The Muse's Muse  
Muses MailMuses Newsmuse chatsongwriting resource home
The Muse's News

Issue 6.2 - May 2003
ISSN 1480-6975

[ Back to The Muse's News Index ] [ Home ]

This issue sponsored by:
USA Songwriting Contest


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, Stacey Board & Gian Fiero
@-- 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 - WALKING THAT LINE by Harriet Schock
@-- Songwriter In Spotlight - Singer/songwriter, Shannon Cutts
@-- On Site Featured Article - An article (interview this month,
    actually!) 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. ================================================================= LOOKING FOR A PIECE OF THE MUSE'S MUSE? :) 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!) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ DEADLINE LOOMS - 2003 USA SONGWRITING COMPETITION Last Chance To Enter This Year! Enter 2003 USA Songwriting Competition now! Winning songs receive radio airplay! Win Grand prize of US$50,000 of cash, music gear and more! Judges include from Warner and SONY Music. EARLY ENTRY BONUS: First 1,000 entries will each receive a FREE gift! Hurry to: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ E d i t o r ' s M u s i n g s : ----------------------------------------------------------------- Hello again at the end of another month! Thanks for continuing to take the time to read these newsletters. After over five years, I never take that for granted. ;) News? Well, yes. I'm working on a way to accept press releases here on The Muse's Muse so that all of the cool happenings you guys want to let people know about, can be displayed to others that will find them of interest. Up to now, I haven't had any place to put them. But I'm hoping to change all that soon. Keep an eye on the index page of the site for more information on that when it becomes available, ok? Also, there are a bunch of Just Plain Folks chapters opening up all over the place. The Muse's Muse fully supports Just Plain Folks and its activities (it's a great organization! Check out and you can read more about the Boston chapter here on the Muse's Muse message boards:;f=4;t=000154 There's a Just Plain Folks chapter starting up here in Toronto too! For those of you able to make it to the Richmond Hill area on May 21st, I'm actually going to be the guest speaker at this one (though I'm honestly not sure what I'll be talking about yet. If you have thoughts on topics you'd like to hear more about and that you think I might be able to help you with, let me know! I'd love to hear your suggestions!). I'm thrilled to have been asked and I'm hoping it'll be a very successful, regular get-together. For more info, have a look here on the Muse's Muse message boards:;f=4;t=000151 The raffle winners for this month are Alesia House from Bristow, VA, who has won a copy of "Bluesprint: Black British Columbian Literature and Orature" edited by Wayde Compton (reviewed previously at, Raul J. d'Ablaing from San Diego, CA who has won a copy of's "Musician's Toolkit" (for details on this package of useful indie musician-related tools, see ), and Lori Rosolowsky from Buckingham, PA, who has won a copy of VSS's helpful songwriting organization product (for a review of Lyricist & information on a discount offered, see ). There's lots of great stuff in this newsletter - including a wonderful new article by Harriet Schock (thanks, Harriet!) and a new, inspirational interview! So I'll let you get to it. :) Keep writing and keep well, --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!) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ TAKE ONLINE SONGWRITING CLASSES AT BERKLEEMUSIC.COM Songwriters: sharpen your craft with, the online extension school of Berklee College of Music. Whether you're a relative beginner or an experienced writer, our online courses will help you generate more and better ideas, master the elements of style and structure, and express yourself more effectively in words and music. Learn how to build great lyrical ideas into great songs. Discover tips and techniques the most successful writers use in their music. Master powerful programs like Finale and ProTools to notate your songs and make great-sounding demos. These are just a few of the skills you can develop this spring in our online school. Study anytime, anywhere with Berklee's award-winning faculty. Work with other serious writing students in a rich learning environment. The next semester begins on June 16th! Visit to enroll: ================================================================= 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 ----------------------------------------------------------------- Nancy is taking a break this month - but if you'd like to see some of the great Q&A's she's conducted over the years she's been with The Muse's Muse, you can drop by her previous listing of Q&A's at . Her new page contains some of her newest Q&A's along with information about her upcoming book at . And as per usual, you're welcome to ask questions! ***** ABOUT NANCY A. REECE: Since 1998, Nancy Reece has been providing a question and answer forum for Muse's Muse readers. Now all of the articles, forums and Q&A's are being compiled into a book. Nancy is wanting to be sure that you have the opportunity to receive a copy of the book as soon as it is ready. If you are interested in getting an E-mail notification to indicate that the book is ready for purchase, please send your request to . How to