Songwriting Tips, News & More

Jessica Brandon

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Inspirational Words From Noted Songwriters And Composers

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 @04:39 PM

Diane Warren, Multi Hit Songwriter
Diane Warren, Multi-Hit Songwriter

"As with anything, experience and practice make your skills more proficient. I’ve worked at songwriting for many years and I hope that with each song I write I get better and better at my skill." ~ Diane Warren, Multi Hit Songwriter

 

 

What has worked before is never as good as something that has never been tried before, even if it doesn't work."~ Jimmy Webb, hit songwriter

 

 

"A songwriter's supreme challenge is being complex and simple at the same time." ~Paul Simon

 

 

"Life is denied by lack of attention, whether it be to cleaning windows or trying to write a masterpiece" ~ Nadia Boulanger, composer and teacher to music legends such as Quincy Jones, Philip Glass, Aaron Copland, etc.

 

 

"Cher hated 'If I Could Turn Back Time.' I had to beg her, literally, on my knees, just to try it. Happens all the time." ~ Diane Warren, Multi Hit Songwriter, talking about pitching her song to Cher

 

 

If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time.” ~ Billy Joel, Songwriter

 

 

"I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones" ~John Cage, Composer

 

 

"Beyond a certain point, the music isn't mine anymore. It's yours." ~ Phil Collins, Songwriter

 

 

"I think people appreciate a songwriter who shows different sides. The whole angst thing is cool, but if that's all you've got, it's just boring. Everything I write, whether it's happy or sad, has a sense of humor to it" ~ Katy Perry, singer-songwriter of #1 Hit "I Kissed I A Girl"

 

 

"There's a saying, 'It's easy to write songs, but very difficult to write great songs.' I'm going through that right now." ~ Bryan Adams

 

 

"Write fearlessly" ~ Pat Pattison

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tags: songwriter, Billy Joel, Composer, Diane Warren, Paul Simon, Inspirational Words, Nadia Boulanger, John Cage, Phil Collins, Katy Perry, Bryan Adams, Pat Pattison

Top 10 Songwriting Teams

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, May 26, 2010 @06:41 PM

These are the top songwriting teams/collaborations. When you put two or more heads together, you may come up with a hit or two.

1. Paul McCartney & John Lennon
With pop anthems such like "Yesterday" and Let It Be". Lennon & McCartney is argubly the best songwriting collaboraion in the world. With a resume of the best selling band in the world and the most successful songwriter of all-time (McCartney). This dynamic duo tops the list. 

 

2. Rodgers and Hammerstein
Richard Rodgers (1902 - 1979) and Oscar Hammerstein II (1895 - 1960) were a well-known American songwriting duo, usually referred to as Rodgers and Hammerstein. With musicals such as "The Sound of Music" and "South Pacific", their songs have made into the mainstream Pop and became household names.


 Burt Bacharach and Hal David
3. Burt Bacharach and Hal David
With hits such as: "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head", "This Guy's in Love with You", "I'll Never Fall in Love Again", "Do You Know the Way to San Jose", "Walk On By", "What the World Needs Now Is Love", "I Say a Little Prayer", "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me", "One Less Bell to Answer", and "Anyone Who Had a Heart".

4. Elton John & Bernie Taupin
Elton has made magic with lyricist Taupin and wrote hits such as "Your Song" and Candle In the Wind". In fact the only time he didn't use Bernie was his "Victim of Love" album which resulted with no hits.

 

5. Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller
With hits such as "Hound Dog", "Stand By Me" and Jailhouse Rock". They have written the soundtrack of the 50's and beyond.

 

6. Holland, Dozier, Holland
Holland-Dozier-Holland is a songwriting and production team made up of Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian Holland and Edward Holland, Jr. They are one of the greatest songwriting teams in pop music. The trio wrote and arranged many of the songs making up the Motown sound that dominated American popular music in the 1960s with hits such as "Heat Wave", "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)", "You Can't Hurry Love" and more.

 

 

7. Carole King & Gerry Goffin
With iconic hits such as "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", "Up on the Roof" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman".

 

 

8. Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil
With pop anthems such as You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'", "Never Gonna Let You Go", "Make Your Own Kind of Music". This husband and wife team went on to create songs for numerous contemporary artists, winning a number of Grammy Awards and Academy Award nominations for their compositions for film.

