I hope you all enjoy my song “I’m 2 Used 2 This”.
It’s on Soundcloud at http://snd.sc/YNQBvs
Four weeks into the coursera.org online songwriting course and we’ve covered an amazing amount of ground in a short space of time. This week’s lessons focused on the stressing of syllables in rhythmic patterns that would preserve the natural shape of language as heard in speech.
Well, this is not a new idea to me and I have spent years fooling around with wordplay and enjoying the rhythms that can be conjured with consonants and vowels, adding layers of metaphor and meaning. This was fun.
Our assignment was to use the verse and chorus we wrote for last week’s assignment and do some editing as necessary, so as to preserve the shape of the language as conversationally as possible. Target stressed syllables were indicated by saying the line out loud as naturally as possible.
Where the stresses in the current draft of the lyric conflicted with the speech pattern indicated, any conflicts were ironed out by rewriting lines to shift the stresses as appropriate. The aim was to remove any stresses in the lyric that would not match natural conversational speech. “Setting” the lyric correctly means that the stressed parts of the rhythmic positions of the melody match the way the syllables are stressed when spoken aloud naturally.
Personally, I think a mis-setting is just as valid a device as a consonance rhyme, because it draws attention to itself and can therefore be used to spotlight ideas. However, I agree that writers should move Heaven and Earth to find the lines that do NOT contain awkward lyric stresses unless they are aiming deliberately at awkwardness as prosody for a lyrical notion or unstable scene. Technical issues within the writing seem fair game for development ideas to me, but I have carefully learned and studied the “rules”, such as they are, so I can bend or break them if I must!
I wrote a pop song this week, a rather dance-influenced piece. It’s called “I’m 2 Used 2 This” and I think of it as a cross between the Eagles and the Pet Shop Boys (a production blend I tried and liked). I guess you could say it’s the Pet Eagles. Actually, it’s like Don Henley rather than the Eagles specifically, but that’s only in the choruses. The verses are more Western Europe than North America. I chose to play a little electric guitar here and there, going for a Bowie-esque lead sound with my trusty Grestch DuoJet, but mostly it’s a synthfest using Omnisphere and Waves Element virtual instruments. The drums are also electro machine-style drums this week. My Euro dance background is let free for a romp here at a poppy 123 BPM.
I can’t decide on the quality of the songwriting, as I’m still too close to it but I’m really very happy with the overall sounds and especially with the vocal I got (eventually), because at first I crashed and burned trying to hit the high notes in the song’s chorus and I had to try again another day. My voice got shredded! Still, the next day I pampered myself, doing vocal warm-ups and sipping honey and ginger tea. I managed to get a vocal after all. I am excited and pleased because it’s the best vocal I’ve recorded yet. Let me know what you think! I’m pushing my range a bit but it sounds cool to me.
As always with the songs written for the course, I played all the instruments myself, did the vocals, and also engineered and produced this recording. I mixed it as well, although, being a bit of a rush this week with Easter, it’s not as economical or nuanced a recording as I would like. It’s pretty full of stuff, and not quite tidy, production-wise. I like economy in production, and it’s not really successful on that front. A few judicious mutes in the mix would probably sort it out, but I don’t have time to experiment.
Do come back next week, and don’t forget to check out “I’m 2 Used 2 This”.
Once again, it’s on Soundcloud at http://snd.sc/YNQBvs