Sunday, 23 March 2014

Task 4: Transform Yourselves

This week has been a good amount of productive. I am happy with mine and Lesley's collaboration and my paper is coming along. I have a few more musicians to add to the pool for my portfolio this term including Tami on violin and Chris on acoustic guitar! 

Another strange thing this last week was the realization that I might have some sort of underdeveloped synesthesia. I took a mini test online, but it didn't really fit the criteria of what I think I can do. Basically, I never noticed my association of chord relationships to colors. It's not a visual thing, it's just an understanding. Anyway, I squashed out a thought I had about a note I wanted to hear someone sing in their song in class. I don't know how I concluded that the note should be D, I didn't know what key the song was in or anything, but it was a green mood. I quickly glanced at his hands to see what he was playing and it definitely was not a D. So I told my brain to shut up and forgot about it until 10 minutes later when Joe said the note would sound better as a D. I realized I was right and I associate D with green. OMG. Once I develop this more, I will continue to post more hahahha.

March 19th, 2014

Archetypes and Authenticity! It was a manic lesson that jumped across so many psychological studies. It was intense, so forgive me if my notes just seem to be all over the place. It was a huge topic(s) covered in a short time by someone who is very passionate about it, so it was an exciting class.

Spretzzatura - an art that doesn't seem to be an art. Something that is done by avoiding practice and is characterized by carelessness and disdain.

I think of all the musicians and actors and artists out there that just do things so well effortlessly. Its a very attractive quality. Its authenticity. "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" - Mohamed Ali

Archetypes are not stereotypes, its the subconscious relationship we have with myth that sprinkles human culture. Myth is the oldest form of storytelling and they say there are two ways to interpret them: literally and symbolically. Some scholars suggest that myth is the way we as humans make sense of the world.

There are so many myths that have turned into archetypes. Robert Johnson at the Crossroads, selling his soul to the devil in exchange for musical skill.

TRANSFORMATION! Success of any brand is its claim to authenticity - the law of credentials. There is a difference between advertising and publicity.

The Collective Unconscious, by Carl Yung, suggests that all humans share a deep level of unconscious mind. Its the tendency to perceive common meanings that are embodied within symbols. And archetypes are the components of the collective unconscious and exist in the psyche, preparing individuals for the unknown.

Symbolic meanings in popular culture including the anima and animus. The anima is the unconscious of the male with some senses of femininity among the masculinity. Animus is the female with aspects of masculinity.

"The anima is the female aspect present in the collective unconscious of men, and the animus is the male aspect present in the collective unconscious of women. Together, they are referred to as syzygy. The anima may be personified as a young girl, very spontaneous and intuitive, or as a witch, or as the earth mother. It is likely to be associated with deep emotionality and the force of life itself. The animus may be personified as a wise old man, a sorcerer, or often a number of males, and tends to be logical, often rationalistic, even argumentative. The anima or animus is the archetype through which you communicate with the collective unconscious generally, and it is important to get into touch with it. It is also the archetype that is responsible for much of our love life: We are, as an ancient Greek myth suggests, always looking for our other half, the half that the Gods took from us, in members of the opposite sex. When we fall in love at first sight, then we have found someone that "fills" our anima or animus archetype particularly well!"

The Heroes Journey! 

1. The Mentor: The term mentor comes from the Odyssey and includes many characters that emulate the same role in storytelling. Yoda, Merlin, Fairy Godmothers, Gandalf, Morgan Freeman, Mr. Miyagi, Glenda the Good Witch, Rafiki, and Phillip Seymour-Hoffman from Almost Famous to name a few. “Mentors provide heroes with motivation, inspiration, guidance, training, and gifts for the journey. Every hero is guided by something, and a story without some acknowledgement of this energy is incomplete.”

2. The Mother: A good example of the mother archetype is the Virgin Mary. "The mother archetype is symbolized by the primordial mother or "earth mother" of mythology, by Eve and Mary in western traditions, and by less personal symbols such as the church, the nation, a forest, or the ocean."

3. The Shadow: The shadow archetype is usually a representation of the character's subconscious. Sometimes the shadow is neither good nor bad. Good examples are the snake from the garden of Eden, Mal from Inception, Venom from Spiderman, Mr. Hyde, Mila Kunis in Black Swan, and Tyler Durdan."An animal is capable of tender care for its young and vicious killing for food, but it doesn't choose to do either. It just does what it does. It is "innocent." But from our human perspective, the animal world looks rather brutal, inhuman, so the shadow becomes something of a garbage can for the parts of ourselves that we can't quite admit to."

These are a few of the archetypes you will find in most stories. They say there are only about 6 stories. Its a lot of cool literary psychology relating back to the heroes journey.

Thoughts

Going to come to class as an archetype on Wednesday! lol

Recorded vocals this week for Two Faces! It sounds pretty good, I am very proud of my efforts!

Yay for spring time :)

~SR

Monday, 17 March 2014

I Feel Pretty

Once again, David Stoll came to speak with the class about musical theater and composing for theater. I found that the lecture was aimed at songwriters and composers who actually know about musical theater culture and the inner workings of theatrical drama. However, that isn't so much the case in this class, even I felt in over my head and I love musical theater. I've been in musical theater. I went through a phase of wanting to commit to musical theater as a career path. Damn.

Just in case you don't know why this picture is awesome.
March 12th, 2014

Apparently Steven Sondheim hated the song I Feel Pretty from the hit musical West Side Story because Maria, a poor Puerto Rican American girl would never sing the words I feel pretty and witty and gay. I tend to agree and that has slightly shattered my perception of how much I love that musical.

If I took anything away from this lecture, it was to establish the terms of your involvement from the beginning so there are no mistakes or problems. It skips all the business we don't want to discuss and gets to the music that we want to compose.

Coming up with an agreement of ownership can be easy or hard, but do it before you start putting the hours in so that business is aside.

Grand Rights are the rights reserved for the creator of dramatico-musical materials. The grand right only exists in a musical work which is written specifically for a particular dramatic usage, whether that is opera: a stage musical: or a ballet production. Another more amusing definition might be: A musical performance whereby if it takes place in costume and you can throw something at it, there's a Grand Right.

Well.

Grand Rights are not licensed by the performing rights societies so you have to keep on them if you want to see your royalties. There are usually three recipients of Grand Rights including the lyricists, writers, and composers.

Anyway, grand rights are something you should probably know about if you want to compose for musicals. Its a possibility for any songwriter I suppose!

We ended class with an exercise that I botched unfortunately, (a lot on my mind and none of it was writing a hit opening number in 15 minutes). It was a fun little task, but there just wasn't enough time.

