Blog Archives

Originality in songwriting

Is it possible to be original in songwriting? There is that famous verse in the Bible: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) All

Posted in Creativity & Craftsmanship

The Elements of Eloquence (notes on Forsyth’s book)

Mark Forsyth’s book The Elements of Eloquence: How To Turn the Perfect English Phrase (Icon, London 2013) is not likely to be on many songwriters’ shelves, but I think it makes a great contribution to any songwriter’s reference library. This a

Posted in Lyric writing

Songwriting – a bibliography

How do you learn songwriting from scratch? What should be included in Lesson 1 of a songwriting course? The answers depend on where you are starting from, where you want to get to, what kind of journey you are interested

Posted in Books Tagged with: , , ,

Tunesmith: inside the art of songwriting (notes on Webb’s book)

I have long believed that singers become better interpreters of a song if they understand how that song is put together. That means studying the lyrics just as text, ideas, rhetoric, rhyme, metaphor, form, unfolding of character and narrative, message,

Posted in Books, Creativity & Craftsmanship, Music Business Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Putting the listener first – 4 useful tests for your lyrics

Jason Blume (who has some great tips on songwriting) makes the important point: “It’s been said that great songs are rarely written—they are rewritten.” This means that we need to have tools that will help us edit and rewrite. This

Posted in Lyric writing

Lyrics need to make sense – use simple language

Songwriters can easily fall into a trance about their lyrics, and not realise that the lyrics don’t make sense to the listener (that’s assuming the singer is enunciating clearly enough for the listener to make out what the words are …). The lyricist may

Posted in Lyric writing

Critique your song lyrics using Gricean maxims

Songwriters need to be able to critique, edit and rewrite their own lyrics. It is helpful to have criteria by which to test the effectiveness of a lyric. What is not working? Why? What could we do to fix it? As part of

Posted in Lyric writing

Songwriting for musical theatre – advice from Jason Robert Brown

The following notes are extended quotations from the 1.5 hour YouTube video of the Jason Robert Brown Songwriting Masterclass, published on 22 Feb 2013 by the The Dramatists Guild of America. “Jason Robert Brown (born June 20, 1970) is an American musical

Posted in Music Theatre Tagged with: , , , ,

Sondheim on songwriting (2)

I have introduced Stephen Sondheim in my blog article ‘Stephen Sondheim on Songwriting (1)‘. This piece is a set of notes that I made on the book: Mark Eden Horowitz (2010) Sondheim on Music: Minor Details and Major Decisions (2nd edition), Scarecrow Press.

Posted in Books, Lyric writing, Music Theatre, Music writing / Composing

Surviving the music industry – Iggy Pop

On Sunday 19 October, 2014, BBC televised the John Peel Lecture by Iggy Pop. He had some very interesting things to say about being a creative artist and  how to navigate the music industry. He also spoke eloquently about how

Posted in Music Business