 

9. Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman
Also known collectively as "Stock Aitken Waterman", this UK team has written #1 80's iconic hits such as: "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley, "Respectable" by Mel and Kim, and more.

 

10. Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
They have written hits for Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Mary J Blige, etc.
 

 

This article is brought to you by USA Songwriting Competition. For more information on USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net

 

 

 

 


Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Burt Bacharach, Paul McCartney, Top 10 Songwriting Team, Top 10 Songwriting Collaborations, John Lennon, Hal David, Rodgers, Hammerstein

Top 10 Most Influential Songwriters Alive

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, May 24, 2010 @09:55 PM

 

By Ira Greenfield

A few weeks ago, I sent out a tweet to ask who you think is the best songwriter alive. We received many messages on who they think is the best. This is a list I have compiled:

Bob Dylan

 

1. Bob Dylan
With inconic songs such as "Blowing In The Wind", "Like A Rolling Stone" and "Times Are A Changing", Dylan social messages ranked high above other songwriters today.


2. Paul McCartney
Paul is the most successful songwriter in the world, according to the Guiness Books of world records. With his stints in the greatest rock group in the world "The Beatles", later with "The Wings" and went on to a solo career. With his late co-writer Lennon,they are considered one of the greatest songwriting collaboration in history.


3. Elton John
He has written numerous hit songs with Bernie Taupin, their iconic songs "Your Song", "Candle In The Wind", "Rocketman". Not a day goes by that you do not hear any of these songs in a cover band in a hotel bar.


4. Neil Young
Neil has been in lengendary bands such as "Buffalo Springfield", "Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young" and later on a solo career.


5. Bruce Springsteen
With rock anthems such as "Born To Run", "Born In The USA", "Glory Days", need I say more?


6. Diane Warren
Just about every artist has cut a song written by Diane Warren. She was the first songwriter in the history of Billboard magazine to have seven hits, all by different artists, on the singles chart at the same time. Warren owns her own publishing company, Realsongs, which gives her control over her songs. Her number 1 hits include "Because You Loved Me", "Un-Break My Heart", "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing". She still remains the most in demand songwriter in the music industry today.


7. Desmond Child
Desmond has written iconic number 1 hits such as "Livin' on a Prayer", "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Livin' La Vida Loca". His diverse list of artists such as Bon Jovi, Ricky Martin, Cher, Aerosmith and Clay Aiken, Desmond is running close to Dianne Warren.


8. Paul Simon
From his days with Garfunkel, his solo career, his stint with South Africian music, Paul has written songs that mean something.


9. Brian Wilson
Brian was the primary songwriter in The Beach Boys, also functioning as the band's main producer, composer, and arranger. In 1988, Wilson and his band-mates were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which refers to him as "One of the few undisputed geniuses in popular music".


10. Leonard Cohen
Leonard Norman Cohen is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet and novelist. In 2010, Cohen received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Lou Reed described Cohen as belonging to the "highest and most influential echelon of songwriters."

 

For more information on the USA Songwriting Competition, please go tp: http://www.songwriting.net 


Tags: song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, Bob Dylan, Diane Warren, Paul Simon, Desmond Child, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Top 10 best songwriters, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Brian Wilson, Leonard Cohen

Songwriting Tip: Keep a Book or Recorder of Melodic Or Lyric Ideas

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, May 18, 2010 @05:37 PM

Sony Walkman

I sent a tweet last week and received so many comments and ideas from songwriters on how they record any ideas of melody, chords and lyric ideas.

These spur of the moment ideas can develop into a hit song or developing parts of a song when you least expect it, run out of ideas or need to finish writing a song. 

Here are some quick and simple ideas:

1. Scrap Book Paper. Have a book by your desk, bed or car handy to record any ideas you may have.

2. Flash Cards. Misha Sakharoff, a songwriter that is a fan on USA Songwriting Competition's Facebook page said he uses flash cards together with flash compatible cell phones.  He also remember to make backups once in a while.

3. Recorder. Whether it is old-schooled cassette recorder like the sony walkman recorder, MP3 or WAV recorders, this can be a great tool to record your most spontanous melodic ideas. Even hit songwriter Diane Warren records on a small tape recorder gives proof that you do not need the most advanced tools all the time.

4. Music Manuscript Staff Paper. For composer and songwriters who think in terms of melody, a quick sketch of how you want the melody to go can be great especially if you have writers block. 

