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The Muse's News

Issue 5.4 - July 2002
ISSN 1480-6975

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

@-- Editor's Musings
@-- Copyright & Publishing Q&A with Nancy A. Reece from Carpe Diem
    Copyright Management
@-- Music Reviews - by Ben Ohmart & Eliot Popkin
@-- Songwriting Book Review - by James Linderman
@-- Musical Notes - Songwriting Contests & Market Info.
@-- Muse's Clues - Songwriting Web sites that inspire - brought
    to you by singer/songwriter & teacher, Irene Jackson.
@-- Featured Article - HOOK, LINE & SINKER: 
                       Tips for writing Great Hooks - by Steve Moss
@-- Songwriter In Spotlight - Beth Nielsen Chapman
@-- On Site Featured Article - An article already online for your
    viewing pleasure.
@-- Classifieds & Useful Services
@-- Contact information
ISSN 1480-6975.  Copyright 1998 - 2002, Jodi Krangle.  For more 
contact information, see end of issue. ================================================================= Visit for great Muse's Muse products like mugs, mousepads, shirts, and even wall clocks! Start your own store too - with no up front costs! See ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ S p o n s o r M e s s a g e : (Please support the sponsors that support this newsletter! Thanks!) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ THINK YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO SIGN A MUSIC PUBLISHING DEAL? Brought to you by Universal Music Group, Songwriting and Publishing is an instructional video that teaches you everything you need to know to write a successful song and sign a lucrative publishing deal. Purchase the video and we GUARANTEE a Universal A&R executive will review your lyrics and send you WRITTEN FEEDBACK. We'll even give you the chance to win a $1,000 publishing deal with Universal Music Publishing Group. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ E d i t o r ' s M u s i n g s : ----------------------------------------------------------------- Here we are, another month later. I hope that extra month has put you all closer to your goals (whatever they might be). And it's finally summer! Sweltering hot out there for most of you. But I have to admit that I enjoy a summer thundershower a whole LOT more than I enjoy snowstorms. Yay for summer! :) I'd like to begin by saying that Eliot Popkin will only be writing for The Muse's Muse for a couple more months before he leaves us to focus on his own CD (good luck, Eliot!). Therefore, there's a bit of an opening. If you're interested in writing CD reviews for The Muse's Muse (and this newsletter), please do let me know. You can reach me at . If you could also include a sample of your writing and an idea of the genres you'd be interested in reviewing, that would be extremely helpful. Meanwhile, there's tons of new stuff around the website - including a new reference guide for beginning songwriters that I've put together at . If that's of interest to you, I hope you'll check it out. The raffle winners for this month are Moneec Browne from Dayton, OH, who has won a copy of David Hooper's and Lee Kennedy's, "How I Make $100,000 in the Music Business, Without a Record Label, Manager or Booking Agent" (reviewed later on in this newsletter)- and Timothy Kesterson from Forth Worth, TX, who has won a copy of VSS's extremely useful Lyricist product (for a review of Lyricist & information on a discount offered, see ). And that's it for this Musings. :) See you next month! All the best, --Jodi Back to Menu ================================================================= 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 ================================================================= C o p y r i g h t & P u b l i s h i n g Q & A : With Licensing executive Nancy A. Reece ----------------------------------------------------------------- TOPIC: PUBLISHING DEALS Q: Hello, I play and write songs in a band that has a recording contract. Now I have written a song that would, in my opinion, fit a well-known artist perfectly. The song is nothing like my own band's style. Can I copyright the song directly for myself, or is it the property of the recording company? How should the well-known artist be best contacted? Through our record-companies? I can sort the details out with the company's attorney. I would just like to get some info from an objective source prior to negotiating. -------- A: You do need to talk to an attorney but the record company's counsel is only representing the company, not you. Understand that. If you signed an exclusive songwriting agreement when you signed your artist deal then they probably own the publishing in songs you write during the term. It would be that publisher's responsibility to then help pitch and exploit the work in as many ways as possible. If you have a personal artist manager please seek his/her advice- and get your own attorney! ----------------------------------------------------------------- TOPIC: MECHANICAL Q: First of all, thanks for providing a forum for songwriters to wade through the technical/business aspects of the craft! I've recently been approached by an independent artist who acquired