Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Another Blog About Songwriting

I wasn't going to write tonight because I'm a bit burnt (sorry for emails I have yet to answer) - but songwriting seems to be the theme of my day.

I'm fortunate and I know it, I find songwriting easy - but others struggle. I am not going to tell you how or show you any secrets here - only two items.

#1 Connor McGuire is writing a song a week, and so far his results are pretty cool - please check him out and support his project by leaving him some kind words and great feedback!

Connor's Cool Project

#2 This came in an email to me today and have never heard of this exercise but maybe if you are stuck it will help you out? Sorry for printing in it's entirely, I could not find a handy link to Molly-Ann's site!

Seven Easy Steps to Writing Hit Lyrics

by Molly-Ann Leikin, Songwriting Consultant

I've written poems and I've written lyrics. I've learned if you can do one, you can usually do the other. As a poet, I've enjoyed the pure creative process, and the occasional publication of my work.

But I've never made a dime writing a poem. Ever.

On the other hand, I live very comfortably on my lyric royalties. And it beats working.

In my practice as a songwriting consultant in California, I hear almost every other new client tell me he or she can't write lyrics. To help them, I've developed a seven-step system, and it works.

If you're a poet who's tired of being broke, and would like to occasionally use your gifts to write more commercially, this article can help you make that transition. It can also help lyricists who are stuck, composers who claim they write music only, plus the entire world of left-brain computer types who ache to create something romantic—like a song.

When writing one, be aware that melodies are open to interpretation - so when you write a tune, what you feel or intend is still safe in your heart.You don't have to reveal yourself or stand completely naked in front of the world. But once you put words to a tune, your feelings are totally out in the open and everyone knows what's in your heart. Therefore, it can be very inhibiting to write lyrics, which is often why writers get stuck.

But here is the process I use with my clients to make lyric writing simple. I suggest you use all seven steps. Cutting corners is usually why a lyric doesn't work.

Most poets and beginning songwriters make the mistake of writing acres of lines of iambic pentameter and then set out to look for someone who can turn that dreary rhythm into an exciting melody. Almost nobody can, no matter what the words are saying. So don't write your lyrics first. ]Get the tune, then write the words. So let's assume, for this exercise, that you have a melody but no idea of what to say in your lyric. Don't worry if you don't have a tune. I'll give you one.

STEP 1. Sing or play the tune of a nursery rhyme. Any of them will do: Baa Baa Black Sheep, Humpty Dumpty, Ring Around the Rosie - it doesn't matter which you choose. Use this melody for practice. As you listen to it, scribble down some non-rhyming prose. Ignore the exact notes, but listen to the feelings. Let your words be a stream-of-conscious exercise to warm up your imagination. Don't use rhymes or logic. Try to be visual, silly, playful and have fun with it.
Here's an example of some lines I scribbled down after listening to "Itsy Bitsy Spider":

A former tooth farmer from Fluffy, South Apricot, dug through Exxon's banana shoe hairbrush section for kangaroo lingerie, after the De La Hoya/Pope Potato wrist rake from Western Tire Cough Drops slid unnoticed into burping toenails.

STEP 2. Now please write a silly, visual non-rhyming lyric to your tune. Match each note with one syllable. Fill your non-rhyming lyric with ridiculous pictures. Again, don't be logical, don't make it make sense. Every line can be about something different. The first might concern shoe repair, the second, airport parking. In this draft, try to keep all the rhymes OUT. Here's an example of a nonsense lyric I wrote, to the tune of "Jack and Jill".
Lizards frying Jaguars
All hum Hawaiin shoe trees
Disneyland will hiccup in
The mayor's purple phone soup.

STEP 3. Now write an uncensored list of silly titles that will fit with the stresses of the first line of your nursery rhyme. No matter how many notes in that line, keep your title to seven syllables or less. Shoot for twenty or thirty possible titles. Don't write anything you've heard before. Let your imagination roll. Don't say, "Oh, that's dumb." Write it all down. You might find one of these nonsense titles could actually turn into a real one later. "I Love You" is fine, but Jewel's "Swallow The Moon" gets you in the gut. A good title will write the whole song for you. A mediocre one will leave you stranded in line two.
Here are some nonsense titles I wrote to the tune of
"Jack and Jill":

Santa knit a Hershey Bar
Orange dancing astronauts
Drinking bricks can make you skate

STEP 4. Write a few real titles with the same number of syllables as your silly ones. Here are some I wrote to
"Jack and Jill":
Sundays with the London Times
Do you ever think of me
Moonlight over Lake O'Hare

STEP 5. Choose one of your real titles. Write the story it tells in prose. Just a couple of sentences will do fine. Writing the story as a letter might be easier for you. If any lines come out rhyming, change them so they don't. That way, you'll be able to express yourself with complete freedom, and without the constraints of rhyme or meter.
When you finish this step, you'll know the beginning, middle and end of your story before you start to write the lyric. Most songs have two verses, a chorus and a bridge, so allow space for them in your story. By writing it first, you'll be able to see if you have enough information to fill a whole song, so you won't get stuck half-way through with nowhere to go. You can always cut out words and lines later.

STEP 6. Using the information from your story, write a non-rhyming lyric to the nursery rhyme melody you've chosen. Should rhymes mysteriously appear, delete them.

