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

Issue 6.4 - July 2003
ISSN 1480-6975

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

This issue sponsored by: - Online music courses, music industry jobs, songwriters' network and more!


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 - 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.
                       by Garrison Leykam
@-- Message Forums In Spotlight - Here are some of the great 
    conversations going on right now.
@-- On Site Featured Article - An article already online for your
    viewing pleasure.
@-- Classifieds & Useful Services
@-- Contact information
ISSN 1480-6975. Copyright 1998/99/00/01/02/03 - 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 for more details.  
S p o n s o r   M e s s a g e : 
(Please support the sponsors that support this newsletter! Thanks!)


If you are looking to progress in your professional development
or need assistance in financing your online education,
Berkleemusic now offers more flexible options with Continuing
Education Units (CEU). If you are a teacher or employee in the
music industry, you may be able to seek Employer Reimbursement
for all or part of the cost of your online education.
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.  

Registration for August 18, 2003 is open now!
Visit to enroll:


E d i t o r ' s   M u s i n g s :

Hi folks.  This is a long Musing, so please bear with me.  I
think you'll find it worth the read!

Well, summer is finally here.  Or so we're led to believe. :)
Time for another subscription drive!  I haven't had one in a very
long time so I thought it was overdue.  The prize this time?
Either a Muse's Muse t-shirt (white or ash grey) or a Muse's Muse
mug.  You tell me which you want.  You can see what they look
like here: (clothing is in one
section, other stuff in another).  I have both myself and I can
tell you that the design is beautiful (thanks, Craig!) and the
products themselves are high quality (the mug is a *large* mug,
too!). Cafe Press has been doing this for a while and I'm highly
impressed with their offerings.  More about that later.

And just as a little added incentive, I also have an NSAI one
year membership (that's a $100 US value! Thanks, Jeff!) to give
away to the person who brings in the most subscribers overall
before the end of the year (obviously, the membership for NSAI
would be for the year 2004).  For more information on the NSAI,
check out .

So.  What do you have to do to get a t-shirt or mug?  Simple.  If
you can get 20 new sign-ups to this newsletter, I'll send you
either the t-shirt or the mug.  Yup.  No competing.  You do it,
you get the shirt or mug.  Easy. :)  All you need to do, is tell
interested songwriters or music industry folks about this
newsletter (back issues are at so
they can see what they'd be getting), and have them email to me
at with a request that they be subscribed.  In
that email, they should mention the name and email address of the
person that told them about the newsletter so that you can be
credited. I'll keep track, and when you reach 20, I'll email you
to get your address so that I can send you the shirt or mug.
I'll keep a running tally in this newsletter and/or online
somewhere (just using names, not listing email addresses!) as
well (I'll pass on that url when I have it).  Email me if you're
interested in participating, ok?  Introduce yourself so that I
know who to expect people to mention when folks write to me to
join. ;)  I'll be keeping this up for a while, awarding the
t-shirt or mug to those who qualify as the months pass.  Along
with that, just by subscribing to the newsletter, a t-shirt or
mug could be won in the monthly raffle.  So lots of winners,
either way!  

As a further note, I said that I'd be talking more about Cafe
Press later on.  I've been with these guys for ages (from just
about their beginning, actually) and I've always been impressed
with both their products and their integrity.  They've started a
CD On Demand service.  What does this mean to you?  If you're a
songwriter and you want to have a professional looking demo but
you DON'T want to buy 500 or 1000 copies, you can just upload
your graphics (or have them designed by someone), upload your
music, and create your own CDs - AS YOU NEED THEM.  One at a
time!  Pretty cool, huh?  And starting up an account is
absolutely free. For more information on that, see:

And in other news on the website, I hope you'll help me welcome
our newest columnist!  Tara Sales will provide fun and
fascinating interviews with musicians and songwriters, new leads
to follow and some advice about the studio recording process in
her monthly column called "What They Won't Tell You", found at . If you have a
suggestion for a musician to spotlight, send her an email!  Her
contact information is on her column page.

Now for this month's raffle winners!  
* Greg DeMuth from Lincoln, NE, has won a copy of "Sound
Recording Advice For The Home Studio" by John J. Volanski
(reviewed below).