Ask a Question: If you have a question for Nancy about publishing or copyright administration, you can e-mail her at Please indicate in the subject of your e-mail that your submission is for The Muse's Muse guest forum, Real Answers to Real Questions. Thanks! Back to Menu ================================================================= M u s i c R e v i e w s : by Ben Ohmart, Gian Fiero & Stacey Board ----------------------------------------------------------------- Rick Duke "Second Son" (by Stacey Board) Within the first 30 seconds of listening to this CD my ear was completely captivated. Rick Duke's acoustic guitar playing is outstanding. It is beautifully melodic, rich and compelling. Hats off to his skill AND to the recording job it's not easy to get a great recording of an acoustic guitar and it's very easy to get a bad one! "Blue Heaven" is especially hypnotic, excellent playing here and a wonderful mood. I admit I may be biased having spent some time in "the southern part of heaven" but he captures it here very well. Duke includes two instrumental 'cover tunes' and another cover, but in my opinion his original instrumentals outshine everything else on the CD. The CD includes vocals and lyrics on 5 out of 11 of the tracks. The title track "Second Son" is "dedicated to all victims... of 9/11" and is the strongest of the non-instrumental songs. It has the most unique melody of his original songs and his best vocal performance. Anyone who enjoys great acoustic guitar playing should include Rick Duke's "Second Son" in their collection of new favorites. ------------------ OTHER NEW MUSIC REVIEWS SINCE LAST MONTH INCLUDE: The Kicks (by Gian Fiero) Maine Attraction (by Gian Fiero) Paul Suftra (by Gian Fiero) The Knights (by Ben Ohmart) The Stan Bock Ensemble (by Ben Ohmart) Lloyd Gregory (by Ben Ohmart) Jon Nicol (by Stacey Board) James O'Malley (by Stacey Board) Rick Duke (by Stacey Board) Artie Tobia (by Stacey Board) --------------- ****** For bios on each of the reviewers, see . 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! 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 And Then I Wrote, Edited by Tom Russell and Sylvia Tyson ----------------------------------------------------------------- A five-minute conversation with me would reveal that I actually do not possess a whole lot of wisdom myself, but I am very fond of quoting the wise. Therefore, if you were to spend about five minutes looking through my bookshelf, you would find a lot of anthologies of quotes and anecdotes; short and usually clever snippets that represent a person's personal philosophy or public persona. They are really, really fun to read. When a reader of "The Muse's News" e-mailed me and recommended that I review a book she had read titled "And Then I Wrote" and I discovered that it was a book full of songwriters' quotes and anecdotes, I was very eager to begin acquiring a whole new set of smart things to say. I also felt that I could put it to a fairly tough scrutiny as I have read and re-read the very best that the publishing world has to offer of this kind of book and although I love to read them, I do not love them when they are uninteresting or not smartly compiled. "And Then I Wrote" was edited by Tom Russell, a noteworthy songwriter in his own right, with songs that have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Suzy Boggas, Ian Tyson, Jerry Jeff Walker and Nancy Griffith. He wrote the song, "Outbound Plane" which was among the most performed songs of 1992. He is also an acclaimed author. Sylvia Tyson was part of the landmark folk and country duo, Ian and Sylvia through the 60's and has spent the last 3 decades establishing herself as a breath-taking solo artist, producer, writer and troubadour. She is in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and has won the prestigious Order of Canada Award. Sylvia Tyson also performs with Kaitlan Haniford, Cindy Church and Gwen Swick as Quartet, one of my favourite groups to see live. The fact that the editors personally know most of the songwriters quoted in the book, (because they themselves are celebrity songwriters), and because they are also authors themselves, gives this volume some real advantages over many other anecdotal collections. "And Then I Wrote" is 233 pages of interesting and smart stuff. It has so many great quotes that I've used bright yellow highlighter on, that when I flip through the book now, the pages have a kind of radioactive glow. That's how I know I liked it! I don't know which quotes you will enjoy the most but a few of my favourites are, Hank Williams' extraordinary quote, "I pick up the pen and God moves it", and Steve Earle's observation that creativity is "the ability to look into the darkness and not blink". In another chapter, David Byrne considers, "pop songs are the folk music of high-tech countries" and Frank Zappa's admits that his, "sense of humour is probably some form of genetic deformity". It's really hard for me to find a place to stop quoting because these artists seem to know exactly how we feel and express it with tools that are just a bit sharper and a little more accurate than the ones most of us have to use to explain ourselves. There are quotes from Tin Pan Alley writers, jazzers, rockers, pop stars and Nashvillians, some "lesser knowns", but lots and lots of legends. The book is compiled in very interesting, interconnected sequences so that there is a thread of insight sewn right through the edit, but