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Songwriting 101 (part2)

McGrath of Harlow 21 Apr 02 - 08:14 PM
CapriUni 22 Apr 02 - 11:40 AM
CapriUni 22 Apr 02 - 11:51 AM
MMario 22 Apr 02 - 11:54 AM
CapriUni 22 Apr 02 - 05:56 PM
Jeri 22 Apr 02 - 05:59 PM
CapriUni 22 Apr 02 - 06:33 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Apr 02 - 09:01 PM
Stephen L. Rich 22 Apr 02 - 09:09 PM
CapriUni 22 Apr 02 - 10:34 PM
CapriUni 22 Apr 02 - 11:03 PM
MMario 23 Apr 02 - 08:45 AM
CapriUni 23 Apr 02 - 12:13 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Apr 02 - 02:23 PM
CapriUni 23 Apr 02 - 02:41 PM
Jeri 23 Apr 02 - 05:20 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Apr 02 - 05:33 PM
Jeri 23 Apr 02 - 06:47 PM
CapriUni 23 Apr 02 - 11:18 PM
Stephen L. Rich 23 Apr 02 - 11:18 PM
GUEST,mg 24 Apr 02 - 12:42 AM
Stephen L. Rich 24 Apr 02 - 04:27 AM
CapriUni 24 Apr 02 - 10:56 AM
Stephen L. Rich 25 Apr 02 - 01:17 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 25 Apr 02 - 07:23 AM
CapriUni 25 Apr 02 - 12:05 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 25 Apr 02 - 12:27 PM
Uncle_DaveO 25 Apr 02 - 12:27 PM
CapriUni 25 Apr 02 - 12:44 PM
Stephen L. Rich 26 Apr 02 - 12:34 AM
Stephen L. Rich 26 Apr 02 - 01:43 AM
Stephen L. Rich 26 Apr 02 - 01:44 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 26 Apr 02 - 07:11 AM
CapriUni 26 Apr 02 - 09:14 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 26 Apr 02 - 03:16 PM
CapriUni 01 May 02 - 07:00 PM
Jeri 01 May 02 - 08:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 May 02 - 08:22 PM
CapriUni 01 May 02 - 11:37 PM
Jeri 02 May 02 - 05:37 PM
CapriUni 06 May 02 - 01:23 PM
MMario 06 May 02 - 01:30 PM
CapriUni 06 May 02 - 01:39 PM
MMario 06 May 02 - 03:22 PM
Uncle_DaveO 06 May 02 - 05:44 PM
Jeri 06 May 02 - 05:50 PM
CapriUni 06 May 02 - 06:21 PM
CapriUni 06 May 02 - 06:52 PM
MMario 06 May 02 - 07:17 PM
Uncle_DaveO 06 May 02 - 07:19 PM
Jeri 06 May 02 - 07:48 PM
CapriUni 06 May 02 - 09:44 PM
Stephen L. Rich 06 May 02 - 11:52 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 May 02 - 06:00 AM
CapriUni 07 May 02 - 12:45 PM
MMario 07 May 02 - 12:56 PM
CapriUni 07 May 02 - 01:03 PM
Jeri 07 May 02 - 02:50 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 May 02 - 03:23 PM
CapriUni 07 May 02 - 04:12 PM
CapriUni 07 May 02 - 06:06 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 May 02 - 08:43 PM
Stephen L. Rich 07 May 02 - 09:14 PM
CapriUni 08 May 02 - 11:43 AM
McGrath of Harlow 08 May 02 - 05:22 PM
CapriUni 08 May 02 - 07:20 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 May 02 - 08:23 PM
CapriUni 08 May 02 - 11:40 PM
Jeri 09 May 02 - 09:34 AM
CapriUni 09 May 02 - 12:27 PM
CapriUni 11 May 02 - 07:21 PM
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Subject: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Apr 02 - 08:14 PM

This thread was getting rather too long, but it's still only touched the surface oif what can be said about songwriting. So here is a part 2. And I'll put in the last few posts from part 1 for continuity, since it was a bit too long for some people to be able to download it.

Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 From: Night Owl Date: 20-Apr-02 - 02:17 AM

Jeri/CapriUni......I HOPE you two don't stop talking here in this thread. I'm finding the conversation and "peeks" into a songwriter's brain...(the processes you guys use etc.) and the advice being given fascinating....

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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 From: GUEST,mELVIN Date: 20-Apr-02 - 03:46 AM

Man,when I think about how to teach someone how to write a song, or worse yet, how to write a good song, it really blew my mind. Yeah, I've been formally instucted, and yes I've been in cowboy bands, jazz bands, symphonies, play by ear etc... So I thought what did I do wrong? Well one of the worst things I did was to enjoy my own work too much and "ignore" those little bothersome spots I knew were not just right. The thing that I think I did correctly was to listen to myself and be inspired by what was already happening.

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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 From: harvey andrews Date: 20-Apr-02 - 05:15 AM

Capri-Uni..what I meant was your comments told me you were a word person. The craft of good songwriting takes years to learn (and is great fun) but as I said before it's like ball sense.Throw a ball at a kid who's got it and he'll catch it and play happily, throw it at a kid who's not got it and he'll fumble and drop it and walk away to do something else. The one with the ball sense can take it as far as he wants, there's no point the other kid trying. So if you like playing with words, pick 'em up and run with them, you never know how far you'll get!

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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 From: Jeri Date: 20-Apr-02 - 08:48 AM

CapriUni, MidiText is fine. E-mailed MIDIs is fine.

I've grown up just enough that I pay my bills, sometimes on time, and I show up where I'm supposed to be. Other than that, my grown-upness is mostly a disguise I wear to hang around with other grown-ups, who are just as likely to be wearing grown-up disguises. (I wrote a song about this too. What a surprise.)

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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 From: CapriUni Date: 20-Apr-02 - 12:12 PM

Night Owl --

I wasn't thinking of taking the discussion (of general priciples, ect.) private, just specific songs... But maybe it's time to start that "Workshop" thread, where specific songs can be posted and critiqued.

You up for it, Jeri?

Are we fairly sure it won't turn into trollbait?

Warning: Thread Drift Zone Ahead>

Though having said that, I think it's time for a confession: I have a secret alter-ego. I am a Pro-fun Troll, and as such, a golden fire extinguisher is part of my basic equipment (along with a kazzoo, paper birthday hat, and a blow tickler party horn)

The Mission Statement of the Pro-Fun Trolls: To slurp bandwidth with thoughtful posts, praising what we enjoy before criticizing what we don't, enticing lurkers into the sunlight, and hosting the occasional hoedown.

Of course, like all trolls, our goal is to take over cyber-space. In our case, though, our tactic is to spread so much kindness and laughter that the nasty trolls won't have room to gnash their teeth ;-).

On Mudcat, I nominate Áine to be our Pro-Fun Troll brigade captain.

End Thread Drift Zone

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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 From: Jeri Date: 21-Apr-02 - 07:53 PM

CapriUni, I think the best way to ask for a critique of lyrics here is to start a thread and post 'em. I still don't think this is the best place to do it. It's like asking a roomful of people if they like your dress. Most of them will just keep quiet to stay out of trouble. Two will say it's too long, two will say it's too short. Two will love the color, two will hate it. Someone will point out it looks a bit like the dress Helvitica Noodleflip wore to dinner last Friday, but NO ONE will mention, or perhaps even notice, the the big rip under your arm. (Or if they do, they'll phrase it something like "I see you've done something very different and creative with your seams.")

You can try it. In my experience, people seem to like talking about songwriting in general and don't respond to requests for help with specific songs. There are probably many reasons why and I can only speculate about what they are.