* Douglas W. Miller from Aguanga, CA, has won a copy of's "Musician's Toolkit" (for details on this
package of useful indie musician-related tools, see 

* Mike Goodson from Summit, NJ, has won a copy of VSS's helpful
songwriting organization product (for a review of Lyricist &
information on a discount offered, see

Keep writing and keep cool! 


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!)


Email RIGHT NOW to get your free,
10-day music promotion course today!  You'll sell more CDs, get
more people to your shows, and make more money.  Get it now.


  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


Q: Your website is the only one I've found that has useful info
about copyriting music in Canada. Thanks.  A specific question: I
want to register the name of my publishing company so that I can
legitimately use it when I refer to my music. What process should
I follow to do that? And what information should I include on the
label of a CD that indicates the music is published by my
company?  Thanks for your help.-- Paul in Aurora, Ontario, Canada

A: Thank you.  Many readers may not realize that Muse's Muse
comes from Canada.  I'm actually in Nashville, TN and can comment
only on the U.S. Copyright Law.  You need to contact the
Performing Rights Organization in Canada; SOCAN: . They will be happy to help you register your
new publishing company with them.  If your company will be set up
as something other than a sole proprietorship you may want to
seek additional counsel regarding setting up a business in

I'm actually in Newmarket, Paul.  If you want to register your
business - even as a sole proprietorship, I'm pretty sure you
need to register it with the government of Ontario.  You can do
that online these days by going here: . Then you can put your
publishing company's name on your SOCAN forms when you fill them
out.  There may also be more SOCAN can help you with in that
regard.  Always a good idea to ask!
As a final note on Canadian Copyright, you can have a look at
this handy resource: which
contains some very useful information (thanks for pointing it
out, Judith!).  Though it deals specifically with choral
arrangements, the concepts are similar for songwriters.


Q: Given the name of a song (rock, bluegrass, traditional, soul,
calypso, whatever)............ 
a) is there any way to find out the history of the publishing
rights for that song ? failing that, 
b) is there a way to find out who holds the current publishing
rights for that song ? 
Is there some magic web site?  Some on-line database? 

A: I've found that the best way to search a song is first through
the Performing Rights Organization websites: , , and are good places to start.
Also - take a look at the Harry Fox Agency at .


Q: I am a Texas songwriter, and I have had some recognition after
releasing some of my songs over European airways. A few years
back, I signed a contract with a Hollywood company and I really
got burned on the deal. I had to pay up front for studio fees,
and I was promised royalties. I have been offered many more
contracts, but I am afraid to attempt another "pay up front"
deal. Some people have told me that all of the contracts that
want the writer to pay up front are bogus, while other people
have told me that this is just the way things work in the
business and if I want to get noticed I have to pay. Who is
right? Should I try again? Thanks, -- Shane 

A: You should always keep trying. Many very legitimate production
companies will have the songwriter or artist pay for the
recording and then help in marketing and other things.  However,
if you pay for the recording, you should own that recording.  You
should always have a competent entertainment counsel review
production agreements so that it is clear what it is you may be
paying for. Demo deals that the publisher, production company or
your Uncle Frank are paying for would mean that they own the
recordings and you need to understand in writing what your
compensation will be. I'm probably sounding redundant but always
get it in writing first. Thank you for writing. 


Q: How do I go about copyrighting  the title to a book I am
writing that I plan to eventually turn into a screenplay? 

A: You can not copyright a "Title".  You may send copyright
registration in for the book and for the screenplay.  Please
visit the web site of the US Copyright Office for the proper
instructions, forms and assistance.

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.

Back to Menu

M u s i c   R e v i e w s :  

by Ben Ohmart, Stacey Board and Gian Fiero

Jim Dugan  "Marigold" (by Stacey Board)

Jim Dugan has the whole package here on "Marigold" with strong
songs, great performances, arrangement and sound throughout. 

This CD is full of catchy, jangly guitar pop that makes me think
of the Gin Blossoms and John Mayer. He's got a very pleasing
voice that expresses lots of emotion without overdoing it. Dugan
also has some solid guitar playing chops and has collected very
strong accompanying players. 

