Songwriting is music and lyrics. (‘Tunes’ are just that. No lyrics).
We will analyse and do songwriting using four elements.
- Melody – What is a nice melody? What is a lick/riff? How do you fit a lyric over/with a riff? Is a riff necessarily the melody of the lyric? If you come up with a riff, what are the counterpoints/gaps that differentiate the riff from the tune over which you sing lyrics? Funnily enough, knowing scales and the basis of music is the ground upon which you write a song’s melody/riff/lick.
- Context – What are the rules of the chord progressions that go with these melodies, and therefore what potential harmonies. Contexts are about genres, and we can consider what contexts we like and which genres feed our ‘inspiration’. Inspiration doesn’t just appear, we are educated, either formally or informally.
- Lyrics/poetry – we look at creative writing devices, variation in language, and processes for coming up with lyrics.
- Arranging – What instrumentation and grooves can you apply to your song. Who/what is your audience? What is the musical context / accompaniment that gives your song life?
Program 7 to 8.30pm
In each 90 minute session we will:
- Play and analyse a song within a selected genre
- Examine more closely that genre, its history and forms
- Talk with song-writers about their songs and processes
- Examine riff/melody in an iconic song
- Look at the lyrics of a selected song
- Focus on one song-writing technique and use breakout groups to practice and explore that
- Homework – each week creating a small piece of work to be shared on facebook
You will be required to register for zoom again (Name, email etc).
Then it will ask to open zoom.us and finally give you a link to the meeting.
If you get stuck the meeting ID is 845 3726 6024
Week One Wed. 9 Sept.
- Introductions to people and the course (What are you listening to? Who would you like to write like, which artist do you admire? Have you done any song writing?)
- This week’s genre – Blues 12 bars, 16 bars, major 7 chords, minor blues, with a turn around, or quick change
- Songwriting techniques of the week – Parody and Blues
- Naivete and song writing eg Dance Hall Firefly
- Homework – Write or present a parody or a blues song on the facebook group
Please print the following:
Side by Side (parody)
Videos and reading material for each week
Thursday Nights (Nothing Eclipses You Mark) A parody written by Bec Regalo. Read the lyrics on the link as well. Password is becregalo
Rewatch the session from Week One
Week Two Wed. 16 Sept.
- This week’s genre – Story songs/folk/singer songwriters. eg. Joni Mitchell, Paul Kelly and Scott Cook.
- Songwriting technique of the week – Tell a story, beginning with an object, in a place, something happens to that object, how does it feel, how does it respond, what is the outcome or resolution? (object > place > event > feeling > response > consequence > resolution)
- Story telling using allusion such as Both Sides Now
- Homework write a song that tells a short story. Put chords to it, preferably diatonic (staying in one key).
Please print the following:
Joni Mitchell; Both Sides Now
Mark Jackson The Shoeless Legges
start at 3.30 min for Both Sides Now
Listen to the first 27 minutes for her reflections on her song writing
Recording of the Week Two session
There’s a bit of guff at the beginning. Skip it.
Week Three Wed. 23 Sept.
- This week’s genre – Pop, contemporary music since the beginnings of rock n roll; focusing on chords progressions and driving riffs
- Important chord progressions, such as doo wop(19050-60’s) I vi, IV, V and variations (eg I vi ii V I) or modern I V vi IV and variations (eg. I V bVII IV)
- Know the chords in your key (use circle of fifths)
- Song structure – Verse, prechorus, chorus, refrain, bridge intro, outro
- There is an interplay of chord progression, song structure, riffs, melody, and lyrics.
- The Harmonic Series, the chords that make you go ah!!! eg I Will Survive
- Driving riffs common in pop, rock n roll and blues etc For instance Sunshine of Your Love (Cream), Every Breath You Take (The Police), Somebody I Used to Know (Gotye), Billie Jean (Michael Jackson), Sweet Dreams (Eurythmics), Can’t Get No Satisfaction (Rolling Stones), and Budapest (George Ezra)
- The importance of practise, playing, making mistakes and serendipity for your creativity
- Mark’s song; Chanel Takamana
- Songwriting technique of the week – Create a riff that can drive a song. We will play a diatonic chord progression in D for you to make a riff. Then we will play a blues in D that you can make another riff for.
- Homework – Create a riff for one of your songs if it works for you and post it on facebook
- Homework – Rework your song from last week or the previous week and post on facebook
Doo wop I vi, IV, V: Carol King, Up on the Roof
Modern I V IV vi: Jason Miraz, I’m Yours
Harmonic Series through the fourth chords, Perren & Fekaris, I Will Survive (sung by Gloria Gaynor)
Riff driven songs
Check this comedy act that encapsulates all the modern songs I V vi IV
Recording of the Week Three session
Week Four Wed. 30 Sept.
