwriters of the Middle Ages came from near here,” he says. “This castle was almost central to the land of the troubadours.”
  • Perhaps it will be where the superstars of tomorrow find their voice.

I wonder if I can finagle an invite?

Christian Songwriting MP3s

Songwriters write songs about everything, including their spiritual beliefs... I'm not a particularly prolific "Christian" songwriter (in that my songs do not overtly betray my religious background), but there's certainly a place for faith-based songs and if that's your interest, then you should look into these free MP3s that discuss Christian songwriting... Did I mention that they're free?

May the Muse (or your God if you think that's sacrilegious) be with you...

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

Just an FYI for songwriters looking to enter some contests...

The New York Songwriters Circle has an International Award available for non-U.S. citizens like me... the deadline is Sept. 30/07. The prize for this award is $1000 USD and 20 music pros hearing your tunes...

October 15, 2007 is the deadline for the International Songwriting Competition. The prize is a $25,000 USD for the overall winner and $3,000 USD per category winner, with prizes on top of that...

Look for me in those contests... :)
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