The third track "Just Like Always" is more Peter Gabriel though
than Gin Blossoms and it's one of my favorites. There is some
lovely atmospheric guitar, purcussion and bass work. Dugan is a
strong writer with attention to detail in arrangement that really
pays off. Dugan's experience as a recording engineer shows here.
I was only given a pre-release copies without full artwork and
liner notes and I can still hear the expertise that I read about
on his Cdbaby page. (

But don't think he can't rock out. There is great rocking energy
on "Love Love Love", which I think is also one of the strongest
tracks on the CD. In fact, there are no weak songs on the CD. 

His lyrics touch on spiritual searches and life challenges and
discoveries that everyone faces. He makes an interesting comment
on his CDBaby page that I completely agree with. "Good Pop song
hooks are like prayer wheels; they persist, go round and round
inside your heart, and somehow you end up a little better." If
you like pop hooks, this CD will definitely make you feel better. 



Young Antiques (by Ben Ohmart)
Stacey Harshman (by Ben Ohmart)
Carolyn Graye/Jessica Williams (by Ben Ohmart)

Sittser (by Stacey Board)
Beth Thornley (by Stacey Board)
straw dogs (by Stacey Board)
Echocast (by Stacey Board)
Jim Dugan (by Stacey Board)
Scott Celani (by Stacey Board)
Embodyment (by Stacey Board)
James Crouch (by Stacey Board)
Wonderful Johnson (by Stacey Board)
Beth Champion Mason (by Stacey Board)
Ricky Valente (by Stacey Board)
Ezra Thomas (by Stacey Board)
Sam Bisbee (by Stacey Board)

P.B.K. (by Gian Fiero)
Shane Scott (by Gian Fiero)
Immij (by Gian Fiero)
Cori Jacobs (by Gian Fiero)


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

         Sound Recording Advice For The Home Studio 
                    by John J. Volanski

Within my generation's lifetime, we have witnessed an incredible
number of technological advancements. The ones that I feel are
most notable for musicians, have been in the area of recording
equipment and its accessibility for home use. 

It's not uncommon for even a weekend warrior to now have the kind
of gear in his basement that would have made George Martin green
with envy back when he was recording Sgt. Peppers. 

So much new gear becomes available each year, in so many formats,
in such a variety of price ranges, that it's even hard for the
guys in the music stores to keep up.

Books like John Volanski's Sound Recording Advice are handy
because they give you a user's perspective on some of these
products, as apposed to a marketing department or sales guys
perspective, but not all these books are useful or even usable.

Lets take a close look at this book to try to determine its

The first and foremost thing to check out with any book that
deals with any aspect of technology is just inside the front
cover - the date of publication. These books have a short
shelf life... sort of here today, gone later on today. This is a
2003 book so it was written through 2002. Anyone needing the kind
of general information, from a book like this will be all right
here because all of the really ground breaking equipment is
commonly at the more high end pro market level. 

The other important element to check out with a book on a topic
like sound recording is the credentials of the author. I want
advice from someone with some solid academics but also some
substantial practical experience in the field.

John has a whole stack of degrees and has clocked in his hours in
the studio, both as a musician himself, from an engineering
designer standpoint, and as a bit of a computer whiz.

You will find that there are five unofficial aspects in the book:

1.	Stuff to buy
2.	Stuff you can make yourself (yes, really)
3.	Setting up your recording environment
4.	Laying down tracks
5.	Miscellaneous

When it comes to the stuff you buy, John's advice is right on the
money. He knows his gear and he knows how to describe it - much
like the guys in a really good music store do, but he also knows
how to explain it - much like a really qualified teacher would.
He also prices most of the gear out for us which I think is
really helpful.

There are some trips to Radio Shack for parts, for the stuff you
are going to make yourself and John has provided parts numbers,
photos, wiring diagrams and simple explanations for the
electronically challenged like myself. This part really scared me
at first but I now think I am at least going to make a break out
box for my master faders. It looks really easy and very cool.

The section on setting up your studio deals with acoustics,
setting out your furniture, and even making your own custom racks
with, once again, tons of photos and diagrams.

