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The Muse's News
The Muse's News
An E-zine For And About Songwriters.
Issue 17.2
May 2014

In This Issue:
* Editor's Musings
* Music Reviews - None this month - Send in your music! :)
* New Artist Spotlight Additions
* Songwriting Book Review - by Tim Zbikowski
* Musical Notes - Songwriting Contests & Market Info.
* Muse's Clues - Songwriting Web sites that inspire - by adventurer and songwriter, Richard Miller.
* Featured Article: Quick Tip: What Do Rubber Bands, Sneezes, and Melodies Have In Common? by Brad Dunse
* On Site Featured Article - An article (or articles) already online for your viewing pleasure.
* Classifieds & Useful Services
* Contact information
ISSN 1480-6975. Copyright 1998-2014 - Jodi Krangle.
For more contact information, see end of issue.


All sorts of products and services especially for songwriters, negotiated so that you get the best price possible. You'll find means of promotion and distribution, songwriting aids, educational products, musical instruments and their accessories, and lots more. Any of these items would make a fantastic present for a songwriter in your life (even if it's you! :-) ) Have a Look!


I personally use HostDime - and LOVE them. Really. Their service is superb and prompt, they really know what they're doing, you can chat with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and their pricing (The Muse's Muse uses a dedicated server) is very reasonable. Check them out!

Sponsor Message:
(Many thanks to the sponsors that help support this newsletter!)

Write Better Songs with MasterWriter 2.0 - at a New Price!WRITE BETTER SONGS WITH MASTERWRITER 2.0 - NEW PRICE!
(And Muse's News readers *still* get a special discount!)

Looking for something really special for that songwriter in your life? (Maybe it's you!) MasterWriter 2.0 is the most powerful suite of songwriting tools ever assembled in one program. MasterWriter is endorsed by ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, NSAI and is used by some of the world's leading songwriters including Gwen Stefani, Rob Thomas, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Jimmy Webb, Kenny Loggins, Trent Reznor, Clint Black, and many more.

In addition to giving you Rhymes, Close Rhymes, Phrases, Pop-Culture, Synonyms, and the Definition, new features include Word Families and Parts Of Speech, two unique and revolutionary reference dictionaries that will open up a new world of possibilities for descriptive words and ideas. There have been updates and improvements to the existing features, including greatly expanded Sound-Alikes (close rhymes), and a completely redesigned Interface. These are serious tools for the serious songwriter.

MasterWriter's NEW price is now only $199 - but you'll still get a *$20* discount (your price is just $179!) by ordering through The Muse's Muse! Take the Tour, Download a Free Trial, and get a $20 discount! Note that the auto-inserted discount number 3004 will apply the $20 discount when ordering online. Windows and Mac compatible.

Editor's Musings:

Well folks, for those of us just coming out of the deep freeze, I salute you. :) Honestly, it's been a bit quiet around here. That can be nice sometimes. To me, it anticipates a *really* busy summer. Hope it does for you guys too!

Unfortunately, David M Taylor II discovered he'd overextended himself and had to step down as our new Muse's Clues writer. We have a replacement, however. And I'm really excited about this because I think he'll bring you some great options for both online resources *and* apps for your iPad, iPhone or android device. His latest article is included below so I hope you'll join me in welcoming, Richard Miller. I think you'll really enjoy his unique perspective.

Moving right along, the raffle winners this month are:

  • Miguel Capelo, from Durban, South Africa, has won a copy of Virtual Studio Systems' Lyricist software.
  • Bethany Bastura from Austin, TX, has won a copy of James Moore's digital music marketing book, "Your Band Is A Virus - Expanded Edition". This edition is the bigger and better version of the bestselling book "Your Band Is A Virus - Behind-the-Scenes & Viral Marketing for the Independent Musician". Almost double the size of it's predecessor, it's the ultimate music marketing guide for serious independent musicians and bands. 

  • Rose Johnson, from Briarcliff Manor, NY, 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.