McGrath thank you for your input. You were the only person who critiqued the song at all. My initial reactions to things often don't determine what I'll eventually do, and you've given me things to consider.

Bert, you got the other songs, and I thank you too.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 11:40 AM

Jeri, you wrote:

the best way to ask for a critique of lyrics here is to start a thread and post 'em. I still don't think this is the best place to do it. It's like asking a roomful of people if they like your dress. Most of them will just keep quiet to stay out of trouble. Two will say it's too long, two will say it's too short. Two will love the color, two will hate it. Someone will point out it looks a bit like the dress Helvitica Noodleflip wore to dinner last Friday, but NO ONE will mention, or perhaps even notice, the the big rip under your arm. (Or if they do, they'll phrase it something like "I see you've done something very different and creative with your seams.")

Well, yes -- if I just walk in and ask "Howja like my dress?" But if I start with something like: "I've got this dress almost the way I like it, but I'm having trouble with the underarm seams. If I make the hem strong enough to hold, it's all bulky and uncomfortable. If I go for comfort, it falls apart... I've gone for comfort, now, but I'd like a sleeve that holds together, too. Any tailors in the house who can give me some sewing tips to fix the problem?" I just might get at least one response that is helpful. And I'd certainly get more help than if I didn't ask for any at all, and just put the dress in my closet and never wore it... Though I might get a few "make it a sleeveless dress!" responses (which is advice, even though I don't want it at the moment, I might end up taking).

As for your sirens song, I was planning on responding, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't talking out the top of my head, so I wanted to go back and refresh my mythological knowledge before writing something, and then I got sidetracked, and then I forgot. Sorry.

In general, I agree with McGrath: Sirens are a mythological symbol with a lot of baggage on their lovely winged shoulders, and listeners to the song may get so wrapped up in their own associations, that they don't hear the unique message that you are trying to get across.

But I also agree with you, that the sirens got a bad rap. Here is what I do remember about them (that I wanted to double check), though:

The Sirens were originally nymphs, and playmates/friends of Kore, Demeter's daughter (commonly called Persephone in the mythology books, but she didn't get that title until after she became Hades' queen). Some say that they were granted their half-bird forms so that they could fly over the world and search for her. When they failed, they begged the gods to grant them eternal life, and eternally sweet voices, so they could sing their grief and remembence of Kore. The gods compromised: The sirens would be given eternal youth until the moment a ship successfully sailed past their island. So the sirens did everything they could to prevent that from happening: every sailor who heard them heard words that he most wanted to hear -- some also said that they sang their song in unison with the three Fates (who sang while they worked at spinning out each live's fate).

They had a singing contest with the Muses, once, and the Muses won. The prizes were crowns of feathers that had been plucked by the sirens' wings.

Odysseus beat them by having his men tie him to the mast of his ship, and also had Orpheus sing a competing song. Orpheus' song had greater power, and when the ship sailed safely past, the sirens lept into the sea and commited suicide.

After that, they dwelt in the land of the Dead, and the ancient Greeks would pray to them when they were grieving the loss of a loved one, to help them express their grief.

So I agree -- the sirens were not evil, exactly. But their singing was not particularly happy, either...

html fixed by mudelf ;-)


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 11:51 AM

Well, geez! I thought I had turned off the italics after the quote from Jeri... (and turned off the underlining after "evil"...

Oh, well!


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: MMario
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 11:54 AM

I agree that it seems to be easier to talk about songwriting in general terms.

As far as specifics go - it is difficult for me to analyze a reaction to lyrics or a tune or a song (if I am lucky enough to hear lyric and tune together ) I can report a reaction - favourable or un - but rarely can I figure out why.

On the other hand - jeri - goosebumps may not be an informative or contstructive critique - but they are a critique!


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 05:56 PM

MMario -- but are goosebumps really a critique, or simply a reaction? ;-)

~~~

Okay, anywhooo.... Let me take the plunge and see if the suggestion I made above (about asking for specific help) works :-).

This is one of the songs I've written that I really like, but I wonder if it could be better (as Melvin said in part one, sometimes we enjoy our work so much, we don't notice how bad the imperfections are).

I wrote it as a gift for a neighbor for her baby shower -- I gave her a framed printout of the score, along with a baby rattle version of a rain stick. When I emailed her the midi, I got news back that her older daughter was trying to learn it, so she could sing it to her baby sister -- but she didn't say how easy the song was to learn.

This is one of the songs where my father informed me that the words don't match with the tune. And one of the little niggling things that bothers me is that in a couple of places, in order to make the midi play the way I hear it in my head, I've had to tie some notes so they extend past the end of a measure. Could that be contributing to my dad's ear confusion? Do any of you guys have the same confusion? And if so, what are some ways to fix it? ("Any tailors in the house")

I'll put the lyrics first:

THE SONG THE RAINDROPS SING
by Ann Magill

Sweet daughter mine, never you fear,
Though cold winds blow across the sky.
Listen close and you will hear
The rain is singing "Lullaby":

"Lulla, lulla, lulla. Baby, don't you cry."
This is the song the raindrops sing
In the quiet of the night.

Sweet daughter mine, oh hush your cries
Hear my heart beat with love's refrain.
Dream your dances through the night
To the sweet music of the rain

"Lulla, lulla, lulla. Dreams can give you flight."
This is the song the raindrops sing
With the wonder of the night.

~~~

Well?

MIDI file: SARAH'~1.MID

Timebase: 192

Name: The Song the Raindrops Sing
Text: By by Ann Magill
Tempo: 090 (666666 microsec/crotchet)
TimeSig: 3/4 24 8
Start
0000 1 62 110 0094 0 62 000 0002 1 67 110 0160 0 67 000 0032 1 65 110 0094 0 65 000 0002 1 64 110 0160 0 64 000 0032 1 64 110 0094 0 64 000 0002 1 62 110 0160 0 62 000 0032 1 59 110 0094 0 59 000 0002 1 60 110 0160 0 60 000 0128 1 67 110 0094 0 67 000 0002 1 64 110 0160 0 64 000 0032 1 65 110 0160 0 65 000 0032 1 69 110 0256 0 69 000 0032 1 65 110 0094 0 65 000 0002 1 60 110 0160 0 60 000 0032 1 62 110 0094 0 62 000 0002 1 64 110 0256 0 64 000 0224 1 67 110 0160 0 67 000 0032 1 65 110 0094 0 65 000 0002 1 62 110 0160 0 62 000 0032 1 65 110 0094 0 65 000 0002 1 62 110 0160 0 62 000 0032 1 59 110 0160 0 59 000 0032 1 60 110 0160 0 60 000 0032 1 65 110 0094 0 65 000 0002 1 62 110 0160 0 62 000 0032 1 64 110 0094 0 64 000 0002 1 67 110 0160 0 67 000 0032 1 65 110 0094 0 65 000 0002 1 62 110 0160 0 62 000 0032 1 59 110 0094 0 59 000 0002 1 60 110 0528 0 60 000 0240 1 65 110 0160 0 65 000 0032 1 62 110 0094 0 62 000 0002 1 64 110 0160 0 64 000 0032 1 60 110 0094 0 60 000 0002 1 62 110 0160 0 62 000 0032 1 64 110 0094 0 64 000 0098 1 65 110 0160 0 65 000 0032 1 64 110 0094 0 64 000 0002 1 64 110 0160 0 64 000 0032 1 60 110 0160 0 60 000 0032 1 59 110 0190 0 59 000 0194 1 65 110 0160 0 65 000 0032 1 67 110 0190 0 67 000 0002 1 62 110 0094 0 62 000 0002 1 64 110 0160 0 64 000 0032 1 64 110 0094 0 64 000 0002 1 65 110 0190 0 65 000 0002 1 67 110 0094 0 67 000 0002 1 64 110 0160 0 64 000 0032 1 60 110 0160 0 60 000 0032 1 62 110 0094 0 62 000 0002 1 65 110 0160 0 65 000 0032 1 62 110 0094 0 62 000 0002 1 64 110 0160 0 64 000 0032 1 59 110 0160 0 59 000 0032 1 60 110 0544 0 60 000
End

This program is worth the effort of learning it.

