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OS: Legitimate Songwriting?

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Mbo 25 Dec 99 - 08:58 PM
JedMarum 25 Dec 99 - 09:07 PM
_gargoyole 25 Dec 99 - 09:46 PM
Barry Finn 25 Dec 99 - 10:00 PM
Jon Freeman 25 Dec 99 - 10:03 PM
sophocleese 25 Dec 99 - 10:17 PM
Marymac90 26 Dec 99 - 12:10 AM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Dec 99 - 08:21 AM
Chet W. 26 Dec 99 - 06:23 PM
Malcolm Douglas 26 Dec 99 - 09:16 PM
DonMeixner 26 Dec 99 - 10:04 PM
paddymac 26 Dec 99 - 10:19 PM
Roger in Baltimore 26 Dec 99 - 11:37 PM
Bert 27 Dec 99 - 09:42 AM
Gary T 27 Dec 99 - 05:38 PM
Margo 28 Dec 99 - 01:44 AM
Marymac90 28 Dec 99 - 02:44 AM
MTed 28 Dec 99 - 12:30 PM
Gary T 28 Dec 99 - 12:43 PM
MMario 28 Dec 99 - 12:48 PM
MTed 28 Dec 99 - 12:57 PM
Mbo 28 Dec 99 - 01:52 PM
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Subject: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: Mbo
Date: 25 Dec 99 - 08:58 PM

I consider myself a songwriter. But I hardly ever write lyrics--I can only do that when the mood hits me (which is only once in a blue moon.) I am much more of a 'music person.' Of all the works in my personal catalogue, which is up to sixty songs and tunes, there are only a handful that I've written both the lyrics and the music.

Finding it hard to write these lyrics, I resort to taking Scottish and Irish poetry from the 18th & 19th centuries (no copyright restrictions!) and put music to them. The songs are not at all bad, from a critical point of view, and I love the joy of putting music to them. Other artists, nameably Robin Laing, do much as I do because of the same problems.

So my question to all Mudcatters, most of who have tons more musical experience than I do, is this a legitimate form of songwriting? Or am I a songmaker? Does the fact that I hardly have any lyrics that I personally have written, and instead use poetry I can strongly identify with, make me less of a songwriter? Will people think I am uncreative because I cannot make lyrics, or will they accept the poetry as legitimate, since most people have never heard it before (I did hard to find this stuff)? I'd just all you folks opinions. Thanks!

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: JedMarum
Date: 25 Dec 99 - 09:07 PM

Adding music to poetry is indeed a legitimate artform, and every bit as valid as other forms of songwriting. Enjoy the work for its own value. It is its own reward! The real blessing comes when your efforts produce a work that both pleases your heart to sing, and others love to hear.


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: _gargoyole
Date: 25 Dec 99 - 09:46 PM

If.....

.................You consider yourself......

Why do you "doubt" You Are> therefore CREATE!!


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 25 Dec 99 - 10:00 PM

"Three Score & Ten" started it's life as a poem. Sean Tyrell does some beautiful work in this area, including his writing of the tune to "Shadow Hunter". Many great songs have start life as poems & probably don't get near the exposure until the songwiter comes along. Peter Bellamy is a great example of this with all he's done with the written word. We need more of those that have the talent to breathe new life into old words. Barry


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 25 Dec 99 - 10:03 PM

I can't even set words to music although I do write the occasional tune. As regards to your question, I can only echo what Liam has expressed so well.

Jon


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: sophocleese
Date: 25 Dec 99 - 10:17 PM

I do the same Mbo. I'd rather write a good tune to good words even if the words aren't original than put bad words to a good tune. Putting a tune to a poem is a way of interpreting the poem, of discovering it for yourself. You may help others to see it too. Go for it.


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: Marymac90
Date: 26 Dec 99 - 12:10 AM

Priscilla Herdman has written beautiful tunes for the words of an Australian poet whose name my brain will not give me right now, dammit! Those who currently write Sacred Harp tunes usually (but not always) use old verse. If this is where your muse leads you, go. You're not stealing royalties from anyone living or recently dead.

Mary McCaffrey


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Dec 99 - 08:21 AM

Would the Australian poet be Henry Lawson?

Putting together words and tune is making a song, even if the words come from one place and the tune comnes from another, and all you do is inbtroduce them to each other. It's a kind of Matchmaking.


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: Chet W.
Date: 26 Dec 99 - 06:23 PM

Absolutely. Keep it up. I've done the same, and if you want to hear a beautiful contemporary example, get Greg Brown's "Songs of Innocnce and Experience" in which he made William Blake's poems into lovely songs. Was just litening to it today. Create!

Chet


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Dec 99 - 09:16 PM

Of course it's legitimate! Always provided that you make sure that your melody does the lyric justice. I suspect that writing lyrics for existing melodies is often seen as an "easy" option; a lot of (frankly) rotten doggerel has been attached to first-rate tunes and has rather tended to succeed " on the coat-tails", so to speak, of the original, rather than on its own merits. If your tune can stand on its own, then you are an equal half of a songwriting partnership, despite the fact that your collaborator is long dead...

