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The Muse's News

Issue 4.4 - July 2001
ISSN 1480-6975

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I n   T h i s   I s s u e :

@-- Editor's Musings
@-- Q&A with Nancy A. Reece from Carpe Diem Copyright Management
@-- Music Reviews - by Ben Ohmart
@-- Songwriting Book Review - Information
@-- Featured Article - THE BUSINESS OF MUSIC: Music Attorneys
                     - by Charles Katz
@-- Musical Notes - Songwriting Contests & Market Info.
@-- Muse's Clues - by Irene Jackson
                     - by Diana Yampolsky 
@-- On Site Featured Article - An article already online for your
    viewing pleasure.
@-- Classifieds & Useful Services
@-- Contact information
ISSN 1480-6975.  Copyright 1998 - 2001, Jodi Krangle.  For more 
contact information, see end of issue. ================================================================= This ezine featured at - the Ezine Search Engine(tm) - ================================================================= S p o n s o r M e s s a g e : (Please support the sponsors that support this newsletter! Thanks!) ================================================================= UNLEASH THE FULL POTENTIAL OF THE INTERNET WITH SONGSCOPE.COM! SongScope is a valuable tool enabling you to build an on-line song catalog, accessible only by proven industry professionals. Receive FREE email informing you every time record producers and industry professionals make requests. Song listings are only $29.95 per year. An ecommerce enabled marketing/promotion page and tour calendar are also available for performing songwriters to get further artist exposure. See for details or contact: ~ Tel: 770.754.4543 ================================================================= E d i t o r ' s M u s i n g s : ----------------------------------------------------------------- The Just Plain Folks Showcase in Toronto was AWESOME. It was a real treat to finally meet Brian Austin Whitney face to face (and Linda too! Hi Linda!) and he's just as much a "force of nature" as I thought he would be. :-) Lots of hugely talented folks performing (I believe there were 23 different performers at last count) and a wonderful evening shared by all. It was really fantastic to get the chance to meet some of you face to face. Thanks for coming! At that gathering, I also mentioned that I'd like to put together a Radio Muse show based upon some of the performers heard during that showcase. If you were unable to pass along your CD to me at the time, please do send one in to the Radio Muse show following the instructions at ASAP (within the week??) so that I can get that show together and consider your music for inclusion. I'm also still welcoming submissions from everyone else too - so please do drop by the above location and send in a CD! The third show is now online for your listening pleasure. :-) This month's raffle winners are: * Lyricist Software: Tim Perry of Belmont, MI * The reviewed book this month - MUSIC HORROR STORIES: Ben Krahne of San Rafael, CA Lots of things have been happening at the web site this month. First of all, the free e-mail is now almost entire AD FREE. There will be one banner at the top of the page per month, but that'll be it. It won't scroll through several. That banner will be used to help offset the cost of keeping the free e-mail free of the multitude of banners, pop-up ads and annoying "offers" that used to appear all over the place with's free service. If you're interested in purchasing that banner, please do contact me for further details. Meanwhile, you can sign up for your own free e-mail account (6 MB of storage space + the ability to take in outside mail - and entirely web based so you can access it from anywhere around the world as long as you have a connection to the internet and a browser!) at . If you're looking for an additional e-mail address to your regular account - or don't even *have* a regular account and have been using something like Yahoo, or Hotmail, this is a great alternative. And the Message Board is hopping! Over 400 members and the board only started in early April! I'm really happy with how things are going over there and I invite you all to go to and check it out for yourself. There are some fantastic conversations taking place even as you read this. Next, THREE new columnists have been added! I hope you'll all help me welcome Jerry Flattum, Mark Curran and Dick Levon to our team of highly knowledgeable folks who have volunteered their time and expertise to The Muse's Muse. All three now have forums on the Message Boards - - so that you can ask them questions there. Jerry will be talking about current trends in songwriting today and will be providing support to his incredibly comprehensive Entertainment Cyberscope project, now available at . It's an enormous undertaking and I highly suggest each and every one of you take a look through it. It'll be well worth the time! Jerry has been involved with The Muse's Muse in many capacities through the years and I'm very happy to now welcome him as a regular columnist. Mark Curran is the author of "Sell