The Muse's News
||The Muse's News
Copyright 1998-2011 - Jodi Krangle.
For more contact information, see end of issue.
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It's starting to get colder ... Brrrr. (Ok. You folks in warmer climates? Hush. ;) )
I hope you all have an especially spooky and enjoyable Halloween ahead of you (I anticipate this newsletter going out before the 31st). For my Canadian friends, I hope your Thanksgiving was full of family and friends and a great deal to be thankful for. And for my American friends, I wish that for your upcoming Thanksgiving. Enjoy! I'm not sure what other holidays are upcoming or have just passed around the world, but if you want to write and tell me, I'd love to hear about it. :) I don't know about you, but I find this time of the year most inspiring for writing - both good and bad. ;)
I'm going to get right to the meat and potatoes of this issue since there's a lot to get to. And I should mention that the book reviewed this month is witten by our very own columnist, Beth Lawrence! I highly recommend you check out her column when you get a chance. But her book is a revelation - as Anastasia will explain. :)
If you'd like to be put into the raffle for some great prizes - just for being a subscriber to this newsletter, there's instructions on how to do that below the current list of raffle winners here:
Adrian Zanetti from Brisbane Australia, has won a 6 month membership to GuitarMasterClass.net. GMC has tons of helpful videos, instructors and lessons along with a forum for chatting with teachers and students 24/7, recording collaborations, attending video chats, & content for bass, drums, singing, piano, etc.
Patty Wood Anderson, from Lindstrom, MN, has won a free 3 month membership to SongU, an Internet-based learning environment providing online coaching, co-writing and pitching opportunities, in addition to over 70 multi-level courses developed by award-winning songwriters.
- Robert Hershenow, from Roseville, CA, has won a copy of Virtual Studio Systems' Lyricist software.
If you'd like to be considered for a raffle prize yourself, have a look at the various prizes offered at the top of The Muse's News webpage, decide which prizes you'd most like, and email me with your top two choices along with your mailing address so that I can get the prizes to you. Yes, it's really that simple. :) (And yes, the mailing address is kinda important. I promise it won't be used for any other reason than to send you your raffle prize - and to mention your approximate location in the notice of raffle winners you see above here.)
Enjoy this spooooooky time of year and Happy Writing!
All the best,
(Many thanks to the sponsors that help support this newsletter!)
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Great music is only a click away!
Here is a selection of the great artists and bands highlighted
the Artist Spotlight section of The Muse's Muse.
Melissa Auf der Maur - Genre: ROCK
For her second solo album “Out of Our Minds” Melissa wanted a more diverse album than her first. She made a creative promise to herself to try new things. For example: For the first time, she wrote a song for someone else’s voice and persona: “Father’s Grave” her duet with one of her teenage heroes Glenn Danzig. She pushed herself to write songs starting with different root sources: the bass, the piano, autoharp, lyrics, melody, guitar, a drum beat. She also made a commitment to herself to return to her visual and conceptual art roots, and make an accompanying “Out of Our Minds” fantasy film and comic.
|Songwriting Book Review
By: Anastasia Karalekas
"From Shower to Stage! 7 Easy Steps for Singing Like a Pro"
by Beth Lawrence
I’d like to introduce you to my new singing coach, Beth Lawrence, author of the book, “From Shower to Stage! 7 Easy Steps for Singing Like a Pro”.
Beth has quite an impressive bio. She has been studying singing for over 30 years, and the result is this gem of a book she has published to teach us her singing method, The Lawrence System. With this book, you will learn 7 simple steps to improve your singing, and help to correct anything you may have been taught wrongly in the past.
If you’ve taken singing lessons somewhere along the line, you may very likely have been taught wrong things, and therefore developed bad habits which have caused you to not enjoy singing as it should be enjoyed – joyfully! Beth accurately describes the most common mistakes taught by many singing instructors, and then tells you how to do it the right way.
The exercises in the Lawrence System force you to focus on things other than hitting the right notes, and before you know it, you’re able to sing notes you didn’t think you could, and without straining. The improvements come easily, but you do have to make the effort to practice the exercises, to replace old habits with new ones. If you have about 15 minutes a day, the end result will all be worth it. You’ll forget about producing a perfect tone, but rather focus on releasing your natural voice. And that’s when you find yourself wanting to sing, no matter who’s around… or whether you’re in the shower or not.
Relax… Beth’s method promotes relaxation, because, not only is it important in our everyday stressful lives, but it is also important to be relaxed in order to sing properly. Being nervous doesn’t help us do anything well, singing included. However if you relax, and know what you’re doing, you’ll sing like you never imagined you could. You may be hiding the next Beyoncé or Steven Tyler, (or fill in your own blank here) somewhere in there; and if not, that’s okay; the one thing you will certainly learn is to be confident enough in your ability to sing, and that’s really all some of us may be striving for here.
