Songwriting Tips, News & More

10 Keys Unlock Creative Songwriting (Part 1)

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, Feb 25, 2013 @09:30 AM

TEN KEYS TO UNLOCK CREATIVE SONGWRITING (Part 1)

by Ray Burton

Ray Burton, songwriter 

1: Songwriting is Hard Work:

As a songwriter you cannot always rely on a blinding starburst of cosmic inspiration to suddenly overwhelm you and magically cause you to run off and write a songwriting masterpiece. Songwriting is hard work just like anything else that is rewarding or worthwhile. Even though writing songs may be a pleasurable task and something you love to do, it will still be a concentrated effort in order to get all of the interwoven intricacies of the melody, lyrics and the rhythm feeling just right.

 

In constructing a song, the mood of the lyric must match the mood of the melody and vice versa. This feeling or mood needs to be transferred to the listener so that they “Get It” and get the right message and that message is the overall feeling that you are trying to convey. Be precise and concise! Don’t confuse the listeners with long-winded flowery or syrupy words that would never be used in everyday conversation. Make the lyrics uniquely your own, well thought out and clever, yet uncomplicated; and the same rule should apply to the melody and chord change structures as well if you want to write successful popular songs.

 

Written by Ray Burton, hit songwriter of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman”. He has also worked with many of the giants in the business - Billy Joel, opened for the greats like QUEEN, AMERICA and many, many more. Bands include the world renowned original CROSSFIRE. Founding member of AYERS ROCK. Lead singer in the top pop band of the 70's THE EXECUTIVES.The silent achiever Ray continues to write for fellow music artists and musicians and offers a catalogue of over 200 songs much of which is new material as yet unrecorded. 

For more information on the 18th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, please go to: http://www.songwriting.net


 


Tags: songwriter, lyric, Billy Joel, Helen Reddy, Ray Burton, mood

Songwriting Tip: Don’t Ever Say “I’m Just a Lyricist”

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 @03:16 PM

Don’t Ever Say “I’m Just a Lyricist”

By Molly-Ann Leikin, Music Business Mastery Consultant

Molly-Ann Leikin, hit songwriter 

Too many very, very talented lyricists introduce themselves to me, and to everybody else on the planet, by saying “I’m just a lyricist.”

No you aren’t,” I tell them. “I want you to value your work and yourself and proudly tell people ‘I write lyrics!’”

It’s difficult at best to write half a song. For much of my early career, I was intimidated by the talented, world-class film composers who were my writing partners. Back then, I was content to write words only. But I never told anybody “I only write lyrics.” Instead, I said, “I’m a lyricist,” and made it sound as triumphant an undertaking as finding a York Peppermint Patty that was 100% protein and good for my teeth.

Try saying it. “I’m a lyricist!”

It’s all a matter of self-esteem, isn’t it? Doing something well and knowing your craft and practicing that craft even when nobody else but you appreciates your contribution, can be a thankless undertaking. But if you have a gift with words, you have a responsibility to use it, and to keep on doing what you’re doing, no matter who attempts to belittle you.

If one of your lyrics is suddenly orphaned, save it, you can use it later. It may feel doomed, but save it anyway. Things in the arts have a delicious way of turning around down the road.

Meanwhile, practice saying “I’m a lyricist! 

Do it again.

I’m a lyricist!”

Announce that fact in front of a big mirror ten times a day. And then call your voice mail, booming , “I write lyrics!”

Finding your music can be daunting, but I’ve been very lucky in matching good wordsmiths with equally talented composers. Everybody knows my clients are good, dedicated to their craft and no matter where they live or what they do for a living, their lives are about their words. So I feel honored to help them, and you, to find your music. Our consultations can change everything.

Sometimes, even when we find what we think is a great melody, the business stuff can mess up the song, and we’re left with our words – but without a single note, back at square one. (That’s why I always do the deal, and get everything signed, BEFORE I pick up a pencil, no matter who’s waiting on the other side of the desk.)

If one of your lyrics is suddenly orphaned, save it, you can use it later. It may feel doomed, but save it anyway. Things in the arts have a delicious way of turning around down the road.

