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what do you want from a songbook

07 Mar 02 - 04:10 PM (#664491)
Subject: what do you want from a songbook
From: harvey andrews

I've often been asked to produce a book of my songs, and I wonder what format to use.
The expensive method is maybe twenty songs with the musical notation, chords, lyrics etc
The cheaper option is just the lyrics with chords over which would enable more songs to be included
Working on the basis that most people wouldn't buy the book unless they had the cds, knew the melodies, I'm inclined to option two, but I wonder what the rest of you want from a songbook?


07 Mar 02 - 04:16 PM (#664500)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: MMario

Basic melody line and lyrics.


07 Mar 02 - 04:18 PM (#664503)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: alanabit

It depends what people are likely to want it for. I think that in the case of someone wanting a book of your songs, your assumptions are correct. People would just need the lyrics and the chords. However, if I got a Robert Johnson songbook, with only that information in it, when I was trying to get into his guitar style, I would be well miffed! Then I'd like the notes written out and some sound advice on how to copy those licks... Horses for courses.


07 Mar 02 - 04:19 PM (#664504)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: Clinton Hammond

Check out the Stan Rogers song book, "Songs From Fogarty's Cove"...

Best folkie songbook I've ever found...

;-)


07 Mar 02 - 04:20 PM (#664506)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: harvey andrews

Yes, I have Stan's book. I suppose what was behind my question was how many people can actually read the music?


07 Mar 02 - 04:23 PM (#664508)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: DMcG

I'd go with along with MMario: given the melody I can work out the chords easily enough, but its much more difficult to go t'other way. I spent hours with someone recently deciding whether a particular group of quavers was really quavers or three-in-the-time-of-two!


07 Mar 02 - 04:25 PM (#664510)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: MMario

Harvey - I can't read music - but I can get someone else to play or sing the tune for me, or put it into the computer -but if I don't have the melody that's impossible.

Given the option of buying a songbook or a CD I'd probably take the songbook any time - but without the melody - it's really just very expensive liner notes.


07 Mar 02 - 04:28 PM (#664512)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: harvey andrews

point taken MMario


07 Mar 02 - 04:34 PM (#664517)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: MMario

sorry if I'm sounding a little strident there - but it's a pet peeve of mine; but a lot of "Songbooks" I look at today have NO MUSIC IN THEM!!!!!! Lyrics and chords only.

yeesh!


07 Mar 02 - 04:51 PM (#664530)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: Helen

I agree with MMario. I wouldn't even consider buying a book of just lyrics and chords. If it has the lyrics, melody line and preferably some chords to get me started then I would use the book. Like a Fake Book. Sometimes if I can't seem to get the melody worked out in my head, I put it into a computer music notation programme to work it out from there, or to start playing around with arrangements.

I have a little singing book with about 100 song lyrics in it but no melody and I look at that book and get really frustrated because there are so many good social & environmental action songs in there but I can't play them.

Helen


07 Mar 02 - 04:55 PM (#664535)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: harvey andrews

No, not strident..I thought that point about expensive liner notes was valid.That's what's behind my question. As a pro songwriter who's made his living from the art for 38 years I don't read music! And I suspect a lot of other musicians don't either. When I first started in folk clubs I learned my Paxton and Ochs songs by ear, so I wondered if a paperback book with 150 lyrics with the chords would be a better bet than a Stan Rogers type songbook with twenty or so songs but with music notation and a glossy format?


07 Mar 02 - 05:16 PM (#664555)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: GUEST

Hi, Harvey, What I want from a songbook is a CD. One verse and the chorus would be enough, just a sketch to get me started.


07 Mar 02 - 05:19 PM (#664558)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: harvey andrews

Do you mean a cd with, say, forty song extracts in 70 minutes plus a book with the chords and words?


07 Mar 02 - 06:51 PM (#664643)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: SharonA

Oh, garrrrrrrrhh. Now you're talking about the Harvey Andrews edition of "Rise Up Singing". Please, no!!!!!

Sorry, but you've hit upon my pet peeve. RUS has got to be the world's most annoying songbook.

My personal preference would be piano notation with guitar chords and tablature. If not full notation for piano, then at least a melody staff (again with guitar chords and tab).


07 Mar 02 - 07:05 PM (#664651)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: harvey andrews

this is an interesting learning curve!


07 Mar 02 - 11:31 PM (#664815)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: Bill D

well, after doing a quick web search (since I did not know the name 'Harvey Andrews'), I see that you have a LOT of real fans...and one of my friends has been singing of of your songs for years! ("First You Lose the Rhythming") ...and that alone makes me take the thread seriously. A fine song...

But, yes, put in the music!!...Unless it is just going to a select few fans who already know the tunes, it would be very frustrating to just get a book of words & chords.