Your Music! How To Profitably Sell Your Own Recordings Online" and will be giving songwriters and independent musicians hints on how best to get their music out there and heard on the internet. Dick Levon, an Artist, Art Therapist, and Psychotherapist, will be talking about the creative aspects of songwriting such as how to awaken your inner imagination and find inspiration. To view these columns, drop by for details, along with information on any of the other great regular columnists generously donating their time to the site. And with that long note completed (phew!), on to the rest of the newsletter! Thanks for your patience, folks. Happy writing! --Jodi Back to Menu ================================================================= SHAMELESS PLUG: Drop by today to pick up your very own Muse's Muse shirt, mug or mousepad! And while you're at it, think about starting your *own* store. It would be pretty cool to sell your own band's logo or design on promo items, wouldn't it? And starting up a store requires no investment of money on your part at all. Details on how to do that are only a click away... ================================================================= C o p y r i g h t & P u b l i s h i n g Q & A : with Nancy A. Reece of Carpe Diem Copyright Management ----------------------------------------------------------------- Q: TOPIC: PUBLISHING AGREEMENTS My question is about publishing. I have my own small publishing company and all my songs are published by my company, which is registered with ASCAP. Now another publishing company has expressed an interest in publishing one of my songs. What do I do, legally? How does this work? How is the "pie" divided? Thanks -- Suki ------------------ A: Being a self-published songwriter has its rewards. You may now approach this new publisher with options that are limitless, really. If you go with a traditional 50/50 publisher split ("the Nashville split") or a 75/25 publisher split ("the LA/NY split") Be sure you are both clear as to administration rights and responsibilities. To be clear, understand what the new co-publisher is doing in exchange for ownership. Are they responsible for pitching, for mechanical opportunities, synchronization, print, all, or more of one than the other? Will the expenses involved in this activity come from both of you or just one of you? How will these things be recouped? Also, be aware that it is always good in new relationships to have reversion rights built in to single song agreements. This will give your new co-publishing relationship room to grow and establish goals on a timeline. I would give things at least 24 months up to 60 months to work before asking for ownership to revert back if certain things are not accomplished during that time. Look for an entertainment attorney who understands single song agreements to help in the drafting of any arrangement. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Q: TOPICS: REGISTRATION and COLLABORATION My brother and I have written 16 songs which he plans to record very soon. Before recording them, however, it would be wise for us to copyright them. 1. How and where? 2. Costs? Thank you in advance for your time and hope you can help us. - Alexandra ------------------ A: Once the songs are in a fixed format, written down or recorded, they are protected and copyrighted under the US Copyright Law. You may register those copyrights with the copyright office at any time. If all of the songs were co-written by both of you equally, you may use one form to establish protection for all the works as one collection (currently $30). You will need to look through the information provided by the Copyright Office to be sure you are registering properly and efficiently. ( ) You may need to also consider forming a publishing company so you can efficiently administer those works and issue appropriate compulsory mechanical licenses for any recordings of the works. Check out the article "How to Start Your Own Publishing Company" on The Muse's Muse for help with this idea. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Q: TOPIC: REGISTRATION Hello Nancy. Sorry for bothering you again but here's another question, if you don't mind. I recently sent an SR to cover the recording, words & music of a song. This was for just one song & not a collection of songs. Did I make a mistake here? I thought I was doing the "Right Thing"!..Thanks again, -- Carl ------------------ A: The US Copyright Office has clear definitions as to what different forms can be used for. Yes, it is a common thing to use a SR for covering both the sound recording and the underlying work. This is fine as long as there are no other versions of the work than this one recording in that format. AND all the works on the sound recording are also controlled by the owner of the sound recording. For example, the record company or producer may own the recordings, and you and a publisher control interest in the underlying work. You may edit a recording for a radio version or make a separate sampler of things. This may cause a need for registering additional SRs. If you have an