To download the latest version of MIDItext and get instructions on how to use it click here

ABC format:

X:1
T:The Song the Raindrops Sing
M:3/4
Q:1/4=90
K:C
DG2FE2|ED2B,C2|-CGE2F2|A3FC2|DE5|G2FD2F|D2B,2C2|
FD2EG2|FD2B,C2|-C6|F6|-F2DE2C|D2E2F2|EE2C2B,|
-B,3F2G|-GDE2EF|-FGE2C2|DF2DE2|B,2C4|-C7/4||


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Jeri
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 05:59 PM

MMario, thanks for the goosebumps comment! Yes, it is a critique. I guess I'm guilty of always suspecting there's something horribly wrong even if there isn't. (Sometimes, nothing's wrong, but it almost always isn't horrible.) When people say nice things, I figure there are less pleasant things they're NOT saying. This is seldom true when comments come from people I trust. One of these days I'll learn how to deal with the horrors of people saying nice things to me. ;-)

CapriUni, it sounds like there haven't been problems with the responses I've received. It's just the questions I asked weren't specific enough.

If the word "sirens" has proved to be a sticking point to two people, maybe I should replace it. Thing is, I need something that means the same sort of thing - people or things that compel you to come with a sound - and anything I can think of at the moment winds up with the hearer's death. Well, maybe not faerie music - as long as you don't eat or drink anything under the hill and come out 100 years later. Maybe that's not even too bad. The world could actually be a better place after 100 years. I also think faeries pop up in a lot of songs already. Oh well. Will research mythologies and see if I can come up with a good singer-who-compels.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 06:33 PM

Jeri --

Yes, it is imortant to ask the right questions... no matter what you're trying to do. Have you ever read The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy? If so, you'll know that even the most thoughtful answers in the world doesn't mean diddly squat without the question to give it context.

As for your song, fairies are good (as in a possible good choice, that is -- morally, they're ambiguous ;-)). Also, maybe there is some other nymph that sings that wasn't burdened with a curse from a god. And if you treat them with respect, they reward you with wonderful gifts. Also, maybe there is some other nymph that sings that wasn't burdened with a curse from a god.

One of my favorite fairy stories also gives a possible explaination for why songs get stuck in our heads (and I seem to remember that the story itself exists in one of its incarnations as a Gaelic ballad):

One night, a humpbacked man was walking home at night when he heard some beatiful fiddle music drifting from over the hill, and he sneaked closer to investigate.

Sure enough it was a fairy ring, and when they say that they'd been spotted, they compelled the man to join them in the dance.

Their singing was very beautiful, but the song was very repetitive. They sang:

Monday, Tuesday,
Monday, Tuesday,
Monday, Tuesday, Wednessday

Monday, Tuesday,
Monday, Tuesday,
Monday, Tuesday, Wednessday

After this went on for a while, the man very quietly, and in perfect rhythm with the music, finished the line with:

"Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday."

"Thank you!" cried the fairies. "We've been wanting to finish that song, but we couldn't remember the words. How shall we repay you?"

"Well," said the man, "I have everything I need. I only wish I didn't have this horrible hunchback.

And in that instant, his hunch was gone.

The next day, he met an old acquaintance who was also a hunchback.

"Jack!" the acquaintance called out to him, "what happened to you? Why are you so straight?"

And Jack told him everything that happened the night before.

That night, the second hunchback went to that same spot in the road, hoping to meet the fairies, so that they could remove his hunch, too. Sure enough, there, in the very same spot, the fairies were singing and dancing.

"Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday!" the man called out, not waiting to listen where they were in the song.

The fairies were so angry at having their song interrupted, that not only did they not remove his hump, they piled the one they'd taken off of Jack on top of it.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 09:01 PM

Sirens, (or mermaids, who are really the same) always carry the overtones of leading the listener to death, no fault of theirs maybe. And in real life, the same of course applies to moths who follow flames instead of the moon (which I believe is what they are supposed to be aiming for). The calling and the light in Jeri's song is surely somebody calling a loved one home, though the singer isn't part of it.

If I was writing that verse I think it'd be more like this:

Your love is a lighted window in the wild,
I hear you calling, far away, but strong.
I stand apart, on hushed and shadowed path,
And yearn to join the vision or the song.

For anyone who is interested in the idea of using Greek mythology in song, I'd strongly recommend getting hold of one of Anne Lister's records.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 09:09 PM

Remind me never to get fairies mad at me.

I've been following this thread for a while and a few questions/comments have occured.

1) In dicussing the pure theory of songwriting (such as it is) it is almost inevitable that we will, from time to time, quote from existing songs to illustrate a point.

2) A certain amount of theory is going to come out during critiques of a specific song.

3) Just as many of us as not would seem to have been writing songs for quite some time and, for many of those who have, a discussion of pure theory could become tiresome very quickly and deprive the discussion of experinced input.

4) Even in a discussion of pure theory one is bound to develope a question of how a given concept applies to a song that one has just written.

5) Which leads me to my question: Is it actually possible to discuss theory and our individual song seperately?

Stephen


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 10:34 PM

Stephen, never get fairies mad at you *BG*.

Of course, that story could also be a cautionary tale for folks who go to song circles and always insist on jumping in with accompaniment without being asked, and without really listening to the singer, first... After all, the Faerie can walk among us in disguise, and can you really be sure who that mysterious person sitting by the door really is? ;-/

As for discussing abstract theory and specific examples, your points are right on. And that doesn't just apply to the craft of song writing, either. I never took an English class that relied entirely on lectures, with no reading or writing included, nor have I taken a science course that didn't have a weekly lab session.

And McGrath, I like your alternate verse. I know what you mean about the moth metaphor -- it's a common image in love songs, but it's always made me flinch. And like the sailors lured by the sirens' song, moths are being fooled -- not a good metaphor for true love at all: getting drawn to a fatal end by something artificial that can not love you back. But then, what do I know? I've been told that Romeo and Juliet is a romantic story :::Shudders:::

Or, if Jeri really wants a singer in the song, how about overhearing a mother singing a lullaby to her child? Just a thought off the top of my head...


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 11:03 PM

Jeri -- I had a lightbulb moment (for a good singer in mythology)!

Orpheus!

He was the one who outsang the sirens, and even soften the heart of Death himself with his song ... and legend says that he tamed wild animals with his song, and that evem rocks would leave their places to get closer and listen. ...He met an unfortunate end, but eventually became the central figure in an Ancient Greek mystery religion...

If you want your singer to be female, you could have her be the sister or daughter of Orpheus ...

Just a thought... though the lines would scan differently...


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: MMario
Date: 23 Apr 02 - 08:45 AM

Jeri - what about "The Lure" - or given Capri's suggestion above "Orpheus's Lure".

Which ties into another thing I see in the lyrics - this is not a summoning to death, but a summoning to LIFE - a song that awakens one from the semi-death of apathy.