This week’s genre – Professional Song-writing with secondary dominants, and chord substitutions such as Tin Pan Alley, and The Brill Building.
- Jazz chord progressions, chord substitutions, songs where the chords follow the melody rather than stay diatonic. Or the melody stays diatonic but the chords colour the song.
- Lets play Five Foot Two in minor chords and see the difference the secondary dominant chords make.
- Sam – Blue Moon (I vi ii V) and more!
- These songs tend to follow the A A B A progression (with an extra verse at the front) eg I get a Kick Out of You (Cole Porter)
- Putting in more complex chords allows the melody to open up, chose more notes (not just stick to one scale). Or change the chord from a major to a minor to get a melancholy feel.
- Let’s play: Fly Me To The Moon (Bart Howard), and This Guys in Love With You (Burt Bacharach)
- Mark’s Song “Beach Pockets” uses a secondary dominant or two to lift the melody in places
- Songwriting technique of the week – Steal a song – Group work
- Take a song from below, keep the chords initially, then change the melody
- or change some of the chords (maybe add secondary dominants or minor chords), and then change the melody
- One of you in collaboration with others write new lyrics
- Each group of four people will have a team leader, a performer, someone who changes the chords, some one who rewrites the lyrics
Technology to help you write songs: pen and paper, phone recorders, Audacity, IReal Pro, Garageband, Muse Score, Guitar Pro, Sibelius etc
- Homework – Steal and re-write a song, play it. Don’t tell us where the song came from. We’ll ask later.
- Homework – Keep working on your original song, try to do some chord substitutions or match the chords to the melody better
SONGS TO BE PLAYED please print
Lewis, Young and Henderson Five Foot Two
Richard Rogers Blue Moon
Cole Porter: I get a kick out of you – Dr Uke version
Bart Howard Fly Me To The Moon
Burt Bacharach: This Guys In Love With You
SONGS TO BE RIPPED OFF!!! please print
Burt Bacharach: This Guys In Love With You
Neil Finn: Don’t Dream it’s Over
Patsy Cline Walking After Midnight
The Beatles Can’t Buy Me Love
The Beatles And I Love Her
Willy Nelson Crazy
Video from week 4
Week Five Wed. 7 Oct.
This week’s genre – The last touches on a song- what you can add in.
1. Poetic devices in lyrics.
eg. Aliteration, assonance, imagery, metaphor, onomatopoeia, personification, refrain and rhyme.
Let’s Play Paul Simon; 50 ways to Leave Your Lover
2. Scansion -the intersection of lyrics and music (the process of marking the stresses in a poem).
The rhythm has to be engaging, and is dictated by the words. The phrasing of the words has to fit the feel of the song. Clap the rhythm of the words, it should sound good. Think about the phrasing, the gaps, and how many syllables in each line.
3. Rhythm and tempo of the song
Think about the intersection of the feel, the tempo, the rhythm, syncopation and the lyrics. “50 Ways” was written from the rhythm.
Jane’s song “Tread Softly” is in 7/8 – an urgent and foreign rhythm like the topic (refugees). Arabic sounding melody and singing style ( harmonic minor scale used). Mark on trumpet to give it another texture (eg of arrangement)
4. Vary your melody
Think about the shape of your melodic lines and are you using some intervals? Also how many notes are you using?
Let’s Play “Autumn Leaves”
Chris Waite’s song no.2 (melody line)
5. Colour your chords with Sam Lemann
Lets play “When the Saints” with chord substitutions
Chord substitutions in key of C
Tonic chords I, iii, vi eg C Em Am (these can be swapped with each other)
Sub dominant IV, ii eg F and Dm (these can be swapped with each other)
Dominant V, vii (dim or half dim m7flat5) eg G and Bdim or Bm7flat5 (these can be swapped with each other)
6. Final arrangement of the song
This depends on your resources but think about what other instruments or players you can put in. Resources such as Ireal Pro, GarageBand, Audacity, and MuseScore are useful.
7. APRA AMCOS licensing your song.
Follow this link to get yourself registered as a song writer.
Homework– post a final original song (to facebook) after you have considered the following;
- Focus on your strum pattern or rhythm. How can this make your song better?
- Colour the chords on your song to make it more interesting and unpredictable.
- Then work on the feel of the song so that it matches the lyrics. Now work on the scansion of the words.
- Analysis your melody, does it vary or is it quite flat? Give it some texture.
- Can you add another instrument? Find another player to do your riff while you play the chords and sing perhaps? Record yourself as a backing track (or two) if you are solo. Arrange the song with other players in mind.
Video from week 5