This book is not only about the ABC’s of how to sing. Beth gets you to involve your whole self – body and mind – in your singing. I found that these 7 steps were all I needed. The exercises are simple and effective. And you can practice them anywhere – in your car, in the kitchen while cooking, even when you’re in the shower!
Finally, you’ll definitely want to read this book more than once. I read it the first time, just soaking up all the information. Then I read it again, this time actually doing the exercises as I went along. And I'm not done yet. I plan to keep reading it over again until I no longer need to consult it, until all the information becomes second nature to me. (And then I’m going to lend it to a friend of mine who recently claimed she has the worst singing voice ever.)
This book comes with a CD for vocal exercises based on the Lawrence System. These exercises are so well explained, they’re not just there for you to mimic. In fact, before each exercise, Beth describes the exercise, she then explains the purpose of it, and then guides you along, sitting at her piano while you stand beside her.
I believe I have found the only singing teacher I’ll ever need. And I highly recommend her to you, too.
PS: Beth has a Viva La Voice column in The Muse’s News. Check it out!
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Anastasia Karalekas is a self-taught guitarist and music absorber. When she is not learning, learning, learning, she spends her time writing fiction and poetry. After taking some private guitar lessons, her teacher encouraged her to try putting some of her poems to music, and she's been writing songs ever since.
If you'd like *your* book reviewed (as long as it has something
to do with songwriting, of course!), please do email us and let
(Many thanks to the sponsors that help support this newsletter!)
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|Musical Notes: Songwriting Contests & Market Info.
In the interest of conserving space (when I need to), I will be including only
changes to this listing in this newsletter. All other contests
and market information that have already been listed here, are
displayed at http://www.musesmuse.com/contests.html &
Please check there regularly for updates!
13th ANNUAL GREAT AMERICAN SONG CONTEST NOW ACCEPTING ENTRIES!
The Great American Song Contest features awards for 45 winners in 9 categories and provides $10,000 in Prizes. Entrants receive written song evaluations from music-industry judges, including publishers, music producers and recording artists. Open to songwriters, lyricists and composers around the world. Sponsored by Songwriters Resource Network, a trusted educational resource for songwriters everywhere. Submission deadline has been extended to November 30, 2011!
For details, visit: http://www.GreatAmericanSong.com
A UNIQUE CHRISTMAS SONG CONTEST!
Send in your original Christmas song to The Indie Reviewer at http://www.indiereviewer.com/christmas-song-contest.html for our one of a kind Christmas song contest. Winners will be featured on the homepages of www.indiereviewer.com and www.googleplusformusicians.com for one month, and entry is free! Voting is fan-based, and the last day to enter is November 25th.
AWARD WINNING SONGWRITER OFFERING SONGWRITING TIPS AND CRITIQUING SERVICES
Award winning songwriter Jane Eamon is offering songwriting one on one classes via Skype. These sessions are one hour in length and can cover any topic you'd like to address. From writing, to critique, to ideas and games. Or just to share your thoughts and get feedback. If you're interested in a session contact firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a class.
SELL YOUR MUSIC FOR FREE & KEEP 100% OF YOUR SALES
VibeDeck is a free direct-to-fan music sales solution that's easy to use and quick to set up. All you need is your digital tracks, some album artwork and a PayPal account. When a fan buys your music, the money goes directly into your PayPal account so you can access it immediately. VibeDeck does not take a cut or charge a service subscription fee. It's truly free, easy and invaluable for any artist with music to share with the world.
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MUSIKPITCH: NEW ONLINE MARKETPLACE FOR SONGWRITING OPPORTUNITIES
MusikPitch is a brand new website where songwriters can find the
latest opportunities from companies, studios, and individuals
looking for custom songs. It's a straightforward marketplace,
where you can get your music heard and win contracts, regardless
of your experience and location. New projects are posted daily —
from big name movie studios and company brands to non-profits and
schools. Start browsing for great new opportunities today! http://www.musikpitch.com
SONGWRITING CONSULTATION SPECIAL OFFER:
Pete and Pat Luboff are offering a special rate to Muse's Muse
readers on a single song consultation: http://www.writesongs.com/consults.html MM readers get a $5
discount by sending $15 via PayPal to email@example.com instead of using the $20 single-song button on the site. Please
email the songs to the same address (mp3 attachment with the
lyrics in the body of the email - lyrics only are fine).
Response will be by email.
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Muse's Clues - By John Brhel
©2011 John Brhel. All Rights Reserved.
