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Songwriting: How often & how long ?

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Les B 04 Nov 99 - 10:08 PM
Vixen 05 Nov 99 - 09:24 AM
JedMarum 05 Nov 99 - 10:15 AM
Bert 05 Nov 99 - 10:16 AM
_gargoyle 05 Nov 99 - 11:57 PM
_gargoyle 06 Nov 99 - 12:00 AM
ORua 06 Nov 99 - 06:59 AM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Nov 99 - 07:29 AM
Mbo 06 Nov 99 - 10:27 AM
Mudjack 06 Nov 99 - 11:58 AM
MMario 06 Nov 99 - 12:06 PM
06 Nov 99 - 01:59 PM
Mbo 06 Nov 99 - 05:03 PM
Mbo 06 Nov 99 - 05:04 PM
Mbo 06 Nov 99 - 05:09 PM
MMario 06 Nov 99 - 06:22 PM
Owlkat 07 Nov 99 - 04:12 AM
McKnees 07 Nov 99 - 05:24 AM
Mbo 07 Nov 99 - 11:33 AM
Art Thieme 07 Nov 99 - 11:45 AM
Les B 08 Nov 99 - 01:35 AM
KingBrilliant 08 Nov 99 - 05:12 AM
Vixen 08 Nov 99 - 08:56 AM
Art Thieme 08 Nov 99 - 10:36 AM
Les B 08 Nov 99 - 08:48 PM
Les B 08 Nov 99 - 08:49 PM
Les B 08 Nov 99 - 08:50 PM
Bill D 08 Nov 99 - 10:13 PM
banjo Babs 09 Nov 99 - 11:29 AM
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Subject: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: Les B
Date: 04 Nov 99 - 10:08 PM

For those of you who write your own songs -- how often does the creative muse strike you ? And, once you've got the words, melody and chords down, how long do you keep your new creation in your repertoire as opposed to a traditional song you've learned ?


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: Vixen
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 09:24 AM

Well, the muse has been striking me at intervals since I was about four. I write fiction, poetry, and songs, and I "create" other things that feel as if they were "inspired:" institutional strategic plans, currcula, and the like. Sometimes the magic is there, and sometimes it isn't, but I learned in my 20s to trust that it's been around on and off since I was a small child, so, though it may go away for awhile, it will return. For example, I hadn't written a song since February, but I wrote three on 28 October. I guess I've gotten to the point where I believe I have a gift, and like a real present, I can't take it for granted or expect it on demand, and I must make the most of it when I receive it.

As for how long I keep my originals in my repertoire, I play 'em until I get bored with 'em. I have a couple that are "occasion songs" that I wrote, learned, performed, and archived, like the one I wrote for the birth of a friend's first baby. Some of the songs I wrote I can't perform--either my guitar skills or my vocal skills can't meet the challenge (yet!). But I have friends who CAN perform them, and they do, for which I am eternally grateful.

My US$0.02, for what it's worth--mileage may vary!

V


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: JedMarum
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 10:15 AM

Like Vixen, my experience varies. I always have creative muse undercurrents at work, 'on the back burner' at least. My songs now, develop over time. Everytime I play at home, and often when I perform, I 'play with' musical ideas I am working on; tunes, progressions, etc. Ofetn times, lyrics are easier for me than the deciding how the stories will go! That is, it easier for me to find words when I am very clear on what I want to say, and how I want to develop the story of the song. I used to write a song in a sitting or two. Now I write several per year, none of which I completed in a single sitting.

How long do they last? None of my songs from 20 years ago remain in my repertoire ... but bits and pieces of them do. I steal from myself. Sometimes I take ideas I like from old songs and roll them into new ones. The good news is, though, I suspect my new ones I will carry for as long as I sing.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: Bert
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 10:16 AM

how often does the creative muse strike you? - Occasionally - 3 or 4 times a year. Sometimes it has to be forced into action by deliberate exercise.

how long do you keep your new creation? - until it is displaced by better material.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: _gargoyle
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 11:57 PM

It all depends - is it for pleasure or profit?