5. Cell Phone. Yes, with cell phones getting more advanced these days, songwriters record ideas on thier cell phone wherever they are. China Street, a fan of USA Songwriting Competition's facebook page said "I also record mine on my cellphone and along with my mini cassette player."

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

 

 

Tags: song writer, lyric, Melody, Songwriting Tip, Book, Tape Recorder, Songwrter, ideas

USA Songwriting Competition Showcase At Bluebird Cafe

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Sun, May 16, 2010 @07:42 PM

Inspite of the floods in Nashville, the Bluebird Cafe showcase, presented by the USA Songwriting Competition was a full house! A big thank you to all that showed up to support our songwriters.

Carla Cappa performing:

Carla Cappa

 

Here is a picture of 4 songwriters in a round. This "songwriters in a round" format was orginated here at the Bluebird Cafe. Since then, many showcases around the world feature this "in a round format": Jonathan Ferreri & Carla Cappa facing camera: 

Songwriters In A Round

 

Here is Will Hopkins performing:

 Will Hopkins

 

Here is Anadara Arnold performing:

Anadara Arnold


The Songwriters line-up included:Carla Cappa (1st Prize - Rock/Alt, 14th USA Songwriting Competition)
Greg Trafidlo (1st Prize - Novelty, 14th USA Songwriting Competition)
Sherri Gough (Finalist - 14th USA Songwriting Competition)
Anadara Arnold (Honorable Mention)
Mandee Radford, Alathea (Honorable Mention)
Will Hopkins (Honorable Mention)
Jonathan Ferreri (Honorable Mention)
Lauren Strange

Liz Miller was the host for the showcase. Thank you Liz! She took pictures and videos.Here is a video of Carla Cappa performing with Jonathan Ferreri:

 

 

Click here to see other videos from the showcase:

http://www.youtube.com/user/usasongcomp 


 


 

 


Tags: Sherri Gough, Carla Coppa, Greg Trafidlo, Anadara Arnold, Mandee Radford, Alathea, Will Hopkins, Lauren Strange, Liz Miller

USA Songwriting Competition Podcast

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, May 12, 2010 @10:19 PM

Tune in to the USA Songwriting Competition Podcast.

Music featured in this episode by:

Melissa Greener – Bullets To Bite

Kyler England – You And I

Eric Colville - The End of War

Nicole Morier – Good Boy

Carla Coppa – I’m Not

Anne Simoni – Papagaio

Sarah Lonsert – Dancing Through Life

Jordan Zevon – Home

Ari Gold – Where the Music Takes You

The Waifs – Bridal Train

Kate Voegele – Only Fooling Myself

Listen to the songwriters radio podcast show here: 


MusicPlaylist
Music Playlist at MixPod.com

Tags: Kate Voegele, Sarah Lonsert, Nicole Morier, Ari Gold, Songwriter Radio show, The Waifs, Jordan Zevon, Anne Simoni, Eric Colville, The Rescues, Kyler England, Melissa Greener, Podcast

Songwriting & Composition Tool: NOTION SLE for Miroslav Philharmonik

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, Apr 28, 2010 @11:06 AM

 NOTION SLE for Miroslav Philharmonik

NOTION SLE for Miroslav Philharmonik
Just released today, First Playback and Music Notation Tool Designed Specifically for use with IK Multimedia’s Miroslav Philharmonik. IK Multimedia and NOTION Music have created NOTION SLE for Miroslav Philharmonik™, a special version of the award-winning NOTION3 scoring software that is customized for use with the award-winning Miroslav Philharmonik orchestral library by IK Multimedia.

NOTION SLE for Miroslav Philharmonik features instrumentation and articulation presets that automatically handle all articulation changes in the background, allowing for very realistic playback directly out of the score.   Songwriters and composers no longer need to spend hours programming presets, templates and articulation changes — they can now simply focus on creating compositions.

As you write and articulate your score, NOTION SLE will follow your instructions and automatically change to the appropriate Miroslav Philharmonik articulation patch during playback to accurately and realistically perform your score. Additionally, you can take full advantage of NOTION’s live performance features and conduct the full orchestra with an unmatched level of control.