Used By Permission
Queen is the champion. According to a group of British scientists, the catchiest pop song of all time is Queen’s 1977 single “We Are The Champions.” The song apparently towers over all for its ability to inspire sing-alongs at wedding, bars and the like, as reported in a September 2011 article for NME.
Whether or not you agree or disagree with the results of this pseudo-study (it’s a great song and all, but I can think of at least 100 others I’d rather sing in the shower), it does raise some important questions as to what makes a song truly memorable.
For further analysis, let’s take a trip back to the idyllic mid-1990s, to a time when Hootie and Alanis ruled all. Familiar with these lyrics?
“Look around your world pretty baby
Is It everything you hoped it’d be?
The wrong guy, the wrong situation
The right time to roll to me.”
“Roll to Me,” Del Amitri
While it might not be the type of song you’d sing while pouring a jug of Gatorade on your coach, Del Amitri’s 1995 hit single “Roll to Me” happens to be one of my favorite pop songs of all time. It doesn’t’ reinvent the wheel, but this breezy post-Nirvana ditty boasts a great sing-along melody, solid harmonies, and dare I say it, early Beatles craftsmanship. How many hit songs beyond 1980 feature an AABA structure? Luckily, I’m not the only one that finds “Roll to Me” to be a timeless pop song. That distinction also belongs to Jonathan Sanders at PajamasMedia. In an October 2011 article titled “The Five Secret Ingredients for the Perfect Pop Song” Sanders cites “Roll to Me” as an example of a perfect pop song for its taking a minimalist approach and “getting in and out in two minutes,” like “Bye Bye Love” by The Everly Brothers and other pre-British Invasion singles.
The perfect pop song has been the goal of many a songwriter, myself included. Rivers Cuomo, singer/songwriter for alternative rock band Weezer, once analyzed the songs of Green Day, Oasis and Nirvana and documented his results in a three-ring binder dubbed “The Encyclopedia of Pop.” Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain actually proclaimed that he “was trying to write the ultimate pop song” upon the success of the single “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Sanders, like the scientists mentioned in NME’s article and Mr. Cuomo, has attempted to narrow down the elements that make up a perfect pop song himself, albeit in a less scientific manner. While music may have a lot to do with math, there is no perfect formula to writing a hit single (ask any hit songwriter). Sanders brings up a few great points that might help steer you in the right direction, whether you’ve got your sights set on Billboard or simply winning over a coffee shop.
“While the pop consciousness is always shifting and evolving, specific elements have remained important staples through the decades. These qualities stand out and create the memorable from amongst otherwise ephemeral pop wonders.” –Sanders
What else besides minimalism translates to pop perfection, according to Sanders? Repetition. What? Repetition, repetition, repetition. If the ability to inspire sing-alongs is part of what makes a perfect pop song, then repetition is certainly important. Whether it’s a singer/songwriter leading a class of kindergartners or a dolled-up rock star trying to energize a crowd of thousands (I’m looking at you KISS), the inclusion of easy to remember, repetitious lyrics is key to listener involvement. If you’ve only got a few minutes to work with, you’ve got to make it stick. Just one playback of Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely?” and you’re sure to walk away remembering the title and melody.
Oh, how dated much of today’s four-to-the-floor pop music will be years from now. While every era has its distinct sounds, be it the fuzzed-out guitars of the late 1960s or the gated drums of the 1980s, the truly great ones stand on their own regardless of their quaint production techniques. Why is “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” still a radio staple? It’s got a great melody and a distinct lyric that set it apart from the swarm of New Wavy singles out at the time. You can perform it with just a vocalist and an acoustic guitar and it’d still be a great song. Don’t let yourself be bogged down by over-instrumentation or attempting to achieve a “modern” sound when writing your song. In the words of Sanders, “strip it down to the essentials.” Stand out from the crowd. Don’t be another dub step, electropop statistic. Give your song some identity.
Sanders’ article lists more elements of what he believes make for the perfect pop song, so be sure to give it a read. But look at it as inspiration, not as a rulebook to follow. As it’s been said, there’s no guaranteed way to write the perfect pop song, discounting the Jackson Five’s “ABC” of course.
John Brhel is a songwriter from upstate New York who wrote his first batch of pop songs before graduating from elementary school. A lover of all music, John writes country songs, plays in a punk band and spends a good deal of his free time listening to Diane Warren ballads. John regularly attends industry events in New York and Los Angeles and is a member of ASCAP and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. A lover of melody and the left-field chord change, John lives and breathes songs. He is always on the lookout for Skype cowriters.
Featured Article - By Brad Dunse
QUICK TIP: Evaluate This Pal!
