Lesson 4: Making It Move (Yes, i’m catching up.)

Another round of awesome video lectures from Pat Pattison’s online Songwriting course produced a valuable lesson in the role music plays in creating motion, and how motion supports e-motion. As songwriters, our job is to marry the meaning of language (the clever words we write) to the emotion of music (the feelings we are trying to evoke), enhancing both so that we Preserve the natural shape of language.

Rhythm in the lyric is created by arranging stressed and unstressed syllables. Prosody (there’s that word again) is enhanced when the syllabic rhythm of the lyric matches the melodic rhythm to support the emotion of each lyrical phase. Simple right? Well, maybe after a little practice!

I love the masterclass series of videos Pat included in this week lessons. I came across them a few years ago on youtube, and found them to be a great tool in thinking about the performance of our songs, and ensuring they support the intended lyric. I highly recommend you add them to your video library!

This weeks assignment was to map out the syllabic rhythm of the verse and chorus we created last week, and set it to music, speaking or singing the appropriate stresses and match it with the corresponding melody.

Here is my assignment set to music:

Assignment 4I’m quite happy with the way it turned out, and it was very interesting using the map of my stressed and unstressed lyrics (as i wrote them first) and building the melody from there. then i sketched it out again in my notebook to make sure my stresses were falling in line with the melody, and tweaked here and there until it was all working together. I suppose it might not always go in this order for every song, but it really worked for me in this case! I could see the huge potential for using this technique in my songwriting moving forward… (get it? moving.. forward hehee)

once again hear are the lyrics:

stable verse

–       –      –      /    –    –       /        –     –      /        /
She had me calling her name from the first glance
–       –       –      /     –   –    /    –    –    /          /
She had me stealing a kiss at the first chance
–       –      –       /      –     –       /    –    –      /      /   –
She had me counting the days till our next hello
–       –      –         /    –     –      /   –   –   –     /       /
She had me spending my pay till I was flat broke

unstable chorus

–        –      –     /    //  –   –    /         /     –     /  –    –    /
She said the currency of love trades a million to one
–     –     /    //  –   –     /     –      /          /       /  –
In the currency of love you might break even
/       –       /   –       –        /    –       –       /     –        –      /
Spend your nickels, your quarters, your pennies, your dimes
–      –        /  –   –     /     –        /     –     /
If you’re lucky in love you might do fine
–    –       /  //   –   –    /
That’s the currency of love


I’m a little behind on keeping you up to date with my progress and learnings from Pat Pattison’s Online course on Songwriting. It’s been pretty eye-opening taking this course amongst a huge community of songwriters (63,000 if you can believe it!) to say the least, and i’ve learned so much already.

This week was all about rhyme schemes and rhyme types. There are six rhyme types (perfect, family, additive, subtractive, assonance, and consonance), that much like line lengths, have a role in supporting stable and unstable ideas, and create varying degrees of resolution. Yes, everything has a purpose grasshopper.

Pat says: Rhyme schemes, can also help create a feeling. They can be symmetrical, like aabb (e.g., win/spin/turn/learn) or abab (e.g., win/turn/spin/learn), creating stability. Or, they can be asymmetrical, like abba (e.g., win/turn/learn/spin) or xaaa (e.g., win/turn/learn/yearn), creating levels of instability. All by themselves. So your choice of rhyme scheme makes a difference. Ask, “Is this verse’s idea stable or unstable?” and construct your rhyme scheme accordingly.

So taking this into consideration along with our lessons online length from last week our assignment was to create a stable verse leading into an unstable chorus. This was my submission.

Song Title:
The Currency of Love

stable verse
She had me calling her name from the first glance
She had me stealing a kiss at the first chance
She had me counting the days till our next hello
She had me spending my pay till I was flat broke

unstable chorus
She said the currency of love trades a million to one
In the currency of love you might break even
Spend your nickels, your quarters, your pennies, your dimes
If you’re lucky in love you might do just fine
In the currency of love

verse: aabb (perfect, and assonance/subtractive rhyme)
chorus: aabbx (assonance/additive rhymes and a surprise shorter line length with no rhyme at the end)

The song title was one i’ve had in my hook book for a while, with no clear idea of where it would go. But with a little pressure and an assignment to do, i was able to start the journey. I’m still thinking there is an opportunity to extend the two main ideas in my current verse to another verse (ie: verse 1: all about first glance/ first kiss, verse 2: being flat broke).

No time to record it to music with Canadian Music Week going on here in Toronto. Not sure how i managed to fit it all in, very ambitious, but it was well worth it! So many great artists performing nightly, and a packed house for Songwriters Summit. Already looking forward to next year! I’ll leave you with a few pics from the experience.

Did i mention that i’m also gearing up for the release of my first EP in May! Ya…. its a bit busy around here.




Check out this great post by our SAC mentor Debra Alexander on How To Format Lyrics that will ensure a tidy presentation and clarity for the reader. Thank you Debra!