As for my Context and Methodology research paper, I am working on placing as many quotes and pieces of information from all my books as I read through them so that I don't end up spending two hours on two paragraphs like I did this weekend. I wrote the introduction. Woo. It's the part of the essay that is most likely to change.

Here are the notes so far:

Transformation: Analyzing how the Music Business Paradigm Shift has Affected the Songwriter in the 21st Century.

Abstract
There are few constants in the music business including its transformative nature and songwriter based foundations. With the advancements of technology since the millennium, the role of the songwriter has adapted to the rising standards and expectations of the industry. Today, technology and songwriting are completely intertwined forcing the once songwriter to evolve into the performing producer/songwriter. There are thousands of songwriters across the globe fighting to fit within the brutal, impenetrable music industry and where there is competition, there will be natural selection. As the standards shift, so do the roles in which an aspiring songwriter must adhere to.

I will compare and contrast the brave new world of the performing producer/songwriter to the music business at the turn of the century. Through secondary and primary research, I will analyze this shift of expectations and transformation of the songwriter in the 21st century.

1. Introduction
“…Music is music, no matter what contracts are signed and how the lawyers have chapped up the rights. Music fans don’t care about contracts, they care about the music and the musician. And that’s the point: there no longer needs to be a middleman between musicians and music fans” (Chertow, Freehan: 2009). 9 (Possibly different quote...when I find one.)

Here are the two paragraphs: 

The discovery and process of utilizing electricity in the early 19th century has made music and technology inseparable. Technology continually challenges the limitations we establish and the impossibilities we embrace every day as forward-thinking minds pine over a very promising and powerful tomorrow. The Midas Hand of technology has left a golden, crater-sized footprint, waiting to be holstered and exploited, in every aspect of the human experience. The seemingly small fraction of that influence lies in the colossal culture and business of music. Today, music is bigger than it ever has been before.

The music industry has transformed many times in the last century, yet each push for change does not become any easier than the last. Every few decades, new advancements in technology provoke transformation within the impervious walls of the music business and the latest development lies in the 21st century. Access to technology has called for a power conversion—a transformation—and for the first time, it starts at the bottom of the pyramid with the songwriters. This foundation in which the music gatekeepers have stood on for so long, has initiated an inevitable shift in the paradigm of music business and artistry. This is a digital age and “a growing group of forward-thinking artists…are quietly creating a revolution” (Gordon: 2008). Xvii

2. The Industry Monolith
********SIDE NOTE: Speaking of Industry Monoliths, I totally started feeding into this one------------->
They always get me with these totes. 

(Whom am I referring to when I use ‘music business’ term? Major label companies forming music distribution monopolies. Definition relevant to pre-millennium era)

A. Music 3.0: A Brief Historical Overview
In order to understand how the music industry has transformed, we should know where the music business started. Bobby Owsinski uses an appropriate numbering system to track the evolutionary stages of the business in his book, Music 3.0. Lasting almost fifty years, the first generation of music business followed a model that is currently considered to be the original method of the industry. Music 1.0 consists of artists sending demos to major labels, being signed, joining forces with A&R

“Today, the artists contribution – talent, imagination, persona, and creative energy – is as important as ever...That makes the artist more powerful, and the average record labels offerings see much less significant in comparison... One cannot, however, under estimate the importance of the strong business network, and back in Naples often have huge business networks, with a lot of mission-critical support just a phone call away” (Kusek, Leonhard: 2005). 22

3. The Foundation
(Whom am I referring to when I say ‘songwriters’? An industry built on the backs of songwriters because it all starts with them)

4. The Great Depression of the Millennium
(The steady decline of major record labels after 1999 due to advancements in technology)
“Consumers are more selective and sophisticated in their tastes and about technology, and that/s something that everyone in the music industry should not only be aware of but also cater to. It’s the only way to survive in today’s music world” (Owsinski: 2009). xiii

A. No Bridge, No Toll
(The distribution monopolies no longer link the artist with their fans. Introducing the age of social networking. An end to finite distribution windows)

B. Dissolution of Mainstream Genre
(The mainstream music genre begins to disintegrate as new forms of distribution are offered. Multi-genre music availability)
“Access to music has never been easier, and music is driving on both the regional and global level. Rock, singer/songwriter, Bluegrass, hit – hop, heavy-metal, DJ versions and remixes, and ethnic music of every variety...are just some types of music enjoying tremendous success today” (Kusek, Leonhard: 2005). 7

i. Internet Radio
(Exposing the public to more than just mainstream music giving artists more control of their own publicity, marketing, networking, and connection to audience)
“Fans and consumers have far more convenient options for discovering new music than ever before, including the Internet, video games, television, and referrals from friends via email, instant messaging, or social networking user groups” (Kusek, Leonhard: 2005). 27 

ii. Virtual Shelf Space
(The move from limited CD shelf space to unlimited Internet, virtual shelf space making wider varieties of music available to public)
“…It will be abundantly clear that trying to sell overpriced plastic disks to people who have ubiquitous online access to the entire vault of music will be like trying to sell snow at the North Pole” (Kusek, Leonhard: 2005). 8

C. Disillusion of the Astronomical Hit
(Clarifying that the all time musical ‘hit’ was a product of limited availability in the past. More listening options merit different tastes of listeners)
“Music making is a global phenomenon, and there is more than being made than ever before...That is what is making it so hard today to duplicate the success of make up artist like Madonna, Michael Jackson, and the who: there are too many choices, too many different ways to get music, and of course, too many other interesting ways to spend money” (Kusek, Leonhard: 2005). 37

5. The Displacement Theory
(How the digital age affects songwriters through displacement. Technology and social media is available to the public making the pool of competition vaster than ever before)
“Artists, if they want to, or shifting into a position of power in which they are working with the labels, not for the labels” (Kusek, Leonhard: 2005). 23

A. Survival of the Fittest
(Brave new world of technology and DIY opportunities or small fish big pond syndrome? With accessibility comes competition, which comes with serious tactics for survival)
“Make no mistake about it: as the entry barriers fall, the cost of rising about the clutter on an increasingly cluttered marketplace grows” (Gordon: 2008) 137

B. I’m Not a Businessman; I’m a Business, Man
(Introducing the all in one songwriter – the producer, the musician, the singer, the songwriter, the publisher, the manager, and the distributer)

i. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
(The paradigm has shifted responsibilities from the monolith to the individual. Labels want to invest in acts they know are already successful)
“It used to be that, as a musician, only 10% of your career was up to you. ‘Getting discovered’ was about all you could do. A few gatekeepers controlled all outlets. You had to impress one of these magic few people to be allowed to present music to the world. As of the last few years, 90% of your career is now up to you. You have all the tools to make it happen. Record labels aren't guessing anymore. They're only signing Artists that have made a success on their own” (Gordon: 2008). xiii