you can also just flip it open at any spot and find that every quote stands up very well on its own. Learning how we should view ourselves, our art, and the world we live in, is so vital to producing truly visionary music. It's also essential to retain a sense of connectedness to a whole community that feels like we do; a community that doesn't feel it's so incredibly weird to be a grown person who makes stuff up and then sings about it. And Then I Wrote by Tom Russell and Sylvia Tyson is published by Arsenal Pulp Press and can be checked out at ****** ABOUT THE REVIEWER: James Linderman lives and works at theharmonyhouse, a music lesson, songwriting and music pre-production facility in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. He is the Songwriters Association of Canada regional coordinator for Newmarket 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 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ S p o n s o r M e s s a g e : (Please support the sponsors that support this newsletter! Thanks!) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ LYRICIST! VERSION 2.2 HAS ARRIVED-INCLUDES ON-LINE COPYRIGHT LINK Virtual Studio Systems, Inc. is proud to announce Lyricist V2.2 - The Songwriter's Best Friend: the first-of-its-kind word processor designed for musicians, songwriters, and poets. The software includes a rhyming dictionary, thesaurus, album categorization, chord charting, chord generator, song arrangement, On-Line Copyright Link, and much much more - all in a user-friendly package. Check out the review at Muse's Muse visitors can take home the product for $5.00 off the regular selling price just for purchasing through the form provided off of the review + Free Priority Shipping in the USA if you order in April or May. For more information, visit the review url above or call us at 888.732.1176 inside the U.S.A. and Canada or 603.726-4499 outside the U.S.A. ================================================================= 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! ----------------------------------------------------------------- DALLAS SONGWRITERS LYRIC CONTEST Lyricists! Here's your chance to shine. DSA is very excited about hosting a bi-monthly, ongoing contest for lyricists. The main prize is what we all aspire to - RECOGNITION FOR OUR LYRICAL WORK! 1st place winning lyricists receive $50 cash. 1st, 2nd, 3rd place winners and lyrics will be published both in the DSA "Songwriters Notes" newsletter and the website along with the judges critique. Entry fee is $10 per lyric. ----------------------------------------------------------------- TONOS HITMAKER BYRON GALLIMORE LOOKING FOR SONGS FOR TIM MCGRAW! Tonos hosts many songwriting contests and Industry Opportunities specifically for songwriters every month. The newest contests include: - Tonos Hitmaker Byron Gallimore Looking For Songs For Tim McGraw! - Tonos Hitmaker and top country music producer Byron Gallimore is currently reviewing songs for Tim McGraw's next album. This multi-platinum country star is the hottest performer in country music and is known as much for his country-pop ballads as for his rougher country-rock material. As you can imagine, the competition from Nashville's finest writers is stiff to get a slot on McGraw's album, but Byron is ready and willing to consider some outstanding country songs from some of the tonosPRO country songwriters. - Major Label Looking For New Artists! - Haven't been able to get your material to a major label executive? A Major Label is looking for new artists and are interested to hear tonosPRO members performances. This label is currently all over the Billboard charts. Their A&R executives are looking for the next pop or pop/rock artist or band. You must have a distinct sound and strong vocal ability. They want to hear a solo artist or band that is extraordinary. So send us your best pop or pop/rock performance now! - L.A. Producer Seeking Artists For Production Deals! - A top Los Angeles producer/mixer/engineer (whose resume includes projects with the likes of Marilyn Manson, Eric Clapton and Southern Culture On The Skids) is looking for male or female pop/rock singer-songwriters for a production deal. You must have great songs and a distinct sound. A strong following, band accomplishments and accolades (local awards, press mentions, notable tours, radio airplay, CD/merchandise sales) are a plus and will be considered. See for details on these opportunities and more! ----------------------------------------------------------------- BERKLEEMUSIC.COM WEBSITE LAUNCHED After nearly two years in development, Berklee College of Music has launched its web site. This ambitious new offering provides songwriters opportunities to take online music writing courses and explore new music career directions. Users can create a personal or band web page containing bios, MP3s, images, reviews, news, and links that are useful resources to potential employers, collaborators, and students. For more information visit: ----------------------------------------------------------------- THE FIRST AMATEUR ONLY SONGWRITING CONTEST IN THE WORLD! Cooch Music has launched it's sixth "Amateur Songwriting Contest"! January 18th, 2003 thru August 31st, 2003. Songwriters, Bands and Musicians are now able to enter a contest that is aimed for amateurs only! Songs are to be judged on originality, lyrics, melody and composition by our panel of judges. Our panel consists of professionals from