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The Muse's News
The Muse's News
The Muse's News
An E-zine For And About Songwriters.
Issue 17.5
August 2014

In This Issue:
* Editor's Musings
* Music Reviews - Cyrus Rhodes
* 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: 3-Step Fix to Lyrical Boredom 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!

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MasterWriter gives you Rhymes, Close Rhymes, Phrases, Synonyms, Word Families, Pop-Culture, Alliterations, the Definition and more. Also included is an audio recorder and tools that will give you everything you'll need to organize your songs. The new version 3.0 is web–based, so you can leave the house empty–handed and access MasterWriter on any computer, tablet or smart phone, wherever you are.
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“MasterWriter will not only help you write great songs, it will make you a better songwriter in the process.”
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“Producers have Pro Tools. Writers have Word. Songwriters have MasterWriter.”
–Rob Thomas

Editor's Musings:

Hello again for another month, my friends. :) I don't know about you (and I know we have folks who subscribe from all over the world - which is really cool!) but here in the Toronto area, we've had some really lovely weather. Not too hot (really) and not too cold ... I'm loving it. It lasts for so short a time that I've determined to enjoy it thoroughly for as long as I can - and then research staying for a couple of weeks in Florida over the winter. ;) (If any of you have ideas for great places to visit in Florida that aren't SUPER expensive, and that isn't in Orlando (I'm not all that interested in Disney stuff, to be honest), I'd love to hear 'em!). My husband and I are thinking of using Airbnb to find a nice place for a week or two and check things out. :) Yes, I have every intention of becoming a Snowbird at some point ... though it might be several years from now. Hence, the beginning of research.

In any case, there's a ton of great stuff for you to read through in this issue. I hope you find it super helpful! And without further ado, here are the raffle winners for this month:

  • J C Gary, from San Diego, CA, has won a copy of Virtual Studio Systems' Lyricist software.
  • Bob Tighe, from Gainesville, FL, 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.

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.)

I hope you're having a hugely inspiring and wonderful month, folks! I wish you every success in the world. :)

All the best,


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


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Music Reviews:


Cyrus Rhodes:

* Sonido

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.


Jane Joyce - Genre: POP

Jane Joyce explodes onto the 2014 music scene with her debut hit single “Kill This Beat”! Co-written and produced by Gardner Cole who wrote “Open Your Heart” by Madonna. Bringing fun, excitement, and sass, Jane is shaking up the pop world, one banging track at a time.

Songwriting Book Review By: Tim Zbikowski

Chip's Tips: Tips For Songwriting and Life

by Chip Hardy

Author Chip Hardy has been around the songwriting block a few times. A 35-year veteran of the music business in Nashville, Chip’s songs have been recorded by the likes of Dionne Warwick, Dean Martin, Conway Twitty and Charlie Pride. His producer and assistant producer credits include Loretta Lynn, George Straight, Reba, Waylon Jennings, Oak Ridge Boys and a long list of others. Suffice it to say he has more than
paid his dues and accumulated a lifetime of insight into the business of songwriting.

Chip’s Tips is a collection of songwriter tips posted on the website of THE 515 Studio in Nashville where Chip currently produces indie projects and songwriting demos. Check out their website at The515Studio.

This is not a book to teach basic fundamentals, techniques, and rules for songwriting. Rather, it tends to be a commentary of Chip’s thoughts on applying the details you either already know, or can certainly learn from a host of other songwriting books. He also presents a (mostly) light-hearted philosophical view of the craft and business. The book is organized into two sections, “Songwriting Tips” and “Observations, Pondering & Random Thoughts”.

A large portion of the tips section are comments on why you need to pay attention to the songwriting fundamentals, given from the point of view of the people who review and select music to be used in the industry. As one example, Chip states the “hook” isn’t just a catchy phrase, it’s what hooks the listener into the song. He claims the hook and title aren’t always the same, often the hook sets up the title.

Personally, I found Chip’s approach to be a refreshing departure from the dozens of songwriting “how to” books I’ve read. (Many have been reviewed in previous Muse’s News.) I identified immediately with his example of a person who was honest with himself and realized he wasn’t a professional songwriter, “just a guy who likes to write songs”.

For serious songwriters, Chip offers insight into a wide variety of the business aspects of songwriting. He provides a large quantity of advice on the demo recording process. OK, let’s be honest here, it’s shameless promotion of THE 515 Studio! What did you expect of a set of tips from their website?