For pleasure - write a couple times a month to keep fresh

For profit - sit and compose/write at least one to two hours on a daily basis....throw out 100 hours of schlock every two months and rework the rest.....then try to market what remains..... marketing will take twice the time of compostion or more.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: _gargoyle
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 12:00 AM

For a "personal repotoire" it does not matter...all pieces are in a perpetual transition...and therfore they never grow old an stale.... there are always "new insights" when there are not...but it "on the back burner" for a couple years and it will return with vigor.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: ORua
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 06:59 AM

It only works for me in context. Someone's birthday, a celebration, a 'special' night at our local folk club. Key thing is to get something down on paper and then let it mell wait a while come back to it and it can be made better - sometimes it changes completely but thats the creative process for me. Example below of a 'one off' intro to the Fear an TI (MC) at a recent Halloween night at the Foyle Folk Club.

The Demon Fear an Ti

Attention pay both young and old, draw near, I pray believe
As we approach the day before the eve of Hallow eve.
We listen for October Winds the rain is falling too
The blood runs cold, and fear takes hold, of me and perhaps of you.
We know what's going to happen next we've heard these things before
He's getting close, his feet are heard, and he's right outside the door.
So cease your idle chatter there, those cigarettes are banned.
Now sit up straight, put down that drink I wonder – should we stand?
The door swings slowly open and a figure saunters in
And no one speaks within the room except to say "Its him"
You wonder who I'm speaking of, who could inspire such fear
Who makes the little children sob, as they choke back a tear?
The man 's well known to one and all, scourge of the noisy session.
To get good order for us all this seems to be his mission!
So put your hands together please, express both joy and glee
As we welcome now Chris Devlin – the Demon Fear an Ti !


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 07:29 AM

Much of the time you/I don't so much write songs as catch them. It's as if you hear a phrase in a conversation, then you turn your attention to it, and pick up what's being said, and then you write it down quick.

Or like when you wake up from a vivid dream - you've got to write it down quick, or tell someone, or it just slips away.

I've been years without writing songs. Then I write four in a night.

Most songs with me start with a phrase, and the song grows rapidly round it. And quite often the seed phrase will not make it through to the song. Bob Dylan when aske how long it took to write a song said that it depended on whether he had a good pen or pencil that wrote fast, and everyone seemed to think he was being smatrt-assed. Which of course he was, but he was also speaking a truth I've always assumed.

Writing down a song is quick enough. Using a word processor makes it quicker and sometimes better. You can switch the lines round and alter the order of verses and put down the lines you know are going to come in somewhere, before you've actually got tomnthem. It sppeads up the process of changing the rough song to get it right, and that is a process that may never really end.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: Mbo
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 10:27 AM

When I have the time, I try to write everyday. Over my summer vacation (24th of June-17th of August) I wrote something like 18 songs and tunes. Sometimes, when I'm feeling lucky, I can write two songs in one day, but after that, you run out of musical ideas. How is all this songwriting possible, you ask? Well, I'm a follower of the Robin Laing school of songwriting. Robin says that writing lyrics for him is very hard (being more of a music person than a lyrics person), and usually takes a lot of time. Same here. I can only write lyrics if the mood really strikes me, like John Boy says "All my feelin's get bottled up in here, and sometimes I feel like if I don't let 'em out, I'm going to explode!" So, as Robin does, I search through old texts, mostly old books of Irish & Scottish poetry, and find verse that I think suitable for a song. I have a big stockpile of these, maybe 40 or so verses that I have yet to making into music. As I turn out each new song, I record it on a tape recorder (like John Lennon) and hardly ever play it again. I have made lots of midis out of my songs, because like Vixen, I don't really have to skills to do them the justice they deserve. My composition teacher once compared me to Bob Dylan--a good songwriter, but perhaps not the best interpreter of my music. I can sing better when I'm not playing any instrument at all. I hope to hear all you folks music real soon!