Three times a year, which is about normal, my collaborations “collapse”, but the worst/best recent story happened a few years ago when I was co-writing with a new artist who got new boobs and started believing her press releases, then trashed some lyrics I’d written for her. I thought I’d done a particularly good job, but she yanked her melody and that was that. So there I was with an orphan lyric, and for three years, whenever an occasion arose for which I felt it was suited, I presented that set of words. But nobody – I mean NOBODY – wanted that lyric. And I was spending whole days with the duvet pulled over my head.

That’s a terrible place for a creative person to be, because it means we’re giving our power to someone else to determine our value. But we know who we are, don’t we? We know our gifts, right? We know our contribution. Nobody else has the right to deflate us, no matter what record or publishing company he or she runs.

Four years later, my rejected lyric, “I Hear Your Heart,” was suddenly being sung all day, every day, throughout Europe. It was performed in Athens in the finals of Eurovision by a group called Cosmos, who “got” what I was saying. So who was right about it? Me or that D-cup dilettante who dissed my writing all those years ago?

If it can happen for me, it can happen for you.

I promise: if you do your work, learn your craft, keep at it, at it, at it, you can turn your career around, too.

It all starts by saying “I am a lyricist” as loudly and proudly as you’ve ever said anything before.

© 2013 Molly-Ann Leikin

 

Molly-Ann Leikin is an Emmy nominee. The author of “How To Write A Hit Song” and “How To Be A Hit Songwriter”, she has written themes and songs for over five dozen TV shows and movies, including “Violet” that won an Oscar.

After lyric, song and instrumental marketing consultations with Molly, six of her clients have won Grammys, nine more have Grammy nominations, and so far, 6238 of Molly’s protégées have placed their work in TV shows, movies, on CD’s in commercials, and their songs/tracks have been downloaded all over the web. It all starts with a consultation. www.songmd.com

For more information on the 18th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, please go to: http://www.songwriting.net

 


Honoring Songwriting In Film: 2013 Oscars for Best Original Song

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 @02:25 PM

Honoring Songwriting In Film: 2013 Oscars for Best Original Song

by Jessica Brandon

Academy Awards (Oscar) for Best Original Song in a movie

These are the nominees for the Academy Awards (Oscars) for Best Orginal Song. Notable past winning songs include: "Arthur's Theme", "Evergreen", "You Light Up My Life", "Flashdance... What A Feeling" and "Lose Yourself". 

Who do you think should win this year? Watch the videos for yourself, here are the nominees for the 2013, Best Original Song:

"Skyfall" from James Bond movie "Skyfall" Written by Adele and Paul Epworth


“Suddenly” from the movie musicial "Les Misérables", Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil; Performed by Hugh Jackman



“Pi’s Lullaby” from the movie "Life of Pi", Music by Mychael Danna; Lyrics by Bombay Jayashri


“Everybody Needs a Best Friend” from the movie "Ted", Music by Walter Murphy; Lyrics by Seth MacFarlane; Performed by Nora Jones

 

 

“Before My Time” from the movie "Chasing Ice", Music and Lyrics by J. Ralph; Performed by Scarlett Johanson and Joshua Bell

 

For more information on the 18th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net

 

Tags: Oscars, Best Original Song, Academy Awards, Skyfall, Adele, Paul Epworth, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer, Alain Boublil, Mychael Danna, Bombay Jayashri, Walter Murphy, Seth MacFarlane

Songwriting Tip: Turn Your iPad Into a Recording Studio

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, Feb 13, 2013 @11:30 AM

Turn Your iPad Into a Recording Studio 

By Jessica Brandon

iRig Keys iPad

It wasn't too long ago that musicians said making music on your laptop will not be as great as your desktop computer. How things have changed these days, recording music on your laptop is a common thing to do.

Now that iPad has taken the world by storm, can you turn your iPad to a recording studio? I have researched what would it take to turn your iPad into a portable recording studio? How should you set it up?

Here are the best DAW (Studio Recording) Apps for iPad & Recording Set-ups: 

DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) Apps. No, Pro Tools have not made any apps for the iPad yet. However, there are some promising apps:
1. Auria (WaveMachine Labs) - This is the first app that supports the industry standard of 24 bit//96kHz. 