In section two, Chip offers comments more about life in general, some of it related to songwriting and its business aspects. He discusses the decrease in value of songs and information about the artists. Where we once bought an LP or CD and listened to all the songs and read the enclosed information, we now buy a single song with no artist information.

Chip’s underlying philosophy is, if the main reason you write songs is to make money or create hits, you may likely be disappointed. However, if you write because you purely enjoy it and can’t imagine anything else you would rather do, it is possible to succeed (with a lot of hard work and sacrifice).

If you’ve never read a book about songwriting, it might be best not to start with this one. Read, learn and practice songwriting basics first. If you’ve been writing for quite a while, this book contains very useful information. If, like me, your songwriting goal isn’t making a lot of money or creating hits, but having fun and continually learning to write better songs, “Chip’s Tips” is a wonderfully delightful book to read. 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!


Women of Substance Radio is an Internet Radio Station (with our own Mobile App) that has been on the air for 7 years. Our review board hand-picks the BEST music by female artists in all genres from both label artists and Indies. New music is added weekly and promoted on Social Media. We also feature videos on our blog daily. WOSRadio is a unique platform for Female Indie Artists to showcase and promote their music to targeted listeners and music buyers.

Visit:  / Listen:


Hack the Bells is the world’s first remix competition for carillon. This project is an exploration in sound, vision, and performance that asks artists and new media visionaries to use the bells as they see fit - to hack the bells.

This project encourages artists, musicians, performers, and other visionaries to use the Campanile and/or the openly licensed Campanile audio and images from our library in their creative work. Works will be submitted to and reviewed by a jury of international artists, new media innovators, cultural curators, and academics. They will select a winner, who will be awarded a prize of $700 USD and an opportunity to have their work permanently acquired by the University of California, Berkeley, and the Anton Brees Carillon Library for public display and use. Three runner-up prizes will be awarded, totaling $100 USD each. 
No entry fee.  Entries Due September 1, 2014.


Songwriter Connect will connect you to established artists near you. We are creating a new platform for songwriters and composers. The main feature will be that we will connect you to established artists near you. We also cater for local, unrecognized singers and bands who are on the lookout for talented and screened songwriters to collaborate on their next project. Register now to be one of the first songwriters on this innovative platform!

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


An interesting line opened up in one of the Muse’s Muse Forums a few weeks ago.  The question was in songwriting which comes first, the music or the lyric?  In my limited experience the question had never come up.  For no reason in particular I’d decided to take the path of finding or creating a story, build a lyric and then fit the music around the theme.  Needless to say the vast majority of respondents to the question in the forum said ‘the music comes first’.  (I never was one for joining a crowd.)  This made me stop and think a bit and it occurred to me that this could go a long way towards explaining why I haven’t managed to come up with anything new for six and a half months.

So off I went to try to find a way to change my thinking.  The first thing that popped into mind were chord progressions.  It makes sense to learn from the masters so I went in search of examples.  One of the first sites I found was See Chord.  This is a UK website that features a tool which creates a visual representation of a chord progression.  The site offers personal services of a musical nature for a fee.  In my current impoverished state the fees look a little high but there is also a wealth of free information on music theory, secrets of the Beatles, and they are building a library of visual representations of 50 great songs.  Whether they are the greatest songs or just great songs is a matter of personal taste but these show what some of the songwriting masters have come up with and, whether you are a master or a novice, are a good source for building your own musical ideas.  At the moment I can only find 9 of the 50 songs so I presume this is a work in progress.

The second site I found was a blog entry from August 2011 by a young man named Michael who is currently learning Japanese.  The entry is packed with details on basic chord charts, various progressions of varying complexity, natural, harmonic and melodic minor progressions, diatonic progressions, jazz progressions and examples of chord progressions in famous songs.  At the end he’s put a few links for chord, scale and general music theory.  While it may not be interesting for a master song writer there’s plenty for someone who is getting started or wants to graze over some ideas to change their way of thinking.

I especially liked the section on chord progressions and modes.  For some time an unidentifiable idea had been circulating at the back of my mind for a song and when my wife, in a particularly emotional moment, announced she had completed her first piece of art an image seared itself into my mind.  I wanted a Spanish feel to the song so I started fiddling around with the chords common to the phrygian mode and within a couple of days came up with the tune “Your Spanish Eyes”.  My first ever ‘music first’ song!!  I played the tune over Skype to a friend of mine and mentioned there weren’t any lyrics yet.  He said the song didn’t need any (well, he is a kind friend…. maybe too kind).