08 Mar 02 - 12:16 AM (#664833)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: Don Firth

As far as I'm concerned, a songbook that doesn't have at least a single line melody written out is next to worthless. Rise Up Singing is a real pain! I have a copy, but all I can use it for is to refresh my memory of the words of a song if I already know the song. Other than that, it just clutters up the bookshelf.

Don Firth


08 Mar 02 - 12:27 AM (#664836)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: Rick Fielding

Gotta be an autobiography kind of song book (like Paxton's new one) Songs AND stories, and adventures etc. Just remember Harvey if YOU don't write your story, someone else WILL!! Get in there first!

Cheers

Rick


08 Mar 02 - 12:29 AM (#664837)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: Kaleea

Alanabit is making a good suggestion. If you have a particular style of guitar playing, say in fingerpicking style, you will want to include the tab for the arpeggio, strum, licks or whatever, for the person to learn. (this is how everybody learned to play Peter, Paul & Mary; John Denver; Pete Seeger, etc.!) While some read & others don't, if you include the notes, chords, AND tab with the lyrics, then all can most likely figure the song out, al the while listening to your CD. The songbook should be about all/most of the songs which are either on your CD's plural or else a particular CD companion book. You might visit your local music store (the kind that carries instruments & sheet music) and take a look at the racks of popular song books, especially by particular artists to see some various examples. In my decades of teaching lessons, I find that the books which have the most info will help the most amount of people.


08 Mar 02 - 03:02 AM (#664874)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: Hilary

For myself : definitely put the melody in, otherwise the book would be a useful reminder of the songs you already know, but not much use if you don't. As a newbie to to the guitar - chords really do help.


08 Mar 02 - 05:00 AM (#664900)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: harvey andrews

Many thanks all. Kaleea's ideas seem a bit too expensive I think, so concensus is a melody line, chords, lyrics and some text.I'm working on the book Rick, but that's a separate thing. I suppose I should include a photo or two but don't recognise the hairy fashion victim I once was or the hairless fashion victim I now am. How interesting to know "First you lose the rhyming" is forging its own life out there. Songs are birds we let loose to fly where they will.


08 Mar 02 - 09:58 AM (#665018)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: InOBU

Enough heft that when I toss it at the loud pool players who are drownding out the sean nos singer at a sessun that it will keep them out and quite, at least until the ambulance arives... Larry (PS to forstall all the "Gee Larry, Quakers shouldn't toss song books at noisy pool players" responces to this, I will add, a just kidding for proper form...)


08 Mar 02 - 10:09 AM (#665028)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: MMario

Larry - I believe that should read "Quakers shouldn't toss songbooks heavy enough to damage at noisy pool players." After all - you have to get their attention somehow, and tossing a songbook is less violent then ramming the cues up their...


08 Mar 02 - 10:17 AM (#665038)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: GUEST,Rich_and_Dee

Hi,

A songbook is a tool I use to get a handle on a song I'm trying to learn. As such, simple is best. Melody line with chord name scribbled above works for me. Also, include at least the first verse and chorus directly under the melody line.

I tried to teach a singer a song from the Christy Moore songbook. He wrote out the melody a the top of each page, then wrote out all the lyrics at the bottom. She had a nasty time keeping track of the phrasing.

If the songs are guitar-based and use funky tunings (DADGAD or CGDGAD), it might be helpful to note the tuning somewhere on the page. If the guitar style is really innovative, a brief guitar lesson could be written as a Foreward.


08 Mar 02 - 10:57 AM (#665072)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: Jeri

I'd agree with Clinton's opinion of the Stan Rogers book. It's fairly thin, though, and there's plenty of room for more songs. You can also use smaller print.

I'd like to have stories about each song - a little about what made you want to write it or anecdotes.

The Rogers book is stand-alone. Even if you've never heard a single StanSong, you could pick up the book and play it. The words are there, the melody, and also the guitar tuning and chords in little pictures, so even if you've never played in DADGAD before, you know where to stick your fingers.

You may think that people who would buy the songbook would do so because they've heard the songs and/or own your CDs. I don't know if that's necessarily true. I think they might sometimes buy your CDs because of the songs in the songbook. (You can include an order form.)

Are you concerned about the expense of printing the notes, or of having them transcribed? I'm sure you could find volunteers who could do the transcribing, and put the tunes in a computerised form so you could check if they sound right.

Should the songbook come out, I'd want to buy it. (As long as it has tunes and an order form for CDs!)


08 Mar 02 - 11:42 AM (#665099)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: GUEST,gypsy, who ate her cookie

I want: lyrics, basic chords, and the dratted melody! RUS drives me nuts, because i see songs i would LIKE to do, but have no idea as to the melody. If you have all the above, everyone can use it. Those who don't read dots, can ignore them. A CD with a snatch of melody would be nice to include, too. Sell it separately, then you can keep cost down. Do a CD rather than tape, more convenient.