  • Terri Evenson from Nashville, TN, has won a 6 month membership to 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.

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.)

Really glad to have you with us and I hope you have a wonderfully inspirational spring!

All the best,


Sponsor Message:
(Many thanks to the sponsors that help support this newsletter!)


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Learn the one mistake even professional singers make, that drains away 3 times more vocal energy and yields only half the needed vocal power. Find out about the 3 simple exercises that allow even a "beginner" to make rapid increases in range (this also eliminates vocal strain). Learn Brett's secret for "dissolving" your break, so you'll never have to flip into falsetto again, but you'll still sing as high as you want--in full voice - and LOTS more.

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Music Reviews:


It's been a slow month, so no new reviews at this point ...

Click here for bios on each of the reviewers. If you're considering sending in your own CD for review, you can also view that page to find out which reviewer reviews your genre. Thanks!

Artist Spotlights:

Great music is only a click away!
Here is a selection of the great artists and bands highlighted
in the Artist Spotlight section of The Muse's Muse.


Irene Jackson - Genre: SINGER/SONGWRITER

Jackson's introspective, refreshingly cheerful Folk Pop recalls the glory days of James Taylor and Carole King. The sweet-voiced Canadian sings about the pleasures and pains of ordinary life in a quotidian way that draws favorable comparisons to a less countrified Nanci Griffith.

Songwriting Book Review By: Tim Zbikowski

The Ultimate Book on Songwriting
by Al Kasha

If you intend to write a book with this title you better have good credentials, and Al Kasha does.  He is a highly successful songwriter in multiple genres with credits in TV, film (including Disney) and movie or stage musicals.  Al and cowriter Joel Hirschorn won Academy Awards for "The Morning After" in the Poseidon Adventure and "We May Never Love Like This Again" in the Towering Inferno.

This book is easy to read, but checking in at 324 pages, you likely won't go cover-to-cover in one sitting.  Al references hundreds of song titles to illustrate his points, of which I will note a few.

Al suggests you subject your songs to the "hummable test": "Can the piece be whistled, hummed, remembered?" 

Expressing his thoughts on perfect rhymes versus near rhymes, Al comments you may be choosing between going for a perfect rhyme, or instead going for the best thought by using a near rhyme.  Also, should you include internal rhymes or will they seem forced?  To aid your decision, he recommends "talking your lyrics" to determine if they sound natural.  "The ultimate achievement is lyrics that are conversational pictures."

If you want your lyrics to sound modern, Al recommends becoming familiar with current expressions.  However, be careful of using words that may become quickly dated.  (When's the last time you put a dime in a pay phone?)

Al discusses some specific details of songs.  For example, titles are important and can define a story, list, mood or tempo for a song.  "Write powerful first lines, lines that stir the emotion and build tension."  Set the "tonal flavor" by using language in your lyrics matching that used by the characters in the song.

Kasha devotes several chapters to writing for film or TV and movie or stage musicals.  One comment I found interesting was the songwriter’s job is not to write the story, rather it is to write about the feelings or emotions of the scene or characters.  Additional chapters describe the demo process, making records, and choosing publishers.  He includes a chapter on collaboration and an extended one on Christian songwriting, a topic not commonly covered in songwriting texts. 

Throughout the book, Al relates a very substantial amount of his personal experiences gained in a long and productive career.  He concludes with comments on creating your own image and brand and hopes you will be inspired to "make it big".

Although I honestly believe there will never be one ultimate book on songwriting, I do think ultimately you will learn something from Al Kasha in "The Ultimate Book on Songwriting."  Write on!



Tim Zbikowski is an active member of the Minnesota Association of Songwriters, assisting with song critiques and presentations on songwriting. His introduction to music was piano lessons in the early 1960’s. He played drums in a garage band and in his high school’s band program. Tim bought his first personal computer in 1984 and by the 1990’s connected a keyboard to a computer. When notes appeared on a staff on the monitor, he was hooked forever! Tim is a free-lance audio engineer, seriously studies the craft of songwriting, and enjoys the mental recreation and stimulation of writing in multiple genres.