C. The Definition of Success
(Defining success is the next step to finding the right path in the career. Less instances of multimillion dollar musicians and more live in studios with multitalented DIY artists content with their means, making a comfortable living)
Antony Bruno Executive Director of content and programming for digital mobile at Billboard magazine - “Technology is more Democratizing, without a doubt. Again, it depends on what successful is. Are you going to be the next Rolling Stones doing this by yourself? I doubt it. But, if your definition of success means owning your own condo or coop in Brooklyn, making a decent living, then those are realistic goals” (Gordon: 2008). 146

“For each artist wrestled million copies of the CD, there are hundreds have done just fine by selling 5000 copies were keeping 80% of the income!” (Kusek, Leonhard: 2005). 28

“Sometimes artists crave fame a lot more than they yearn to make the kind of music that will attract and keep fans for the long term…The vast majority of artists aren’t like that…just being able to make music without having to work a job on the side is considered success” (Owsinski: 2009). viii

6. Conclusion
Some new resources from Rock's Backpages! 




So there is what I have right now. Tomorrow is a master class in the main lecture hall at the Court. That's exciting. 

Thoughts

Man, I am tired. I have hay fever or something and I didn't sleep last night. Today is St. Patrick's Day and nobody gives a shit here. I wore green though... 

Sadness. 

But, I LOVE THE SUN when it decides to come out!!!!!

It's grand..... rights..... ;)

~SR




Melody First

Last week, I helped Bianca record vocals for some collaborators in Chile and Australia. I really do love being in the studio! I can't wait to get my National Insurance number so I can start working at the Court :)

So, I'm a little late on my blog for last week. I've been working on moving in to a new place in Corsham and I have allergies for the first time in my life. Apparently, since the pollen is different here, so are the allergies. UGH. This week's task was to construct a melody before any other part of the song. I used Sibelius to write as much as I could for my collaboration with Alex and Farhan and I also wrote a simple 6/8 melody for Will M. The class went very well and our song, Two Faces, went over very nicely. I think it will be a great song for our portfolios.

Alex, Farhan, and I all had an all night/day living room recording session on Wednesday and Thursday with our equipment and computers all set up to work on the songs for the portfolio. It was a very fun experience.

March 10th, 2014

Some melody terminology to think about:

  • Scalic melodies move stepwise within a scale
  • Intervalic melodies include leaps and steps within a scale
  • Static melodies maintain the same pitch across the syllables
  • Melisma is the singing of a single syllable over multiple pitches

I usually come up with lyrics and a melody first these days since I don't always have access to a piano, but also because I avoid constraints when I detatch my writing process from the loopy chords I might gravitate to on the piano. HOWEVER, writing a melody without lyrics and then fitting lyrics to that melody SUCKED. We almost scratched this song about 4 times before we finally began to feel confident with it. What happens when a melody is great, but the lyrics have to fit and be great too? Seems simple, but it's not. 

Lyrics and melody have to adhere to certain grammatical rules that we don't usually have to think about when we speak or even sing most of the time. Things like inflection of a word, accents in the word or sentence, and sentence structure. In the sentence Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, the word yesterday is sung as it is spoken and the overall accent of the sentence is on the word far. Imagine (all the people...jk) if the phrase was sung as yes-TER-day rather than YES-ter-day... And the main held note was on MY or SEEMED? It wouldn't scan right and it wouldn't make sense in a lot of ways. That's not how it is spoken, that's not how it is sung. 

SO when the melody came first without a lyric, we were forced to really pay attention to these details that seem to go under the radar most times. I found this challenging because the song still has to be clever and interesting. 

All together, I am so proud that I formally noted a melody (2 melodies) this week for class and that is how we wrote a seriously catchy tune! AWESOME

Everyone did a fantastic job this week and many collaborations are bringing out the best in people's abilities. I look forward to recording this song and working with everyone else in the class soon! 

Thoughts

I wore my Dad's work jacket that I bedazzled to class :) 

Next week's task: Write a chorus form song with a repeating title in the chorus consisting of 3 words or less. 

Bring it. 

~SR

Friday, 7 March 2014

The Vinyl Machine

Context and Methodology guest speaker, Barney Hoskyns, visited and spoke with the class about the history of rock journalism this week. Barney has visited us once before and is a fantastic speaker. He helped establish the rock journalism database, Rock's Backpages, which Bath Spa is subscribed to. People like Barney make you wish you read more. ha

March 5th, 2014

Here is a snippet from Barney's lecture on the decline of music journalism since the dawn of the digital age:

I didn't set out to be a music writer as a sort of career plan, I kind of backed into it. I'm still disentangled in it. It's still what I love to do, it's still what I'm passionate about. I think I care more about critical writing; the importance of critical writing; the importance of gate keeping; the importance of there being some sort of intelligent filter of what happens in the culture, and I see, with some sadness and sometimes some despair, a decline of that. And I suppose over the time that I've been reading and writing about popular music, I've seen how it's unfolded, how it's changed, how it's declined, I suppose. When I say decline, I'm really talking about mainstream. There's a lot of really exciting writing about pop music, about all art forms online, it's just sort of hard to find it. When I was reading the NME in the 70's, it was the only game in town, it was what everybody who rates it themselves at all read. NME was the hit list. 

I was on the today program just a couple of weeks ago, and every year music magazine circulations decline, and they wheel someone like me on to explain why this is happening. There's an obvious explanation, people aren't reading as much and kids certainly aren't reading as much these days. The way that the younger generation consumes music is multifaceted. I call it grazing. There seems to be a kind of grazing in the culture. That's what modern digital life is. You can't turn the clock back, you cant go home again. It's just different. The difference has accelerated so dramatically, the struggle for older generations is to try to get your head around the pace of change. And it's frightening. My mind isn't wired to graze, I had to learn to graze. And it makes me anxious. But it's snacking. But the younger generation is comfortable with it. They don't seem to be stressed out. It's the paradigm for them. 


You can sort of look at the history of music journalism as a way of looking at cultural change. What does it tell us about the way consumption has changed? What does it tell us about the way meaning and value have changed within popular culture? What I think I can say with some certainty, is that the value and impact is different in 2014 than how they were in 1974 when that magazine came out. It's different. Is it less? I would say its more diffused. I think that when I was a kid, my parents were still concerned when top of the pops came on. Was is healthy for our eleven, twelve year old son to be watching Mark Bolin and David Bowie on top of the pops? It wasn't. Thank God. It was wonderfully unhealthy. But it was truly counter-culture. It was something that wasn't part of the mainstream consumption. It felt slightly dangerous. Opposed to now. What it means is that pop culture is just there in the culture, not against the culture, not kicking against the culture. So, what does it mean when its not trying to overthrow the state anymore?