08 Mar 02 - 12:10 PM (#665116)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: SharonA

Yes, please do bring on the stories! Stories behind each song, stories about yourself, stories about people who've influenced you (and whom you've influenced). You don't have to write a weighty tome, but something to give a little extra dimension to the music would be nice... and would give a little extra boost to sales!

BTW, it would be good to have the melody and chords written in the same key in which the song is recorded on the CD you sell commercially (or with instructions to capo up to the same key) so that people can follow along with the song as they learn it. They themselves can transpose to a key that's more comfy for them if they want to.


08 Mar 02 - 12:42 PM (#665141)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: GUEST,JohnB

Words (the SAME ones as the CD), Melody line with chords above. I like the words for each verse on top of one another, under the chords/melody, it makes it easier for subsequent verses. Any specific Tunings/ Capo'ings. Maybe a Tab too, if something is worthwhile/hard to pick up the exact pattern etc. Little snippets about why, how, where, as appropriate. Pictures, either suitable woodcuts or whatever that maybe reflects some aspect of the song (An extremely faded picture of an axtremely faded picture would perhaps suit one page) Pix of Harvey playing with Deaf Leopard at the 1986 Concert. A CD of the song collection may also be nice, presuming all the songs are already mastered would not be too difficult, either included or available as an optional extra. JohnB


08 Mar 02 - 01:44 PM (#665191)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: Rick Fielding

Well, a picture of you and Ozzie Osbourne chatting about English weather over a fence would be nice.

Actually on a serious note, here's something that absolutely blew me away from "The Bluegrass Songbook". The lyrics were printed out double spaced and above them were JUST the three high strings of the guitar with the melody notated in the simplest of tabliture. All the songs were written for the keys of G and D. Even someone who had no knowledge of music theory at all could figure out the melody line very easily. By capoing they could transpose the songs to a singable key that suited their voice. You almost had to see this to appreciate how easy it made learning the tune.

On another note. I've had literally hundreds of folks thank me for including the chords along with the lyrics on my Folk-Legacy album "Lifeline". It meant extra work for Sandy paton, but it made the songs easily learnable.

I have two books of Irish and Scottish songs that included a CD with the first verse and chorus to each song....almost tooo easy...but helpful.

Rick


08 Mar 02 - 01:52 PM (#665201)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: harvey andrews

I don't think I played with Def Leppard in 1986 but I did follow Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, 11o'clock at night, at the Reading Rock festival.....daftest spot I ever played. Thanks for all the advice...looks like I have a lot of work ahead of me.


08 Mar 02 - 04:51 PM (#665339)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: GUEST,JohnB

One I forgot before. To all the RUS knockers, there are tapes available of the songs. They are bloody expensive though. JohnB


08 Mar 02 - 11:19 PM (#665543)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: Gypsy

Now, now, not knocking RUS, do use it. But the tapes are hideously expensive if you want to do the entire book! And SharonA, agree that a tad of history is a terrific idea. Makes a big difference if you know the story.


09 Mar 02 - 12:24 AM (#665558)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: DonMeixner

I have the Stan Rogers book and I find it to be an excellent book. But I also have the forst Gordon Bok and Bill Staines books from Folk-Legacy and I find them to be equal in most ways to the Stan R. Book.


09 Mar 02 - 12:55 AM (#665579)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: JohnInKansas

I recently undertook cleaning up a local "session book," primarily because it was almost impossible to get a copy, nobody would admit to having made it, and additions in various formats had made a total mess of the indexes.

Two thousand hours, and about 10 "sales" later, I would observe:

Almost any program that does a decent job of printing a melody line makes it simple to put chords (and the little "standard chord fingering" diagrams, if you want) above the staff, and to put at least a verse and chorus underneath. If you're going to the trouble to put the melody in, there is certainly no good reason to omit the chords.

Almost any "scoring" program also permits "save as midi." For the session book, I bundled a floppy with all 600 or so tunes in midi for those who don't read music. They're not "pretty," but those who don't read music can get the tune.

Response is about equally divided between those who say the midis were a waste of time and those who use only the midis.

Those who don't read music are not likely to look for a book to learn your song (unless you mumble and they need them in print). They'll be more likely to get it from a CD.(?) Those who go to a book to get the words only - will probably "murder" you're melodies.

I'd vote for at least melody line for chorus and one verse, with chord names noted above the melody.

Personally, I find it a convenience when all of the verses are in text, together; although I wouldn't fault those who omit the verse that is shown in the "score," as is frequently done.

John


09 Mar 02 - 09:28 AM (#665679)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: MMario

John - I'll argue with your point about "those who don't read music" - since I get about 3/4 of my songs from print - and I don't read music!