Sponsor Message:
(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 &
Please check there regularly for updates!

Jason Blume & Mary Gauthier: 2 Incredible Songwriting Mentors in One Amazing Place

All-inclusive means 14 chef-prepared meals, beverages, snacks, daily social hour, all songwriting workshops and master classes, a 1-on-1 with one of our songwriting mentors, full use of our resort amenities and if it book by May 31st......a free whitewater rafting adventure! Early bird pricing starting from $799 for Camping and $899 for lodging for the 6 day/5 night retreat. Mary Gauthier & Jason Blume Retreat:

"First, Measure Your Songwriting Ability. Then Improve It."

All-inclusive 4-day/3-night event with camping in own tent or RV + 9 meals + socials + drinks.Choose to add lodging to this package, see website for prices. Early-Bird Pricing: Base rate: $595 US pp. Wayne Chase Intensive:
Combine both retreats (this one and REO above) for an unbelievable week at our private and secluded river’s edge resort July 2014.  To make a reservation call: 1-800-736-72381-800-736-7238 or email

A REVOLUTIONARY NEW WAY TO SHARE AND PROMOTE MUSIC pays Fans to Follow and Promote Songs and is 100% FREE to join for both recording artists and music fans. Join us in our mission of making Tunii the future of the music industry where together we can all share in the success for connecting artists and fans around the world. Sign up today through this special Muse's Muse link and please check out our short “How Tunii works video” It's Easy, it's FREE and it's Fun!


Getting great gigs, building your audience and selling more merchandise is exactly what your career is all about. This online course is jam-packed with 12 hours of downloadable audio mp3s and PDF Action Guides. There are 5 modules: Module 1: Tour Goals & Planning Strategies, Module 2: Routing Your Tours, Module 3: Negotiation Techniques & Contracts, Module 4: Working with Presenters, Bookers, Promoters/Advancing the Date, Module 5: Targeting Your Markets for Maximum Audiences. Plus 2 hours of bonus classes, BONUS #1: Website Maximizer-Is you’re your Website Selling You? Learn how. BONUS #2: Copy Writing: How to write fan emails, press releases and other promo copy that get responses. Bonus # 3: Three free Industry Biz Booster Monthly Mentor Interviews. And finally, weekly call-in office hours to talk with former agent, manager, author, creator, Jeri Goldstein directly, about the course and your career. Booking & Touring Success Strategies & Secrets gives you artist-tested, step-by-step strategies to help you reach your career goals and make all of your tours profitable.


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 to schedule a class.


Hooktheory is a free resource that can show you how to integrate basic music theory into your songwriting process, making it easier to write catchy chord progressions and melody. Hooktheory currently consists of three main areas:
1. The Hookbook demonstrates basic principles of music theory and how they relate to popular music. It's filled with multimedia-rich content explaining musical concepts synchronized to real songs so you can hear what you are learning and make connections easier.
2. The Music Editor lets you write chord progressions in Roman Numeral notation and listen to them in any key. Add a melody, save your work, share it with friends, or export it to Garageband, sheet music, or guitar tab.
3. The Analysis Wiki is a user-generated collection of analyses of popular songs. Look up the chord progression and melody of a song, or use the music editor to create your own analyses.
Check it out now!

Muse's Clues - Richard Miller

©2014 Richard Miller. All Rights Reserved.
Used By Permission

A song, generally, is built from rhythm, melody, harmony and, I would argue, lyric. From those ingredients it is possible to express every mood and emotion and every story from all of time.

That's a lot.

I don't know about you but for me, with all that to choose from, it can sometimes be difficult to find a place to start. True, occasionally, you can be walking down the street, minding your own business, when a song comes up and, for no apparent reason, bops you on the head. However, far more often the pump needs to be primed because, to get good, we need to write and write and write.