YMMV


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 23 Apr 02 - 12:13 PM

That's what I was thinking, MMario... Orpheus' singing enabling Euridice to return to life -- though he blew it when he turned to look at her too soon (though, according to this website: ANCIENT GREEK MYSTICISM, in some versions, he succeeded). I'm a little fuzzy on how he died, though. I know he was torn to pieces by angry women, but I'm not exactly sure why.... Maybe because his music gave him more power than a human being should have. Anyway, I do know that he was seen as the founder of a mystical religion that taught that the human soul was immortal and could be redeemed, and that when Christianity was young, the early sects in Greece borrowed many ideas from Orpheism to describe and talk about the Christ...

Anyway, enough mythological thread drift.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Apr 02 - 02:23 PM

But Orpheus is specifically calling his wife Eurydice back to life. In the song the singer is overhearing somebody calling to a loved one, and observing the relationship from the outside.

I can't think of a mythological equivalent of this. Unless you count Coleridge's Ancient Mariner as mythological, which it is an many ways, and stretch this passage in Part Four rather considerably, :

Beyond the shadow of the ship,
I watched the water-snakes:
They moved in tracks of shining white,
And when they reared, the elfish light
Fell off in hoary flakes.

Within the shadow of the ship
I watched their rich attire:
Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
They coiled and swam; and every track
Was a flash of golden fire.

O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I bless-ed them unaware:
Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessed them unaware.

The self-same moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 23 Apr 02 - 02:41 PM

McGrath,

Actually, as I remember the story (and it may be a different version than the one you learned), Orpheus journeyed to Hades and begged for Euridice's release, and sang to Hades himself, to soften the god's heart. He wasn't singing directly to his wife.

In anycase, the narrator of this song could be overhearing one lover sing to (or about) another, and compare that to the singing of Orpheus -- putting himself in the "shoes" of the other shades in the realm of the Dead, who also overheard Orpheus's singing...

Jeri? Are you there? It's your song. What do you think? Is this discussion helpful, or just distracting?


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Jeri
Date: 23 Apr 02 - 05:20 PM

I think I may make the verse more general rather than more specific. If there's this much discussion about Orpheus here, it's going to be more noticable in the song. I'll get to that line, and people will think "Orpheus who?" I don't need a mythological figure - I need something that calls people as a metaphor, and I need it to mean something to the most people.

Maybe something like the following. I know it sounds a bit clumsy. (First person: "You're love's a distant campfire light." Second person: "Excuse me?!") I"m just trying to convey the image at this point.

Your love's a distant campfire light, a sweet, compelling flame
And the chorus 'round it, far away but strong
One stands apart, on hushed and shadowed path,
And yearns to join the vision or the song.

This also does something else I like - it ties the double metaphor of light and sound together. I wondered if the song was somewhat confusing because I'd had both of those things in there before. This would put them both in one place, but I don't know if the image is strong enough. In any case, I think I need to let the song mulch in my brain for a while.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Apr 02 - 05:33 PM

"I don't need a mythological figure - I need something that calls people as a metaphor, and I need it to mean something to the most people."

Sometimes you get so close to something in a song, an image, a phrase, a line or a rhyme, and it won't come into shape; and then when you stand back you're better off without it. And sometime that is the image or the line or the phrase that kicked off the song in the first place, and thta can make it harder to drop it. (It's still there to use in another song though.)

"One stands" - that sounds a bit like the Queen making a Christmas broadcast. "I" or "He" or "She" might be a way of avoiding that.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Jeri
Date: 23 Apr 02 - 06:47 PM

I could always sing "we." Just kidding.

You're right about that "getting too close to it" bit. I find it's hard to let go of anything, and there are times when you just have to drop ideas, words, lines or entire verses. It may be the hardest thing about writing - being able to cut out the things that just won't work.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 23 Apr 02 - 11:18 PM

Jeri --

(Once again, I try to reply -- first time, I canceled instead of sent, second time, aol shut off on me 'cause I was taking too long :::sigh:::)

For the record, I really like the campfire image -- not confusing at all -- it's a concrete, "everyday" image that nearly everyone is familiar with (if they haven't sat at a campfire themselves, they've seen it in the movies).

I went back to part one and reread the whole song... and I noticed that that line