one of my songs through and is placing it on a CD project. The song has been copyrighted under my publishing company and I am the sole songwriter of the song. She is basically asking permission to use the song. What type of release should I give her to do so? -------- A: She is asking for a compulsory mechanical license. You can find samples in many of the books recommended through Muse's Muse and at . ----------------------------------------------------------------- TOPIC: LICENSING Q: I recently have acquired an opportunity which is a little unorthodox which I have questions about. I am a truck driving singer\songwriter, and I write basically about my experiences on the road. The company that I am leased to has taken a liking to one of my songs in particular. The song is registered already with the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. They previously asked me if they could use portions of it in a commercial designed to recruit more drivers to their company. They currently are using it in some TV and radio commercials on local formats. The agreement we came up with was that this use of my song was exclusively for this application which we discussed. Furthermore, if it was to be used in any future publications I was to be notified and a new contract would be made. They now have decided they would like to go to a more national format, asked to meet with me about the various stipulations I wanted. They have agreed with my requests and have asked me to have the contract drawn up to those specifications and they would read and sign. One of the specifications was that a reasonable percentage of the capital gains would come back to them, for paying for recording the song and mentioning my website on their commercial. My questions; How much percentage do you pay for such a thing? What constitutes being a published writer? and; Is there an Entertainment Lawyer in the vicinity of Springfield, MO? -------- A: Congratulations! What a wonderful success story. I'm sure there are good entertainment attorneys in St. Louis. I would advise that you call the Blues Foundation in St. Louis and see if they can recommend entertainment counsel that is licensed in Missouri to help. If you strike out there, I would say you could talk to some folks we recommend here in Nashville for advice. If they want to claim that recording costs are a recoupable advance as part of the deal, you can do that. Just be clear on ownership, term and territory. As always, EVERYTHING is negotiable and you need someone to help you who you know will not only help you understand the offer but will know what to ask for. ----------------------------------------------------------------- TO VIEW OTHER QUESTIONS AND RESPONSES, SEE NANCY'S "COPYRIGHT & PUBLISHING Q&A" ONLINE AT Please note: She receives 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 Q&A's 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 question, you can send your e-mail to Nancy at . 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 & Eliot Popkin ----------------------------------------------------------------- Christine Kane - Rain and Mud and Wild and Green (by Ben Ohmart) 'A woman reads a romance / and I could smell her fragrance / all the way to Baltimore / every guy with a cell phone / kept on trying to call home / except nobody's home anymore' are the opening words from the folk-inspired 'The Way Clouds Do.' Christine's gently forceful vocals are the sort reviewers dream about. She should be doing singing for Disney animated movies, because the microphone seems to kiss her like a well-oiled boyfriend. Crisp, clear and highly intelligent words spring forth from this young woman as if she's an old fashioned waterwheel with a new state of the art engine turning it. Sheís realistic, but wistful for the old days and dreams. My favorite song is going to be everyone's. '(No Such Thing As) Girls Like That' purges the gloss from the subject within the photograph when it comes to supermodels and all things too perfect. The lyrics are honed to perfection and are sure to be crowd pleasers. Here's how the anti-lingerie catalog ends up: 'My favorite girls are women that / are not afraid to cry and laugh / and eat some food that's high in fat / can change your oil, fix your flat / can say some prayers and blaze a path / and I'll just say on their behalf / thereís no such thing as girls like that.' Yet, there are enough pensive moods in here to keep the soul growing outwardly to the furthest shining star. One of the most of effective of which is 'Or Just Heading Home.' Just voice and acoustic guitar, with a melody you roll up into a tight shoulder to cry on. When she comes to 'I fell in love once / with a boy from Wichita / and he left me in Africa / Yea, itís quite a story' I'm without a doubt, ready to call her the author of the finest indie folk album Iíve heard this year. Not since growing up with the enchanting sounds of Peter Paul and Mary have I heard such magic on a disk. Beautiful, heartfelt stuff that I can't recommend enough. You need to listen to this cd. I'm quite serious. ------------------ OTHER NEW MUSIC REVIEWS SINCE LAST MONTH INCLUDE: Music For Babies - (by Ben Ohmart) Cinema 8 - (by Ben Ohmart) Psicodreamics - (by Ben Ohmart) TampaStan - (by Ben Ohmart) Carolyn Fok - (by Ben Ohmart) Chris Welch - (by Ben Ohmart) Mara - (by Eliot Popkin) Nic Meredith - (by Eliot Popkin) Obstacle Illusion - (by Eliot Popkin) Kathy Phillips - (by Eliot Popkin) Scott Turchin - (by Eliot Popkin) --------------- ****** Ben lives in Boalsburg, PA where greedy people want to put up condos in place of a nature preserve. He spends his off hours listening to radio comedy - especially British - loves reading and watching horror, and hates trying to make ends meet. Send him money and gifts. While waiting for bribes, he's currently writing the official biographies of The Bickersons, Paul Frees and Daws Butler. His latest bit of immortality? The text for Contact him at: Eliot is a Boston born singer/songwriter who saw his debut album "Down Along This Road" have 3 songs find their way into movies, radio airplay on more than 100 stations across the country as well as countless wonderful reviews and feature stories. He currently is writing songs for various major label and film projects, and is in the studio working on his follow up album. He lives in Los Angeles, enjoying a nice view of the Hollywood sign. To hear his music, drop by his web site at . Contact him at: If you're considering sending in your own CD for review, please drop by to find out which reviewer reviews which genre. Thanks! 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 James Linderman How I Make $100,000 in the Music Business, Without a Record Label, Manager or Booking Agent - By David Hooper and Lee Kennedy ----------------------------------------------------------------- On the front cover of this book there are 3 claims that the authors make. They claim to be able to help you "sell more merchandise"," increase your fan base" and finally, "quit your day job". It was this final claim that left me sceptical. Most of us need to work at something, other than being musicians, so that we can pour whatever time, money and energy we have left into... being musicians. As I read through this book I began to realize that, although the authors don't make it look particularly easy to make a decent full time living as a musician, they do make it look possible and that's enough to make me believe that this is an amazing little book. This 200 pager was written by David Hooper and Lee Kennedy; David is the promotion and marketing whiz of the team and runs, a prominent artist development site. Lee is the musician of the pair and is the particular one who makes the six-digit income (from the title) doing gigs and selling merch. I always prefer taking advice from people who have proven their theories, not just formulated them, and so this was the second thing that sold me on the power of this book. David and Lee will teach you some terrific new ways to build good partnerships; with other musicians, other bands, club owners, events organizers, and fans; what to offer, and what to expect back from your dealings with them. There are some amazing tips on how to maximize these relationships so you can begin to make back some of the money you've sunk into your music... and then have a bit to spare... and then have a lot to spare. Sound good so far? Read on! They basically re-write the rulebook on how to book a gig. They then offer up some incredible advice on things like; when to play certain kinds of songs during your set, based on the common times that people usually leave a club. This will put peoples "seats" back in their seats and a smile on the club owners face. I found this section to be one of the coolest things I've read in a long time and I don't even play clubs. The book then marches through a very detailed and specific set of strategies that have been used by David and Lee to create the kind of success that puts $100,000 in your hands every year and a smile on your face. The back 50 pages of the book contain short comments from top industry insiders expressing their central perspective on what we should know about the business, and usually don't. I almost did not even blink while reading this it's so captivating. This would be a great read for everyone, period. It's illuminating, entertaining, insightful and totally hip. Obviously, it would especially appeal to those who gig and want to get more serious about it. It is a book that promises to make you a lot more money than it will cost you to pick up, and like all great products, it comes with a money back guarantee... that you will never use. ****** James Linderman lives and works at theharmonyhouse, a music lesson, songwriting and music pre-production facility in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. He has worked as a collaborating songwriter and consultant for The Toronto Office of Catholic Youth and leads a music workshop program for Life 100.3 Christian radio. James writes songwriting articles for The Muse's News web magazine, Canadian Musician Magazine and Professional Musician Magazine. Contact James at: 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! ----------------------------------------------------------------- 'RADIO MUSE' WEBCAST FOR INDEPENDENT SONGWRITERS - 