Also included is a 32 stereo channel. Virtual, full mixing console that facilitates mixdown of the score, eliminating the need for an additional DAW.  Full export controls are included for producing MusicXML, audio and MIDI. For more information, visit:
http://www.ikmultimedia.com/notionsle

Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Composer, Songwriting & Composition Tool, Notation Tool, Miroslav Philharmonik. IK Multimedia, NOTION Music

GrooveMaker for the new iPad, Great Tool For Songwriting

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, Apr 26, 2010 @06:50 PM

Groovemaker For iPad

Released for the iPhone and iPod touch in August 2009, GrooveMaker has become one of the most popular mobile loop remixing apps. The GrooveMaker Free version has consistently been in the top 100 music apps with over 600,000 downloads, and the entire GrooveMaker family features 11 style-based apps for the most popular genres of music.
 
GrooveMaker for the new iPad offers the same smart features and streamlined workflow as the iPhone/iPod version for making music with loops, but also takes advantage of the new larger multi-touch surface to provide enhanced operation with an integrated, advanced controller.

Users will find a convenient mixer-like environment with large slider controls for volume, pan and master volume of the 8 controllable loop tracks, plus instant access to tempo, solo and mute functions all on the same screen.  

Also, GrooveMaker for iPad adds even more control when working with loops, providing a new level of creative flexibility.  Users can now switch “snapped” grooves with a single touch, plus control the number of loops that are automatically combined during a random mix. GrooveMaker iPad is the perfect addition to a DJ set, providing unlimited creative flexibility in live remixing and DJ applications.

GrooveMaker House, Hip-Hop and D’n’B contain over 300 loops each and are only $9.99/€7.99 from the iTunes App Store.

For more information on the new GrooveMaker for iPad apps, please visit:
http://www.GrooveMaker.com/ipad

Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, GrooveMaker, iPad, songwriting tool

Songwriting Tips: Four Steps To Writing A Hit Chorus

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, Apr 20, 2010 @06:40 PM

Four Easy Steps to Writing A Hit Chorus

by Molly-Ann Leikin, Songwriting Consultant


How To Write A Hit Chorus

Want to learn to be better in songwriting? No matter how sophisticated our technology, a melody is still a series of single notes. Nobody ever sings chords or tracks.  They sing individual notes.


While creating music, some of us might hear melodic and/or rhythmic ideas in our heads, then high-hurdle the sofa en route to the keyboard to play and record them right away. Others may not hear anything specific, but will feel that lightning urge to create and hope they'll find some magic hidden between the black and white keys. But no matter where we find our music, or where it finds us, a melody is still a series of single notes.
You can't hum a track.


When there are problems with a melody, ( and most of them can't be fixed in the studio), they can be solved very simply by going back to the individual notes. Never mind how good the drum fills or harmonies are, or how cool the sax sounds in the bridge. If you find you have melody problems, and your hooks aren't strong enough, go back to square one - note one, and let's see where the trouble is.


I think of choruses as nursery rhymes for adults - short, repetitive, irresistibly singalongable, easy to remember. This may sound silly or disparaging to those of you with Julliard degrees, or who've been in bands all your lives. But if you aren't getting where you thought you should have gotten by now in your careers, you could change all that for the better in ten minutes.


When my clients are having melody problems, I assign them the nursery rhyme game. That is simply choosing five different nursery rhymes - doesn't matter which ones - "Mary Had A Little Lamb", "Humpty Dumpty", "Jack and Jill", "Itsy Bitsy Spider", "Ring around a Rosie" - any five. All nursery rhymes have just one musical section, which I call the verse. This exercise will show you how to write a simple, repetitive chorus to each of those verses, and that is basic melody construction.


Step One : from the last note of the verse melody, go up a major third to the first note of the chorus. (eg: C to E). Notice I said note, not chord.


Step two : tap a rhythm on your knee or on your desk - a rhythm that is dramatically different from the rhythm of the verse melody. Try several different rhythms, - don't stop with the first thing that pops into your head. Record everything. You never know what'll come up and you may not remember some of the good stuff.


Step three : once you have a rhythm that you like that is unexpected, starting on the note a major third up from the last note of the verse, add individual notes to create a short chorus. Make sure you repeat your chorus's first line somewhere in the body of that section. Beginners will write lines one and three the same, two and four the same, but you can write your choruses however you like. Be sure you don't simplify the process too much, and write predictably. And be careful not to borrow someone else's melody.