The section on recording handles issues like miking vocals,
recording various instruments, bouncing tracks and even the
tricky stuff I'm not that great at right now like mixing and

The miscellaneous section is always my favourite part of any book
and this one is no exception. This is where John deals with cool
tips on burning CD's, noise reduction, working with guitar
effects, shielding your monitors (also an issue in my studio
right now) and other handy stuff you might not think of yourself
like installing a telephone ringer/signaller in your studio for
those important calls from Sony Music or from your kids' daycare. 

Throughout the book you really get a sense for John's love of
gear and the potential it can bring to your home or small project

Obviously this book would be invaluable for anyone just starting
out who wants some insights into setting up a studio and finds
him/herself unfortunately not related to Phil Ramone, Don Was,
David Foster, John Leventhal or Quincy Jones.

It would also be a tremendous resource for anyone who is like me
and constantly needs help demystifying the studio I've already

This book will not replace the owner's manuals, specifically
published for you to learn how to work the gear you buy or the
talent and imagination you need to make good music once you are
up and running, but it may well bring those elements to their
full potential.  And who knows?  Maybe there is greatness looming
in your basement studio just waiting for a book like John's to
coax it out.

Sound Recording Advice for the Home Recording Studio by John J.
Volanski can be checked out at

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!)


The International Songwriting Competition offers you the chance
to share in $100,000 in cash and prizes and to have your music
heard by some of the most influential and high-profile members of
the music industry. ISC judges include: Monte Lipman (President,
Universal Records), Arif Mardin (VP/GM, Manhattan Records), Bruce
Lundvall (CEO/President, Capitol Records), B.B. King (Blues
Artist), Rob Thomas (Matchbox 20), Paul Oakenfold, Pat Metheny,
Vanessa Carlton, BeBe Winans, Dan Haseltine (Jars Of Clay) and
more. Winners will also benefit from a multilateral promotional

To enter, go to

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!
We are accepting entries for the 2003 Just Plain Folks Music
Awards. We are only 4 weeks from the deadline for music
recorded/released prior to 2003. 

Here's the address to send your CD: 
Just Plain Folks Music Awards 
1315 N. Butler Ave. 
Indianapolis, IN 46219 

Deadline for Music Released before 2003: June 30, 2003 
Deadline for Music Released in 2003: July 31st, 2003 

All Genres of music are welcomed! We have album and song awards
in over 40 genres of music. For details on the 2002 Winners visit
this page: Be sure
all entries include all contact info including full name, artist
name, mailing address, phone number, email address and website if
available on the CD and/or the Liner Notes. Entries can't be
returned. See this FAQ for full details on the entire process and
to ask any questions: 
The John Lennon Songwriting Contest is an international
songwriting Contest that began in 1997. The Contest is open to
amateur and professional songwriters who submit entries in any
one of 12 musical categories.  Entries will be judged based upon
originality, melody, composition, and lyrics (when applicable).
Instrumental >compositions are encouraged. Both performance and
production value will not >be considered during the adjudication
process.  Just Imagine:  Over $225,000 in cash awards and prizes,
$20,000 for the "Maxell Song of the Year," $60,000 in EMI Music
Publishing contracts, $60,000 in Yamaha Project studio equipment,
12 Grand Prize Winners receive 1000 CD's from Discmakers, A total
of 120 Winners!!!!  Contest Deadline is September 28th.
This contest is especially for the amateur songwriter who is
looking for an opportunity to have objective comments made
concerning their song. Each entry will be judged on lyrics,
words, prosody, emotional/commercial impact, originality, and
creativity. Each entrant will be sent a critique sheet with
comments on each entry they submit. The entry fee is $15 per song
and submissions will be accepted until August 15, 2003. Rules/
Regulations, a description of the judges and prize package and
the entry form can be found on our website at Winners
will be notified on or before September 30, 2003. 

I Write the Songs is committed to its grass roots approach to
helping the aspiring songwriter who lives inside and outside the
music circles of LA, NY and Nashville. Its commitment is in
offering new and aspiring songwriters helpful tools to advance
their craft to a level that can compete nationally and

Tonos hosts many songwriting contests and Industry Opportunities
specifically for songwriters every month. The newest contests

- Collaborate With A Motown Legend! - Tonos is incredibly
thrilled to announce that we have come up with an exclusive
Industry Opportunity for songwriters that is unmatched! This is
your chance to co-write with Grammy Award winning songwriter
LAMONT DOZIER, one-third of the Motown Hit Factory's legendary
songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.