One stands apart, on hushed and shadowed path

is the only one where the singer isn't referred to in the first person (me, myself, and I). I find that I fall into with certain lines in my poetry and essays, usually when the emotion or conflict expressed gets stronger than I'm prepared to deal with. Which is a big signal to me that I'm really "on to something".

~~~

Meanwhile, I'm sorry about the Orpheus thread drift... I've been interested in mythology since I can remember, and often forget that this is not common knowledge for most folks...


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 23 Apr 02 - 11:18 PM

Rewrite is always the toughest part of the process. But, it almost always makes better songs. Think of it as a character building experience (Yes, I know. We don't need to build any more characters. we have plenty around here already :-)).

On the subject of rewrite, however, I submit the following. I wrote this a couple of weeks ago and got stuck. Part of that was because I wasn't sure where to go with it and partly because it's so preposterously Dylanesque that, at the time, it was kind of annoying.

I'm not convinced, however, that it ought to be abandoned. I'm open to suggestions on how or if this thing can be saved.

Currently Untitled

You can feel the excitement, Histrionics everywhere, Lazy folks are getting work done. Cynics transiently care.

The hyped up major benchmark Came and went but we're still here. That doesn't mean that nothing happened To the things that we've held dear.

The con artists and liars Claim they'll teach us how to fly. The simple act of walking Is too obvious to try.

There are voices in the wilderness Who song a different song. They recognize the folly of "My country right or wrong".

That's where I got stuck. Any suggestion, ideas, wisecracks?

Stephen


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 12:42 AM

Stephen..my personal opinion, and that is all it is, is that the last two lines fit "the rules" ...as in the syllables fit the rhythm etc..short words.. (except for con artists..how about just con men..persons?? or artists..a syllable should be cut.. also how about you feel the excitement and cut out the can.

The first two lines don't. Histrionics has too many syllables. I'd maybe say hysterics. Cynics transiently care...too many syllables and words that people really don't use. They really don't use the word histrionics either in my neck of the woods. I'd say cynics do not care. Lazy folks etc. has too many syllables. How about lazy folks are working..

Hyped up major bookmark..would anyone really say that in speech? Maybe in email...also too many syllables. And then that doesn't mean that nothing happened..double negative..tøo many syllables...how about something awful (or whatever) happened to the things that we held dear..


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 04:27 AM


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 10:56 AM

I wasn't sure where to go with it and partly because it's so preposterously Dylanesque that, at the time, it was kind of annoying.

Heh. There was a time, because my family were good, politically active folkies,* every Christmas would include several folk music albums, including the latest Dylan, and we'd play them all day. Then, one year, Mom banned Dylan from the gift list -- by the end of his albums, we'd all be carping and sniping at each other. Looking back on it, I think that was because his unrelenting message was that the world is going to Hell, and it's all Their fault, and we'd internalize that message and turn it on the people around us.

The first 3 of your 4 verses are all about what the other fools are doing wrong, or doing right for the wrong reasons (though I do like the line The simple act of walking is too obvious to try). Seems to me that the direction the song wants to go in is in the last verse, with the voices in the wilderness who are trying to speak up for peace and justice. Perhaps you should move that to the front, and spend the song expanding that idea -- talk about how there are some, in the middle of all the hype, who are quietly working for peace, and then, if you really must put down the fools, save it for the last verse, as a contrast.

*(My mother was president of Clearwater when that organization sued G.E. for dumping PCBs in the Hudson... she also was the first person to on the board to back Pete Seeger's plans for the Revival)


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 01:17 AM

CapriUni -- I'll try it and see where it goes. Thankyou.

GUEST,mg -- I'll give your comments some thought as well. Thankyou.

Stephen


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 07:23 AM

"We are drowning in the details of life
Seeking answers without any clues
We all think that we're playing Wheel of Fortune
While our lives are more like Trivial Pursuit

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 12:05 PM

LOL, Jerry! Got a tune for that one?

Stephen, I hope my suggestions relieve your writer's block, rather than add to it...


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 12:27 PM

Yep... I wrote the song while out for a walk, just to catch a breather from my Father talking about how to do things...

"I do it this way, 'cause it's the way I do it
And I've been doin' it this way for fifty years
And there's a comfort in knowing the way to do it
And it saves your brain from all that wear and tear

Chorus previously posted

The unexamined life is not worth living
At least that's what I hear the wise men say
But I'm too busy keeping things in order
And there's never enough hours in the day

There's another verse kicking around somewhere... the song came in about ten minutes and it's just a silly little song.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 12:27 PM

Stephen:

There are voices in the wilderness
Who song a different song.
They recognize the folly
of "My country right or wrong".

Seem to me that "voices" are not "who". People are "who", but voices are things. Yes, you can say that "voices" is a synecdoche for people, but it bothers me, for one.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 12:44 PM

"Synecdoche"! That's the word... I've been trying to remember that word for ages... And the flippant side of myself wants to ask: "is that anywhere near Schenectady?" ;-)


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 26 Apr 02 - 12:34 AM

Jerry -- I wouldn't call that song "silly". That's a very astute series of observations. Finish the darned thing then send it to me. I love singing thoughts like that.

CapriUni -- You comments were very helpful. I haven't had time to act on them yet. But, I will very soon. Thankyou.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 26 Apr 02 - 01:43 AM

Uncle DaveO -- you are quite correct. It should read "wich sing a different song". Thankyou.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 26 Apr 02 - 01:44 AM

Let's try this again without the typo -- "which sing a different song". Did you ever get one of those lives...?


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 26 Apr 02 - 07:11 AM

Stephen: Will do... the song is finished.. I just never do it. But, I think that I have it on tape somewhere. I'll send you some stuff. Of course, it would help if you'd e-mail me your address to gospelmessengers@msn.com.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 26 Apr 02 - 09:14 AM

Just a thought, Stephen... the word "That" can refer to both people and things, and that might fit with both the gut reaction and grammer parts of the mind...


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 26 Apr 02 - 03:16 PM

"I know that I should spend more time in thinking
But thinking only makes me more confused
So if my life's a little short on substance
I'm afraid that it's the best that I can do

Third verse, Stephen and Capri Uni. I had to go dig out a tape to refresh my memory..

This is the eleventy-third favorite song I've written. I think I've only written eleventy-four.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 01 May 02 - 07:00 PM

Just a note: I've been putting off actually writing the "I can fly" song... I had a magazine article deadline coming up.

But I submitted that piece to the editor yesterday, and now I'm turning my thoughts back to this project (I feel the need to always be writing something, ya know?), and I've found myself puzzling out something.

Back in part one, McGrath pointed out that the Peter Pan reference in the song might reinforce the public perception of the disabled as perpetual children...

(A fact I was reminded of when NPR Sunday Edition did a report on the 25th anniversary of the sit in staged by disabled to get Congress and the president to enforce a disability rights law ... they frame the report musically with an orchestral version of "Twinkle, twinkle, little star" [!!!])

But...

It was the Peter Pan aspect of that scene in my dream that has been the hook for all these years, and kept it fresh in my memory -- the way Peter Pan says "I can fly!" almost like "I dare you!". So I suspect it would probably be the strongest hook for the song, too... The fact is that Peter Pan has stayed a boy forever not because he can't grow up -- he refuses to grow up -- it's an act of defiance.

So, the puzzle is this: How do I write both aspects (the ability of the spirit to fly when the body cannot walk, and defying the adult-powers-that-be who try to define who I should be) into the song at once without one idea getting in the way of the other? Is it impossible?

(Oh, and I don't mean to be pushy, or anything, but I was wondering, did anybody get a chance to listen to the tune that I wrote for the lullaby above?)


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Jeri
Date: 01 May 02 - 08:03 PM

Both things you mentioned are about defying expectations - the expectation that your spirit should be as humbled by gravity as your legs, and the expectation that you should make yourself fit into into that infamous "round hole." In short, "you can't make me feel/believe/act that way."

I just had a listen to the tune, and I LIKE it. The last line is a bit hard to figure out how to sing - "In the quiet of the night." The melody is a little quirky, but sounds great that way. I'll take a look at the notation later, just to see how you put the dots down. In any case. quirky is often good.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 May 02 - 08:22 PM

Stephen - maybe "they sang" - less impersonal than which or that, but still can apply to voices as well as people.

The other flying myth, classical this time, is Icarus, and he's not frightened of anything; maybe you could have some kind of transition from once to the other. Though of course he ends up falling. (Ann Lister, whom I gave a link to in the first part of this thread I think, has a good song about him too.)

But anyway don't let other people's fancies about Peter Pan put you off. People think they know about Peter Pan because they've seen the cartoon, or even a cut-down version of the play. There's more to it than that. The Pan bit is intentionally referring to the God Pan, who is in no sense a child. I think one of the idea is that a child would see him as a child. The God Pan generally represents the wild, and freedom from human restraints.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 01 May 02 - 11:37 PM