2. StudioTrack (Sonoma Wire Works) - Multitrack Recording for iPad. Record up to eight tracks on a multitouch mixer with meters, faders and knobs. Control multiple parameters simultaneously, like an analog console. Rearrangable channels help you keep your tracks organized.

3. MultiTrack DAW (Harmonicdog) - It provides up to 24 stereo tracks of better than CD quality audio, and the ability to playback all of those tracks, while recording 2 tracks simultaneously on iPod or iPhone, and up to 8 tracks simultaneously on iPad.

4. GarageBand (Apple) - This is now made for the iPad.  GarageBand lets you play a collection of highly expressive Touch and Smart Instruments that sound just like their real counterparts — but let you do things you never could on a real instrument. You can record, mix, and share your songs, too.

5. Portastudio (Tascam) - This brings 30 years of easy-to-use home recording to your iPad. Based on the PORTA ONE recorder that revolutionized recording in 1984, the Portastudio app records up to four tracks with a cool retro/vintage vibe. Record one track at a time using the built-in mic or a headset microphone connection, monitoring on authentic VU meters. A cassette transport with position counter tracks your position while you mix with level, pan and EQ controls. When you're ready to mix, the built-in mixdown function saves your song as a CD-quality WAV file. Your mix appears in iTunes when you're finished, ready to share with friends and bandmates.

 

Audio Interface. Just like a laptop or desktop, you would need an interface:
1. Focusrite iTrack Solo - provides the great solution for recording your instruments and vocals using an iPad and is a certified ‘Made for iPad' device.

2. IK Multimedia iRig Pre - this is an universal microphone interface for iPhone/iPod touch/iPad! iRig PRE Microphone Interface iPhone/iPod touch/iPad is the ultimate solution for connecting any type of microphone from regular stage microphones to expensive studio models to any iPhone, iPod touch or iPad providing access to the widest range of recording applications.

3. TASCAM iXZ - a portable interface for recording with your Apple iOS device. It provides the inputs you need to record nearly any acoustic or electric instrument to any of the thousands of recording apps on the app store, including Apple's own Garage Band or TASCAM's Portastudio.

4. Alesis iO Mix - you can mix and record up to four channels of audio into your iPad. The Alesis iO Mix is the first device that turns your iPad into a powerful portable studio, allowing you to record multiple mics or instruments directly into GarageBand or any other compatible Core Audio app. 

5. Alesis iO Dock - the first device that enables anyone with an iPad to create, produce, and perform music with virtually any pro audio gear or instruments. The iO Dock is a universal docking station specifically designed for the iPad, and it gives musicians, recording engineers, and music producers the connectivity they need to create and perform with iPad. Connect all your pro audio gear to virtually any app in the App Store with the iO Dock.

 

Midi Interface:
iRig MIDI (IK Multimedia) - a pocket-sized MIDI interface lets you hook up your favorite keyboard, pad controller, DJ interface, etc. to your iOS device. The iRigMIDI lets you run any of the amazing CoreMIDI-compliant iOS apps. 

iConnectMIDI (iConnectivity) - Own a MIDI-equipped keyboard controller, guitar, drum kit, or any piece of gear? You can now tap into the unlimited power of the App world!

 

Music Keyboard:
1. iRig Keys (IK Multimedia) - portable keyboard control, the IK Multimedia iRig Keys 37-key USB/MIDI controller is ready to perform. It's got all the goods to play your apps and virtual instruments expressively, like velocity-sensitive keys, pitch bend and mod wheels, and an input for an optional expression pedal or sustain pedal. (see picture above)

2. SynthStation49 (Akai) - 49-key Controller Keyboard with Built-in iPad Dock for use with Akai Synth Station App (sold separately)

 

For Guitar:
1. AmpliTube iRig (IK Multimedia) - Mobile Guitar Amp and Effects Rig System
2. GuitarJack Model 2 (Sonoma Wire Works)- The GuitarJack Model 2 iOS interface connects a wide range of instruments, microphones, and other audio hardware to the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

3. iRig STOMP (IK Multimedia) - first stompbox guitar interface for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

 

DJ/Mixer Controllers:
1. Professional MPC Fly (Akai) - Complete Groove Production Hardware Control Surface and Software System for iPad 2 with 16 Velocity-sensitive Pads - CoreMIDI Compliant