Check out classmate, Kirsty Folan's blog on this phenomenon at www.obviouslykirsty.com/blog/.

It's important that we don't forget about rock journalism and critique/commentary because it has been such a vital part of popular music culture. "I think I care more about critical writing, the importance of critical writing, the importance of gate keeping, the importance of there being some sort of intelligent filter of what happens in the culture." There is such a vast pool of information now through the Internet, it becomes increasingly more difficult to sift through the sources and opinions to find one solid consensus. Now, anyone can start a blog and begin journaling about music and pop culture.

If pop journalism cannot survive the shift in the culture today, we are left with unfiltered, uncommented music. This idea of the gatekeeper as Barney likes to call it, is an interesting concept that I never really thought about. And it's so vital to the music world.

To be honest, I am one of the worst offenders. Even with digital comprehension embedded into my generation, I still find it difficult to listen to more music, read about music for my own personal satisfaction, and even explore the world of music I am associated with. But that's for different reasons. In an effort to change this, I am allocating more time to music research and listening every day. I know it sounds weird, but with a lack of multitasking abilities, listening to music becomes less background noise, and more of an event. RIGHT NOW, I had to turn my Spotify off in order to focus on writing. I can't read with music on or do homework, so it's hard to make it a habit in my every day life. Writing this paper is bringing a lot of these issues to the surface because IT'S SO EASY TO LISTEN TO MUSIC! IT'S SO EASY TO READ ABOUT MUSIC. There is no excuse for the silence anymore. With a Mac, an iPhone, and an iPad, I can listen wherever
and whenever. I'm making it happen!

The Rock's Backpages database is an online music journalism library at www.rocksbackpages.com and is currently the largest database of music journalism online, featuring 22,000+ articles on thousands of artists from Elvis to Gaga.

Rock's Backpages has been voted one of the Best 25 Music Sites by the Observer, who called it "a cultural resource for students and a tool for journalists", and one of the Best 40 Music Sites by The Daily Telegraph. RBP was runner-up in Best Niche Resource category of the Library Journal's Best Databases Awards of 2011.

Thoughts

I got my BASCA Membership card in the mail today, which is nice.

I also am working on setting up a technical position at Corsham Court with the school. I have applied for a National Insurance number and am awaiting my application. Hopefully it doesn't take too long. Doubt I'll be getting paid for any studio work this trimester.

I finished writing a fun song with Farhan and Alex this week and am aiming for a collaboration with Bianca next week! Half Portuguese? Sounds like fun!

Can you really call this thing a record player? I swear, it should be called a vinyl machine. The class thinks I'm crazy. But I know I'm right ;)

~SR

Monday, 3 March 2014

Only Losers Play on the Downbeat

What a good start to a new week. I spent the weekend with Sonia here in Bath so we could co-write a song together with Farhan and perform it for Monday's collaboration class. Which went well :) Important topics of the day included signing up with a performing rights society such as ASCAP, BMI, or PRS and constructive ways to write songs by formulating the title first. The task for this week was to create a song title that contains the DNA of the song first. This is always a strange method for me because my writing style is usually concept first, but it worked and the three of us received awesome feedback!

March 3rd, 2014

How is it already March? 

Last Friday, the three of us spent the day at Newton Park writing our title stimulus song from the bottom up. No pre-written lyrics, melodies, chord progressions, or ideas entered the room because we wanted to attempt a collaboration that involved all three of us equally. I think it was a huge success. Our title is Mine To Throw Away and Joe suggested that it be in our portfolios! He liked the harmonic rhythm (I paid a lot of attention to that) as well as our use of melody and lyric. YAY

Some of the other titles that were generated for this assignment included:
  • Lesley & Alex - Life's Hard When You're Stupid
  • Esther - Let Me Love You
  • John & Farhan - Immediately
  • Rosey - Playing Indians
  • Tami - Never Wear 3D Glasses
  • Leeza - I Can't Love You Anymore
  • Maxine - Pictures of You
  • Bethany & Chris - Love Trees
  • Will & Kirsty - First Time/Don't Show Me Tell Me
  • Lesley & Bianca - Flowers Grow from a Rainy Day
  • Owain & Jamie - The Girl From Out of Town
If you haven't heard the new single (#12 on UK iTunes Singer/Songwriter list) from Bare Knuckle Parade, take a listen now on iTunes!

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/star-of-dundee-single/id774361030

"Born on the cobbled streets of Bath, Bare Knuckle Parade brings together five musicians who share a love of 'sing until your jaw is broken' drinking songs. Since forming the boys have quickly gained a reputation for raucous, frantic and memorable live performances. The band fuse traditional Celtic-folk with rock and punk undertones. This is represented by their debut single Star Of Dundee. So if you love to sing, laugh, dance and drink then come to see Bare Knuckle Parade" -www.bareknuckleparade.com


Featuring talented classmate and collaborator, Owain Coleman (accordion, keys, and vocals), our class is very excited for this group's inevitable success! I have had the pleasure of meeting most of the band members including Jamie Beale (vocals and banjo), Tom Cory (guitar and vocals), Callum Moloney (drums and vocals), and Rob Kyle (bass and vocals).

I should probably call them, I think they need vocals...

Good job friends, looking forward to more shows and music! Moving on.

During class, we made a list of factors in songwriting that can make the music boring. Monotony. With monotony of any of the following comes risk if not compensated for.

  • Lack of harmonic variation
  • Too much talk singing
  • Lack of melodic shape
  • Cliches
  • Chord loops
  • Lack of harmonic rhythm
  • Stack melodies
  • Lack of dynamics
  • Over-repetition
  • Lack of texture
A lot of songs have these instances, but the trick is balance. If you have monotonous harmonic rhythm (frequency of chord changes), use a vocal melody with movement so that it compliments the simple chord changes, etc. 

Thoughts

Next week's task is writing from the melody. THIS IS MY FAVORITE TASK.

I have a lot to get done in the next month and need to start hammering out collaborations and research! 

Tomorrow I am meeting with Farhan and Alex all day to collaborate and write a massive hit. It will happen.

Writing from your heart and writing for yourself are two different things. I want more than an audience of one.

Bianca Obino is a badass, Brazilian singer/songwriter/guitarist who has been nominated for Best Guitarist in the Brazilian Style award this year in Brazil. Only losers play on the downbeat.


~ SR

Thursday, 27 February 2014

2000 Years in 2 Hours. Bring It

I really enjoyed staying in London with my good friend Sonia Stein. She is currently working on her own songwriting/artist career in London. We have been best friends since we met at Berklee College of Music 5 Week Summer program in 2007 when we were roommates. Take a listen to what she is doing now!