Jeri:

The last line is a bit hard to figure out how to sing - "In the quiet of the night."

Maybe that's what my dad meant... Can you receive .wav files? If so, I could email you the sound of me singing it (and maybe what I think is an accurate score is really 3 miles off ;-))

McGrath:

Yes, I know Peter Pan refers to the Pan... Probably one reason why I like the character so much. :::heh, heh::: (as a Capricorn, I'm half goat myself ;-)).

The challenge is to write it so all these multiple layers of meaning are clear within the limited space of a song (even less elbow room there than in your standard poem) when 2 out of three layers are really esoteric.

I'm thinking I'll start by trying to write my ideas first into a Shakespearean Sonnet... most of the time, the poetry I write is free verse, but I'm fairly familiar with that form, and its simple rhythm would be easier to match a melody to, than say a dactylic hexameter, or sumtin'...

I have a collection of Barrie's plays on my shelf. I just may go back and read the original.

I think I'll stay away from Icarus -- too tragic. The whole point of the song is that my life is not tragic.

Thanks for your imput, Guys! I 'preciate it...


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Jeri
Date: 02 May 02 - 05:37 PM

CapriUni, yes, I can receive .wav files. My connection is pretty slow, though, so maybe just the chorus bit? If you don't have it elsewhere, click to e-mail.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 06 May 02 - 01:23 PM

Well, I've been musing over the song-to-be that I thought would have the hook: "I can't walk, but I can fly!"... But every time I tried to write around that line, the song was letting me know it felt pinched and hemmed in, so I gave my mind free reign, and this is what came out, so far, at least. It needs some way to come full circle (or at least full spiral) and I'm not sure I like the meter. No tune, yet, and no title... but it still wants to come out and play, so here it is:

"Magic belongs to children
In the realm of Neverland
Where boys are boys forever
With their captain Peter Pan.

"Magic belongs to children."
These words were said to me:
"Just grow up, and face the Truth
And the Truth will set you free:

"There is no Puff the Dragon,
There's no Hundred Acre Wood.
Put away your silly dreams
For they won't do any good."

But every tale of magic
That's been told throughout the years
Repeats the same thing over
With a message loud and clear:

That magic is the power
Rising up from Life's own spring:
A strong and shining river
That unites all living things.

And magic is the power
That can break the chains that bind
And shatter walls between us.
No, I won't leave that behind.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: MMario
Date: 06 May 02 - 01:30 PM

BRAVA! late for a meeting - more later.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 06 May 02 - 01:39 PM

Thanks for the word of encouragement. It's good to know I'm on the right track...


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: MMario
Date: 06 May 02 - 03:22 PM

What you have written hits me in a number of ways - first because I've always fought the concept that "growing up" means having to give up the wonder of childhood - the ability to suspend disbelief; or conversely the ability to believe

secondly because a significant fraction of my income comes from a job stongly enhanced BY suspension of disbelief - which just goes to show that the former concept is wrong in at least certain instances...

magic=imagination=suspension of disbelief

"Truth" doesn't always equal "fact" - and is malleable; give 12 people the same "facts" about a controversial issue and you are likely to come up with a minimum of two "truths" - more likely 10 or 12!

In medicine, in psychology it has been shown that belief or the suspension of disbelief can make a difference - sometimes slight - sometimes vast.

Any-hoo; I LIKE {okay - closer to "love it!" - but the point being it is an emotional reaction not a reasoned one) it as it stands -and for numerous reasons it speaks to me and resonates with me; but yes, it would probably be better if it could be resolved somehow - a reason or statement of why the magic shouldn't be left behind. (Other then it is fun)

I think possible make your last little "verselet" into a chorus of sorts? But not necesarily after EVERY verse. And possibly put it at the beginning? It be cleaner to resolve if the "conflict" gets stated right at the beginning.

"yust my tinkin' on it"

YMMV

MMario


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 06 May 02 - 05:44 PM

CapriUni:

In your next-to-last verse, seems to me that you could improve it in terms of rhyme by saying "life's own springs", plural, rather than singular. Means the same and rhymes more directly. No big deal, but a little better, to MY taste anyway.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Jeri
Date: 06 May 02 - 05:50 PM

My thoughts...
You've written a song that isn't as personal is "I can't walk but I can fly" would be. (Are you familiar with Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Why Walk When You Can Fly?") It's wide open to everyone, and we all have to deal with that stifling of imagination that happens when we grow up. It doesn't just speak to me - it speaks for me.

The meter will fit a waltz rhythm (3/4) OR a march (2/4). The overall feel is that you've got two verses, then a third that sort of finishes the thought in the first two. Then you've got two more with a third finishing-the-thought verse. You could use that idea with the tune - an A part for two verses, a B for the third, then repeat.

I'll have to disagree with MMario about using the last verse as a chorus. The whole song builds up to that. If you use it too early, it'll take the "bang" out of the end. I can see a chorus using the "Magic belongs to children" line. I can also see no chorus at all.

And no more of that "rhythmically challenged" stuff!!! You may have a problem writing it down perfectly, but these words have a strong, clear rhythm.

Now come my recommendations for improvment:
PLEASE WRITE A TUNE FOR IT!

Because of a wrong date setting on a Mudcat server, this message may appear out of order. It was actually posted on 6-May, not 5-May. --JoeClone, 7-May-02.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 06 May 02 - 06:21 PM

MMario --

I'm glad you LIKE it :-D.

As it stands now, I think it is somewhere between 1/2 to 2/3 on its way to the resolution (as I said: like a spiral -- ending at the same point where it began, but on a different level).

It's always been a pet peeve of mine that, in nearly every fantasy for children, magic is used as a metaphor for personal power, and yet at some point the young hero grows "too old" for magic and must leave it behind.

The unspoken (but to me, all too clear) messasge is: "It is okay for children to believe in magic, and pretend they have the power to change the world," (When they really don't have much power in their daily lives). "But when they grow up, they'll have to put all those silly ideas behind them, and learn to tow the line and uphold the status quo."

The way I see it (and where I want to end the song, eventually), childhood is the time to learn about magic, as it is the time to learn about all things important and complex, but it is with the wisdom of adulthood that the true power of magic can be used to change the world for the better.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 06 May 02 - 06:52 PM

Hmm... I typed up a whole long reply to MMario on how I I was planning to resolve the song and clicked on [Sumbit Messege]... Wonder where it went? I'll get back to that in a bit.

In the meantime, Uncle Dave-O, I wanted to suggest that all of life comes from a single, sacred source. So what if I change the last line in that verse to: "That flows through each living thing"?

Now, MMario, you wrote:

magic=imagination=suspension of disbelief

I see it differently. To me, Magic=Power of Change (granted, the power of change depends on the power of the imagination, but the car is more than the gasoline ;-)), and it's always struck me as ironic that our culture allows children to believe in magic when they have little real power over the course of their lives, but expects people to stop believing in magic once they reach adulthood, and have the wisdom and oportunity to use magic for real.

After the last verse posted above, I want to write something about rediscovering the magic I've almost forgotten and using it to heal the world. And I want to end by bringing it back to children -- teaching magic to children so they can use it in adulthood to continue to heal the world for generations to come.

(there! let's see if this works, this time)


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: MMario
Date: 06 May 02 - 07:17 PM

yes - I can see that. My magic= is strictly my own interpretation - and is only one direction it can take. I like your slant on it.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 06 May 02 - 07:19 PM

Capri Uni:

That takes care of the little rhyming quibble I had. I see that it does change the rhythm of that last line, which is no big deal unless you consider it so.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Jeri
Date: 06 May 02 - 07:48 PM

"That binds each living thing?" Nah - sounds kinky. "Links?" Maybe too mechanical. I dunno - it didn't bother me the way it was. You could use "springs" as a verb:
That magic is the power
And from Life's own (something - "well?") it springs

The magic, to me, is what happens when people believe they can do something extraordinary and things just come together in the right place, the right time. The most magical thing about such an occurrence is that people DO believe enough to make it happen.

Funny - your song reminds me very much of one I wrote. The meter is even very close:
When we sing a spark within us wakes and is fanned into a flame
To those who hear our spirit's voice, it calls in them the same
And soon that light within us grows and wells up like a spring
And it fills the barren emptiness, and it's why we sing.

I am simile woman. Hear me roar like Niagara Falls, or perhaps a blast furnace...


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 06 May 02 - 09:44 PM

You're right, Dave... I added an extra syllable without realizing it. I'll sleep on the line.

Now, about the meter (or meter in songs in general). I'm not sure whether to have a strict match on the number of syllables per each line, or match the number of accents in each line....any advice on that matter?

And just as an aside: when I was in grad school, I did a paper on how W. B. Yeats' belief in magic influenced his writing. He was an active member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn for some 30 years. And reproduced in one of my sources was a letter he wrote to other members of the order that was so beautiful it brought a lump to my throat. I don't remember the exact words, but the gist was that the life's work of all magicians was to (and I think this is an exact quote): "...break down the walls between people and the fountain of their lives, and not to build new walls." which is where I got the imagery for this song...

