Merry Christmas, everybody! Ho ho ho! Well, this week I opted to write a Christmas song to see if I could shake the urge to throw my broken shovels at the nearest snow plow. Not that any of those were near my street... but that's another story. It certainly looks Christmas-y outside. Lots of snow. Biblical amounts. Was there snow in the Bible? Anyhow. The song, 'Christmas Eve,' is full of cliches and predictability... and dubious recording/production, but it's Christmas, so love me anyway, ok?! I could hear all kinds of instrumentation in my head, but I'll have to put in some serious hours on my recording skills. I was typically short on time, but I met my deadline once again. I teach time management skills, so I feel obliged to meet deadlines... Pour yourself a hot chocolate, throw in some vegetarian gelatin marshmallows, sit back, relax and dream of Christmas. Or Christmas Eve, which is always the best part, in my humble opinion.
This week's challenge was to write a song to pitch for a new series described as a 19th Century “Dexter” with a female lead. Think love, lust, hate, danger. I started from scratch, came up with a few chord progressions and melodies, and finally settled on one very simple progression, with more major chords than I'd anticipated, but I think it works. My recording/production skills still suck. Nothing new there! But I wrote my song and laid it down and met the deadline again. Happy about that. I really enjoyed this challenge. My favorite one yet! What can I say? I like melancholia. I was going to call my song 'Tonight' but thought it might be confused with the one from West Side Story.... They're so similar in every way. Practically interchangeable.... So I changed it to 'Cross That Line.' Loved this challenge. I may try to write some more slightly spooky stuff... (insert evil laughter here)
This week's challenge was to write an edgy country pop song for a male artist, early 20s. No mention was to be made of marriage or kids. No "partying at the lake", "trucks and tailgates" and no "bro country" vibe. I thought immediately of my favorite country song title, 'I am my own grandma.' Then I remembered my own mock country song, penned for my long time partner, 'If you leave me, I'm coming with you.' I was hoping to collaborate on this week's song, but, as usual, my week was jam packed with work, hacking ice (it's Nova Scotia) and other commitments, so I flew solo again. I resolve to co-write before the 6 weeks are up! I normally gravitate towards ballads, so I tried to at least get a bit of a beat in this one. The song is called 'Don't Underestimate Me' and is inspired by my observations of people picking on and nagging 20-somethings about how to be and how to live and what not to do. Once again, my newbie recording non-skills are evident, and I had precious little time to work on this, but I started from scratch and darn it, I met the deadline! Stop picking on me! Don't underestimate me!
Well, I did write a little ditty for a commercial, as per the assignment. It's light-hearted, fun and playful, but won't win any songwriting awards... I did work through a few different ideas (kaleidoscopes, whirlygigs, etc.), and opted for something extremely simple in the end. One game I loved as a kid was leapfrog, so that is the title of the song. I still love that game, except that as a middle-aged, out of shape weirdo, one risks getting a) stuck in an embarrassing position b) laughed at or c) arrested. As I think about that, each option could inspire some songwriting ideas... But I digress. Time was tight for me this week. But I'm pretty sure just about everyone doing this challenge is juggling lots of commitments, so we do our best! So far, the challenges have been really fun to tackle. It's definitely interesting to see what I can come up with under pressure and with very little time. In spite of the pressure and my almost complete lack of recording/production skills, I am still REALLY enjoying these songwriting challenges. It will be interesting to see what impact these creative digressions have on my 'usual' songwriting patterns. Onward!
OMG. This week's challenge made me feel, like, super old. LOL. (That was my attempt at sounding young.) Write a pop song that would appeal to 13-18 year olds. Yikes. Everything I tried to write morphed into Taylor Swift's 'Shake It Off' or Katy Perry's 'UncondiTIONally.' And then I thought I had something. But it turned out to be 'Shake It Off' again, except slowed down. Then I went to a Bryan Adams show. Wow! I knew every darn song for the whole 3 hours! And the audience seemed to be all ages. Some sort of universal appeal there. And darn it, I can't help liking most of those songs. I had hoped to spend tons of time at the challenge this past week as it was our study break - no classes to teach. But it was one of those weeks full of surprises - from internet issues to leaky kitchens to cars stuck in ice - but enough excuses. I had fun trying to come up with a decent song. But the technical side is the biggest challenge for me. I finally bought a Mac, introduced myself to Garageband and tried to record my song. It's done, but the recording is cheesy. Please forgive me, I know not what I do. I resolve to spend more time with Garageband and remain excited for the upcoming challenges. TTYL
Hi from Halifax. Snowy, windy, beautful Halifax. The news of a foiled massacre at a local mall hangs heavy in the air. What a weird story. Then last night, said mall was surrounded by a heavy police presence. Turns out some kids were having 'fun' with slingshots and hit a bus or something... I think I'll stay home and write songs. I have taken up the Songwriting Challenge launched by the wonderful Songwriters Association of Canada. At the end of the first of six weeks, I am already having a blast! The main reason I took up the challenge was to get myself back into the songwriting zone. I tend to have creative spurts for a few days or weeks, then often nothing for what can be a lengthy stretch of time. I am happy to say I'm back in the zone! Our first assignment is to get to work on a song that could potentially be pitched to Matt Dusk.That's a great way to get things going. A week ago, after reading about what Matt is looking for, I began exploring some melodic ideas and chord progressions on the piano, opting for the John Legend vibe. As is fairly typical, I didn't feel I was getting anywhere for several days, then, bam! A melody I really liked emerged. Then another. So I am bouncing between two options at the moment, and really loving sinking into this challenge. Typically I come up with the music first, usually the chorus, perhaps with a line or two of lyrics, then I work on the verses, and the lyrics almost always come last for me. That is the most laborious part for me, though I usually end up with at least one or two killer lines... which I sing REALLY LOUD, while muttering the rest. Just kidding. I don't often deliberately write for another artist, so this is a yummy exercise. I guess my only real concern is recording and producing my songs. I do have a lovely 'Nessie' mic (it had to be the Nessie for me), and Audacity, but beyond that I am up Schitt's Creek, to reference a new CBC show. So I may seek some help with that side of things. Anyhow, enough blogging. Back to the songwriting. Bye for now from Nessie and me.