Depending on how strongly Lamont feels about the song, he will
either work on the lyrics and melody or demo the entire song. So
submit your pop or R&B song now and you may find yourself
co-writing with a true Motown Legend!

- KC & The Sunshine Band Comes to Tonos! - Calling all tonosPRO
songwriters, here is your opportunity to get your song considered
by the legendary 70s band, KC & the Sunshine Band. The Grammy
winners have come to Tonos for a hit single and we know that our
tonosPRO members can deliver.

- Producer Needs Songs For Texas Rock Band! - A Texas rock band
with high energy has generated some industry attention including
working with No Doubt's producer, Dito Godwin. This band has an
18-year-old female lead singer who rocks the stage with a live
production that includes pyrotechnics and catholic school girl
dancers. According to Godwin, this band is in need of a few more
songs to make their package complete. Specifically a KILLER RADIO
HIT. The band is looking for "Have Fun/Party Hard" Rock songs. 

See for details on these opportunities
and more! 

Berklee College of Music has launched its web
site after nearly two years in development. 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 2003 Dallas Songwriters Song Contest is now accepting entries
with a submission deadline of August 31, 2003. Three winners in
each of nine categories will be awarded prizes, DSA & Broadjam
memberships plus inclusion on a Winners CD. Cash prizes of $100
(1st place), and $50 (2nd place) will be awarded in each
category. Grand prize is a Gibson Guitar . Sponsored by Dallas
Songwriters Association (DSA), in conjunction with Gibson,
Broadjam, Crystal Clear Sound, Jaelius Music, Nancy Rynders,
Texas Music Group, Santa Fe Design, Mike McClain & River Studios.
Entry Fee is $15 for first and $10 for each additional.Go to the
DSA website ( for the rules and
to print out an entry form (or request to be mailed one) or call
(214)750-0916 or write to DSA Song Contest, c/o Sammons Center
For The Arts 3630 Harry Hines Blvd. Box 20 Dallas, TX 75219 or
contact the Contest Director, Sherrie Davis, at 
The SAW (Songwriters Association of Washington at ) Mid-Atlantic Song Contest (MASC) is now
accepting entries in all categories of music (except plain
lyrics), with a submission deadline of August 11, 2003. Two
winners in each category will be awarded prizes and included on a
winners CD. 

Go to the SAW website, stated above, to print out the rules and
entry forms or call (301)654-8434 or write to Songwriters
Association of Washington, PMB 106-137, 4200 Wisconsin Avenue,
Washington, DC 20016 or contact the Contest Director, Jean Bayou,
at . 
The 5th annual Great American Song Contest offers awards & prizes
for 45 winners in 8 categories, plus a 'Lyric Writing' category
for lyricists. This year's event features well-known music
industry judges, including publishers, producers, recording
artists and hit songwriters. * All entrants receive written
evaluations of their songs.* Sponsored by Songwriters Resource
Network, an educational resource for songwriters everywhere.
Postmark deadline is Nov. 7. Visit the GAS website at: or email for
a printed brochure.
MUSICIANS NEWSLETTER 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 more.

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

You very often hear that getting a number one hit song is
somewhat akin to winning the lottery, and that isn't very far
from the truth.  More and more songwriters sign up for classes
and courses, attend workshops and demo critiques, all in hopes of
getting the winning ticket, of hitting the jackpot.  And let's
face it: for every hit song, there are a million or more others
that never get past the demo stage.
This month, however, I'm going to point you to an article that
may cheer you up if your entire songwriting pursuit is headed in
the hit songwriting direction!  "Once Upon A Song"
( is a true story written in, an E-zine version of a Tennessee newspaper,
relating a story of how a song made it to "hit" status. 

The song is "Bring On The Rain" which became a hit for Jo Dee
Messina in 2002, but the real story is about two songwriters,
Billy Montana and Helen Darling, and how a couple of hours of
penning a song turned into a windfall.  Easy you say?  Not so!
Interestingly, Real Audio clips from both the demo and the
Messina version of the song are also posted as a way to compare
them.  Not only that but at the bottom of the article are links
to other related articles such as "How Songwriters Get Paid",
something many of you ask about, and other informative bits and
pieces about the industry.