acoustic version of one song recorded on a sampler and you only registered the underlying work through your SR of the produced version, your acoustic version sound recording would need a new SR for protection. The most cost effective thing to do is the register a SR for the "album" of works - the sound recording(s). Then register the underling work(s) on a PA in as comprehensive a way as writer splits will allow. ----------------------------------------------------------------- TO VIEW OTHER QUESTIONS AND RESPONSES, SEE NANCY'S COPYRIGHT & PUBLISHING Q&A ONLINE AT . Please note: Nancy received a *lot* of e-mail in a month. If you sent in a question but have not heard a reply, it's very likely it already *has* an answer online. It's always a good idea to thoroughly look through the Copyright & Publishing Q&A online to see if your question has already been asked before you send in a request. Thanks! ----------------------------------------------------------------- ABOUT NANCY A. REECE: Carpe Diem Copyright Management's owner and president, Nancy A. Reece has been involved in the music business since 1983. She was the president of an independent advertising agency for eight years as well as a successful personal artist manager for nine years. She represented the careers of several recording artists and songwriters including those with EMI, Zomba and Liberty Records as well as Benson, Starsong, WoodBridge, Temple Hall and N'Soul Records. She also represented, for a number of years, a Grammy and Dove nominated record producer. Reece has won awards of excellence in print magazine advertising and has been named as one of 2,000 Notable American Women (1995) as well as being listed in the International Who's Who of Professional and Business Women (1993). She was also named Cashbox Magazine's Promoter of the Year (1989). In addition to her work at Carpe Diem Copyright Management, Reece works at a performing rights organization in the United States and is an accomplished contemporary artist working in abstract and multimedia on canvas and wood. **If you would like to ask Nancy a copyright or publishing question for our continuing Q&A section, please send your e-mail to She can't guarantee she'll get to all of the questions, but she'll certainly try.** Back to Menu ================================================================= M u s i c R e v i e w s : by Ben Ohmart ----------------------------------------------------------------- Mariel ­ Fragments of a Dream Mariel's new CD, Fragments of a Dream, picks up where Ms. Pop Lady left off on her stickily catchy, The Darkest Angel. The hit she had with it, 'In Between Days,' gave Mariel some top international airplay, TV shots, music videos, the whole 10 yards. Now she's back to extend her conquering techniques with 12 new songs and 41 minutes of singer-driven positive pop that stays Up like a good magnet on the fridge. How she manages it for so long, even when on rather depressive subjects, we'll never know. To generalize, her singing technique is often breathy, a little like Dylan (and here's where the analogy ends) in that she's got a whole lota words for all the music. Of course that's just on tracks like 'Lost My Love.' She isn't into the poetic side Too much, since like any good popular music, she states the heartbreak and the attraction and the 77 other emotions openly and simply. 'I thought that you were the love of my life / But all you ever do is make me cry / If you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone / I feel so lonely, but I'll be carrying on.' There are some moments you just want to collect up this fragile doll into your arms and protect her until worlds collide. 'Do It Again' is nothing to do with The Beach Boys, it's a charming ballad with a beat that comes in at the middle of the album, and sits under a tree to remember. 'I'm letting go of the misery / I'm trying so hard not to be weak / And I will always wish you well / Do you have any wishes for me?' Before epics took hold of the Disney Channel, I'd say here's a responsible cut for a music video between shows for that cable channel. Check the hooky chorus, 'I'm holding onto my pride tonight / if you said you were sorry and held me tight / I'd forgive you / But I can't forgive you / You'll just do it again / You'll just do it again.' Lovely songwriting. There is a synth reliance in the album, but not as much as the main instrument: Mariel. Her high-pitched prayers dominate a scathing relationship album that will speak to those still in high school and lower, most especially. Her tender youngster attitude blends in so many of life's common desires, fears, passions for truth, and positive reinforcements much needed in a world like this. Fresh off the 1st Indiegrrl compilation cd, plus their summer tour, Mariel continues to blend her Annie Lennox and Deborah Harry heroes into own original form. If Independent Songwriter Magazine called Mariel 1 of the top 12 female songwriters, shouldn't you stop reading and go grab a listen? ------------------ OTHER NEW MUSIC REVIEWS SINCE LAST MONTH INCLUDE: Tracy Nelson - Harry Schulz - City Of Roses - Mike Marino & his Restless Soul - Scott Johnson - The Beach Machine - Lauren Fincham - ------------------ ****** Ben Ohmart has had 100s of stories and poems in zines and journals, and had 4 plays produced last year. His lyrics will be on 2 CDs this year, 1 a gothic album, the other a rock album. He's currently writing films, with hopes of having one done in Malaysia soon, and is also trying to break into the prison of television. He's white, 26, single and loves British comedy. He lives in Boalsburg, PA, and enjoys watching rabbits eat his garbage. Contact him at: . **Ben has kindly consented to do music reviews for this publication and also for The Muse's Muse itself. If you have an independently released CD or tape that you'd like to get reviewed, send it off to: Ben Ohmart, P O Box 750, Boalsburg, PA 16827 or drop by his Music Reviews web section at for more details.** Back to Menu ================================================================= S o n g w r i t i n g B o o k R e v i e w : by Jodi Krangle MUSIC HORROR STORIES: A Collection Of Gruesome True Tales as told by actual innocent victims seeking a career in the music business. Exhumed & Edited by Janet Fisher ----------------------------------------------------------------- Janet apparently began this book as an exercise in catharsis of her own. It snowballed. And what a snowball it has become. Split into seven sections by theme, these musician horror stories range from the silly to the truly tragic. If you thought YOU had it bad, just read some of these doozies and you'll think otherwise. One woman fell down sixteen steps of stairs just before her "Big Gig" and was in a hospital for 17 days recovering. Another fellow was part of a seven-man act he was certain was going to make it big - until one member decided to get strung out on drugs and lose it in front of the record exec. that was just about to sign them. And in the great tradition of "gigs from hell", one woman played at a local songwriter showcase in a venue that had booked a bachelorette party - complete with a male stripper! This is only a small sampling of what can be found in the pages of this very educational book. Some stories made me wince in sympathy while others made me giggle with amusement. The good, the bad and the ugly. It's all within the bound pages of MUSIC HORROR STORIES. Not only that, but some of the stories are from people you might recognize from RMMS ( and some are well known songwriters and authors such as Jerry Cupit, Harriet Schock and John Braheny. In fact, if you have your OWN horror stories, there's even instructions in the back of the book so that you can submit your cautionary tales to Janet for the next edition. What's my verdict? If you want to hear about some of the scams that are out there; if you want to learn from others' mistakes about how to prepare for gigs or how to guard yourself against getting ripped off, or if you simply want to know that you're not alone, I recommend you pick this book up and read it cover to cover. I did. I couldn't put it down. And when I was done, you know what? I even felt better. ================================================================= F e a t u r e d A r t i c l e : Charles will be providing us with a series of articles discussing common problems performing songwriters might face within the music business. THE BUSINESS OF MUSIC: Music Attorneys - by Charles Katz 2001, Charles Katz. All Rights Reserved. Used By Permission. ----------------------------------------------------------------- "Dust in the Wind" was a popular song of the '70s by Kerry Livgren and performed by KANSAS The opening lyrics are: "I close my eyes, only for a moment and the moment's gone/All my dreams pass before my eyes, A curiosity/Dust in the Wind" As a performing songwriter, that's what you will be, DUST IN THE WIND, unless you have an excellent music attorney. As the President of Windrift Music I communicate with hundreds of artists. Most of my time is involved with negotiating contracts. You must have the support of a music attorney and I advise my clients do not sign anything until reviewed by an attorney. The functions of a music attorney are structuring, negotiating, documenting, and reviewing deals to benefit their clients. There are several sources to find a music attorney. The main ones are 1. Music Attorney, Legal & Business Affairs Registry 7510 Sunset Blvd., Suite 1041, Los Angeles, CA 90046-3418 1-800-377-7411/818-769-2722 2. Sessions & Tour Guide Canada 5355 Vail Court, Miss, Ont. L5M 6G9 905-858-4747 3. American Bar Assn 750 North Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60611 1-800-285-2221 4. Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts 918 16th St. NW, #400, Washington , DC 20006 202-429-0229 Music Conferences always have lawyers attending and this a good opportunity to meet and interview them. Well known practitioners are John Branch (Michael Jackson), Don Passman (Janet Jackson), Lee Phillips (Barbra Streisand), and Alan Grubman (Madonna) The Internet is also a place to commence a search for your music attorney. Do a search on Music Attorneys and find local representation. I did exactly that and obtained a worthwhile list. I then presented them with my list of boiler plate agreements required, and requested quotations. I settled with an excellent one from Los Angeles who represented Guns and Roses. You should see an attorney anytime you have a contract to review or negotiate. Fees range from $100-$200 per hour. It is sometimes better to get a set fee rather than pay an hourly rate. Most lawyers will want a retainer of $500. It is extremely important to be organized when meeting with your attorney. 1. Keep accurate records in writing. 2. Be honest 3. Pay him on time 4. Preparation. Bring all necessary documents 5. Keep him well informed of your activities. 6. Don't sign until your lawyer has reviewed it. As a performing songwriter it is important to develop an effective lawyer-client relationship. Stay tuned for next month's article: Club Contracts ****** Charles Katz owns a high-tech company, Printerm, established for 20 years, and manages a Record Label, Windrift Music Inc. He currently has a CD "Night Driving Music" installed at Internet sites in the US, UK, and Asia collecting royalties. Charles is presently working on his second CD with a female recording artist and has established a virtual band, Spencer K for that project. As a business leader, musician, publisher, and promoter, he is now providing his expertise for fellow artists. Contact: Back to Menu ================================================================= M u s i c a l N o t e s : Songwriting Contests & Market Info. In the interest of conserving space, I will only be including 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! ----------------------------------------------------------------- STARPOLISH: RESOURCE FOR MUSICIANS StarPolish ( is a company dedicated to supporting the arts and helping musicians help themselves by providing an extensive library of business advice, a wealth of resources and management tools, and assistance from industry professionals and artists at every stage in their careers. And if you're a music fan, you'll find a wealth of great music to support either by listening, joining mailing lists or buying CDs. StarPolish is a collaborative effort between music industry professionals and artists. The site features an impressive list of Advisory Board members, including Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello, The Mighty Mighty BossTones, Mike Watt, Danny Goldberg (CEO of Artemis Records), Barbara Carr (manager, Bruce Springsteen, Shania Twain), and Jonny Podell (partner at Evolution Talent Agency) among others. We also have extensive A&R and Attorney Panels of industry executives seeking new talent to sign and develop. StarPolish member artists are some of the best on today's music scene. Member artists can create a feature page, manage their mailing lists, upload audio and sell CDs; StarPolish gives 80% of the profits to the artist. Every member artist who uploads a song has the possibility of being reviewed by top music critics. Artists will also find a comprehensive resources database that contains contacts in nearly every area of the business. And StarPolish sponsors an innovative rewards program, which awards cash prizes to deserving artists each year. With detailed sections on a multitude of topics, from producing a demo and writing contracts to marketing yourself online, there's something at StarPolish for musical folks and fans of all stripes. contact: ----------------------------------------------------------------- NEW 'RADIO MUSE' WEBCAST FOR INDEPENDENT SONGWRITERS - NOW SEEKING MUSIC! The Muse's Muse & Host, Jan Best of Independent Songwriter Web-Magazine, are putting together a series of shows, one every month, featuring the songs of independent songwriters just like you! See for details on how you can send in your own music for consideration. ----------------------------------------------------------------- THE 5th ANNUAL "CRUISIN' FOR A HIT" SONGWRITERS CRUISE COSTA ATLANTICA - JANUARY 6-13, 2002 Join an incredible Faculty of #1 Hit Songwriters, including AIME MAYO, CHRIS LINDSEY, TONI WINE, JILL COLUCCI, PAM ROSE along with other Songwriting Executives, as they take you on a working songwriters cruise. Learn from the pros! Write with the pros! For all reservations call the exclusive travel company of ETA toll-free at 888/711-7447 or check out the info at: . Space is limited so book now! ----------------------------------------------------------------- THE 2001 JOHN LENNON SONGWRITING CONTEST IS NOW OPEN! The new 2001 JLSC Application has been created and entries are now being accepted. If you have any questions regarding the Contest or how to enter, please email us at Please include your regular (snail mail) address if you would like to receive the Spring Newsletter and the 2001 Application in the mail. Entries must be postmarked no later than September 28, 2001. ----------------------------------------------------------------- SOUTHEASTERN SONGWRITERS' FESTIVAL: Songwriters are invited to enter a Southeast regional Songwriters' Festival which will be held in