Publishing, Producers, Management, Artists and Songwriters. We also have a voting member of The Grammy Awards on our Panel. Quality of performance and production will not be considered. Entry fee is only $10.00 per song. All prizes are designed to help amateur songwriters further their career. Cooch Music will run it's Amateur Songwriting Contest twice a year. For information on how to get an entry form, rules regulations and the prize list visit ** As a visitor to The Muse's Muse, Cooch Music is offering a special discount to You! Get One FREE Entry when you enter Two songs into our 6th contest! Just copy and paste this article and send it in with your entries to receive the discount! ----------------------------------------------------------------- 2002 GREAT AMERICAN SONG CONTEST WINNERS ANNOUNCED Jim Bizer has won top honors in the Great American Song Contest 2002 with his song "We Are All Connected." First-Place category winners are: Jean-Ann Hand for "Daddy's Arms" (Christian/Gospel); Bob Macdonald for "Jukebox Therapy" (Country); Willie McCulloch for "Sea Field Coal" (Special Category); Jennifer Marks & Jenny Bruce for "Make It Right" (Pop); Steve Tannen for "Picture Of You" (Rock); Alain Bradetter for "Montreal-Marseille" (Instrumental); Kamidahze for "4Deep Rydahz" (HipHop/Rap/R&B); and Michael R. J. Roth for "Farewell, Pennsylvania" (Lyric Writing). Hear these songs at the Great American Song Hall Of Fame: 2003 GREAT AMERICAN SONG CONTEST NOW ACCEPTING ENTRIES! The 5th annual GAS contest features awards & prizes for 45 winners in 9 categories. Judges include publishers, recording artists & hit songwriters. EVERYONE receives written evaluations of their songs. Open through November 7, 2003. Sponsored by Songwriters Resource Network, a free online news & education resource for songwriters. For details, visit: or or e-mail ----------------------------------------------------------------- IMC2003 ANNOUNCES SHOWCASE APPLICATION THROUGH SONICBIDS The first ever Independent Music Conference, a national conference by and for indie musicians, is accepting Showcase Performance Workshop applications from those interested in performing at the event. The event promises to be radically different from typical music conferences in many ways, not the least of which is its DIY ethos. Organized and presented entirely by indie musicians and organizations, the IMC2003 will focus most heavily on education. Even the showcases have been upgraded to "Performance Workshops" to maximize the learning value of this event for its attendees. Artists wishing to be considered are encouraged to visit the web site where information and a link to the Sonicbids online EPK application can be found: If you need more info, you may call anytime: (203)606-4649 ----------------------------------------------------------------- GREAT ARTICLES TO CHECK OUT COURTESY OF GALARIS INDEPENDENT MUSIC: * Shouting Over the Band * 21 Songwriting Tips * Mastering for Radio 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. ----------------------------------------------------------------- COMPO-10 INTERNATIONAL SONG CONTEST Every week 10 artists are featured on Original Compo-10. They rank each other and the ones who have been ranked best will be promoted on the website. The winner of each week's competition gets to join a final that will be held after there has been 10 competitions. The 10 winners will rank each other in the final. As the rankings are done by the artists themselves, the outcome of the voting won't depend on how many friends the artists have. Instructions in 17 languages on the website. Participation in the contest is completely free. For more details, see ----------------------------------------------------------------- ENTRIES FOR 2003 MOVA SONGWRITERS/COMPOSERS COMPETITION ARE NOW BEING ACCEPTED Geared toward new, emerging, and semi-professional songwriters. Semi-finalists compete before an exceptional panel of professionals at the MOVA Arts Festival in Guntersville, Alabama, (Sept 19 - 21) and compete for $4,000 in cash awards (including a $1,000 Best of Show) plus paid booking opportunities, and other awards. 14 genres of music (we do have a lyrics only category). Deadlines: Early Bird May 26, 2003; Night Owl: June 18, 2003. Our 2003 Musicians' Conference, "The Art & Business of Music" with workshops, master classes, private coaching etc is also available. Get full information at: or e-mail: Phone: 256-582-1454. Or write: MOVA Songwriters Competition, 300 Gunter Ave, Guntersville, AL 35976 ----------------------------------------------------------------- THE INTERNATIONAL SONGWRITING COMPETITION The ISC is now accepting entries. $100,000 in cash and prizes to be shared by 68 winners from 13 different categories. ISC's panel of judges include industry heavyweights such as Monte Lipman (President of Universal Records), Bruce Lundwall (CEO/President of Capitol Records Jazz/Classics), Arif Mardin (Producer of the Year at the 2003 Grammy Awards) and more. Deadline is Sept. 15, 2003 ----------------------------------------------------------------- OSCA "ONE PLUS ONE" SONGWRITING CONTEST The Oklahoma Songwriters and Composers Association is now accepting accepting entries for its 5th "One Plus One" songwring contest. There are two categories, 1) The "One Plus One" category which allows only one voice and one accompanying instrument, and 2) The "Open" category, with no production limitations. Prizes for winning entries are $250 for 1st place entries, $100 for 