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

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14 weeks ago I challenged myself to write one song a week for one year! Now 2013 is here and i’m midway through writing my 14th song! So I figure its time to share with you a rundown of my progress, and things i’ve learned along the way.

Mentorship

Write something everyday. This was great advice given to me by Christopher Ward during a skype mentoring session sponsored by the Songwriters Association of Canada. Check out more of Christopher Ward’s tips “On Songwriting” for other great insights.

Accessibility

To make this possible, i have a notebook by my side at all times, and lovely iphone apps to record on the fly, whether it be in the car, in the mall, or under the covers… whatever it takes! Personally I’m at my best in the morning… but its not just about when your inspired, it takes something more to do the work when you are not (and its the last thing you want to do!).

Breakthroughs

Honestly you have to push past the fear and be willing to write something that stinks, and in return for this sacrifice of your ego, you will breakthrough to something new.

Co-Writing

Co-writing is an absolute pleasure, with many delightful returns in terms of learning, inspiration and friendships! It’s hard to tie this process down to the same timeline of one week like the others, but it is worth investing in the pursuit of co-writing to discover more about your songwriting potential, outside of your own style, and  process.

Results

So here is an updated list of the songs i have written by committing to the act of writing everyday. Some days are long, but there is always a fresh start around the corner.

Week 1: You Hold The Mirror

Week 2: Daddy’s Little Girl

Week 3: Concrete Heart

Week 4: Play It By Ear

Week 5: The Good Word

Week 6: Soon As I Figure Out How (co-write with Dayna Shereck) Check out the behind the scenes on how our writing session unfolded here. We also cut a demo with vocalist Carol Kay for pitching purposes. Dayna & I felt it had a Country feel to it, so bringing Carol into the mix was a great choice to serve the style of the song. For all of you songwriters out there looking for clean demos, give Carol Kay a call and tell her i sent ya! 😉 https://soundcloud.com/cjkmusic

Week 7: Pretty Good Hurts Pretty Bad (co-write with Brian Edwards)

Week 8: Settle For Love (co-write with Candice Sand)

Week 9: You Won’t Survive is another song i had cut into an acoustic demo with vocalist Carol Kay. Believe it or not this song was inspired by a line spoken by the young female lead during an episode “The Vampire Diaries” (my guilty pleasure) which i turned around into an angst-ridden tune of my own. Have a listen!

Week 10: Fine On The Outside

Week 11: Can’t Stop Loving You

Week 12: All That Remains

Week 13: Up, Up & Away

That’s it folks! I’ve got much more up my sleeve in the coming weeks, including an online songwriting course with my mentor Pat Pattinson … so stay tuned!

8 weeks ago I challenged myself to write one song a week for one year! Seems daunting right? Well I have fully taken this on and I can’t believe how fast the time has gone by! It has been such an amazing process so far, and i wanted to share a peak at the songs I’ve written by doing the work everyday! (well almost everyday).

Week 1: You Hold The Mirror

Week 2: Daddy’s Little Girl

Week 3: Concrete Heart

Week 4: Play It By Ear

Completed by candlelight amongst the chatter and clinking of pints at one of my fav pubs in Toronto.

photo-5

Week 5: The Good Word

I was also inspired to invite my fellow songwriter pals on board to explore co-writing, which has multiplied the learning potential! In the coming weeks I will share behind the scenes on how these songs unfolded for us!

Week 6: Soon As I Figure Out How (co-write with Dayna Shereck)

Week 7: Pretty Good Hurts Pretty Bad (co-write with Brian Edwards)

Week 8: This week I’m working on a co-write with Candice Sand  called Settle For Love

daynaAt the beginning of October I embarked on a Songwriting Challenge for myself to write one new song a week for a year. Yes, one whole year!

A few weeks later I attended a daylong seminar put on by the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC) called Songposium, which inspired me to include more co-writes as a contribution to my songwriting process and the yearlong challenge I have before me.

First up, meet Dayna Shereck! Dayna & I met through a common network of music industry pals and were both in attendance at Songposium that day. With my songwriting challenge in mind I approached Dayna with the idea to co-write as an opportunity for us to sit down and get to know each other, while figuring out how our experiences would come together to create something new. Thankfully, she was on board!

After deciding that we would write a song with myself as the intended artist, we got to work on some song titles that Dayna already had kicking around, and a melody that she had written while making breakfast with a lyric about bacon and eggs! —Hey, as a songwriter you soon learn to riff off what ever it takes to capture and retain a melody idea. Sometimes they come when you least expect it, and I think Dayna and I are both grateful for our iphone apps to make a record of these fleeting moments.

So we begun writing some notes around one title, but then quickly shifted to the next when she shared a song idea that struck me pretty hard.

“I’m going to leave you as soon as I figure out how”. Wow! It felt like a powerful experience  that I for one could relate to, and I was sure many others could as well. And so we dove in this direction, which soon evolved into the song title “Soon As I Figure Out How”.  (Check out the demo at the end of this post!) The spark was a story around the many ways in which we fantasize about leaving a relationship that is not working. Our considerations ranged from the comical to the tragic, and we realized that is was important to figure out which emotional territory this song needed to sit in. Where we landed was a story that plays out the desired actions one would take to leave a relationship, the cause of the breakdown, and the courage to do something about it.

With co-writing, I find that there is a certain level of trust and commitment needed between writers to “go beneath the surface” of an idea to get to the true emotion of a song. As this commitment may involve peeling back the layers of our own personal stories from time to time, it can be hard to do. This deep dive is one that I try to bring to my own songwriting process, and I was very pleased that Dayna and I had the courage to go there and trust in the process as two individuals coming together to create something more.

We did it! Less than one week from our initial co-writing session, Dayna and I had a complete song we were very proud of, that I was able to perform live at the weekly Open Mic that I host in Uxbridge. Many thanks to Dayna Shereck for sharing her creative spirit with me! You can find out more about Dayna and her songwriting journey as she heads to Nashville here on her blog at Songs By Dayna.

And as promised here is an acoustic demo of our song “Soon As I Figure Out How” for your listening pleasure!