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. ----------------------------------------------------------------- NEW OPERA/POP ARTIST SEEKING SONGS Tonos hosts many songwriting contests and Industry Opportunities specifically for songwriters every month. June contests include: * Legendary Pianist Jim Brickman is looking for some great pop songs for his new artist Joshua Payne. Just like Josh Groban, Joshua Payne is an opera singer. Jim Brickman is releasing Josh on his own label (to be re-named in coming days) through BMG. Broadway songs will not be accepted; he is looking for traditional pop songs that show the range of Josh's incredible opera voice. * Jessica Andrews needs country songs for upcoming album!! - Many remember Jessica Andrews by her first single, "I Will Be There for You," on the Prince of Egypt soundtrack back in 1998. Just one year later, at the tender age of 15, she released her first album titled Heart Shaped World in 1999. Now she is working on her third album release and a major Nashville production company is searching for songs for her new project. (Deadline is July 31) * Modern Rock Band Seeks Rock Songs! - A modern rock band with a major indie deal is looking for uptempo rock songs. The band is similar to Creed and Lifehouse. Here is a great opportunity for a tonosPRO member to get in on the ground level of a band that is getting ready to explode onto the music scene. (Deadline is July 24)
(It's a bit long, I know - but if it doesn't work as a clickable link in your email, just copy and past the link into your browser.) ----------------------------------------------------------------- NEW LIVE INTERNET VENUE WANTS TO GIVE YOU EXPOSURE THE GUEST HOUSE LIVE, the first recording studio and jam space on the Web that gives the world a 24/7 backstage pass, is a cross between a club and a pro recording studio, and we webcast live 24/7. Under one roof is a professional, state-of-the-art recording studio, performance and rehearsal spaces, the offices of three record labels (Pop/Rock; Americana; Urban), two publishing companies, and musicians, singers, songwriters and technicians all creating and performing live to the world. We offer not only exposure through live performances and considerable promotional efforts throughout the U.S., South America and Europe, but reasonable performance/recording packages for all artists and genres. Contact for more information or just log on to and check us out for yourself. ----------------------------------------------------------------- HIGHWAY 61 SINGER/SONGWRITER CONTEST: From the land of Bob Dylan's roots in Northern Minnesota. Share your original song live, on stage to kick off the Highway 61 Folks Festival in Mahtowa Minnesota, Saturday August 3, 2002. All entries have a chance to win an acoustic guitar provided by Music-Go-Round. Songs will be judged on creativity, musical performance, lyrical content, area appeal, and, listenability. Winners to appear and be promoted on compliation CD. For more information, visit or email us at: ----------------------------------------------------------------- GREAT ARTICLES TO CHECK OUT COURTESY OF GALARIS INDEPENDENT MUSIC: * Understanding where and how you fit into the marketplace * How Good Do Your Demos Have To Be? * Make Music Money on the Web * What's My Style? * Being True to Your Musical Abilities Sign up for the Galaris Independent Musicians Newsletter. Simply send a blank email to and twice monthly you will receive FREE, direct to your email box, articles containing: Promotion tips, Career advice, Recording tips, Practicing tips, Legal advice, Musician's health, Radio promotion, Songwriters tips and much more. ----------------------------------------------------------------- NASHVILLE PUBLISHERS SEARCHING FOR NEW WRITERS Two of Nashville's most successful song publishers, Scott Gunter of Almo Irving Music and Chris Oglesby of BMG Publishing, are looking beyond the Nashville city limits to discover great new talent. They have asked hit writer, consultant and Bluebird Cafe host Barbara Cloyd to help them. Applications are now being taken for a workshop to be held in the Atlanta area Aug 23 - 25. Fifteen applicants will be chosen to spend the weekend playing songs for and learning from these Music Row pros. For complete details visit ----------------------------------------------------------------- ATTENTION: INDEPENDENT BANDS AND SINGER-SONGWRITERS You CAN earn a good living selling your MP3s! will invite up to ONE MILLION PEOPLE A YEAR to hear and buy YOUR music! Sign Up NOW! Plans as low as $10 a month. The Revolution Begins. Go to . ----------------------------------------------------------------- RPM Direct is now accepting music submissions for Volume 2 in the RPM Direct Presents: Unsigned compilation CD series. RPM Direct offers unsigned bands and recording artists the chance to have their music heard by hit making music industry executives around the world. All music submissions are reviewed by a panel of veteran recording industry professionals and final artist choices will appear on an exclusive RPM Direct compilation CD that will be distributed directly to 2,000 of the world's top creative executives in A&R, music publishing, film & tv music as well