Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Chris Port #277. Songwriting Workshop

Link to proposal for a songwriting workshop at 

Songwriting: "Want to do a Songwriting Workshop? Want constructive feedback for a song from our community of over 1,000 talented writers? Let's do this!

1. Post a link to 1 song in the comments of this message

2. I'll post your song on our page and ask for tips, recommendations, and suggestions and feedback from our group. 

3. Let the workshop begin!  

What do you think?  

What would be best is a song that you're actually in the process of writing - where can use the feedback and go back and rework the song."

*           *           *           *           *           *           *

Me: The Ballad of Tippi Marsh

Some feedback has suggested that the song is too 'soft' and 'sentimental' and needs to be more ruthless. I've argued that the 'ruthlessness' lies in its context. But I also think that a song should stand as its own context. So I'm torn...

See also:

IDEA13: A network for culture across Southend on Sea


[In response to "can you expand on your 'all art begins in imitation and ends in innovation' thesis? How did you learn how to write musical lyrics?"]

Without all the academic gobbledygook, I started off with a simple repetitive melody (Mack the Knife) and the image of a girl I once knew. ("Every actress / gets that black dress..."). I then grabbed a rhyming dictionary (an invaluable tool) and jotted down as many plausible rhymes as I could. Then I did something completely different (ironing, boozing down the pub... though not at the same time), humming and humming and letting the images find the rhymes. Any clever play on the original lyrics would send me off in new directions. That was the first one done.

Then I bought one of those 'Best of Musicals' CDs, and chose songs that were familiar to me, or had titles I liked the look of. Then I chose completely different contexts. Again, any puns on the original lyrics, or macabre mangling of original meanings was particularly pleasing.

Then, lots more distracted humming and carrying a notebook around at all times. After a while, the parodies started to take on identities of their own. It was almost as though the original source material had become a pallid ghost and the pastiche was the 'real thing'.

The more lyrics you write, the more you start to find more interesting sounds and word plays - internal rhymes and loose rhymes are far more pleasing than "love" "dove" "glove" endings.

I don't want the ultimate format of the work to be a cheap copy of somebody else's sweat (and copyright). It's just a useful way to get started. I don't disguise references to other people's work. I pay homage. There's still a long way to go. The piece needs the creative input of others now, and as it picks up ideas I'm sure the lyric rewrites will take on a new life of their own.

Mind you, you never know. Perhaps we may end up sticking with the original tune on some songs. Sometimes original artists like to collaborate on pastiches of their own work. Spitting Image is a good example...

Every Bomb You Make (Sting)

Song #2 "Never Mind" [] was a completely different process by the way. I was drinking with an old soldier in a pub and indulging in some 'gallows humour'. We were laughing (so we didn't cry) at some of the terrible things that go on this wicked world, saying "Never mind" to each one. Then, as the beer flowed, we started singing "Never mind". I've no idea where the tune came from, but I think it may have been loosely based on "The Long, The Short and the Tall". The original pub lyrics were just foul - too foul to recount here - so I just stuck with the "Never mind" chorus and built the song around a fake suicide :)

No comments:

Post a Comment