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

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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.

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