The ups and downs of trying to get a hold, then a cut and finally
a single are the most fascinating insights of "Once Upon a Song".
Do you have what it takes?

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:
Songs on MP3:
Back to Menu

F e a t u r e d   A r t i c l e : 

 Garrison Leykam, 2003 All Rights Reserved. 
Printed with Permission.

To consider songwriting a "stream of consciousness" activity
erroneously suggests that the process can be called upon at will
to produce a hit song. If only that was the case! Much like the
universe itself, it's hard to trace the true beginning of any
song since everything we see, feel hear, touch and experience
throughout our lives can become the cream of creativity rising to
the surface to color a new song. We may write a song about an
experience we had just that morning but how we relate to that
experience and interpret it has been a lifetime in the making.
And, for every song that passes personal and commercial muster, a
songwriter has often written many, many times that number of
below-the-bar tunes. That's why I never get excited when someone
says to me, "I've written over a hundred songs" with the
expectation that somehow I'm going to respond with, "Wow, 100
great songs!" It may take that many or more to get to one great
one! It's all about quality rules even though quantity is the
path you have to take to get there.

Graham Wallas proposed back in 1926 a 4-phase problem-solving
model of the creative process starting with Preparation in which
the problem is defined, observed and studied. Then comes
Incubation during which time the problem is laid aside and other
tasks are engaged in. When a new idea to the originating problem
surfaces, the Illumination stage is entered. And, finally, the
solution to the problem is checked-out during Verification. While
you can't simply follow Wallas' 4-phases and expect to end-up at
the Oz of chartdom, the model can be invaluable not only in
understanding how songs emerge but also in tackling such issues
as writer's block and creative log-jam.

"Preparing" to songwrite a hit tune is not simply getting the
guitar out of the case, grabbing a pick, strumming a few chords
and holding on to a roller coaster of finished verse coming at
you in record speed, all properly rhymed and structured. In fact,
preparation is going on within you way before you consciously
decide to create your next song. It's the corralling of all of
our thoughts, feelings, musings, experiences, in short,
everything that defines who we are as a unique human being; it's
a deliberate effort to get all of this into consciousness before
it evaporates into the subconscious. Active listening to music of
all types by different artists exposes us to the breadth of
musical experiences outside our own while at the same time
striking relevant chords within ourselves. I always keep a
notebook with me. I listen to songs by artists I have great
respect for as well as to new and emerging artists of different
genres. I listen to their song ideas, their rhyming structure,
why they phrase a lyric a certain way. It all goes into my
notebook. I dissect each song and try to back into why it created
in me such a rush when I first listened to it. You have to
immerse yourself in musical experiences to create a wellspring of
potential new song ideas. When I take the train to New York City
I challenge myself to notice everything around me-the passengers,
the conductors, the headlines of the newspapers, the poster ads-
and tie them all together into a story line. The attempt to
relate several disparate ideas into one is a good exercise for

Sometimes the most productive way to write a song is to let it
go. We've all had the experience of following a song path
multiple times only to end up in a dead-end. This can be
especially hard for those of us who like to think we can control
things, including the flow of our own creativity. But
force-feeding the process of songwriting rarely leads to novel
ideas and outcomes. When the conscious effort is exhausted, it's
better not to push it. Part of mastering the songwriting process
is gaining the confidence to let it go and know that you can
revisit the idea later with a fresh ear. However, I recommend
recording even the simplest song ideas on your home recorder so
you don't lose them.