2nd, and $75 for 3rd, in addition to a one year membership to OSCA. The postmark deadline for entries in this contest is July 31, 2003. Entry forms and complete rules can be obtained at, or write to OSCA, P.O. Box 6298, Moore, OK 731153, or call 405 799-4536. Back to Menu ================================================================= M u s e ' s C l u e s : by Irene Jackson 1998-2003 Moonstone Productions All Rights Reserved. Used By Permission ----------------------------------------------------------------- Every now and then in the songwriting Usenet newsgroup, we have a little competition. We all throw out song titles, then vote on them, and when we narrow it down to one, everyone who wants to writes a song around that title. Lyrics and links to audio files, if possible, are posted. It's not really a competition, although some songwriters can't help but be a little competitive. :-) What's most interesting, to me, is how many DIFFERENT songs can come out of one title. Sometimes you think the song could only be in one style or the story in one direction, but darned if somebody doesn't always come up with something right out of left field! It's great fun. There is a website dedicated to exactly this type of competition called SongFight ( On SongFight, you can enter the competition with your version of the latest title which is posted by the webmasters on a weekly basis. Visitors to the website vote on each song, and the winners are posted at the end of the competition. They also have an archive of all of their older competitions so you can listen to mp3 files of all of them if you like. They have recently created streaming versions of all of the entries so that you don't have to download and listen through each one. To enter the competition, you obviously have to have the ability to create and upload an mp3 file, and while some of the entries are full-blown productions, many of them are simply guitar and vocal, with the occasional entry just an a capella version! Also included on the site is a messageboard where you will find various discussions on both the songwriting process and the production aspect. The title in competition at the writing of this article was "Look Good In Black". I heard everything from rock to grunge to rap versions of the title, and anything in between. :-) Even if you don't want to enter, have a listen through the latest bunch and vote on what you think is the strongest entry. I noticed one really interesting thing that seemed to happen in most of the entries of "Look Good In Black"...I wonder if you can too. :-) ****** 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 : WALKING THAT LINE - By Harriet Schock Harriet Shock, 2003 All Rights Reserved. Printed with Permission. ----------------------------------------------------------------- There's a line between art and commerce and for some people, it's wide enough to walk. Finding a way to do it is an art in itself. I know some of the best songwriters walking the earth but you might not know their names. That doesn't mean they're not great. And I know some really successful ones who are also exceptionally good. That doesn't seem to be too popular an idea right now. Today, even in a city as known for songs as Nashville, there's a feeling that "formula" is taking over. And the pervading attitude is that merit doesn't necessarily accompany success, and certainly vice versa. Some blame the record companies who are being bought left and right by people who know very little about music. Some blame the constricting radio formats and shrinking play lists. I just got back from Nashville last week and one of my meetings was with a former promoter from the record label for which I recorded three albums in the seventies, in L.A. He's been very successful in Music City since then and when I recorded my last two CDs in the 90s (I skipped the 80s entirely) I sent them to him. We've talked by phone, but I hadn't really sat down with him in over a decade. When he heard the newer songs, he announced that he was still a fan. This was my opening to ask him a question I didn't dare ask the strangers I'd been meeting with all week. "Could co-writing here actually hurt my writing?" He gave me a candid "yes." I thought about it long and hard. I took "could" to mean if I wrote with the wrong attitude, it "could" harm me but I would make sure that didn't happen. Some of the greatest songwriting I've ever heard is coming out of Nashville, in my opinion. So I decided to adopt the attitude that I could learn from anyone or anything I admire. But I wouldn't let it dilute the style I'd become known for in my own writing. I had found another thin line to walk. I had arranged three writing appointments while I was there. My first appointment was with a former student. That was fun, because we're good friends. Basically I helped him map out his title and left it for him to make the next move. The concept was his and it was wonderful. My next writing session was with someone who also teaches songwriting and that was really fascinating. It was like speaking "shorthand." I just sat in the library where we'd found an available grand piano and played endlessly to a drum track until we found a melody for the chorus. We discussed the lyric direction and he wrote the lyric to the verse with my minimal participation. I took home the tape and wrote the verse melody, then called him and played it to him over the phone. His answering machine kept cutting me off because it