Your last song is fresh off the frets, the best song ever! Fam and friends slapped a hole on the back of your shirt from all the "'at a boys". Now you're off to the songwriting group and they're gonna flip too, they'll eat it right up.
Well? Eating it up might be the wrong phrase, chewing it up and spitting it out might be? How could I say such a thing? From years of seeing toothy marks in my song's lyric evaluation sheets. Let's cut straight to the chase. Here are some stages you might feel if you've had little to no experience with song evaluations, or perhaps even if you have some…
• Shocked! Open mouth… irked… how dare they say that about my song!!
• Hurt: Feel yourself getting' a little pissed off actually
• Defensive: Pretty much quiverin' lipped and fully red faced pissed off now
• Self-doubt and even more hurt: Am I really a songwriter anyway? Still a little ticked they got you thinking this way.
• Getting a grip: How dare they be so bold… but I see one or two points… maybe.
• Aggressive determination: Oh yeah? I'll show them I know how to write a freakin' song
• Down to biz: Spit black feathers… the crow's a little over done… OK maybe a spot or two more that I thought needs fixin'… maybe
• Group re-evaluation: Smile big when lipstick and little hearts come in on your lyric sheets instead of teeth marks, and they're high fiving you for re-writing it to a much better song. Hey these guys aren't so bad after all.
OK so I exaggerated a tad there and I'm not dissing evaluations or writer's groups. Quite the opposite. I've established some awesome friendships and met fantastically supportive people in songwriting groups.
Evaluations are great experiences and an invaluable tool, but sometimes folks can get taken back from the feedback on their little babies. Good constructive criticism on your songs is a great teacher. In fact I'll even say if you get a clueless jerk saying "I have no idea what you were thinking here, this just isn't good writing… are you sure you want to be a songwriter?" … if that occurs, try this… after curling the lips upwards nice and polite on the outside, hiding the gritted teeth, after you've gone home and cussed a hole in the wall, after you've popped a vein and a vocal cord for the audacity of that jerk! I'd suggest you sit down with your song and a fav beverage, and see if anything they said was actually valid. You might be quite surprised.
Don't let the way someone says something rob you of the benefit their experience might hold. Just because you don't like the way they said it, doesn't mean they were wrong. Evaluations of your songs are one of the best teachers you can get.
Here's some friendly advice. I know some defensive writers that if I were to offer a constructive evaluation, invariably there'll be a defensive justification with a stern tone from them. So what do I do? I no longer give feedback on their songs. Why would I want to step in a pile of controversy every time I open my mouth? Beats me. It's just easier to remain silent, waiting out their time. They in turn lose any input I might have had, however valuable it may have or have not been. That's not a place you want to be, because if one person feels that way about your defenses, there are likely others as well; and you are not getting the medicine you need in order to be the best songwriter you can be, which is what it's all about.
When you're in the hot seat up in front of the room or on the other side of the publisher's desk, smile, nod, say a lot of stuff like "Thank you. Ah yes… I see…. OK. Hmmm…. That's good yes. Thanks I appreciate that. That's interesting, I'll make note of that." No matter how you feel in the moment just take your medicine as if you've taken it a thousand times before without making an ugly face. Then take it back home and once you've cooled down, really look at it.
If you don't belong to a songwriter group, I highly suggest you try attending one. They really are an awesome support for your writing. You'll be surprised how encouraging and helpful folks really are, after all, they've been there and know how it is to have peers look at their songs.
Brad Dunse is a performing songwriter based deep in the country's heartland reflecting sensitivity of daily living in his songs. Writing primarily in Folk, Country, Pop, or Americana, he occasionally writes CCM. Co-writer of The Wall, a tribute to Viet Vets receiving major market airplay, he's also received airplay on NPR, local public, independent, and web radio. He is a freelance writer, is board member of Minnesota Association of Songwriters, been member or involved in ASCAP, NSAI, SongU and other organizations. You can visit his web site at WWW.BRADDUNSEMUSIC.COM as well Add As Facebook Friend or Follow Him On Twitter.
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THE 11th EDITION OF THE INDIE BIBLE IS NOW AVAILABLE!
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LYRICIST VERSION 3: THE SONGWRITER'S BEST FRIEND
Lyricist is the first-of-its-kind word processor designed
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The new version 3 release adds support for "Piano Style" chord
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Limited Introductory Offer of $12.95 for Digital Download
Discounts for CD, and CD/Digital Download Combo shown on ordering
For Classifieds: US$50 Max. 7 lines (though I
do make exceptions), where a line = 65 characters including
spaces and punctuation. All contracts must be prepaid. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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