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: Mudjack
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 11:58 AM

I'm just a frustrared "want to be" songwriter. I always want to write more and then I stumble onto another great song (someone elses) that steers my attention away. I must be a jingle writer since I can't seem to get past the hook or four line chorus.
But I find songs from great songwriters and sing and play them like they're mine.
Mudjack


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: MMario
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 12:06 PM

Mbo - Any of these tapes available to be sent to the mudcat and played? or midis and lyrics posted? or sent?

MMario


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From:
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 01:59 PM

Write stuff as the need arises, typical, one set out an idea, usualy a lyrical with basic melody, two record what is there, three play back and evaluate=redoing mostly the whole thing, four rerecord/arrange etc. Done. I never have any problem with tunes since the popular taste is very predictable unlike some other song writers I know. They overwork the tunes and the result is tiresome sounding like bad jazz or worse yet apeLennon/anypopband. A bad ORIGINAL tune is far better than a good clone!


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: Mbo
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 05:03 PM

MMario, next week I'm going to try and do some good recordings of my music and try to make some .wavs or mpegs out of them. As for the midis, only a few could be posted, because most of them were made on Abcmus, but I'm too cheap to buy the registered version, so my midis cannot be saved, and can only listened to if you have the program. As for the songs with lyrics I wrote, I'd be glad to post them. If you'd like to request some that I post (instead of posting all of them) here's a list of them: The Whistlebinkie Song, What Did I Do?, Firefall, Say Goodbye, Only the Shannon Knows, The Dark & The Light (based on a Gaelic verse). Tunes include: Grandfather's Reel, Boo's Reel, Academy Strathspey, Andrea's Waltz, Robert The Bruce's March, The Little Kibbuzt Reel, Sixers Reel, Skyehigh Jig, Cashel Rock, Pasture Storm, and Piobaireachd. BTW there's also a Blues version of the A.C. Doyle poem "Pennarby Mine" that I have done.

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: Mbo
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 05:04 PM

Oops! Forgot "Morningstar."

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: Mbo
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 05:09 PM

Um...me again. There's also a Star Trek parody of "Master of the House" from "Les Miserables" that I've done, if anyone wants to see it.

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: MMario
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 06:22 PM

speaking for myself, The dark and the Light, and Firefall sound interesting, just from the titles...any YES, I would love to see a sta trek parody of "Master of the House"


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: Owlkat
Date: 07 Nov 99 - 04:12 AM

Until I met someone who actually wrote EVERY day, I didn't think they existed. Yikes. Talk about hard work. I write song titles down as soon as they pop up. If and when they do. During the day or night or whenever. It's good to scribble down dream-songs as soon as I wake up. I've gotten some good ones that way. I also scribble down lines or thoughts in a book I carry around in my pack, and stack them on top of the monitor for later. When I'm writing for musical theatre, usually all it takes to get the song out is the character's subtext, and who they are, and where in the show it's going to go. The director says something like, "We need a song here that says...", and that does it for me. The story of the song is the most important element to me. Everybody's different. Find the way that works best for you.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: McKnees
Date: 07 Nov 99 - 05:24 AM

Mbo Yes please give us the Star Trek Parody. McKnees


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: Mbo
Date: 07 Nov 99 - 11:33 AM

Allright guys--I'll get you the Trek parody tonight!

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Nov 99 - 11:45 AM

I've had an urge to write songs about 5 times over the last 40 years----and that includes "The Mean Talkin' Blues" that provoked some interesting controversyial comments here about whether or not Woody was "mean" or not. (That's how often!!)

