Music Theory, Songwriting, The Muse, Writing

Saturday Songwriting: A Red Reflector

The worksheet I included this week is maybe little music nerdy, but I hope it’s clear and useful. (If you have questions about anything in it, as always let me know so I can improve it!)

One of the things lots of songwriters who compose use the guitar can struggle with is creating melodies which are independent of the chords they are playing. Starting with a melody, it can be hard to know what chords you can play over it, and vice versa. One of the points of this sheet (and the one I put together two weeks ago) is to give songwriting guitarists and entry point into writing melodies independent of chords. 

That’s where I’m aiming on taking this at least.  

The Prompt:

Here’s a link to Arina Gordienko’s Eyes Wide Shut – 2

The Musical Idea:

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Music Theory, Songwriting, The Muse, Writing

Saturday Songwriting: Where the Mountain Would Be

Community has always been one of the most important legs on the stool I rest my songwriting on. It should be a no brainer. The more people that join in, the better music gets. But community also to be one of the first things I forget. I was reminded about the importance of community again in an email this morning.  

My friend wrote briefly about how timed writes we’ve done togetherhave helped her. I met Allison this spring over Zoom when we were getting together every Saturday at 1:00PM because how else were we going to ride out Covid-19 and social distancing? I stopped hosting those Zooms because I returned to work, and my time got tight. (That’s also when these emails started). 

We have a nice little community of folks getting these emails right now. One way we could strengthen the community would be simply to post the song on the Fearless Forum after you’ve written, and check in with what other people have done over the weekend.  Another way, would be be to set up a time to write together (at a distance) with a friend or someone in the community, and check in on that.  (Here’s a place to do that on the forum). I’ve taken part in some great video work groups over the past few months where people will check-in at the start and then just dive in and write for a set amount of time while.   

Here’s a link to Edward Curtis’s Canyon De Chelly

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Music Theory, Songwriting, The Muse, Writing

Saturday Songwriting: Road and Weeds

We all struggle from time to time with doing the work we’d like to do. It’s hard to find time to write. It’s easy to fritter away an hour or two on Facebook while intending to write. Beating ourselves up when we don’t use our time the way we’d like to is easy too. (Saying it doesn’t help much to beat myself up has rarely stopped me from doing it). So what’s the answer?  

I think one answer is in BJ Fogg’s, “Tiny Habits,” (which I talked about a little last week here). 

The question he poses goes something like this: 

What’s the tiny, nearly effortless step you can take which could work as a catalyst to get you started?  

One of his examples is flossing one tooth. Another is doing two pushups. When he does either of those things, he celebrates, which helps encode the behavior that his brain should repeat (and celebrate more). There’s a lot more scaffolding BJ talks about to support and build the habits we want in our lives, but it’s pretty much that simple.   

1. Find a habit you’re already doing that could naturally lead into the habit you’d like to add into your life. (He calls the current habit an anchor). 

2. Find a tiny behavior that supports that habit, like flossing one tooth—something so small you don’t need to be motivated to do it. Then do it. 

3. Celebrate performing that behavior.  

Which leads to the question, what is a tiny habit you might use to start writing a song? Email them to me, I’d love to know how you plan to get started. (Celebrate having doing one before you email me).  

The Prompt:

Here’s a link to Denise Antaya’s image, Puddles

The Musical Idea:

Music Theory, Songwriting, The Muse, Writing

Saturday Songwriting: The Trainer’s Whisper

I woke up started flipping through my “Definitive Paul Simon Songbook.” What would be a good song to play around with? I settled on “You Can Call Me Al.” It’s a fun song. A simple riff, given lots of texture in its recording, with a bright chorus. There’s a lot a person could glom onto and focus on.  The part I might be cool to play with for this week is that the melody in the verse mostly trends downward.  In the chorus, the melody mostly trends upward. It’s a cool way to differentiate the two sections.  What if you were to write a song in which the melody mostly arcs downward in the verses, and mostly arcs upward in the chorus?  (Or vice versa)?  

The Prompt:

Here’s a link to Pablo Amaringo’s image, Huasi Yuchana

The Musical Idea:

Chord Stories, Music Theory, Songwriting

Saturday’s are for Songwriters

I’m not much sure what this will look like . . .

I love starting anything new with those words. Each Saturday I’ll posting a little musical idea or principle here. I’ve been running a little group called “The Fearless Songwriter,” on Facebook for a long while. This is a little bonus for them. If you’re a songwriter, come on over and join us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FearlessSongwriter/

Let me know what you think. If anything is confusing, let me know! It’s so helpful to know what works in a presentation of ideas and what trips people up.

Here’s a link to Steve Bowersock’s “Are You Sailing Away,” if you prefer to write from the image only.

Here’s a link to a .pdf of this sheet:

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