Casting around the internet for starting point ideas I came across this video: FOLI. It is a film by Thomas Roebers, an independent filmmaker from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Obviously this is not a songwriting website but the film drives home the point that we are surrounded by rhythms of all sorts and fires the inspiration to listen out for them. They make great starting points for musical material because, most of the time, they're already internalised which means they can be worked on at any time without the need of an instrument or a studio.

I thought of a few examples:

We live in the city. It's now possible to work in the studio and warm enough to throw open the windows. I start each day there and as the first shot of coffee stirs what's left of my brain, the crow of the rooster, tap of footsteps, the swoosh of bicycles and cars, and the rumble of trucks climb through the window as the
neighbourhood starts another day.

Boxing Day in Wales: We'd been to a Rugby League International between Wales and Western Samoa in Cardiff and drifted back to Swansea around two in the morning. Sitting in Nick's parent's lounge I drifted in and out of a Brains induced semi-conciousness listening to the conversation. The others were quietly talking rugby of the ages. The Welsh lilt created a soothing rhythm and melody that is still strong today.

Our first neighbours in Belgium were Andre and Agnes. We would go to their house for Sunday dinner, eat and drink extremely well and talk. Agnes was a little girl during the war. She says in 1939 the soldiers marched through with a CLOMP CLOMP CLOMP. In 1944 they passed through with a swoosh, a swoosh, and a swoosh.... (I could feel the opening strains of Pennsylvania 6- 5000 creep up my spine as she spoke)

For further ideas it became a case of working out how to ask the search engine the right question. Finally, a couple caught the eye:

Handbook for Acoustic Ecology: Originally published by the World Soundscape Project, Simon Fraser University, and ARC Publications, 1978 has some everyday rhythmic examples.

At Heartwood Guitar there are some musical rhythmic examples. It would be good to either find or build a library. If there are others out there please share them.


Richard Miller is a caterpillar who has begun his chrysalis phase. Originally from Maine, Richard has, via a series of mis-adventures and accidents, worked as an accountant in the English Midlands, a systems programmer on the South Coast of England (where he also pursued an illustrious career in rugby) and a statistical programmer in Belgium. Now he has put all that aside, bought a house, stripped it back to the brick and started to renovate it from top to bottom while simultaneously transforming himself from a results oriented automaton into a winged song writer. You can peak inside the chrysalis at:

Featured Article - By Brad Dunse

QUICK TIP: What Do Rubber Bands, Sneezes, and Melodies Have In Common?

What comes to your mind when you think of rubber bands?

 For me it’s recalling one stretched between my pointer finger and thumb, loading up a tightly bent wad of paper, pulling it back, letting go, and watching it sail right past the ear of a kid in the front row. I digress…

 Rubber bands, when in their relaxed state are loose and comfortable. When they are pulled or stretched they build up what?

 Tension, that’s right.

 Here’s another way of thinking of melodic tension. I know you’ve had times when you were chatting with someone and you felt a sneeze coming on, right?

 Just a little tickle, but then it builds to a point where you have to stop talking. You’re assuming the person you were chatting with thinks you’re nuts for holding up a finger, half-watering eyes, and your mouth stretched like it’s your last gasp of air.

 It just won’t go. It’s just hanging right there. After a couple half-hearted attempts to get that sucker out and over with, finally… aaaaaaCHOOO!

 Man, it felt good to rid that tension, didn’t it?

 Oddly enough, that’s exactly what we want to do in our melodies at times. We want a listener to feel our melody, then feel it build a bit, maybe give just a little tension release as a teaser, then build it up more; and keep doing that until… aaaaaCHOO! The melody releases and it feels oh so good to the musical ear.

 Our musical ear is accustomed to certain melodic resolves in music. We come to expect it. We don’t want a song to end in a melodic phrase that leaves the melody half finished.

 It’d be like going to a movie and just when the mystery was about to be revealed by the sleuth saying…

 “And the mystery murderer is…”

 And it fades to black… “The End.” That would really suck wouldn’t it?