2. iRig Mix (IK Multimedia) - Portable DJ Mixer for iPhone, iPod, and iPad

 

For more information on the 18th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, please visit: www.songwriting.net

 

 

Tags: Songwriting, iPad, Auria, StudioTrack, MultiTrack DAW, GarageBand, Portastudio, Tascam, Recording Studio

Songwriting Tip: Inviting the Listener In

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Thu, Feb 07, 2013 @10:00 AM

INVITING THE LISTENER IN

by Ralph Murphy

Ralph Murphy, hit songwriter
 In looking at songs there is a huge leap from "good" to "great".  When a listener first hears a song, that  leap is made possible by the writer of the work doing the "inviting in" using humor, irony and detail. Ease of singing,"accessibility",  remaining linear when you tell your story, having melody to cling to, making sure there is no confusion over what the title is and telling a story with a beginning, a middle and an end are all part of the songwriters "tool kit".
 If the songwriter doesn't have the creative savvy to create an expectation by making a statement, asking a question or having enough detail to make the listener keep listening all the way to the resolution of that statement/question, then the listener is gone. Once the listener is  gone, they're gone for good.

As what lures the listener to the piece of work is melody, and what keeps them there is lyric....oh, I know, I have friends who,say, "I love this song(song X) and I don't know the words to it" well, if you play the song for them, they DO know the lyric subliminally. And that's what kept them there. No matter if that lyric is only "call and response" ie: Na Nahs, they know it. That first listen is so important. Everyone speaks of "first impressions" in meetings or dating or employment opportunities, well, first listens when you are a songwriter peddling your wares is just as important. AND you, as the writer are totally in control of the way the way the listener receives the information you want them to hear. 

That "first impression" doesn't change if your song is being heard for the first time by a judge in a song contest or the producer of the hottest act in the world. We all face the same demons. It doesn't matter if it's the first time you play a new song to someone you need to impress or the one millionth new song first time. It's all up to the song and that song will be as good as the writers craft allows his/her vision to be shaped.      

If you as a writer have done your job and the listener "gets it" and wants to "invite it in", that song will be a living thing that will outlive you by 70 years. If you haven't, write on! Maybe the next one.......


Ralph Murphy is a producer and songwriter. He wrote huge hit songs such as Crystal Gayle's"Talking in Your Sleep" and "Half the Way". Murphy has served as President of The Nashville Chapter of the Recording Academy and has been a NARAS National Trustee. Add to that the platinum records as a producer, the widely acclaimed Murphy’s Laws of Songwriting articles used as part of curriculum at colleges, universities, and by songwriter organizations, his success as the publisher and co-owner of the extremely successful Picalic Group of Companies and you see a pattern of achievement based on more than luck. To buy his book, please go to: http://murphyslawsofsongwriting.com

For more information on 18th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, please go to: http://www.songwriting.net

Tags: songwriter, producer, Ralph Murphy, Crystal Gayle, humor, irony, detail

Top 10 DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) For Songwriting

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Fri, Feb 01, 2013 @10:10 AM

Top 10 DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) 

By Jessica Brandon

Which DAW is better than all the others? These the Top 10 most popular DAW. Digital audio workstation (DAW) is an electronic system designed solely or primarily for recording, editing and playing back digital audio. DAWs were originally tape-less.

 

PreSonus Studio One 2

PreSonus Studio One
PreSonus Studio One music creation and production software gives you more than simply a powerful DAW. It is made to work seamlessly with your interfaces and controllers — especially PreSonus hardware. You get unlimited tracks within a very easy-to-use single-window interface, with drag-and-drop convenience. In addition to its 64-bit processing capability, Studio One offers great mastering tools and a collection of plug-ins for a start-to-finish "in the box" recording solution!
http://www.presonus.com/products/SoftwareDetail.aspx?SoftwareId=11

Propellerhead Reason
Reason is a computer program for creating and editing music developed by Swedish software developers Propellerhead Software. It emulates a rack of hardware synthesizers, samplers, signal processors, sequencers, and mixers, all of which can be freely interconnected in an arbitrary manner. Reason can be used either as a complete virtual music studio or as a collection of virtual instruments to be used with other sequencing software in a fashion that mimics "live" performance.
http://www.propellerheads.se/products/reason/