~~~

Oh, and Jeri... be careful with the words you use -- first time I glanced at the word "simile" I thought it was senile ... and I know that aint the case!


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 06 May 02 - 11:52 PM

CapriUni -- That lyric is a wonderful thought. Once a melody suggests itself it is likely that you will find youself fine-tuning that lyric accordingly. Keep up the good work!

Stephen


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 May 02 - 06:00 AM

English metre works on beats or accents rather than syllables, you can put extra syllables in often. The thing is, say it out loud and listen to yourself saying it.

One trick is to use an existing tune to get the metre ironed out, and then make up a new one to fit the lines. That's in the case where the tune doesn't come along with the lines.

And another trick with a song with a complicated idea to get across is to write it out in a prose form, to get the idea clear, and the proportion between the different parts. And then turn it into a metric form, and maybe to work in a rhyming scheme. (Though rhymes aren't as essential in a song as people tend to assume. Getting it to scan to fit the tune is what really matters. There are lots of good songs which do completely without rhyme.)


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 07 May 02 - 12:45 PM

Stephen:

That lyric is a wonderful thought.

Thanks, I think so, if I say so myself... Nearly everyone agrees that it's very sad that Jackie Paper grows up and never comes to visit Puff anymore. But I've never heard anyone speak up and question why that must be so (but then again, there are many songs I've never heard).

Once a melody suggests itself it is likely that you will find youself fine-tuning that lyric accordingly.

I've only written a handful of "doodle" songs, as I call them, but even so, this one is unusual for me. The first verse and its meter came into my head almost immediately, and ever since, like a bad jingle, the rhythm has been stuck there. But in the meantime, there has been no melody to go with it, and no melody peeking 'round a corner in my mind, either.

Perhaps it's the bad jingle aspect, but I find the meter as it stands very annoying -- for all the talk of power in the lyric, it feels to me like there is no power, and no flow, in the lines themselves. But as no one here has yet criticized the rhythm, perhaps it doesn't get in the way of the song as much as I fear it does, and I should just tell my inner critic to get his snotty nose out of my creative process and go take a nap until I'm ready for him.

MMario:

English metre works on beats or accents rather than syllables, you can put extra syllables in often.

That's what I suspected (and I suppose I could also drop a syllable here and there, too), and I seem to remember something about that when I studied Middle English poetry, but I wanted to double check my hunch with folks who've had more experience with writing songs.

I'll try the prose aproach, or maybe at least free verse, which frees the mind from the Dum-de-dum-de-diddle-dum trap, but still focuses on strong imagery with low word count...

Wish me luck!


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: MMario
Date: 07 May 02 - 12:56 PM

McGrath said that, not I! But I agree with him - not only that but in folksongsyoucanputasmanywordsinalineasyouhaveto.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 07 May 02 - 01:03 PM

Sorry, McGrath and MMario... don't know why I slipped up there (after all, I did have my coffee this morning).

Maybe I was distracted by trying to figure out how I could hum a snippet of tune into the digitrad and search for a midi file to try fitting onto my lyrics... ;-)


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Jeri
Date: 07 May 02 - 02:50 PM

Haha! For a practice tune, try "Puff, The Magic Dragon."

When I was a kid, I thought Jacky Paper was a rotten little snot for abandoning Puff. It was the saddest song I'd ever heard: this kid goes off and just leaves his faithful friend to sort of disintegrate from lonliness! What sort of lesson is that?


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 May 02 - 03:23 PM

The other version of the same story, really, is the last chapter of The House at Pooh Corner.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 07 May 02 - 04:12 PM

Right, McGrath, that's one reason why I stuck "Hundred Acre Wood" in the same verse with Puff... The message in that story is very clearly that you cannot (may not?) be a productive member of the larger society and still believe in magic.

I sometimes wonder if Jackie Paper abandoned Puff by choice, though, or whether the grups (to use a Star Trek term) got to him in the end, and convinced him that Puff didn't exist.

Whereas in some cultures, such as the Lenape (aka Delaware "Indians") you are considered unfit to fully participate in society (vote, serve on tribal council, etc.) unless you've discovered your spirit guide through a vision...


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 07 May 02 - 06:06 PM

heh... just tried it in my head, and "Puff the Magic Dragon" really does fit -- almost! Maybe that's why the meter annoys me... :-Þ


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 May 02 - 08:43 PM

Actually the House at Pooh Corner's way of seeing it isn't that:

"So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing."

In fact you could say that Pooh is envisaged as growing into a permanent spirit guide.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 07 May 02 - 09:14 PM

CapriUni -- We each have a "snooty inner critic". Sometimes it has a valid point to make. More often than not, however, it just makes us paranoid about our work. I've spent the last month or so recording and that "snotty inner critic" has served only to make me crazier than I already am (not a pretty sight).

There is another inner critic for which you must listen a good deal more carefully. It is considerably quieter than the snotty one, but, on the whole, it gives much better advice.

Stephen


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 08 May 02 - 11:43 AM

Okay, well, here is a less rough draft of "Magic belongs to Children" (working title). I think I've got it to the resolution that I want, now I just have to smooth out the kinks in the middle (And a coda with a slightly different meter would be good to wrap things up, and draw the relentless back and forth rhythm to a close):

Version 2:

Magic belongs to children in the realm of Neverland
Where boys are boys forever with their captain Peter Pan.

"Magic belongs to children," these words they said to me:
"Just grow up, and face the Truth, and the Truth will set you free:

"There are no magic potions. There are no enchanted rings.
There are no mothers' blessings that can change the way of things.

"Magiic belongs to children, and to other simple minds.
The power's in the paycheck, so grow up and tow the line."

But every tale of magic that's been told throughout the years
Repeats the same thing over with a message loud and clear:

That magic is true power, from Life's deep heart it springs --
A strong and shining current that unites all living things.

And magic is the power that can break the chains that bind
And shatter walls between us. No, I won't leave that behind.

Its strong and shining current still flows through my mind and veins
I'll walk the Earth with patience till that power I reclaim.

With clear intent and chanted rhyme, I'll sing a magic song
I'll work to keep Life's promise, and I'll live both proud and strong.

There's more power than the paycheck. We can change the way of things
With work and mothers' blessings we can help true freedom ring.

We'll teach magic to the children, see the wonder in their eyes,
That they may hold forever to the power of the wise.

Taking Jeri's advice, I wrote the whole thing to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon." The good news is, this lets me know that my meter is both consistant and flexible enough to be sung. The bad news is, I can't get that melody from Hell out of my head! Any tips for banishing the thing, so I can have room to write my own melody?


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 May 02 - 05:22 PM

Puff is a good tune for it, Capri, and it carries with it the feeling of the older song. (One suggestion - "Magic's just for children" might fit easier with the tune, and maybe it sounds more the way people might say it. But they might say it differently where you are.)

Here is a poem that it immediately reminded me of, and I posted it in the Mudcat last year. It's about a park in Dublin called Stephen's Green, and was written by Peader Kearney, who also wrote the Irish National Anthem back at the start of the last century, about the same time he wrote this. It's the last verse that Capri's song reminded me of.

I wake to the thrush revealing
His joy on a dewy morn,
And soft through my window stealing,
The scent of the flowering thorn.
I haste to share in the splendour
Of water and flower and tree,
And up from my heart I render,
My praise, oh my God to Thee.

And little children straying
O'er paths where their elders trod,
Their wondering eyes surveying
The wonderful works of God.
For the innocent hearts of childhood,
Find God in each flower and tree,
And I pray while I tread life's journey
With the eyes of a child to see.

Where beauty has birth and being -
Men call it Stephen's Green,
And pass on their way unseeing
What the eyes of a child has seen.
Their blindness but moves our pity,
And now you will understand
How here in the heart of a city,
I was born in Fairyland!


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 08 May 02 - 07:20 PM

Last things first:

Love the poem, McGrath! Thanks for sharing... I particularly like the lines:

"I haste to share in the splendour
Of water and flower and tree"

Now, on to my efforts. You wrote:

Puff is a good tune for it, Capri, and it carries with it the feeling of the older song.

The thing is, though, I do not want to evoke the feeling of the older song. I consider it more ironic than fitting that the words match the tune as well as they do. I was really hoping this could be an anti-Puff song. "Puff the Magic Dragon" perpetuates the cultural assumption that magic is just an insubstantial fancy of an immature mind.