WordMavenMusic's Blog


You’ve worked hard to polish the lyrics of your song, and that shows on the page, as well as a vocal performance. To present your lyrics in the best light for a reader, put them in the proper format. This is especially true when submitting to song critiques, song contests, liner notes, online blogs, etc.

General Guidelines:

1. Break your lyric lines so that structure (AAA, AABA, ABCABC, VCVC, V preC C V preC C, VCVCBC, etc.) is revealed.

Try to keep sections in groups of 4 or 6, or 2 or 3 lines. Separate each section with one space. For example, a 6-line verse might have a 3 line pre-chorus, and there would be one space between them. I prefer to indent and use one space between new, non-repeating sections because it’s a cleaner look; some people label each section.  I like to leave intros and tags inline with the…

View original post 273 more words

Okay so this online songwriting course with Pat Pattison is in full swing, and after another set of great video lectures on Prosody, we are tasked with this weeks assignment to come up with an unstable verse that leads into a stable chorus primarily using number of lines and line length.

[excerpt:] Prosody, the most important concept in great writing: All the elements of your song should work together to support the song’s central message and emotion. Prosody will make your song stronger and more focused, using structure and phrasing to highlight important ideas, and deepen emotional impact — techniques that have helped Pat’s students, including John Mayer and Gillian Welch, win Grammys and write number one songs.

I chose to continue with the song idea i developed during week one’s assignment using the song title “The Good Old Days” with the influence of a song idea i had for “Horses, Harley’s and Hard Times”. I tell you these last two weeks lectures and exercises have rejuvenated my approach to songwriting, and (to my delight) fuelled me to develop the rest of this song! Now I am certain I’m going to find more and more ways to make it stronger as these lessons continue to sink in, but so far I’m pleased with my progress. (I even took these strategies into a co-writing session this afternoon to revive a song that was stuck, and boy oh boy I cannot wait to continue where that session left off.)

For the assignment I used the Who, What, Where, When, Why, How, to keep me on track as I flushed out my verses and chorus,  and was mindful of the POV while I wrote and rewrote new options. Picking up the guitar and discovering a melody for both chorus and verse was like… wow where did that come from?! (insert iPhone recording here so I wouldn’t forget it) Then I took another crack at singing my verse/chorus ideas to the melody… verse: stable? stable? unstable!… ahhh chorus… stable! Note here that i believe i tend to lean towards stability in my writing, and in the past if I managed to write something unstable it was a fluke! Well. No more!!

I should mention that my AWESOME (wait till you meet him) co-writing partner is also taking this course, and we were totally over the moon in our session today at how these tools made us more focused and productive. I’m also looking forward to examining my catalogue of songs ‘in development’ with these new tools in week three.

So now its on to further tweaking of my lyrics (i know, no need to be perfect) and recording Assignment 2 for submission! I’m telling you people, if you are not signed up for this course it’s not too late. check it out  here 🙂 and lets toast to your next song!

Happy writing!

Here is my submission for Assignment 2:
(with a little tip from our SAC mentor Debra Alexander on How To Format Lyrics)

[unstable verse]
I remember climbing to the top of this hill
on the backside of my steed
never knowing if all this hard work
would break me

[stable chorus]
The good old days are on my mind
The good old days and the hard times
I’d trade in every one
For one more setting sun

I wanted to express my thoughts about Wonder Women VI, while I’m still warm with the energy that rose from the stage of talented artists ranging from singer songwriters, to spoken word, to visual artists, to stand up comedians. It felt like the intensity grew as the evening progressed and emotional waves washed over us with every new performance, audience and artists knit together, lifted each other up and roared with empowerment. This day, International Women’s Day we celebrated our differences and common ground, this day we celebrated our strengths and our weaknesses, this day we embraced each other as mothers, daughters, friends, lovers, and independent artists. It was an incredible culmination of strength, conviction and love, and I was honoured to participate and bear witness.

A mountain of gratitude must be erected for the awe-inspiring commitment and enthusiasm of Arlene Paculan and Kat Leonard towards a week of successful concerts and free workshops, and the grand finale that was International Women’s Day and the Wonder Women Concert to spread empowerment through art!

Check out the full gamut of awesome performers that made this event a huge success!

Wonder Women VI In Concert
Friday March 8th, 7:00pm

$10 Cover
The Gladstone Hotel  1214 Queen St. West, Toronto

Spreading empowerment through art!

MARCH 4-8, 2013 is International Women’s Week, and LMG Productions celebrates by presenting Wonder Women VI: WonderFest, a weeklong series of workshops and concerts to spread empowerment through art.

The Wonder Women series has grown in popularity among performing artists and fans. This International Women’s Week edition of Wonder Women will be the largest Wonder Women event yet. With four free workshops and two concerts involving approximately 50 wonder women and super men of varied media, WonderFest is certain to make a positive artistic impact on the community.