 We can however, build melodies in our song that tend to play with our ear. Tease it a little. Send it on a little roller coaster of notes and energy in the song.

 And do I have the perfect song for you to check out this month for that. You’ve probably heard the radio version of this song, but you’ll want to hear the demo version of it on his “Love is a Four Letter Word Deluxe version.” For me, it has so much more emotion and tension in it.

 Check out Jason Mraz’s demo version of I won’t Give Up Demo Version.

 Before you listen though, pay attention to a few things that help build melodic anticipation and release.

 • What I would consider one verse to start the lyrics which is typical, but good to note now.

 • A chorus which drops in melody from the verse. We normally expect choruses to increase in register, and this builds tension in an opposite way, but very effective at that point, and more even later.

 • Next is only a half verse which goes into…

 • A second chorus in a much more energetic vocal range. Same melody as the first chorus but in a higher range. We’ve got different words and different title placement.

 • Then we launch into an unusually long bridge for a verse/chorus song. Notice how it builds once, again a second time, and then a third time as we hang on the ending notes to release into the first chorus again in the upper vocal register.

 • We are released from the chorus to another soft verse.

 • Then to add even more tension by bottoming out to a completely acapella chorus which totally sets up the finale of another chorus all together with accompanying background vocals.

 That last set of choruses serve as the full stretch of the rubber band just before it is about to be released into the title for the last time.

 These roller coaster melodies and energies really are effective and worth trying to implement in your own writing.

 If you hadn’t yet, go check out Jason’s I Won't Give Up Demo Version once or twice and just feel the emotion in the vocals and melodies. Try once to listen just to the melody feeling and not focus on words. You’ll see what I’m getting at here.

 Until next time… keep writing from the heart!


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.


How To Play Badass Lead Guitar Licks, Part One: Creative Vibrato Application - by Tom Hess

I often hear complaints from guitarists about how their lead guitar playing doesn't sound as creative/good as they want. Reality is, there exist tons of reasons why this might happen, but there are answers to help you solve all of those problems as well.


Contrasting Your Sections, as Done by Judy Garland - by Anthony Ceseri

One of my favorite concepts in songwriting is writing contrasting sections. In other words, what you can do to make your verse sound different from your chorus and your bridge. Writing contrasting sections is too often ignored by aspiring songwriters, but it’s so crucial to writing a song that people want to hear.

Classifieds & Useful Services


GMC is a video lesson archive & community. GMC has tons of helpful videos, instructors and lessons. GMC also features forum for chatting with teachers and students 24/7, recording collaborations, attending video chats + content for bass, drums, singing, piano etc. All genres and styles are covered - Rock, metal, shred, blues, jazz, country & acoustic, funk.. We want you to have fun while learning - so get rocking NOW!

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Lyricist is the first-of-its-kind word processor designed specifically for musicians, songwriters, and poets. The software includes a Rhyming Dictionary, Thesaurus, Album Categorization, Chord Charting, Chord Generator, Song Arrangement, and On-Line Copyright Link.

The new version 3 release adds support for "Piano Style" chord symbols, Nashville Number System, and Transposition features - all in one easy-to-use package - and all for only $54.95! (That's $5.00 off to all Muse's News readers who purchase from the review link at!)

This tool will revolutionize the way you write and organize your writing.
Be the best songwriter you can be and purchase Lyricist today!


Writing a great melody is the #1 component to writing a song your listeners will want to buy, and hear over and over again. If you want some easy ways to improve your melodies to start writing songs your fans will love, check out this FREE report. It'll teach you some great (and simple!) tricks for writing sophisticated and marketable melodies:

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:

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Contact Info & Credits

Jodi Krangle, Editor:

The Muse's News is a free monthly newsletter for and about songwriters. Subscribers are welcome to recirculate or reprint The Muse's News for nonprofit use as long as the appropriate credit is given and the ENTIRE text of the newsletter is included (including credits and information at the end of each issue). Others should contact me at All articles copyrighted by their authors.

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