And that's the whole nine yards. (And that's how long!)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: Les B
Date: 08 Nov 99 - 01:35 AM

Art -- like you, I've only written about four songs in the last 30 years. I've just started singing one again, after 25 years, because it fits into the historic/Americana repertoire of our group. I've just written another on a similar theme (Montana history) and am trying to polish it up. I got to thinking about how long it would last, and remembered a friend of mine who wrote a number of amazingly good songs about 10 years ago -- and I don't hear him do a one of those now, although a couple were recorded by another regional singer! I find that finishing a song brings on a kind of sadness that it's done. Kind of a phenomena similar to the old Spanish saying "Only the mule and the priest are happy after sex !"


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 08 Nov 99 - 05:12 AM

The only good songs I've written have come out of the ether almost fully formed (and the bits that weren't quite there take ages to get right). I dare say they are peicings together of things I've heard, seen & read around that time, ie whatever's occupying my mind at the time - but then that should count as inspiration shouldn't it? I go through periods of not writing anything at all for ages & I've learnt not to try to write if I've nothing to say as it only frustrates me. I think if I knew more theory in terms of music & tale-telling then I might be able to craft songs more at will and with more intentionality. As it is I just have happy accidents from time to time and that'll have to do me for now.

Kris


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: Vixen
Date: 08 Nov 99 - 08:56 AM

D' 'Cats,

Some things have occurred to me as I've been reading these posts.

A Would-be Songwriter should:(in no particular order)
Read/Listen to Old Stuff
Write down ideas on awaking
Read/Listen to New Stuff
Not be alarmed when nothing happens for awhile
Not be ecstatic when a lot happens suddenly
Write, rewrite, and revise until it feels right
Be ready at any moment to get the ideas on paper
Write a lot anyway just to keep the idea machine/writing machine connected (you might get a song too)
Don't Worry. Sometimes the song will arrive complete, sometimes it will arrive piecemeal (at least it arrives!)
Don't Worry. Sometimes the idea you start with disappears in the final version.

Or, as my (now retired) mentor used to say..."Trust The Process!"

FWIW,
V


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 08 Nov 99 - 10:36 AM

LesB, (and others)

It sounds like you & I ought to be in touch. I did historical educational performances in the 8 counties of Northern Illinois over several decades. I've got a MAP I should let you see. Might give you some decent ideas for workshops and performances.

I truly RESISTED writing my own songs. But once in a while they would just erupt---in spite of my best intentions. I saw myself as being a presenter of musical antiques---the historical and traditional songs of mainly the U.S.A. For me to do my own songs was, to me, like putting a plastic table in the window of my shop.

But there is a song of mine, a strange little hairball of a song, in the database.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: Les B
Date: 08 Nov 99 - 08:48 PM

Art - I relate to the plastic table idea. Yet, when there's a great subject and no one has written about it (that you can find with reasonable amounts of research), you've got to try. And then when you finish you re-e-e-aly hope you can find a traditional song on the subject!


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: Les B
Date: 08 Nov 99 - 08:49 PM

Art - I relate to the plastic table idea. Yet, when there's a great subject and no one has written about it (that you can find with reasonable amounts of research), you've got to try. And then when you finish you re-e-e-aly hope you can find a traditional song on the subject!


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: Les B
Date: 08 Nov 99 - 08:50 PM

Sorry, I'm composing messages in double-time this eve.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: Bill D
Date: 08 Nov 99 - 10:13 PM

I remember once reading advice about writing books...the person said to ask yourself.... "Do I have something inside me that NEEDS to be said, or do I just want to 'have written a book'"........seems to me the same advice would be good for songwriters..therefore, I have never written a song...only afew additional verses to songs I thought needed them....


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Subject: RE: Songwriting: How often & how long ?
From: banjo Babs
Date: 09 Nov 99 - 11:29 AM

Songwriting is a lifestyle, if you try to deny it the words and tunes play in your head much louder than any other thoughts you may be having. Being the mother of two young boys I find my most productive songwriting time is after 9:00 pm. I do carry a blank page book and a pen with me every where i go . I just don't know when the music in my head is going to start playing. As far as too long if you spend more than 10 minutes on a single line for a song, you are working to hard. Think about something else for a while and the solution may present itself.


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