Remember that light bulb that used to appear above cartoon
characters' heads when they came up with an idea? That's the
illumination experience and typically heralds the surprising
introduction of a novel musical idea that seems to come out of
the blue. And as instantaneous as it feels, it's anything but
that. Illumination is the end result of all of our subconscious
processes making myriad connections with each other until the
resultant "Aha!" and that most perfect of perfect ideas reveals
itself. It feels like a gift but it's been through many musical
wrappings! It's the end point for each path of the Preparation

For every song I'm proud enough to record, there are many times
that number of tunes I've tossed aside as not good enough. Each
song I write goes through a deliberate and often elongated
process of verification. Was there a better rhyme I could have
used? Did I keep the lyrics simple enough yet make them
interesting? Did I miss the opportunity to juxtapose two wholly
different story lines against each other with a metaphoric
bridge? Does the melody stand strong with just vocal and guitar
(the ultimate test of a truly good song). What songwriters have
to be careful of, however, is to keep the originality and
spontaneity of the seminal song idea throughout the verification
process. The temptation to make the song "perfect" can come at
the cost of losing the originating spark. I knew a person who had
what he thought was a great idea for a book but totally
frustrated himself out of the process of writing it because he
could not get past trying to perfect page 1!

While many of us like to think that we are solitary songwriters
and that our own experiential doors are open to no one but
ourselves, having a collaborator can be truly wonderful. I work
with lyricist and poet Betty-Lynn White who is truly gifted in
her ability to come up with new story ideas and prose which lends
itself to transformation into lyrics. Equally important, she is a
welcome partner during the process. We can be observed in coffee
houses and in restaurants frantically passing notes back and
forth to each other as we co-develop an initial song idea. And,
we're comfortable critiquing each other's ideas without the fear
of what the other will think or feel. We are sounding (and
wording) boards for each other both during the creative process
and after it and the result is a better song as well as a
learning experience. And, if you have a great partner like I have
in Betty-Lynn, she'll drive you to reach deeper into yourself. We
all want our songs to ultimately be appreciated by others; after
all, who doesn't fantasize about enthralling an audience with an
original tune or having a song you've written hit the top of the
charts? A partner can be a welcome musical midwife bridging the
process between solitary songwriting and audience presentation.
And, I can't say enough for showcasing new songs. It's great to
get early audience feedback on your tunes before you record them
by performing them "live." I just came back from Nashville where
I did a set of new tunes at the legendary Bluebird Cafe and I'll
often test-drive fresh material at several New York City venues
before going into the studio. Take advantage of showcase and open
mic opportunities to get your songs in front of a live audience.

Each songwriter has a unique place, physically and
psychologically, to songwrite. And, each of us approaches our
craft in a highly personal way. But, underneath all the
individual uniquenesses are the universal (though not necessarily
always sequential) stages of the creative process: Preparation,
Incubation, Illumination and Verification. Now that you're
familiar with them, take the time when you're songwriting to
relate to the particular stage you're in and do what you can to
maximize the potential return that each stage offers.


Singer/songwriter/guitarist and "founding father" of The Garrison
Project, Garrison was a producer, A&R executive and Director of
U.S.Recording Studio Operations for London Records, Inc. for
10-years. He produced recordings by the renowned Texas band,
Greezy Wheels, legendary jazz pianist, Erroll Garner and prolific
singer/songwriter, Leslie Pearl. The debut CD of The Garrison
Project reflects Garrison's extensive producer experience:
"absolutely some of the finest production work I've ever heard"
(GuitarNoise). "Well-produced, with a crisp, clear sound"
( Garrison's original song, "For You," won an
international songwriting contest and he was profiled in Songlink
International, the premier music industry resource for publishers
and songwriters. to Menu

   M e s s a g e   F o r u m s   I n   S p o t l i g h t :

Here are some of the popular discussions going on right now on 
The Muse's Muse Message Boards:

Feel free to join in!  Creating a profile is free and easy.
* Why we're doing what we're doing ... for REAL

* Songwriter Credits/Urban Music

* What'll it be in 2003?

*  Is there a Magical Drink?

* Gentle Guitar...

* TONOS & TAXI???? to Menu


    " O N   S I T E "   F E A T U R E D   A R T I C L E :

        The Power of One - by Ricky Fitzpatrick
Many times, as the secluded, "artsy" musician, we forget how
important it is to connect with our audience. Read on as we get
into the power of one satisfied, smiling, talked-to,
just-made-a-friend fan! 
================================================================= 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: ----------------------------------------------------------------- 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 + Free Priority Shipping in the USA if you order in June or July 2003! 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. ----------------------------------------------------------------- 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. ----------------------------------------------------------------- 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! ----------------------------------------------------------------- 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: ================================================================= 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