Context and Methodology guest speaker, David Stoll, came by to give us a 2 hour presentation on the history of music (harmony, rhythm, and history) of the last 2000 years about. Starting with the Medieval to the present, he spoke about:
  1. The progression of harmony from Gregorian mono phony to present day counterpoint and beyond
  2. The changes in rhythm from cannon-like madrigals to present day house electronic music
  3. The impact of politics, philosophy, science, economics, religious, etc on music throughout these times
After the lecture, we discussed our progress on our Context and Methodology research papers. 

February 26th, 2014

Here is a brief introduction to David Stoll, as taken from his Wiki page: 
"David Stoll was born in London, and studied composition at Worcester College, Oxford University and at the Royal Academy of Music. After completing his education, he worked as a free-lance composer for concert, theatrical and TV/film music. Stoll is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He served as chairman of the Association of Professional Composers. In 1999 he was elected co-chair of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA),  and also serves on the boards of several other music organizations. Stoll operates school and corporate training programs in creative thinking based on music, and founded and directs the In Tune In Europe seminar and Building Music for primary schools."

His presentation was more of a skeleton than a full lecture of the topics because each of the pivotal points in history merit their own lectures. Two points he made that stuck with me are that no music would exist without the background of silence and no music would exist without listeners.

From the birth of what some would call tonality in the 1600's Baroque period to present day music.

We did a lot of listening rather than talking about the changes in harmony, which was nice. Using our previous knowledge of musical history and theory gave us a reference. At least it did for me.

We then backed up to the beginning again and went over the same time period with rhythm in mind rather than harmony.


Rhythm had a much more complex start in my opinion because harmony was monophonic when we started, and rhythm was almost madrigal-like at first listen. So rhythm seemed to not have as far to go in terms of complexity and experimentation.

Here are some of the pieces we listened to during the lecture. My personal favorite is Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.

(I have a deep appreciation for Fantasia. Especially the Dinosaur section, which was animated to Rite of Spring)...

Finally the world view time line came around and this was the quickest section and yet, felt like the most dense...

What I liked about the relationship between music and all the other aspects of society, is that they truly reflect each other! This was the main point that I was not already educated on.

As time goes by, man became more and more independent and nationalistic beginning to think for themselves and create for the individual rather than the patron or higher class. I liked the fact that you can hear these socio-political changes reflected in the music of the time.

As the lecture came to an end, we touched upon my personal favorite topic right now, the digital age and its impact on music. Once the millennium hit, digital took over analog in every sense, not just in music. Global market forces become more the leading decision makers, listeners crave a more interactive experience with music, and people lack the attention spans we once had for music. People become less willing to pay for entertainment and the machine has won.

He passed out these handouts before leaving along with a quick survey asking about how the lecture could be better and so on. I appreciated his love for the subject matter, which gripped mine and the classes attention very well. Thank you David Stoll :)

On to my research paper! Here are a few new research topics that I am playing with:
  1. Transformation: Analyzing the Rising Standards for Songwriters in the Music Industry in the 21st Century.
  2. Transformation: Analyzing the Relationship Between the Rise of Technology and the Fall of Artist Labels in the 21st Century.
  3. Transformation: Analyzing the Effects of the Music Business Paradigm Shift on the Songwriter During the 21st Century.
Even though my abstract is still based on the first topic, I have a feeling that I am more interested in the later two, based on my outline...
Now my outline went in another direction after I started reading some of my new books I checked out from the Corsham Library. I think I want to focus more on the paradigm shift in the music industry from monolithic record labels controlling global distribution to independent artists gaining more control of their own careers during the digital age. My original topic was insinuating that the artist is at the mercy of rising standards, when the reality is, major labels are at the mercy of the Internet. And though it has become easier to distribute and network your music across the Internet, reaching an entire globe of potential fans, the hardships imposed on artists from labels in the past have been displaced into competition with all the artists on the Internet doing the same thing on their own. I like this idea a lot more than "poor me, I had to work harder to make it in the industry because I have to do it myself." No. I GET to work that much harder because I hold the power now.

I am pretty confident with this outline. lol I have emailed Richard and am waiting for some feedback now.

Thoughts

Gospel:

What a great topic, I am really enjoying myself. I mean I have a perpetual headache from educating myself on the music business from basically scratch, but I'm enjoying it ha

I AM SO BUSY! Thank God.

~SR



32 Bars. No Chorus. Write A Hit.

I know that AABA form is one of, if not thee, most successful songwriting forms, but I have never written a 32 bar song in AABA before and let me say, it was hard. If I could say what my main strength is in songwriting, I would say writing catchy choruses. So, AABA form is a chorus-less form based on two verse sections, a B, or bridge section, and another verse. That means the whole song has to be one hook after another! So I teamed up with Esther Frake for this task since she has experience writing in AABA form and already had music written. We got together on Sunday and spent about 3 hours writing the lyrics and melody from scratch together, which was really nice for me. The music was lighthearted and deserved a light, happy topic, which was another exercise for me. We came up with the title and topic: Storybook Love. It was a hit in class and I am very proud of myself and Esther for this collaboration :)


February 25th, 2014

The first to go was Maxine, who sang her AABA song A Cappella. The song was strong with a definite, strong melody that followed the criteria very well. It has been said that a good song can stand alone A Cappella, and hers did! The overall critique was her use of metaphor was slightly overbearing and some lines could use some rethinking as to stay away from anything too cliche.

This brought up a great point about songwriting. My favorite way to write is through reference. A metaphor is already a reference, but they are so solidified sometimes that they become cliche. So, I like to reword metaphors or reference the reference. Right now I am working on some lyrics, "It's not the hole you made in my heart, it's the greener grass you made it for." I am referencing the metaphor, the grass is always greener on the other side, so with that common knowledge, I am referencing the understood concept of the metaphor without actually using it, which puts the listener on the inside of my thinking through common knowledge of metaphor. I LOVE METAPHOR!

John and Kirsty sang their duet from last week's task (120 bpm song) called "Corner of the Room." The song went over well with the class. The only critique was the start of the chorus resembles the melody to "All of Me" by John Legend. It's an easy fix though.

Anna and Esther played a song (120 bpm) they collaborated on in which Esther did the backing track
and Anna wrote the lyrics and melody. Such a great split of talents. I love working with Esther :) The song was a cross between rockabilly and burlesque styles making it a treat for the classes ears! The best critique for this song was moving the verse from the second half, to the first half. I think that would make the song move well.

Farhan and Rosey played their AABA song next. Farhan contributed by playing lead acoustic and Rosey wrote the song. The overall critique was that the song lacked a strong melody line to differentiate the two sections.

Bianca and Will M. worked together this week on something in Portuguese in AABA form, which I am so proud of Bianca for! Apparently, she wrote something else to the tune he wrote and he wasn't keen on the topic and had her change it to be centered around a bonfire. She kept at it and they wrote a pretty awesome song together. The melody, which he wrote, sounds familiar to a lot of people in the class, so that might need some addressing. Because the song is in Portuguese, the title line appears in the middle of each verse section rather than the first line or the last line. It worked for me!