beautiful Lake Guntersville (Northeast Alabama), on August 11, 2001. The Mountain Valley Arts Council, a 30 year old arts organization, along with WQSB 105 Radio station is sponsoring this festival with assistance from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. All genres from any artists residing in the Southeast are eligible. Deadline for submissions is July 9. Submission fee is $10 per song and up to three songs may be submitted by CD or tape. There are $500 in cash awards and other prizes of merchandise and auditions. Please email for a submission form and details: . ----------------------------------------------------------------- "MUSIC ROW TO CHARLOTTE, NC" - NSAI EVENT: "Music Row to Charlotte, NC" - The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) has assembled an "A Team" of songwriters (Pat Alger - "Unanswered Prayers", Kent Blazy - "Ain't Goin' Down 'Till The Sun Comes Up", Byron Hill - "Fool Hearted Memory", Matt King - "A Woman's Tears", John Rich - "I Pray For You", and Keith Anderson - "Beer Run"), publishers, and industry leaders for a full day conference and an evening concert on Saturday, July 14, 2001 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The event is being kicked off with an open mic contest at Mars Music on Friday the 13th. "We are very excited about bringing this event to Charlotte," says NSAI Regional Workshops Director Gracie Hollombe. "Our goal is to be informative and inspirational and help songwriters make contacts with executives who can help them further their songwriting careers." More information and a printable registration form can be found by visiting NSAI is offering Muse's Muse readers a SPECIAL RATE of $85.00 if you sign up by July 6th and write "Muse's Muse" on your registration form. Additional concert tickets may be purchased for $12 either in advance or at the door (until they're sold out). The Holiday Inn in Charlotte is offering a special rate for conference attendees. Questions? Call 800-321-6008, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Central Time. ----------------------------------------------------------------- WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE TO BE A STAFF WRITER? TAKE THE 50 SONG CHALLENGE AND FIND OUT! It's that time of year again. July is just around the corner, and the 50 Song Challenge will begin on July 4th. Due to interest in the contest, I have set up a Yahoo Group. It's an open membership group, all you have to do is go to the following URL and sign up. Ground rules are simple: Write 50 songs in 90 days. So if any of you are up for the challenge, start setting aside a few song ideas. Get those rhyming dictionaries down off the shelf and put them at the ready. Dust off your copy of 'The Songwriter's Idea Book' by Sheila Davis (or whatever you use for inspiration). All contestants can enter their best song of the 50 they write. Judges will pick 12. If the writer doesn't have a demo, we will record a guitar/vocal or MIDI demo. Remember, you don't win if you don't write. If you need more info, feel free to write to me personally. Thanks. --David ( Back to Menu ================================================================= M u s e ' s C l u e s : by Irene Jackson 1998-2001 Moonstone Productions All Rights Reserved. Used By Permission ----------------------------------------------------------------- There's nothing more interesting to me than listening to how songwriters, especially those who've achieved some level of success, get their ideas, and go through the process of writing their songs. Beyond that, it's just as interesting to hear them as performers, even if they don't always lean that way. In the spirit of a "songwriters-in-the-round" event, the beauty in the accessibility of websites on the internet is that you don't actually have to BE where these songwriters are, to hear them talk and perform. One website I came across a couple of months ago is the Songwriter Sessions on Nashville's WPLN'll find it here: Each week they feature three songwriters, not all from Nashville, some just passing through. It's an hour full of songs straight from the writer's pens and vocal chords! When I first discovered the site, I wanted to write an edition of Muse's Clues on it right away because at that time the three songwriters featured were Tim Easton, Will Kimbrough and Kim Richey...but I couldn't get the darn Real Audio stream to work! I tried it a number of times over a week or two, but eventually I gave up. I'm happy to report that whatever the problem was, they fixed it. Unfortunately, they don't archive the older sessions, but you can listen to a fresh crop of songwriters every week, and they're not all country songwriters either. For instance, this week (as of June 19th), there's Thomas Cain, who writes anything from R&B to Gospel, and who has opened for the likes of other artists like George Benson, Bill Withers and Dave Brubeck. I have to say that after listening through this week's program, I've taken a fancy to his songwriting :-) John Scott Sherrill had more of a folk songwriting background, but has also written a string of