FL Studio
FL Studio (formerly known as FruityLoops) is a digital audio workstation developed by the Belgian company Image-Line. FL Studio features a graphical user interface based on a pattern-based music sequencer. The program is available in four different editions for Microsoft Windows, including FL Studio Express, Fruity Edition, Producer Edition, and the Signature Bundle. Image-Line offers lifetime free updates to the program, meaning customers receive all future updates of the software for free.[3] Image-Line also develops FL Studio Mobile for the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad.
http://www.image-line.com/documents/flstudio.html

Acoustica Mixcraft
Mixcraft is a multitrack recording application for Windows. The software functions as a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), MIDI sequencer, virtual instrument host, non-linear video arranger, and as a music loop remix program. This is also commonly known as "Garageband for the PC".
http://www.acoustica.com/mixcraft/index.htm

Apple Logic
Logic Pro is a hybrid 32 / 64 bit digital audio workstation and MIDI sequencer software application for the Mac OS X platform. Originally created by German software developer Emagic, Logic Pro became an Apple product when Apple bought Emagic in 2002. Logic Pro is part of Apple's Logic Studio bundle of professional music applications. This is the "professional version" of Garageband" for the Mac.
http://www.apple.com/logicpro

Sony Acid Pro
ACID Pro 7 is a full multitrack recording software with mixing, MIDI sequencing, and legendary ACID looping. It represents an incredible value for the PC-based studio. To start the creative process, you get over 3,000 loops and 1,000 MIDI files right out of the box - and that's in addition to a potent effects rack powered by iZotope and great-sounding virtual instruments, including Native Instruments' Guitar Combos software and Submersible Music's KitCore. What's more, control over MIDI data is better than it's ever been, as ACID Pro 7 sports real-time MIDI automation, quantization, and deep editing functionality. Plus, ACID Pro 7 boasts a new time-stretching feature.
http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/acidpro

Steinberg Cubase
Cubase is a music software product developed by German musical software and equipment company Steinberg for music recording, arranging and editing as part of a Digital Audio Workstation. It is one of the oldest DAWs to still enjoy widespread use. Cubase 7 was released on December 5, 2012. New features include MixConsole, an improved workflow including full-screen capability, and redesigned channel strips and channel centrals. It also includes a new Chord Track and a Chord Assistant.
http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/cubase/start.html

Avid Pro Tools
Pro Tools is the "Gold Standard" digital audio workstation platform for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X operating systems, developed and manufactured by Avid Technology. It is widely used by professionals throughout the audio industries for recording and editing in music production, film scoring, film and television post production, musical notation and MIDI sequencing. Pro Tools can run as standalone software, or operate using a range of external A/D converters and internal PCI or PCIe audio cards with onboard DSP. In 1999 Pro Tools made history: "Livin' la Vida Loca" was the first U.S. number one single to be recorded without using then-conventional recording studio equipment; instead the track was created in an entirely computerised environment using the Pro Tools software package. Since then countless of #1 hit songs were created with this software.
http://www.avid.com/US/products/Pro-Tools-Software

Cakewalk Sonar
Cakewalk SONAR is a digital audio workstation made by Cakewalk for recording, editing, mixing, mastering and outputting audio. It has recently been acquired by Roland.
http://www.cakewalk.com/products/SONAR/

Ableton Live
Ableton Live is a loop-based software music sequencer and DAW for OS X and Windows. The latest major release of Live, Version 8, was released in April 2009. In contrast to many other software sequencers, Live is designed to be an instrument for live performances as well as a tool for composing, recording, arranging, mixing and mastering. It is also used for beatmixing of tracks by DJs, as it offers a suite of controls for beatmatching, crossfading, and other effects used by turntablists, and was one of the first music applications to automatically beat match songs.
https://www.ableton.com

 

For more information on 18th USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net

Tags: Pro Tools, Best DAW, Digital Audio Workstation, Sonar, Cubase, Acid Pro, Logic Pro, Mixcraft, FL Studio, Propellerhead, Reason, PreSonus, Studio One