SOCAN_Tag_V_Eng_RGBAs of June 14th, through July 15th my single “New Ending” from the new “I’ll Be Around” EP can be found streaming on the SOCAN website.

“New Ending” is also available for purchase on iTunes and other online retailers worldwide!

SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) is a not-for-profit organization that represents the Canadian performing rights of millions of Canadian and international music creators and publishers. SOCAN is proud to play a leading role in supporting the long-term success of its more than 100,000 Canadian members, as well as the Canadian music industry.

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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.

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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

The S.A.C. Songwriting and Blogging Challenge 2013 is underway, and I am just one of many dedicated songwriters from all across Canada taking part in the Coursera Songwriting Class with Pat Pattison over the next six weeks. Every week I will share my thoughts and experiences from the weekly songwriting lesson.

Week 1

Let me first give kudos to Coursera and Pat Pattison for developing such and engaging online experience as a platform to lead this course. Gaining access to this high level of clarity, organization, and structure first hand, already has me intrigued about the many other online courses available through Coursera.

Lesson 1:  The Journey of the Song

The first week of Pat Pattison’s Online Songwriting Course sets up the premise that our most important job is to keep the listener interested throughout the entire song. To do this he introduces the concept of storyboarding our song using boxes to illustrate a beginning, middle and end, and describe how the story will flow forwards while staying connected to the title and move us towards the WHY of the song.

I must admit that the way the exercise was described seemed much simpler than when I sat down to actually do it. It didn’t feel natural at first to describe how the song would go without writing it, but once I likened it to building a structure to tell the story, much like I do as a designer, I could see that the decisions would lead to several scenarios for how to approach the song. Fantastic! It gave me the sense that I could challenge a song idea a few ways before settling on the most appropriate direction that served the song idea the best.

So Assignment #1 was just that, pick a title for your song and using the boxes technique describe how the story would move forward. Establish a point of view for the song by answering the questions: who is talking, to whom, and why? Also take the opportunity to establish when and where this is happening.

I chose the song title “The Good Old Days”, a scene set outdoors on a porch swing one warm summers evening. The dialog is being exchanged between a Husband and Wife. The Husband wants his wife to know the impact she has had on his life and reflects on “The Good Old Days” and all the things that he thought were important before his wife came along. It’s a simple angle, and I see the opportunity for lots of imagery in the reflections of the past, but I also imagined that the story could gain more weight if perhaps the wife was dying or deceased, and he was having this conversation at her bedside, or her gravesite. These are options I now have for writing the song, because I was able to create a structure before it was written.

I chose “The Good Old Days” because it tied in with a song idea I had written down in my hook book, that had no framework: “Harley’s, Horses and Hard Times”. I had no WHY for the story before, but thanks to this lesson, I believe that I do! So i’m looking forward to writing this song.

What a great start! Next up… Lesson 2: Stopping and Going

For the next six weeks I will embark on a free online songwriting course run by Coursera and led by the master himself Pat Pattison. Not only am I eager to immerse myself in the course curriculum, but equally so to engage with the Songwriters Association of Canada community by blogging about our experience.

I’ve been following Pat Pattison’s school of thought when it comes to Writing Better Lyrics for a few years now with a few editions of his book under my belt. He has much to share that I can take into practice as I develop my songwriting skill set.

My songwriting journey is relatively fresh, having writing just over 30 songs (most of them in the last year) and often I feel like I’m sitting down with my guitar for the first time. I’m almost halfway through a commitment I began last October to write one song a week for a year, and I feel like some new inspiration and focused reinforcement of key principals will leverage my songwriting and help me tell more engaging stories that connect people to the songs.

There is much that I am looking forward to delving into over the next few weeks, but most of all connecting with my fellow songwriters, learning about what inspires them and how they take on doing the work that is songwriting.

Let’s get started!

I realize there is a decision for me to make within the creative process and my artistry as a songwriter.

To create from my own voice or to communicate for others?

As a graphic designer it is my commitment to excel at the later, to solve design and communication problems for clients, and support them in the expression of their brand. In this sense there is a responsibility to create from another perspective, where success is measured by insights, trends and brand engagement relevant to a strategic goal.

As both artist and songwriter, I see a new opportunity to celebrate my own voice, and what I personally have to contribute to the world. A voice I could not access as an artist through other mediums. Through music there are stories to explore that could contribute so much more than the packaged, processed products for mass consumption that keep us from feeling anything real, or connecting us to each other. This is where my passion lies, in breaking past the surface and making that emotional connection, one song at a time.

For me this is a choice to be expansive, and not limited in my creative pursuits. In this choice I empower a voice that has in the past placed the judgements of others before her own. Through music I will emancipate my spirit and create a clearing to start anew.

I choose to expand from within! Where do you stand? I’d love to hear what you are passionate about and how you are bringing your gifts into this world. Please leave a comment on the blog or tweet me @misstaniajoy 🙂

Much love,

Tania