country hits for artists such as John Michael Montgomery, Sammy Kershaw and John Anderson. He's a great guitar player too :-) Zack Turner is the third published songwriter with his own collection of hits for Alan Jackson, George Jones and Jo Dee Messina. There's more playing than talking in this particular show...but these songwriters do chat a little about the songs in between. So you want to hear the other songwriters you're up against in a place like Nashville? Well, here you go. ****** Irene Jackson is a performing songwriter from Victoria, BC in Canada. Aside from writing, recording and performing, she also maintains a website for songwriters that includes tips, articles and more links of interest. Her eagerly anticipated CD "Catnip" is finally here, and her earlier recordings have had attention everywhere from Japan to South America. Songwriting Tips: Homepage: Songs on MP3: Back to Menu ================================================================= F e a t u r e d A r t i c l e : THE TECHNICAL ELEMENTS OF VOCAL STYLE - by Diana Yampolsky 2001, Diana Yampolsky. All Rights Reserved. Printed With Permission. ----------------------------------------------------------------- In this article I would like to talk about an interesting observation that I have made over my 26 years as a vocal coach; not too many people realize that there are several aspects that have to be addressed with regards to singing in general. First of all, when we talk about singing we are talking about two separate, but very much related elements: physical sound and emotional style. Physical sound is what is achieved by proper utilization of the technical aspects of singing, i.e. breathing (support), structure, placement and projection. Emotional style is essentially how the singer relates to the song and anticipates and complements the style of music, i.e. rock, alternative, country, R & B, dance etc. A common view is that while the technical aspects of singing can be learned through instruction and repetition, style is only developed naturally over time. There is definitely some truth to this statement; some people just naturally have it within them. As a Vocal Coach/Consultant, I strongly believe in the advantages of instruction in the technical aspects of singing. However, I also believe that it is a mistake to completely separate style from technique and I believe that style CAN BE TAUGHT in the same way that a student can be educated in how to stay in tune, project their voice, etc. As an analogy, you can find quite a few parallels between singing and figure skating. If you are familiar with figure skating you will know that the participants are always judged by two criteria: Technical Merit and Artistic Merit. Again, in this instance it appears these components are separate due to the fact that they are judged separately and, as with singing, appear to be opposites. Upon closer examination though you will realize that the two are very much intertwined. After all, a figure skater that is falling on their rear end is most definitely not going to get high technical marks, therefore, the marks for artistic impression will not matter. Similarly, a figure skater that can land all their jumps perfectly but skates to the music in a robotic fashion is not going to win any medals either. As with figure skating, the technical component of singing is the platform on which the artistic expression stands. As mentioned earlier, the main technical components of singing are support, structure, placement and projection. Abdominal support is responsible for the height of the sound. Upper diaphragm support is responsible for the width (body) of the sound. Structure - is the structure of the syllables and they are stackable one on top of each other on the central line of the body. Placement is the domain of the four main vocal chambers, which are the same as your sinus cavities. An "aimed" projection is the natural outcome of the previous three. (I talk in more detail about these technical components of singing in my book, Vocal Science - Flight to the Universe.) Once you've achieved mastery of these four components you have achieved technical control of the physical sound. The next step is to dress it up so that it is original, emotional, exciting and affecting. This is akin to a figure skater whose costume and movements reflect the music that is accompanying the performance. With regards to singing, the physical sound produced must correspond with the style of music and the musical instruments used in its production. Recently, I saw a popular pop singer deliver what was clearly an R & B song with a classical sounding voice. It didn't sound very good because the sound of the voice was so alien to the style of music being played by the band. She actually had a strong sounding voice and, thus, would have received high marks for technical merit if there had been official judges, but also definitely a failing grade for her artistic interpretation. In this instance, the TOTAL PERFORMANCE was not achieved. I strongly believe that style can be taught. In fact, many people approach me to coach