09 Mar 02 - 11:01 AM (#665725)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: wysiwyg

Oh, the hell with PRINTING it. Put it all on a CD-ROM with sound clips, melody, liner notes, and chords! And please, put the chords in ALL the verses!

Then ALL the instruments and playing abilities and learning styles can use it.

~Susan


09 Mar 02 - 11:35 AM (#665749)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: Sooz

There just isn't one answer! I want everything in a song book, but practically I wouldn't be able to buy as many as I would like. Words and chords would be good most of the time as Mike and I like to do our own arrangements for the accompaniments and we probably already have the CDs. What we really need is more space to store everything and more time to play it all!


09 Mar 02 - 12:23 PM (#665770)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: Mark Clark

Harvey, I'm not sure what costs you're trying to control when you say something is expensive. There are completely free PC-based tools that will do a first-rate, high-end, publishers-quality job on your songbook, including layout, typesetting, musical score, the whole works. The downside is that you have to learn to use these professional tools. If you intend to pay someone else to develop the book and prepare it for the printer, then lead sheets and tablature may indeed run the cost up.

When I buy a songbook, my choice depends entirely on my immediate purpose. I once bought Slim Richey's series of bluegrass songbooks that contained only lyrics and chord names. I wasn't looking for arrangements and I already knew how to accompany the material. On the other hand, if I'm buying a book to learn a Robert Johnson tune, I'd probably want a carefully transcribed interpretation of his arrangement including tablature. In a jazz fake book I want a lead sheet with names of the commonly preferred chords and the lyrics.

If I buy a book to aid in learning a particular performer's style, I don't want dumbed-down “made simple” arrangements of the performers material. If I just want to add someone's song to my repertoire, I'll most likely get a recording of the piece and adapt that to my own purpose.

So, who do you consider to be the audience for your songbook and how many sales may be lost by omitting particular features?

      - Mark


09 Mar 02 - 12:50 PM (#665781)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: Mudlark

I can't read music or tablature, and/or whatever the hell it is the RUS has at the end of each tune they include, and learn everything by ear. So what I want from a songbook is words to all verses (because I don't learn just from hearing as fast as I used to), and chords above lyrics (on all verses, as WYSIWYG pleads for!), so once I've heard a song I like I can sit down with a book and play it over and over until I no longer need the book. I don't have anybody to play or sing an unknown melody line for me, and haven't a clue how to get it off the computer.

And tho not quite as easy to read, I'd even go for chords inserted in lyrics line--either in darker print or in parens-- if that would allow for more songs per book.

IF I could read music, I'd certainly want a melody line!


09 Mar 02 - 02:39 PM (#665831)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: harvey andrews

Mark..the people who ask me for a songbook are basically audience members and amateur players who just want to pickup a song at home for their own pleasure, so I tend to think keep it simple, but at the same time provide all the basic info that people want. I also tend to think that the more advanced musicians will take a cd and learn it directly, adapting the song to their own particular style. I'm not technophobic, but I am going to have to pay someone to do the work for me as I seem to spend more time with this bloody computer and less time with the guitar every month;
Oh we're all litle businesses now
It takes all our time up somehow
Where once we were writing or learning a song
We're fighting computers that churn things out wrong
We've a million receipts, our accounts are a mess
And our E mail list fans have all changed their address
Though we work every minute, our more just makes less
'Cause we're all little businesses now.


10 Mar 02 - 08:21 AM (#666193)
Subject: From a songbook I want...
From: saulgoldie

Since I don't read music too well and learn songs mostly by ear, words and chords work fine for me. A companion CD with a verse and chorus to remind me of how a song sounds would help quite a bit. (Actually, Susan's suggestion to put the whole danged thing on a CD has much merit, especially with regard to costs and resource consumption.) Musical scoring can help me some times. But it is not my highest priority. If I see a song in "Rise..." that I like the words and have not heard, I can always explore "the folk process" and ask other folks how it goes. That way I get music time and people time, as well. Kinda like that party game where you get someone's name tacked on your back and you have to ask others about "yourself" which is just a vehicle for social engagement. And for me, that is the goal.


10 Mar 02 - 10:56 AM (#666269)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: GUEST,leeneia

Here's something I don't believe anyone's mentioned yet: it's very important that a songbook stay open when you're using it.

I believe that binding it with plastic coils is the answer to that. Or sell the sheets unbound and let people buy their own three-ring notesbooks.


10 Mar 02 - 10:58 AM (#666270)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: GUEST,leeneia

To JohninKansas: are you selling that session book you worked on? I'm interested.


10 Mar 02 - 08:55 PM (#666623)
Subject: RE: what do you want from a songbook
From: Gypsy

I like the idea of putting on CD. I tend to print the tunes i play and keep in a session book anyway, and use the library for just that....hate having to cart out books and books and books for one 4 hour session!