as producers, managers, attorneys, radio programmers and more. The project will also be heavily promoted in the RPM Direct Newsletter and through other recording industry media outlets. All music submitted for Volume 2 will also count as an entry into RPM Direct's "Submit To Win" contest. For more information please visit our Rules & Regulations page at: or contact RPM Direct, Inc. by email at: Back to Menu ================================================================= M u s e ' s C l u e s : by Irene Jackson ©1998-2002 Moonstone Productions All Rights Reserved. Used By Permission ----------------------------------------------------------------- There's a website that I peruse from time to time called Music Dish, which is essentially a music news website featuring stories on the business side of music. Recently I discovered a section that I hadn't noticed before (duh!), that deals specifically with songwriters. It's called the Songwriters' In the New Millenium series, and you'll find it here: Music Dish and hosted a panel at the Nashville New Music Conference in 2001 that consisted of better known songwriters like Jason Blume, Barbara Cloyd, Kim Copeland, Gary Talley and Susan Tucker. Each of these songwriters also completed an essay that went into a series of reports in PDF form all downloadable from the above site. One of the reports deals with how songwriters utilize different resources and services to further their careers. Actually, what is most surprising is how FEW songwriters take advantage of these. But there is also a Q&A section where songwriters posed question to each of the panelists on various topics such as critiquing, song contest and more. There are also several other topics including a guide to open mics and showcases, charting a career path, an more general reports discussing the digital music revolution including the effects of and Napster. There is a LOT to read here, but most interesting to me is the survey of songwriters that is very telling in terms of the effectiveness of contests and critiques and other services. You will require Acrobat Reader to read the reports, and a link to the free software is provided if you don't have it. There are also a couple of reports presented in zipped Microsoft PowerPoint files. All in all, a very interesting colletion of reports and information for the songwriter looking to develop their careers. Who says the business of music can't be interesting?? ****** 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 : HOOK, LINE & SINKER: Tips for writing Great Hooks By Steve Moss © 2002 All Rights Reserved. Used By Permission ----------------------------------------------------------------- What is a hook? Think of any song that was a hit back when you were a kid and start singing it. Chances are, the first thing you think of is its hook. A hook is a brief, memorable, irresistible bit of music, lyric, or both, that the listener will remember even after hearing your song only once. It's the part that gets a song on the radio and sells records. It's the part you can still remember and sing twenty years later. A song's hook is often, but not always, a musical setting of its title. In the verse-chorus format of most of today's pop songs, it is often found in the chorus. No matter what style of music you're writing, if you have a great hook, you have a shot at a great song. Here are some ideas to consider when you're trying to reel one in. The military has a rule of thumb for planning successful operations. It goes by the acronym "KISS," for "Keep it Simple, Stupid." I have a variation of this rule I follow when writing hooks. It's "KIRSS" (sounds like "curse"): Keep it Repetitive, Simple (and) Singable. If your goal is a memorable song, you'll get a lot of mileage out of repetition. What is easier to remember, Abe Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, or the chorus of "Achy-Breaky Heart?" The listener's ear craves the familiar. The more you repeat, the more familiar your material is. Simplicity goes hand in hand with repetition. You don't need too much information in a hook. Tell your story in the verses. Many classic hooks are simply repetitions of a one-to-three syllable phrase, like "you're no good, you're no good, you're no good, baby you're no good" (Clint Ballard, Jr.). The goofier it looks on paper, the better hook it often is. If your listener can sing along with your song, she will love it even more. Use words that are easy to pronounce. They are easier to sing gracefully. Tongue twisters like "She sells seashells by the seashore" are memorable, granted, but you wouldn't want to sing one, especially in an up-tempo song. Musically, your hook should cover a nice wide interval, such as a 5th or more. Avoid hyperactive melodies that rise and fall too often within a short span of time, however. Always sing what you've come up with several times before deciding whether to keep it or not. You can approach a hook lyrically or melodically. Try it both ways. As you practice, you'll probably notice less and less separation between the two until you're routinely getting ideas containing both words and melody. Along with simplicity and repetition, strive for familiarity