Even the name: "Puff" Bah! I scoff at "Puff"! Dragons should have names like "Silverwing Thunderclap", "Ruby Eye", or even "Gnarled Muddybottom", but "Puff"? Puh-lease!

...Ahem. ... Yes, well, I got a little carried away there, didn't I? Where were we?

Sentiment aside, I find the melody of "Puff" a little too weak to drive home a strong idea, perhaps because the last key syllables of each line ("Honnalee" and "fancy stuff" in the first verse) end with their notes going up in pitch, as if the singer were asking a question.

I want to rally the listeners with this song, not lead them into dreamland -- to encourage them to reclaim their own reality and to stand up against those who only define power with a paycheck.

And how about "Magic is for children" instead of "belongs to"?


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 May 02 - 08:23 PM

Or "Magic - that's for children."

Actually I've always taken it that what PTMD is saying is "Don't be fooled into being like that stupid kid - your dragon needs you, and you need your dragon."


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 08 May 02 - 11:40 PM

Perhaps you're right about PtMD... But in any case, the tune is copyrighted, and I'd like to use my own tune anyway -- one that fits they meter of these lyrics even better.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: Jeri
Date: 09 May 02 - 09:34 AM

CapriUni, to be perfectly honest, I liked the first version better. You took out the verse about no Puff or Hundred Acre wood, and they call up some strong personal memories that generic "potions" and "magic rings" don't.

This is a quibble, so please don't pay any attention if it doesn't make sense to you. The last bit about "With work and mothers' blessings" - there are an awful lot of fathers, aunts, unlcles, grandparents and family friends waking and nurturing the magic in a child's life, and anyone can have a role. Parents are often the ones telling the kid to "grow up." The heck with blessings.

Something else to consider: you could tie it back in to Neverland at the end. Something about Neverland not being a place but a state of mind; about it not being outside us but an idea we carry within us.

In any case, you're driving this car. I'm just pointing to turns off your road I think look interesting.


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 09 May 02 - 12:27 PM

Jeri --

I guess it's just perspective. I switched from Puff and Pooh (gosh, said like that, it almost sounds obscene!), to more 'generic' magic because I wanted to allude to stories older than the twentieth century, to reinforce the line(s):

But every tale of magic
that's been told throughout the years

Peter Pan was written in 1901, The House at Pooh Corner in 1928 and Puff the Magic Dragon in 1963 -- that's not a lot of years, really. Especially since, even by the time the Pan was written, magic had become "quaint" -- silly, and impossible.

After all, that's why Barrie called the main setting for his story "Never-Neverland", because it could never really happen, could it? :-Þ "They" that are speaking in those first verses want to relagate magic to Neverland, the Hundred Acre Wood, and Honnalea (how is that spelled, anyway?) because these places are fictional. Whereas in the older wonder tales, magic is treated as being very real.

As to the "mothers' blessings" lines, I wanted to convey the the worldview of the naysaying speakers in the first half -- that no amount of love or well-wishing (and no love is stronger [usually] than a mother's love -- even an emotionally clumsy and dysfunctional mother) has the power to help you, and that's why you have to grow up and fend for yourself.

I also had in mind specific incidences from certain tales where a mother's blessing was the critical magic on which the course of the story turned. In the older versions of "Cinderella", for example, it wasn't a 'fairy godmother' that gave the heroine the magic to get to the ball, but the spirit of her own mother, who lived on through a hazel tree which grew over the grave. When the heroine's mother lay on her deathbed, she blessed her daughter, and told her how to plant said tree. And in the story "The Goose-Girl" the mother gives her blessing in physical form: the last thing she gives her daughter before sending her off to a distant kingdom to be married is a white hankerchief with three drops of her own (the mother's) blood on it -- sort of like a medicine bundle. As long as that handkerchief is tucked in the daughter's bosom, she is safe from all danger (naturally, she is tricked into losing it, or there'd be no story ;-)).

But trying to put all those details into the verse would really mess up the scansion. ;-)

Besides, for me, I have a stronger personal connection to those older tales. I cut my bookophile teeth on Mother's copy of Bulfinch's Mythology -- there weren't many pictures, and they were only two colors, but when I was 4 years old (maybe 5), I was fascinated by them, and would lie on my parents' bedroom floor, flipping from one picture to the next. The Winnie-ther-Pooh books were read to me before I got around to actually reading the myths for myself, but I had a subliminal knowledge of them that formed a sort of backdrop to the more modern fantasies.

Gee... I babbled on far longer than I expected to. But in any case, the above is the reason my milage varies...


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Subject: RE: Songwriting 101 (part2)
From: CapriUni
Date: 11 May 02 - 07:21 PM

Well, here is the latest draft ... Still no definite title... I think it's getting to where I want it to be -- slowly.

I am trying, in this song, to set it up as a conflict between those who want to maintain the status quo of the military-industrial complex, and those who want to break that status quo, and shift the focus back to the power of the individual living in peace and with other humans.

The final verse, as I posted it above, has a very different rhythm and meter from the rest of the verses, and I think it may do nicely as that coda I was contemplating. As it stands now, the first three verses are in the voice of "Them", arguing for the maintainance of the status-quo, but I'd like to cut that segment down, if I can figure out where I am being the most redundant (any suggestions?). The last three verses (2 and a half, actually, 'cause I'm a bit stuck) are the pro-magic rebuttal, and I may cut that down, too. I'm also considering putting a little verslet (as MMario put it) at the beginning, which defines magic as the power to create change, and turn the world upside down (which would have the effect of having "them" cut in and say: "What nonsense!"). And I'm trying to find a way to make a graceful shift from "I" to "we".

"Magic is just for children
in the Realm of Neverland
where boys are boys forever
with their captain Peter Pan.
"Magic is just for children,
and for other simple minds.
The power that can change the world
only hard earned cash can buy."

"Living, it is a struggle,
it has always been that way.
You must not trust a stranger.
You must learn to know your place.
"Power is for the Gen'rals,
and for those who trade with gold.
You must work with the system, and
you must do just as you're told.

"Spir-its will never guide you.
There are no enchanted rings.
There are no mothers' blessings
that can change the way of things.
"Magic is just for children."
Were the words they said to me.
"Now just grow up, and face the facts,
for the facts are there to see."

But ev'ry tale of magic
that's been told throughout the years
repeats the same thing over
with a message loud and clear:
Magic, it is the power
that is born from Life's own force:
It flows just like a river bright
and unites us at the core.

Magic, it is the power
that can break the chains that bind
and shat-ter walls be-tween us.
No, I won't leave that behind

River of joy and power,
I still feel it in my veins
I'll not deny this truth so strong
and that joy I will reclaim.

Knowing this strength within me,
with intent and chanted rhyme,
I'll work to heal the wounded
and to soothe the haunted mind.

BTW, I downloaded the midi to Puff the Magic Dragon, and pulled it up in my Noteworthy Composer program, to see how well the lyrics really did match with the tune -- and they didn't match at all (!), even though I still "heard" them to that melody in my head (just goes to show the insidiousness of a 'stuck tune'). So I picked a drum patch from my midi list, and wrote a monotone score, so that it would play back only the rhythm, and I tweaked and twiddled it until it matched, more or less, what I'd expect the rhythm of these lines to be in normal speach, then I went back and added changes in pitch to match emotional inflection. I discovered that the meter of the verses alternated between 2 consistant patterns, which is why what had been 12-odd verses of 4 lines, are now 6 odd verses of 8 -- but I suspect that will change to be shorter, when I figure out which verses to cut.


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