them specifically because they want to sing a particular style of music. One of my recently signed clients, a dance/R&B singer, had a recording session booked and asked me to come along for assistance. When I arrived at the studio, the session was already underway and I quickly realized that the song they were recording was not one that we had previously worked on. Moreover, this song was very demanding because it required a combination of three distinct styles: pop, dance and R&B. The song required that the singer sometimes had to change between styles as frequently as every second line. The producers were high caliber and definitely knew what they wanted, but were having trouble transferring their instructions on how to do it to the singer. She also knew what they wanted but did not exactly know how to achieve it. This is where I stepped in and was able to provide assistance. By quickly instructing my student how she could attain the requested stylistic elements, the song was successfully recorded in much less time than even the producers anticipated. The majority of students that come to my school for instruction have a definite idea about the style of singer they want to be, but they don't always know how to achieve it. From the very beginning of instruction, I always teach them the obvious, such as how to stay in key and project their voice, but also work with them on the stylistic elements of the songs they are singing. This is often done by breaking the songs down to individual lines and practicing the ways in which each syllable should be sung depending on the style of music. For example, if you are singing an alternative rock song you should be attempting it in a voice that is a little more raspy and somewhat nasal and less smooth sounding and with less or no vibrato. Please note that the rasp should be achieved without straining your vocal chords and is done by correctly coordinating the use of your facial and abdominal muscles. Quite a few of my students sought coaching from me solely because they wanted to achieve this raspy type of voice without damaging their voice permanently. This is one example of how the artistic style should be based on the foundation of flawless vocal technique. Some tips on how to approach various other styles of music are as follows: R & B: sing with a very wide smile. This will open up your resonator (natural amplifier within your facial muscles) and place your syllables as tightly as possible using your cheekbone muscles. This will prevent any vibrato in the voice. Pop: the pop style is essentially the same as R & B but with a much lighter application. More laid back and in a sort of "boyish" or "girlish" style. Classical: is definitely a more vertical application - not rounded like in R & B or Pop. The use of proper vibrato is an essential component of this style. Country: is a mix of classical, pop and R & B. You could often hear a slight crying feel and a minor nasal application. Quite a few country singers use a light, breathy sound, which is also often used in pop singing. Gospel: uses a classical application, but lately gospel is being associated with the R & B style. I guess it is really a combination of the two. Hard Rock: uses a heavy-duty application of the classical style. Often using lots of vibrato will help to distinguish the singer from the loud guitars and drums and enable him to "cut through". In all of the above cases, the singer needs to have a strong technical foundation to their singing. Style is achieved by varying and applying the technical elements in different ways. You can find out more about how to become a better and more professional singer, by reading some of the other articles available through my website, ****** Diana Yampolsky is a Toronto-based Vocal Coach/Consultant. She is the creator of the Vocal Science Program, which has been designed to achieve Accelerated Vocal Development and guarantees to turn a beginner into a professional singer in a matter of hours. This technique focuses on the idea that the voice is an expression of the emotional, physical and spiritual state of the person singing and Diana therefore works not just on the voice but on the performer as a whole. The Royans School for the Musical Performing Arts ( specializes in Accelerated Artist Development, including Vocal Coaching/Consulting, In Studio Vocal Production Expertise, Style Identification & Differentiation, Voice Repair and Psychology of Performance. Back to Menu ================================================================= " O N S I T E " F E A T U R E D A R T I C L E : The Entertainment Cyberscope Compiled and annotated By Jerry Flattum As mentioned in my Musings at the top of this newsletter, I *highly* recommend you have a read through this incredible project. If you want to have a deeper understanding of the entertainment industry today and where the craft and business of songwriting fits into that understanding, this new section of The Muse's Muse is a MUST read. Honest. I'm not kidding. Have a look and you'll see what I mean. Back to Menu
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