Step four : test your chorus with your verse. Is it surprisingly different? Or is it too similar? Could you tweak it a little? Change even one note? Remove two? Vary a rhythm pattern? Record everything and put your files aside for a day or two. Then listen again. If your new "melody" makes it through the night, chances are it's right. And although it's "just a nursery rhyme", you'll have very deliberately constructed a note-by-note melody with a strong hook. When you're 100% happy with it, THEN add the chords and the track.


Change the process, change the result.
For more suggestions on easily strengthening your music and lyrics, please refer to my books, How To Write A Hit Song and How To Be A Hit Songwriter. Both are available in paperback.

© 2010 Molly-Ann Leikin www.songmd.com    
Molly-Ann Leikin (rhymes with bacon) is a songwriting consultant with dozens of gold and platinum records plus an Emmy nomination. The author of “How To Write A Hit Song, Fifth Edition” and “How To Be A Hit Songwriter”, and the producer of “Molly-Ann Leikin’s Master Class in Songwriting”, Molly consults with talented writers and artists all over the world, with a view to helping them market their material. She also matches lyricists with composers. And she’s very good at it. Three of her clients have Grammy nominations, another won an Emmy, and so far, 5068 others, with Molly’s help, have placed their work in movies, on TV, CD’s and in commercials. Molly also writes articles for USA Songwriting Competition e-mail newsletters. Her website is www.songmd.com, and you can reach her at songmd@songmd.com. If you live in the USA or Canada, you can call her toll-free at 800-851-6588. However, please check her website first so your conversation is as productive as possible.

For more information on the USA Songwriting Competition, please go tp: http://www.songwriting.net 

Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, lyric, hit songwriter, Lyrics, lyric writing, Molly-Ann Leikin, how to write a better song, hit song writer

Five Steps To Improve Your Songwriting

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, Apr 14, 2010 @12:43 PM

by Ira Greenfield

I have been asked so many times how do you write a good song. Here are five main ways you can use to your advantage:

1. Song Structure
We have received many songs at the USA Songwriting Competition. Many songs received are free-formed and hard to follow. Every good song has a good structure such as AABA or Verse/Refrain. Structure such as: verse leads to the chorus back to the verse and then chorus, bridge and lastly chorus is probably the most popular. Let’s stick to what works and then break the rules once you are good at it.

2. Compose Good Lyrics
I like songs with a good story or lyrics that actually say something. Avoid cliches such as “I’ll never break your heart, I’ll never tear you apart”, words like that has been done before and you want to say it in a different angle. Write lyrics that would bring imagery to the listener as well as a hook to it. You want a theme to begin with it. A good idea is “Unbreak My Heart”, this shows great sense of craft and artistry even in the title itself. In this case, the writer “created” a word “Unbreak”. If it was “Don’t Break My Heart”, it would have been quite ordinary and would not have the same effect.

3. Compose Good Melodies
Many songs we received sound more improvisational than actual composition. You have to sit down to sculpt out a melody for the verse and a melody or hook for the chorus. You want to make the melody chorus sound memorable and sound a little different from the verse. Good melodies are found in the current hit “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum. The bang on chorus is catchy and well thought out.

4. Developing good chord structure and background music.
You need a good chord progression to go with your melody. It doesn’t matter which come first and it doesn’t matter if you collaborate with someone who is a keyboardist, guitarist or producer who writes a great chord progression or produces a music “bed” for you to write your melody. There is no secret many hit songwriters/artists do it this way: Jason Derülo, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey have all written songs this way by going over a piece of background music.

5. Artistry And Intangibles
This is probably the hardest to come by. Iconic songs such as “Boom Boom Pow” by Black Eye Peas, “Poker Face” by Lady Ga Ga, “Californication” by Red Hot Chilli Peppers, “Believe” by Cher, “Angie” by Rolling Stones, “My Way” by Paul Anka are examples of songs that have been composed and re-composed over many times before the song can be recorded. Love them or hate them, there is a sense of artistry in each an every one of these songs. I would suggest focus on what you are good at: If you are good at say writing music but not so good at writing lyrics, I would suggest hooking up with a lyricist, someone who can write good lyrics.

Ira Greenfield works in business development at USA Songwriting Competition. For more information on USA Songwriting Competition, please visit: http://www.songwriting.net.

Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting Tips, improve your songwriting skills