in your lyric. Your listener wants a song he can identify with. Start a list of common sayings and phrases. Many great song title/hooks are musical settings of phrases we hear all the time. "Why Didn't I Think of That" (by Paul Harrison and Bob McDill, recorded by Doug Stone) is an example. You can also come up with a memorable hook by changing one or two words in a well-known phrase to give it new meaning, as Dewayne Blackwell and Earl Lee did in "Friends in Low Places" (recorded by Garth Brooks). Repetition of sounds within a phrase also helps make a lyric catchy and memorable. Try to work some alliteration -- repetition of consonant sounds, and assonance -- repetition of vowel sounds, into your next hook line. Phrases like "Cats in the cradle" and "silver spoon" (Harry Chapin) are alliterative. "Take the 'A' Train"(Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn) uses assonance effectively. "Purple People Eater" (Sheb Wooley) is a great combination of both. If you're starting with music, practice composing short melodic phrases, either in your head or on an instrument. Record them so you can listen to them later. Let them vary in length, anywhere from 2 to 8 measures. It's hard to define what makes a "catchy" melody, but you know one when you hear it. Some of yours will stick in your mind, or creep up on you when you are thinking of something else. Those are the catchy ones. When you get one of those, try setting some words to it. Write whatever you can think of that fits. Try a few different sets of lyrics for a given melody. Very often your best ideas lurk inside you for a while before surfacing. Another way to approach melodic hook writing is to use the "Big Leap." Lots of memorable hooks feature a prominent vocal leap. The first two notes of the classic "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (Harold Arlen/Hip Yarburg) are an octave apart. Unusual or exotic sounding intervals work well too. "Maria" from West Side Story (by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim) features the augmented 4th. "Somewhere" ("there's a place for us") from the same score starts with a minor seventh, an interval that is both wide and unusual, making this hook doubly striking. Study one of your favorite songs. Does one phrase stick out (and stick in your head) above the rest? Where do you find this phrase in the song? At the beginning of the chorus? At the end? How does it work? Take it apart and find out what tricks the writer used to imprint her song on your brain. The more great hooks you study, the more ideas you'll have to try in your own songs. Good luck and remember: writing well starts with writing. ****** Steve Moss is the editor of Tunesmith Monthly: The Nuts & Bolts Resource for Songwriters. He writes songs and performs with his wife Jenny. Based just outside Chicago, IL, the two have performed all over the upper Midwest. Their first CD of original songs, One Foot on the Train, was released in June of 2000. A recent review in Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine praised Steve's "particularly nice lyrical gift." When not writing or making music, Steve works as a technician for the World's largest maker of pedal harps. Visit him on the World Wide Web at to Menu ================================================================= S o n g w r i t e r I n S p o t l i g h t : Beth Nielsen Chapman - conducted by Bart Herbison, Executive Director of the NSAI ------------------------------------------------------------------- Beth's bio states (on her website - from an article written about her by Kerry Dexter at Dirty Linen Magazine): "Beth Nielsen Chapman is the writer behind number-one country hits for Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson, and Lorrie Morgan. Jazz artist Ute Lemper and blues-rock Grammy winner Bonnie Raitt have also recorded her songs. Chapman's own albums have charted in the top 10 in the Adult Contemporary field. Recently, Chapman's name has been in the news because Elton John chose the title song of her current release, Sand and Water, to sing at his concerts in memory of Princess Diana and Gianni Versace." This interview provides rare insight into the mind of an extremely talented songwriter who has decided to share the most personal aspects of her own life in her song. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Bart: Let's talk about the music first. I loved what you said; this is a good record. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Beth: Yeah, I'm very proud of this record. Well, songs come to me in really sort of subliminal ways. I often write the vowels a couple weeks ahead of the consonants. (Bart laughs.) Iím serious. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Bart: Describe that. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Beth: It's like I'll sit down and put my hands on the piano or the guitar, and then I'll hear a sound or I'll feel a chord that will resonate and then I'll get something happening in my voice. My voice is like a car that I get into and drive but I don't know where I'm going. And I record everything. And often, I sort of get into a state, a creative state that is, where I'm just feeling around melodically, and playing things off the top of my head. Then I go back and listen to it and for the first time, hear what I just did. It's like Elvis has left the building while the thing is happening. I'll often think, "Oh that wasn't any good and I don't think I got anything out of that." Then I go back and listen to it the next day and hear a little bit of something, and that will be the beginning of a song. Then I'll sing it over and over and over again and it will develop legs. It'll sort of form itself. I'll keep coming back to it and starting it at the beginning. There's a song on this record called "Every December Sky" and I started it the day, I was actually down at the Gulf, around New Year's and I spent three days by myself in silence. I sat down and started playing this song and I got this really strange feeling and I started sobbing. It was right at that time, within that hour, that I found that Kent Robbins died and I always felt like Kent Robbins had a part in the spirit of that song coming through me and all I had was "every December sky blah, blah, blah", and I had this whole strange feeling like what does that mean? I felt there was this sense of connection between that song and Kent. And then it was two more years later before I finished that song. Then it was another year before I recorded this album. So the song has been around for about three years and then you know, somehow, I knew in the terms of the functioning of writing that song, I knew it had to start with "Every December Sky" and I knew it had to end with "Every December Sky". I knew it was about letting go and it was about believing that even though it seems like there's nothing ahead of you, that there is something ahead of you. It's really a metaphor for death and also a metaphor for life. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Bart: Well, you know, we were talking about spiritual stuff just before we started this interview. I just glanced at some of these lyrics, and Beth, you have been through so much. You lost your husband, finished this record three days before you learned you had breast cancer and what amazed me at glancing at some of these lyrics, it's almost like you could have written about even the second part of that experience. It goes so uncannily with what you have been through. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Beth: It is. It's like; going through chemotherapy, that song gave me the most comfort. It's all about believing. It's all about really believing that in the darkest hour, in the darkest coldest day of winter, that the spring is inside the trees. That somehow folded into my psyche, many years before this challenging thing I went through. Even as I finished this song, I felt a connection with Kent. I am just looking forward to the song Harlan is going to help us all write. (Laughs) ------------------------------------------------------------------- Bart: Has Kent's family heard this song? ------------------------------------------------------------------- For the rest of this interview/article, please click through to: ------------------------------------------------------------------- ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER: Bart Herbison is Executive Director of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), a post he has held since 1997. A Paris, Tenn., native, Herbison worked as a reporter and spent 14 years in Country radio before joining the staff of U.S. Rep. Bob Clement in 1987. During the next 10 years, Herbison served as the Tennessee Congressmanís Press Secretary, then Campaign Manager, then Chief Administrative Officer before leaving Capitol Hill for Music Row. Herbison is a 1996 graduate of Leadership Music. Back to Menu ================================================================= " O N S I T E " F E A T U R E D A R T I C L E : BUILDING THE PERFECT BEAST: Form Follows Function Brought to you by Author/Teacher/Songwriter, Pat Pattison, this enlightening article explains why it's a good idea to have your rhyming and rhythm scheme follow your song's subject - and gives you tips on how to do it too!
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================================================================= C o n t a c t I n f o & C r e d i t s : ----------------------------------------------------------------- Jodi Krangle ............................................. EDITOR Kathryn Obenshain ...........................GRACIOUS PROOFREADER ----------------------------------------------------------------- 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. Back issues and other information will be available at: The Muse's News is part of The Muse's Muse, a web resource for songwriters: For further information, send your e-mail to: ----------------------------------------------------------------- - How to place a classified ad, pass on market information or sponsor The Muse's News. - How to subscribe, unsubscribe, etc. - To submit articles,reviews,ideas,etc. SNAILMAIL: Please contact me first at ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Back issues of the newsletter can be read at the National
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