was voice activated, I suppose, and there was too much dead space even with my gardener using the blower outside. So he called me back for the third time, put me on the speaker phone and recorded it onto a portable tape recorder. I acknowledged his ingenuity, which had brought to mind a Texas expression I first heard from my friend, Gerry Hallford, who liked to say, "There are more ways to kill a cat than choking it on heavy cream." The good thing about collaborating with a really experienced writer is that no matter how much he liked that expression, he won't try to incorporate it into the lyric. This particular collaborator also helped me learn some of the unwritten rules of Nashville collaboration: The B writer (the one with fewer hits) brings the concept to the A writer (the one with more hits). Therefore, in my third songwriting session, I brought the concept. I had no sooner said the last syllable of the title than he had the guitar up, playing and singing a melody that made me feel totally at home and enraptured. I began to realize the reason this multi-hit-writer is so successful is that he's really good. Melody and harmony fell out of this playful creature like a fountain overflowing. This brings to mind another kind of thin line, one mentioned by Irving Berlin, who spoke of the thin line between familiarity and plagiarism. Berlin walked this line deftly and attributed his success to it, and my collaborator was walking it like a trained gymnast. When I heard the melody and chord changes, it was nothing I'd heard before and yet it felt completely familiar. Every note went where I wanted it to go, just like when someone finds that place on your back that itches. Another interesting line I encountered this trip was between hanging out and becoming a drinker. I noticed a lot of networking going on at songwriters' hangouts, which happen to be bars in many cases. I don't know how they spend day after day there without liver damage, but the "whiskey flows and the beer chases their blues away." And since I was drinking water and trying to stay in "The Zone," it didn't have much effect on me except as an observer. And even though legal sobriety is now determined by Breathalyzer tests, for which I understand Listerine can cause a false positive, I still try to walk the line. All of them. ****** Harriet Schock is a multi-platinum songwriter/recording artist whose songs have been recorded my numerous artists, nominated for a Grammy and used in films. Her fourth, fifth and sixth CDs, "American Romance," "Rosebud" and "Harriet Schock Live" are in current release, as well as her book, BECOMING REMARKABLE, published by Blue Dolphin. As well as performing worldwide, she speaks, teaches and consults in person and via the internet. For further information about her correspondence courses, her book, cds, concerts or consultation, go to or call (323)934-5691. Back to Menu ================================================================= S o n g w r i t e r I n S p o t l i g h t : A Muse's Muse Interview with Singer/Songwriter, Shannon Cutts conducted by Jodi Krangle Shannon Cutts is a singer/songwriter with a penchant for upbeat lyrics unveiling the beautiful simplicity of God's love at work in our lives. Although her songs and signature pop sound have been tagged as having 'crossover appeal', Shannon simply views music as 'what she does'. "Music is healing it is a tie that binds all of us together", Shannon says. "Music is a trusted universal language that can reach into places where words alone cannot go, bringing healing, recovery, joy and love in with it. It is the most powerful and beautiful language I know, and I am privileged to take part in this divine conversation." ------------------------------------------------------------------- Question: What's your background in music? Is your family musical? Did you grow up with it or was it something you discovered? ---------- My family is verrrrryyyy musical. I think I started to talk and sing at the same time. My parents play guitar, my bro plays awesome fiddle, and when I was 8 my parents made a 'deal' (at least that's what they told me it was) with me that if I'd chip in 25 bucks they'd buy me a piano. All I could figure was 'wow - that's pretty cheap for the biggest piece of furniture I've ever owned!' At no time did they explain to me about lessons, or daily practice. They apprenticed me to a towering, terrifying giant of a classical piano teacher, and while I never really managed to learn to read music, I did get pretty good at learning by ear since the music she was giving me interested me so little I never practiced it at all. All I did was sit at the piano and noodle around - I'd play a few bars of Bach or whatever it was that week and then realize that reading music was boring and I could come up with my own ending. So then I'd go to the lesson, piece still unlearned, and ask the teacher if she could 'just play it for me once so I can remember how it goes', and I'd rattle it off back to her. And week after week, for 4 years, that's how it went. So while I turned into a pretty good off-the-cuff songwriter, I wouldn't say I have much Bach in my repertoire. :) ------------------------------------------------------------------- Question: How did you first get involved in music professionally? ---------- My first 'professional' foray into music performance was actually singing lead and playing mandolin (which I was handed when I was 10 - another long story!) in my family's bluegrass band. I've been on stage ever since. Interestingly enough, while I was always aware I 'had talent', it took me a lot longer to find my own heart and wings and learn to love what I seemed to be naturally good at. 