Owain played a song he wrote with his brother with such a strong melody, I was sooooo happy. I have been listening to some 80's ballads lately, and wondering where all the verse melodic movement has gone. I was very satisfied. The class seemed to be confused by the roles of the characters, but I liked the idea of taking the third person perspective and making it first person!

Béth and Alex wrote together this week and the song "Light" was half in French! We all agreed that the song could easily be all in French because it was so beautiful. Good job!

Thoughts


This class was tiring because we all went to the BASCA Geisha event the night before and were out late! Richard taught this class rather than Joe. The two of them compliment each other very nicely. I got a good amount of cards at the geisha night and I am going to start emailing people back today.


I finally made a linkedin. It's still a work in progress. I think I need an assistant already.

Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/stevierae13
Bandcamp: www.stevieraestephens.bandcamp.com
Facebook Fan Page: www.facebook.com/stevierae13
Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/stevieraestephens
Improv/Major ProSeminar Blog: www.stevierae19.blogspot.com
Recording Technology Blog: www.stevierae13.blogspot.com
Songwriting Blog: www.stevierae5.blogspot.com
Myspace: https://myspace.com/stevierae13
ReverbNation: www.reverbnation.com/stevieraestephens
ePortfolio: https://sites.google.com/site/stevieraestephens
Youtube: www.youtube.com/stevierae13
Wedding Singing Website: www.yoursongbird.com
Twitter: @stevierae91
Instagram: @stevierae5

Going to send some emails.

~SR

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Competitive Energy

Wednesday is here and we have our second Context and Methodology meeting featuring our research proposals. It was a lengthy class lasting the maximum time and we didn't finish everyone's research proposals.

So here is my gripe, one time only, hear me out: if you are going to take up class time on questions or insist on having special class times, DO THE DAMN WORK. This isn't high school anymore. Okay, I'm done. And we're happy! And we're all friends! And I am ready to PARTYYY (Kristin Wiig voice from Bridesmaids).

February 19th, 2014

My research question is A Transformation: Introducing the Performing Producer/Songwriter

I have chosen this topic because it really pertains to my personal aspirations and will give me an incentive to dive into the grueling, tedious, heavy topic of the music business. If you ever can't sleep, just start reading about the controlled composition clause. Anyway, it is interesting, just heavy and scary at times. Every chapter is a reminded that you are going to have to work a lot harder. Richard thinks I have anxiety every now and then (he's probably right) and so I know I am a bit crazy about the subject...

Here is my abstract and a few sources and quotes that I have found in my research.

Abstract

The music business is a myriad of roles including songwriters, publishers, musicians, producers, managers, engineers, and armies of record label affiliates to name a few. The two aspects about the music industry that has continued to be true are that it all starts with the songwriter, and that the industry is always changing. The music business evolves almost as quickly as technology. It was only a matter of time before the two fields became inseparable for the songwriter. There are thousands of songwriters, musicians, and artists all working towards the same goal—to find a place in the brutal world of the music business. Where there is competition, there will be evolution and selection. The standard has shifted from lyricist/musician forming the songwriter to the singer/songwriter forming the performer, and finally the performer/engineer forming the ultimate music industry cocktail standard of an artist. The self-sufficient songwriter is the newest model to follow when attempting to make the music industry home.

I will explore the brave new world of the producer/singer/songwriter and the steps they took to launch their careers in the impenetrable music business. Focusing on the contemporary pop producer/singer/songwriter, I will discuss the importance of networking, self-promotion, and publishing and why these are the foundations in which the new age songwriter must adhere to. 

In conjunction with my research through printed scholarly materials, I will also include primary interviews with industry figures, successful artists, and professional publicists. These are the people who have seen this ever-changing music business as well as the songwriters who thrive or fail in the process of adapting to the evolutionary universe of professional music.  
1. Beall, E. (2004) Making Music Make Money: An Insider’s Guide to Becoming Your Own Music Publisher. Boston, MA: Berklee Press. 
2. Little, J. and Chatburn, K. ed. (2006) Musicians’ and Songwriters’ Yearbook 2007: The Essential Resource for Anyone Working in the Music Industry. London: A & C Black Publishers Limited.
3. Poe, R. (2006) The New Songwriter’s Guide to Music Publishing. 3rd Ed. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books.
4. Avalon, M. (2005) Million Dollar Mistakes: Clearing Your Music Career Clear of Lies, Cons, Catastrophes, and Landmines. San Francisco, CA: Backbeat Publishers. 
5. Baskerville, D. and Baskerville, T. (2010) Music Business Handbook and Career Guide. 9th Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sherwood Publishing Partners. 
6. Passman, D. (2008) All You Need To Know About the Music Business. 6th Ed. London: Penguin Books. 
7. Wakefield, M. (2009) ‘You Oughta Be in Pictures’. The Performing Songwriter, May 2009, (117): 18-22. 
8. Danton, E. (2009) ‘Ryan Tedder’. The Performing Songwriter, May 2009, (117): 70.
9. Greenburg, Z. (2014) ‘Golden Oldies: How to Become a Music Publishing Mogul’, Forbes, [Online] Available from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/zackomalleygreenburg/2014/02/12/golden-oldies-how-to-become-a-music-publishing-mogul/ [Accessed 18 February 2014].
10. Rubin, S. (2005) ‘Music Publishing: Everything You Wanted to Know (But Were Afraid to Ask)’, Sound On Sound, [Online] Available from: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec05/articles/allaboutpublishing.htm [Accessed 18 February 2014].
11. Vecserdy, S. (2013) ‘A Diary from the LA Music Business – Szilva’s Story’, The Music Producers Forum, [Online] Available from: http://www.musicproducersforum.com/2013/06/11/a-diary-from-the-la-music-business-szilvas-story/ [Accessed 18 February 2014].
12. Gryner, F. (2014) ‘The Multiple Personality Recordist’, Recording: The Magazine for the Recording Musician, [Online] Available from: http://www.recordingmag.com/resources/resourceDetail/176.html [Accessed 18 February 2014]. 
(Note: Dear Talen, this is my bibliography so far. I keep it updated so that I don't have to track down each source webpage and book I use even if no quotes were used from that particular source. If I read it and it helped me understand my topic more, I cite it. I haven't started my paper at all and I already have my sources referenced. This is how it's done. Good luck referencing little brother!) 

The class' suggestions were to hone in on a specific artist who fits this criteria. I changed the title already from Producer/Singer/Songwriter to the Performing Producer/Songwriter as to clarify my intent and focus on the specific type of artist I'm looking for. For example, Ryan Tedder is one of the most well know producer/singer/songwriters in pop music right now. I know I write about him a lot, but that's because he's kind of the shit... 