A few days later I celebrated my sixth birthday that ends in a zero.  One of the best presents I got was a pair of pencils shaped like drumsticks.  In honour of the family that sent it I started playing around with a two chord shuffle.  For a while I thought the song was in C minor but finally decided it must be in Bb with the initial shuffle being ii – I.  Of course my limited musical knowledge left me stuck on that for a while until a break suggested itself but then the question ‘How do I get back?’ arose.  A quick glance at the chord charts gave me a predictable (and rather dull) answer which is being used at the moment but with a bit more work I’m sure something much more interesting will arise.

Now that the musical flow appears to have been unlocked for the moment, despite the suggestion from my Skype friend, I’m off in search of inspiration on the lyric side.  Let’s see what there is to find.


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: 3-Step Fix to Lyrical Boredom

Ever reached a point in writing where the lines you write seem monotonously sing-song?

Each rhyme bored by the one preceding it?

Each line’s meter and stresses feel like they’re stamped right onto the next one?

Bippety bipety bah
Bippety bipety boo
Bippety bipety dah
Bippety bipety too


Well, here is one quick and easy three-step fix to prevent the sing-song blues.

1. Take your sing-song rhyme scheme and mix it up.

2. Separate your lines

3. Add in some extra lines of different length and meter.

Here’s an off-cuff example.

There’s something about good music
Turns something cloudy into sunshine
Puts a rhythm into your walk
It’s like an unbreakable law

Okay, we’re not talking Jason Mraz sunshine happy here, but it’s a simple, light-hearted lyric to serve as our example.

We got four lines of eight syllables with two couplets… BORING!

We do want to keep expectant rhymes in it because it is a happy, feel-good lyric that should be supported by rhyme. If it were a lyric with unsettled or uneasy content we’d want much weaker rhymes, or none at all to bolster the emotion of that type of lyric, but that’s for another time.

Let’s try breaking up our happy little couplets by swapping lines two and three.

There’s something about good music
Puts a rhythm into your walk
Turns something cloudy into sunshine
It’s like an unbreakable law

Yeah-yeah, I know… we’re still in sing-song territory here, but we’re not done yet. Now let’s put a space between each line and add in some shorter lines of fewer syllables. Plus, we’ll make the last three or four syllables come out chunky and staccato.

There’s something about good music
Yeah baby don’t… you… know?
Puts a rhythm into your walk
Walkin’ ar… peg… gi… o
Turns something cloudy into sunshine
A solar cre… scen… do
It’s an unbreakable… sunshine… feel-good… musical law

Hey, I didn’t claim we’d take song of the year with this one, but we have taken two boilerplated couplets, broke up there simplicity, added in some lines of shorter length and accented stresses, and freed us up to a host of title and chorus ideas; not to mention expanded our melodic opportunities in the process.

Notice we didn’t end in the “oh” sound but lengthened the last line with some emphasis on what kind of law we want sunshine to produce? We could add in a couple lines that rhyme each other to serve as a channel or lift to build up emotion before going in the chorus.

That’s it… nothing to it. A quick and easy three-step process to add to your toolbox of songwriting craftsmanship. Give it a shot sometime this month and see how it works for you.

Until next time… keep writing from the heart!


A performing songwriter, Brad Dunse is  member of ASCAP, NSAI, SongU, and Minnesota Association of Songwriters. His songs have bee played on various independent, internet, and public radio stations across the country with The Wall touching a major country market station. Interested in song evaluations? Go to Brad's site for more information.


how To Play Great Guitar Solos Part 4: Creating Strong Emotions Over Chords - by Tom Hess

It’s great to be able to use only one pitch to make your playing feel more emotional... but to make your guitar solos overflow with emotion, you need to squeeze as much feeling as possible out of every note in every guitar lick... 


The Most Common Song Structures and Why It's Important to Know How They Work - by Anthony Ceseri

Think of the most common types of song structures as universally agreed upon roadmaps for your songs. They tell us where the song is going. In this article, we'll talk about how to use song structure effectively. .


The Most Important Factors for Building a Music Career - by Tom Hess

No one succeeds in the music business who doesn't already utilize the five key elements used by massively successful pro musicians. Until you learn about these key elements and start creating a foundation based on them, your music career will quickly head off-course... never to recover again.

Classifieds & Useful Services


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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.

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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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