STEP 7. Now write the "real" lyric, with the story and the rhymes.

I suggest you do all seven steps. Not four, not two. Seven. My clients who don't are still claiming they can't write lyrics. But many of my songwriters who do are climbing the charts.
The more lyrics you write, the easier it gets. So please do this exercise five times, each with a different nursery rhyme. Once you learn how to map out a lyric, and write it to a melody, you're 90% there.
© 2010 Molly-Ann Leikin

Thursday, March 25, 2010

How to make it in the music business today? Be Innocent.

Here is Steve talking about one of my favorite films. He says two important things here that equate nicely to the music business today, (or rather, lack there of).

He talks about writing the script as a 'novice', not knowing the rules, and later on talks about the film's innocence. It made me think: "That is it exactly!"

It's not that there are rules anymore that we have to work with or around in the music world today, the fact is, that we are all innocent, and we can all be childlike as we walk along, finding out what works and what doesn't; the great part of this scenario being - THERE ARE NO RULES, (outside of the rules of common courtesy of course), so you just can't go wrong and the sky is the limit.

I know I have said this a million times before, but it needs to be repeated. It's not just 'new game, new rules', it's a constantly evolving game, with the only rules or confines being the ones you make for yourself.

The music industry today is actually very Zen-like.

Be Innocent in it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SXSW - we all got a little action!

For those of us slogging away and unable to get out to SXSW this year, Derek being his lovely self, gave us a chance to be there and pass along some advice to participants during his Key Note Address. Here I am.

I hope I got my point across, all I could think about was 'wow, do I ever look like Ned Schneebly in School Of Rock!' Do you see it?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A lot to say, no time to say it..

Typography from Ronnie Bruce on Vimeo.

I have a lot to say today, but will have to find time. In the meanwhile, this says a lot. Thanks Thomas.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Updates and a few great 'Tips for indie artists' websites.

We've had another jam packed week, and on top of it caught a cold, but is that slowing us down? Nope.

Booked some Paralympic shows, TV interviews, and last minute gigs (Check our new page for days and times). AND on Tuesday Rave On will have ten artists in the Canwest/Hevy D Province Playlist! Be sure to check it out and grab a free track from each artist!

Balligomingo will be headlining as their new album UAES is set for release April 6th; MRDC will also be there with his 'Joy and Pain' featuring Skulastic, from his new album 'Radio', set for release April 1st, and we'll also have music from: Blind God, Michelle Richard, Olga Osipova, Gillian Hobbs, Richard King, Opus Zero, Matt Stanley and Piper McKinnon! What a line up!

We've also been sorting out the Earthrun entertainment and will have some cool surprises this year!

A big thank you to everyone who came out for the Birthday jam last week, it was an amazing and very memorable night!

OK , as promised here are a few overlooked sites with some great information:

And click here for some more of Derek's great advice, especially great for those just starting down the 'DIY' road!
And have a great week! Hope you can get out and enjoy some of the Games!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Vancouver's Mean Streets

Any of you who know me well, know my background in Criminology and my previous work with the Ministry Of Children and Families. For those of you who don't know that side of me - I am passionate about prevention! So when I heard that Alex Kleider and his brother had made this film, I was really excited to help them promote it. Please watch 'Streets of Plenty' - a little ditty about our own backyard. I would love to hear your feedback.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Geek And Poke know me well....

Wow, barely under the wire of not blogging for a week!

So much going on here at ROS now that our wee Olympic break is over ~

I just finished a quick video for Derek and SXSW, on 'helping out'.

We're working on a single of Piper McKinnon's; one of her amazing new tunes , "Sharing the Mary's"! (pipermckinnon.com).

We've welcomed Matt Stanley to the Rave On family; watch for Matt and his band 'The Decoys', around town this summer! (matt-stanley.com).

Have started a mix on one of Skulastic's tunes ' The Real McCoy' and I LOVE it! She got to hook up with Mark Farina when he was here and that was really exciting!

Getting ready for an album release from MRDC - hurray (www.mrdc-music.com)!

Working on getting all the material together for a Rave On page for Barry, Canwest and the Province Playlist - 10 artists! The material is amazing, I'll post when it's up and check out this week's artists, including Mr B!:

Uhmmm, what else, oh yes starting on finalizing the artist line up for this year's David Suzuki EarthRun (Ranj is helping out this year - yay):

We're also going to be helping Alex Kleider promote his new film, (but I'll blog about this separately, soon!)....

And for the past 24 hours I've been helping a friend search for a Big Band song for a film, so went to the man himself Dal Richards (http://www.dalrichards.com), and was blown away to find out that he (at 91) and his wife still sit down together every night and answer email;-) I also had a new song sung to me on the phone - how luck am I!?

Oh and setting up a jam for C's BD on Friday! Can't wait to give him his gift!! Thanks to John! (http://johnjorgenson.com/).

Oh, and one more great thing, brought Terry onto the Donkey project today after his amazing Mariachi audition! Ole! hahah (terrytownson.com). We can't wait.

I know there is a ton more news, but right now at nearly 2am, after a night of clearing through old papers and basement finds, I am a wee bit tapped, but more soon!