Other suggestions for artists were Jamiroqaui, john Newman, and James Blake. Not to get off topic, but does something seem a little off here? Oh right, no women. Where the hell are all the women. They are out there and I'm going to find them. I did find one article on a female singer/songwriter who went into production and began her own publishing business, but I wasn't too impressed with her output unfortunately. It was a real let down actually. 

Another suggestion is to compare and contrast this so-called (and apparently not politically correct) evolution of the music business and how that relates to the rising standards the industry has for aspiring songwriters. I like this idea and will most likely do that.

Here are the other topics flying around in class! 
  • The Presence of Nature Imagery in the Lyrics of Award Winning Indie Bands
Finding a theoretical framework that you can adhere to might be a good way of focusing on a theory through the eyes of another's research rather than coming up with your own theory, which is more of a PhD. This helps avoid any subject that might be too subjective and cannot be proved really. 
  • An Analysis, Comparison, and Reflection of the Varying Attitudes in Punk Music
  • Lyin' Eyes: A Notion of Authenticity and Mass Appeal in Songs of the Eagles'
David Geffen believes this authenticity in the Eagles' music was paramount in Laurel Canyon. A readig reference from our guest speaker, Barney Hoskyns:

  • Bruce Springsteen: Religious and Cultural Archetypes 
Myth is the oldest form of storytelling in human history and archetypes are key in the process. Archetypes are not people, but the grand references that are understood among our culture. Biblical and mythological reference are examples. 
  • Identifying the Legacy of Heartland Rock in "Sam's Town" by the Killers
  • A Lyricist in the 21st Century: A Professional Path in the Collaborative Songwriting Industry
And a few more. We all got tips and feedback on our topics and will be turning in key definitions next week. We will discover 3-4 key concepts for example the transformation, performing producer/songwriter, and publishing for me maybe. It is also advised that we focus on a select few text materials otherwise we can become overwhelmed with our topics. The paper can only be 8,000 words and too much material will cause a word count disaster. I dealt with that last trimester....

Thoughts

I am very excited about my topic and look forward to researching further! I need to hit up some of Bath Spa's Rock Back Pages databases and get a few more sources. I have sent out some emails to various people and hope to get some primary research from them as well. Otherwise, I wont have any extra interviews and such like my abstract says :( 

I am now a member of BASCA as well!

Tonight is a girls night dinner in Bath for Bethany's birthday too! 

~SR


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

120 bpm and Beyond: The First Collaborations

Happy Birthday to Bèthany Pozzi-Johnson!!!!!!!!

The task of writing a song at 120 bpm or more was a lot easier with the help of skilled pianist and songwriter, Owain Coleman this week. We spent a few hours in a practice room at Newton Park campus working with some scratch lyrics I had written sometime in October, and it turned out nice once I dug into the lyrics and made some changes. Next week's task will be to write an AABA form song..... Oh man. Let's get in touch with some 32 bar standards.

February 17th, 2014

The famous Michael-Angelo explained his process of creating such immaculate art from marble as the cutting away of everything that doesn't look like the target end product. This is the same for songwriting in a lot of ways. The process of subtractive construction. How this relates to this week's task of co-writing a song with 120 beats per minute (bpm) or more for a tempo because when the meter and/or tempo changes in a song, the syllable count is altered. It's harder to say a lot in an upbeat song than in a slow paced ballad basically.

The first collaborators to take the stage were Alex Dillien and Farhan Mannan with their song Super-Unleaded, which was a continuation from the on-the-spot writing exercise we did last week. The song title and subject were fitting since the two of them love writing songs about driving... The overall consensus was that the class wanted to hear more melodic range in the vocal line, possibly exploring the 3rd or 5th in the chorus. I personally loved the pre-chorus range and melodic rhythm the most :)

Next was Lesley Hobbs and Will McKecknie with their collaboration they also began in class last week, Train Is a Leavin'. Lesley provided the lyric and the basis of the melody and Will provided the harmonic aspect on acoustic guitar. The song was an obvious mix of them both, which was nice to hear. Some points that were said were that the two key changes that appear in the song were slightly overbearing and that the lyrics could be shorter and more concise.

As we are listening to the songs, Joe is creating a chord chart on the side by ear.... in real time. Musical Rainman moment! I began testing his metric estimations... and he was right! Whoa. You can find so much excellent material through his website and various articles in Total Guitar Magazine!

>> http://joebennett.net/ Click here to be educated ;)

Next was Rosie Lacey, who did an outside collaboration with a lyricist called Where Do We Go From Here, in which Rosey wrote all but the lyric. The song was a love song that came across very straightforward and lacking in imagery, however something with room to grow is always great, especially in the first class. It was agreed that the song would benefit from the presence of a bridge. So hopefully Rosey can work something out with that. Since she didn't write the lyrics however, there was a sense of indecisiveness on going about changing the lyrics.

Food for thought: how do you take creative liberties if they aren't your lyrics?

I could say how I would do it, but that may not be the most comfortable way for everyone-- write with your equals. If you write with other good artists, or artist that are better than you, there is less of a chance of this sort of unnerving situation arising.

Joe gave us an exercise to list our top 5 favorite songs and thing of where the title appears in the song. Does it appear in the verse as well?

For arguments' sake, Come Home by OneRepublic, Mercy by Duffy, Someone Like You by Adele, Come Back When You Can by Barcelona, and People Help The People by Birdy. These are all examples of songs with titles that appear in the chorus.

BUT... Have I Told You Lately by Van Morrison, First Floor People by Barcelona, Skinny Love by Bon Iver, Mercy by OneRepublic, and Bottle It Up by Sara Barielles all have titles in the verse sections. Have I Told You Lately is form specific though, so that one's off the hook... JUST SAYING.

Then we had Bèthany Pozzi-Johnson and Farhan Mannan again with Bèthany's Good Enough. Featuring a strong, repetitive chorus, the song was cool, however the class for the most part agreed that the choice of verse melody and harmony was strange and hard to connect with. I like dissonance, but if you're not going to resolve and satisfy the ear, keep the dissonance light. I don't want to say "tasteful" because that implies a lack of taste, but something of that nature without the negative implication. The end of the bridge was very strong and when that last chorus hits, the ear is so happy :)

Oh and then I looked up and Joe wrote 123 bpm. I checked with a tap tempo app on my phone and he was right.... Mind blown.