'Love' for me, with music, came when the music proved its power and purpose in my life by bringing me back from a slow suicide from anorexia and bulimia. I wrote songs, not even knowing why or where they were coming from or really how I was writing them - every day another song would come to me and I would write it down - and later I realized that that was the one thing I loved enough to keep fighting to recover. It's what I now call the "Key To Life" - that one thing an anorexic/bulimic cares more about than her disease. The music literally healed me, and that's why I feel called to share it with others now, because I believe that if the songs could heal me, then they can heal others who need them as well. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Question: How long have you been writing songs? Which song of yours do you consider your most successful and why? ---------- I have been writing songs since I was 8 years old. My first song was co-written with my Dad, and we called it "Babbling Brook & Brave Buffalo" in honor of our Cherokee heritage. I wrote it on the piano and Dad helped me note it out on sheet music. When I realized that there was a way to make my tortuous theory studies in early Bach bearable by trying my hand at 're-writing' them by ear, I was hooked! A songwriter was born... and to me writing over the years has become like opening up a direct channel of communication to God - calling Him up on the phone and having Him answer every time. It has been an amazing constant source of peace, inspiration, hope, joy and love in my life. The songs that have been most 'successful' to me are the ones that seem to speak into the common life experiences we share. For one person a song will be about anorexia, for another the same song will be about adoption (I've had both of these comments and many more about my song 'Hold Me Teach Me')... each person can find what he or she needs to feel connected, heard, validated and healed in the same song by experiencing it in a unique way that is relevant for them. I do think success sometimes is simply found in the writing of the song perservering when the topic is difficult and personal or the Muse is playing hide-and-seek, continuing to trust the gift when all that comes out seems disjointed and without meaning often my most appealing songs (like 'Lift Me Up') came out under a hailstorm of mental criticism that was trying to sabotage me during the writing process. When I first wrote that song I was in the midst of a mental/writing block, and I just couldn't stop my mind from berating myself for everything that would come out while I was writing the verses. Then the chorus popped out, and I thought 'Wow!' Now THAT is a message... talk about God speaking back to us. "Oh, Lift Me Up, my God, such a mighty awesome God, oh let me sing Your praise, in my weakness I am saved..." I was amazed at how He used my willingness and perseverance in continuing to try to write the song to show me Who is really writing it anyway and where my help will come from to finish it to make something out of nothing. And I think this touches on another universal theme no matter whether it's writing or something else that we are trying to accomplish, we are not alone. We always have help and support. Everyone can relate to that in some way, even if it's not from a spiritual perspective but simply from a relationship perspective. Now, I do think there is another kind of success that comes from writing songs that are more specific, but are self-healing and illuminating and move us forward in our growth and knowledge. And those songs can have their own kind of appeal to specific audiences my song 'Tangled Up' indirectly arose from my fascination with nature and my battle to recover from anorexia and bulimia. Talk about two unrelated topics that each appeal only to a small select group of people! But anorexia is only one kind of issue people are recovering from, so even though it took me a lot to recover from it and the song is very personal to me, people recovering from alcoholism, narcotics abuse, codependency, homelessness, illness, recovery from life itself...they can all relate to the song in their own way. And the image 'Tangled Up' presents of the spider's dependence on his web for food and survival and shelter and the irony that the web he needs originates from inside himself this points us back to our connection. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Question: As an indie musician, you need to do a lot of your promotion on your own. What sorts of things have you done to promote your music? What has worked and what hasn't? ---------- To read Shannon's answer to this question and more, visit: to Menu ================================================================= " O N S I T E " F E A T U R E D A R T I C L E : Just the Facts, Ma'am, Just the Facts - by Paula Carpenter Hopefully this Spring is bringing each of you new successes and inspiration with your career goals. I wanted to talk about some ACTUAL organizations and events which really might be of practical use to you songwriters, in the ultimate goal of getting your songs signed, published, performed, and cut (or put into print...).... I wanted to bring you some FACTUAL, ACTUAL information!