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 26 Dec 99 - 10:04 PM

Attaching new lyrics to existing tunes, usually the pop tunes of the day, has been a accepted practice for centuries. Actually I think we discussed this in an early thread. Woody Guthrie did this with many of his lyrics. Look at many of Ewan Macolls songs. They are usually listed as Words: Ewan Macoll, Tune: Trad. There is nothing wrong with this process and if anyone asked me if this created legitamate songs I'd say "Yes!"

Don


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: paddymac
Date: 26 Dec 99 - 10:19 PM

Well, meebo, you asked for serious comment and, IMO, there's no better way to express it than Liam & Don have done above. Go where ever, and whenever, the muse takes you.


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 26 Dec 99 - 11:37 PM

Bob Zentz, a singer/songwriter, folk-singer, multi-instrumentalist, from Norfolk, Virginia has set several poems to music. He has several albums on Folk-Legacy, CLICK HERE. For the last two years, at Common Ground on the Hill (CLICK HERE) right here in Westminster, my home town, he has taught a course on setting poetry to music. Of course, Bob has set several poems to music. See "Green Castle Jenny" on his "It's About Time" recording as a great example.

So, of course, it is legitimate.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: Bert
Date: 27 Dec 99 - 09:42 AM

Mbo, It's not only legitimate, the music is the HARD part.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: Gary T
Date: 27 Dec 99 - 05:38 PM

One might find it useful to distinguish between someone who writes both words and music (songwriter), someone who writes words only (lyricist), and someone who writes music only (tunesmith?). Now, "lyricist" is probably pretty clear to everybody, "tunesmith" should be fairly clear but I can't help but think there's some better/classier word for it, and "songwriter" could probably mean any of the three, depending upon the context and/or one's personal idea of what the word signifies. If you feel it necessary or helpful to indicate that you normally write the music only, you might consider "tunesmith" or some equivalent. It seems that everyone here has a pretty high opinion of what you do, Mbo, and it's just a matter of how precise you want your terminology to be.


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: Margo
Date: 28 Dec 99 - 01:44 AM

Oooohhhh yes indeedy it is legitimate! I do both. Right now I'm writing music to Robert Louis Stevenson poems. I love doing it! I don't know how the famous songwriter/lyricist teams such as Lerner and Lowe or Rogers and Hammerstein worked out their methodology, but I certainly consider the music end of it real art. Margo


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: Marymac90
Date: 28 Dec 99 - 02:44 AM

Yes, McGrath, Lawton it was that Priscilla Herdman put to beautiful music.

I've been to the Common Ground workshops a couple of times. They're very good.

Mary McCaffrey


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: MTed
Date: 28 Dec 99 - 12:30 PM

Mbo,

Gack!! I am horrified that the situation in the world of music and entertainment should be have fallen to such a low point as that you wouldn't know that you are a "composer"--

This is what the person who writes the melodies is called--and the fact that you don't write lyrics is not important--you join the ranks of such famous persons as Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Kurt Weill, Duke Ellington, Leonard Bernstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber--as to setting poetry to music, this is what composers have done for years--Beethoven's "Song of Joy" at the end of the Ninth Symphony, is a poem from Goethe--The greatest of all song composers was Hugo Wolfe, who wrote unbelievable melodies to great poems from the likes of Heine and Goethe-

I am in kind of a bad mood, and you will have to forgive me for being extreme, but I think you have been cheated by the ingnorant clods who pass themselves off as educators, because you were never taught about any of this--the garbage mongers who write for the newspapers and television are continually shoving personalities and celebrities in out faces and never acknowledge anything about the way that art is created, and this makes passive consumers out of everyone--no one lets you know how things are created, or what the language is, so that you don't recognize the talent in yourself--

A song is a combination of lyrics and music, and many, if not most songs, have lyrics from one person, and melody from another(sometimes even more people are involved), although they are not always in the room together--

When you get tired of writing music to old poems, you can look around to find someone with a notebook full of poetry and go to work on that--don't even worry about performing--if you write something good, there are plenty of people who will want to perform it--


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: Gary T
Date: 28 Dec 99 - 12:43 PM

Thank you, MTed--"composer"--I knew there was a better word than "tunesmith", but it wasn't coming to me. Another case of the CRS syndrome.


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: MMario
Date: 28 Dec 99 - 12:48 PM

true enough...CRS strikes hard and often....I knew there was a term i couldn't recall.


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: MTed
Date: 28 Dec 99 - 12:57 PM

If people didn't forget things, there would be no excuse to post anything--


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Subject: RE: OS: Legitimate Songwriting?
From: Mbo
Date: 28 Dec 99 - 01:52 PM

Thank you so much, everyone! You've really made me feel like what I'm doing is worthwhile. I feel now that maybe if I get famous one day, I can be help to others who are "lyrically impaired" like myself. I guess before, I was feeling a bit like I was cheating, knocking off four songs a day, while other spend months perfecting theirs; and instead of saying "Here's a song I wrote," I'd have to say "Here's a song I made out of Sir Walter Scott's poem 'MacGregor's Gathering' that I re-arranged the words." But now I'm reaffirmed, and I think I'm going to write some more songs today!

--Mbo


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