Saturday Songwriting: Never Sad Enough

No matter how achingly beautiful an arrangement or harmony is, a chord is still just a chord. Whether it’s the Beatles sticking your heart with a melody like a pin cushion or Hendrix making your teeth sweat during guitar solo the chords supporting the song, at root, are the same. 

A few days ago, while browsing the aisles of Amazon Prime I saw there was a documentary about Elliot Smith called “Heaven Adores You.” Elliot was a songwriter who knew how to harmonize and arrange a song.  His Album, XO, is desert island material for me. Obviously, I had to watch.

Elliot started out as a punk rocker, then as his writing developed grew into a sort of folk singer-songwriter who nabbed harmonies from The Beatles and Beach Boys like a pro. But the arrangements he strung his melodies over and through are still merely chords. Chords are something we can learn about.   

Today’s sheet is talking about slash chords (called inversions by fancy pants music theorists). If you’re interested in learning something about Elliot’s music, (or anyone else’s music), slash chords are a great place to start. 

Check out the sheet below, and check out the video for a couple examples of how Elliot used them. 

The Prompt:

Here’s a link to Ethan Murrow’s Art. Find out more about Ethan’s work here.

The Musical Idea:

Here’s a downloadable pdf of the worksheet above:

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Saturday Songwriting: Buckets of Stars

The basis of pretty much all music is the major scale, (or the Do Re Mi scale as I tend to call it).

How well do you know it?
 
Sorry, I don’t mean to put you on the spot. I think one of the best things we can do as songwriters and musicians is to get to know the major scale really well. 

Knowing the scale well means is considering it from lots of different directions. For instance, what if it weren’t a line of notes so much as a solar system of notes orbiting the central note “Do.” You might find out a lot about the scale looking at it from that direction and obviously, that’s what this weeks sheet takes a look at.  

Check it out below!

The Prompt:

Here’s a link to Tiffany Liu’s Art. Find out more about Tiffany’s work here.

The Musical Idea:

Here’s a downloadable pdf of the worksheet above:

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Saturday Songwriting: The Middle of a Lake

I love checking out what has worked for other songwriters, and seeing what I might learn from them, so I found myself looking at Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of all time.  

500 is a lot of songs and a lot of chord changes to investigate. (Not to mention a lot of lyrics, rhythms, melodies, harmonies and arrangements).  I’d love to look at them all, which, at one song a week would take a mere 10 years. Maybe I’ll skip around in the list a little bit. . . 

Anyway, No. 500 is Smokey Robinson’s “Shop Around.” 

Rolling Stone doesn’t seem to say much about why they consider it a great song, but I’m willing to take it on faith. One thing that caught me as I looked at it was the simplicity of the chord progression

Check it out below!

The Prompt:

Here’s a link to Lisa Erickson’s Art. Find out more about Lisa’s work here.

The Musical Idea:

Here’s a downloadable pdf of the worksheet above:

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