================================================================= C l a s s i f i e d s & U s e f u l S e r v i c e s : ----------------------------------------------------------------- ENTER THE WINDRIFT MUSIC SONGWRITING COMPETITION 2003 NOW! Over US$25,000 in cash and prizes to be won!!! Fabulous Sponsors and Industry Professional Judges. Open now till July 31st, 2003 deadline. $20US/$30CDN entry fee FREE e-Book, & Music Industry Discounts with every entry! Monthly spot-prizes, Early Bird Bonuses & FREE entries available! Enter online or by mail. For more info: ----------------------------------------------------------------- NEED TO BOOK GIGS & ADVANCE YOUR CAREER? ORDER THIS UNIQUE CD-ROM! It is packed with essential tools to save you time and money, and give you a competitive advantage in the music business. Compiled by Suzanne Glass, author, speaker, and founder of, the ToolKit comes with nearly 50 articles, printable copyright forms, templates for common music items like flyers, music fonts, musician papers, software, and much more for only $19.95. ----------------------------------------------------------------- HEY SONGWRITERS! POP QUIZ. GIVE ME THREE RHYMES FOR "HEARTBREAK"... Locate every song's lead sheet you ever wrote, their genre, and album. What's the fingering for a G#sus4 chord at the ninth fret? Now copyright a song from where you're sitting without removing your hands from your mouse or keyboard. Your time is up! You know what you need? LYRICIST! It's the songwriter's best friend. Includes Rhyming Dictionary, Album Categorization, Chord Charting, On-Line Copyright, and more. Check out the review at . Muse's Muse visitors can take home the product for $5.00 off the regular selling price just for purchasing through the form provided off of the review + Free Priority Shipping in the USA if you order in April or May. For more information, visit the review url above or call Virtual Studio Systems at 888.732.1176 inside the U.S.A. and Canada or 603.726.4499 everywhere else. ----------------------------------------------------------------- THE 4th EDITION OF THE INDIE BIBLE IS NOW AVAILABLE! The Indie Bible shows you where to get your music reviewed, your songs played, and your CDs sold. Now in its fourth edition, The Indie Bible has 310 pages of valuable contacts and music-related articles. The 4th Edition of the Indie Bible contains: 3500 publications from around the world that will REVIEW your CD! 2900 radio stations from around the world will PLAY your songs! 350 vendors and services that will help you to SELL your music! 400 helpful resources and sites where you can PROMOTE your band! 500 sites where you can UPLOAD your band's MP3 files! 39 articles that will help your career to MOVE forward rapidly! For details and to order online visit: ----------------------------------------------------------------- MUSIC BOOKS PLUS The Songwriter's One Stop Resource for Books, Instructional Videos, CD-ROMs and DVDs. We feature over 5,000+ titles at - areas covered include: International Music Directories, Music Business, Song & Lyric Writing, Music Publishing, Rhyming Dictionaries, Theory & Arranging , Instrument & Vocal Technique, Recording, Internet ... and so much more. Free electronic newsletter, monthly & customer specials, new titles added weekly. Come check us out! ----------------------------------------------------------------- 2003 UNISONG INTERNATIONAL SONG CONTEST OPEN FOR ENTRIES! Unisong is THE opportunity for songwriters and writer/artists around the world to have their songs heard and their careers enhanced. Over $50,000 in Cash and Prizes! Grand Prize will win a trip to NY, London, Nashville or Los Angeles to write with a professional songwriter! Enter by Cassette, CD or MP3! Entry deadline is April 30, 2003. Enter by January 31, 2003 to take advantage of our earlybird rates! Visit for more details. ----------------------------------------------------------------- MUSIC BUSINESS SOFTWARE FROM PATTEN SOUND Record Company in a Box is complete independent record company management software. Tour Manager allows the tracking of all concert and tour specifics. Music Business Contracts contains 100 of the most necessary music industry contracts available. Studio Business Forms is a collection of 43 recording studio business forms. For more details, point your browser to: ----------------------------------------------------------------- THE GALARIS MUSICIANS DIRECTORY - 2003 EDITION If you are serious about pushing your music career to the next level, getting your music into the right hands, promoting yourself to others and creating a buzz, YOU NEED THE GMD! Visit us to check out the demo, and see what industry professionals say about the GMD. Receive a 10% discount if you place your order through The Muse's Muse: ----------------------------------------------------------------- GO GLOBAL WITH CDSTREET.COM is your secure source for credit card music ordering in your own website. As a member of the CDstreet network, you will have access to the most cost-effective, secure transaction processing for global music merchandise distribution. Plus, low setup fee and no sales equals no cost! Check it out - ================================================================= ADVERTISING RATES: For Classifieds: US$50 Max. 8 lines, where a line = 65 characters including spaces and punctuation. All contracts must be prepaid. Write to: For Newsletter Sponsorship rates and other advertising opportunities, please see . Back to Menu
================================================================= 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
Library of Canada ecollection: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Back to Menu

[ Back to The Muse's News Index ] [ Home ]

Help For Newcomers
Help for Newcomers
Helpful Resources
Helpful Resources
Berklee Music Resources
The Muse's News
Entertainment Cyberscope
Newer Articles
Past Columnists
Past Columnists - After March 2007
Market Information
Songwriting Contests
Chat Logs
Songwriting Books
Regular Columnists
Services Offered
About the  Muse's Muse
About Muse's Muse
Subscribe to The Muse's News, free monthly newsletter for songwriters
with exclusive articles, copyright & publishing advice, music, website & book reviews, contest & market information, a chance to win prizes & more!

Join today!

Created & Maintained
by Jodi Krangle


1995 - 2016, The Muse's Muse Songwriting Resource. All rights reserved.

Read The Muse's Muse Privacy Statement