I probably went next --my notes aren't in a particular order-- and my collaboration partner was down with a nasty cold, so I sang Get It Right a cappella. I was happy that I did because I had never even tried it before... plus I wrote the song a few days earlier while Owain Coleman wrote the piano and then the night before I re-worked the verse lyrics and melody completely. It went really well anyway. The overall attitude I got was that the chorus lines were a bit unfitting for the song and needed reworking. Joe sent me some helpful links to songs with the same theme and they all have a more positive outlook of "I'll Get It Right".

The last group I took notes on was Bèthany Pozzi-Johnson and Kirsty Folan who both sang and recorded Emily for their collaboration. They had this cannon thing going that was very pleasing, however the song was in 3/8 or 6/8 which means the tempo was either 85 or something in the 200's. Common issue with 6/8 is that it is going to be ballad-y.

Last, we talked about author, Sheila Davis, who writes a handful of songwriting books including The Craft of Lyric Writing, Successful Lyric Writing: Step By Step Course and Workbook, and The Songwriter's Idea Book. In her writing, she talks about her acronym VVTS, which stands for Voice, View Point, Tense, and Setting. If you can identify all 4 of these in your writing, you have done a good job so far :)

Thoughts

Well that was fun :) I am slightly nervous about trying to write this 32 bar AABA song and still maintaining my own styles. Whatever, you never know until you try right?!


Had a fantastic weekend with a few classmates at the Ram Jam set up by former classmate, Chris Rogers (thank you very much!) and sang a few tunes with Alex, Lesley, Beth, Will, and Chris :) Tami also came and we girls had a fun photo taking spree in the dimly lit bathroom....

~SR

Friday, 14 February 2014

Context and Methodology Day One: The Matchmaker

Wednesday after class, I performed for These Beautiful Things at Burdall's Yard in Bath! It was a fantastic show with 3 other great bands that lined up very nicely with me and my set :) Thank you Bath Spa for the opportunity. I may have also landed my tech job I have been aiming for! YAYY 

It was nice being back in the classroom with Richard. It feels like ages since we all last saw each other. This course will prove to be a challenging and intriguing exercise in the world of music and, in my case, publishing and the music business. We convene every Wednesday from noon to whenever and will be composing a beefy 10,000 word research paper on a topic and thesis of our choice. This first class meeting was half spent going over our ideas for the papers and half spent in a master class with BASCA Business Development Officer, Rowena Morgan.

February 12th, 2014

So far, my paper subject is leaning towards the business of music publishing and the strategies used to obtain a publishing deal. I want to associate this paper with what I am currently working towards in my career since it's going to take an entire trimester to write with countless sources to read.

If I were to sell myself right now, I would say that I am a vocalist, songwriter, and recording engineer with demos to back it up. SO... how do I find a way to incorporate that particular skill set, a strategy for getting published, and academic, scholarly research to back it up into a narrow topic? I guess I will find out once I start quote searching through the handful of books I rented from the library today.

Books
Musicians' & Songwriters' Yearbook 2007

All You Need to Know About the Music Business

Making Music Make Money: An Insider's Guide to Becoming Your Own Music Publisher

Million-Dollar Mistakes: Steering Your Music Career Clear of Lies, Cons, Catastrophes, and Landmines

Music Business Handbook and Career Guide

The New Songwriter's Guide to Music Publishing

Journals **
You Oughta Be In Pictures by Mare Wakefield and Performing Songwriter, May 2009

Ryan Tedder by Performing Songwriter, May 2009

My thesis sentence is still in progress, but it looks something like this currently...

Next Wednesday's assignment is to write a 200-250 word abstract for my paper to get the ball rolling. I am glad that the assignment is already in motion!

The second half of the class included BASCA's Rowena Morgan, Business Development Officer. She held a fantastic master class on communications in the industry and gave us a lot of pointers and tips in regards to networking, professionalism, and most importantly, communications.

BASCA is the equivalent of the Grammy people in the United States.

Some of her initial pointers were in relation to networking yourself at events and gatherings of other people in the music industry. If you don't put yourself out there and talk to people, you wont get noticed. On the other hand, you have to know when to stop talking and when to move on.

Songwriters should find other songwriters to collaborate with. New songwriters are looked for by experienced songwriters for their songwriting youth, and experienced songwriters are looked for by new songwriters for their knowledge and connections.

Everyone hates networking. I personally don't hate it when its person to person networking, but I do get tired of keeping all my online networking sites up to date and thriving. Networking in itself can be a full time job! She explained that Americans have a better knack for it though because we basically start at the age of three...

Rowena holds invite only gatherings for people working in the business trying to network called,
Geisha Nights. She brings people together and has a fantastic track record for being an excellent matchmaker. She hold about 4-5 a year and the next is coming up at the end of the month. I have been invited to this event and I am very very excited! Number one thing to have handy are business cards! Good thing I just got a bunch made, thanks mom :)

She then moved on to something called the "Elevator Pitch". The concept is you should be able to pitch yourself to a publisher/manager/label from the time an elevator lift leaves one floor and reaches the next... Or was it the destination floor...? Doesn't matter. Point is, memorize your pitch and make it to the point.
"Hello, my name is Stevie Rae Stephens. I'm a pop singer-songwriter from California. I have a BA in Audio Engineering and I'm working on a Masters' in Songwriting in Bath. I've studied voice for 10 years and I was in the top 75 contestants on American Idol last season before I produced and recorded my full length album." 
Phewww. If I can memorize that with fluidity, I will admit I sound good on paper! Ha. This was the other point she made that I am very much aware of. Don't be afraid to promote yourself. It may feel conceited or  lacking in modesty, but that's how it works because no one is going to say these things for you. You may think less talk, more walk, but truth is, with a good attitude, honesty will be perceived as confidence, not cockiness. Besides, if YOU already believe in yourself, THEY will find it easier to give you the chance to do the "walk".

Then, hand the person your business card :)

Also, know your genre! I have encountered this problem before. You must have a genre. I don't exactly know what mine is yet, but I just go with pop singer-songwriter usually. It's scary to say that though because most of our younger lives are filled with our peers being "too cool" for pop music and not quite understanding that just because its pop genre, doesn't make it top 40. AND... if you aim to write top 40, good. You'll probably write a hit and make a lot of money and all those haters will remember they scoffed at your ambitions once! lol

So far, most everyone I encounter with a publishing deal, obtained it by accident or chance. Looks like the trick really is to put yourself out there. Go figure ;)

We talked about the fact that not all musicians are lyricists and not all lyricists are great musicians! Not everyone is good at it all. I know, because I get by with my piano skills and have a lot more talent in my arrangement skills, sense of harmony, and vocal skills. I think my lyrics are great, but they don't come as easy as they might for others. I know people who struggle with melody and I can come up with those all day. This is why collaboration is key!!! I am so glad this module and all these upcoming opportunities are coinciding with Collaborative Songwriting!

Before this event I'm going to, I should create a shopping list of all the people I need/want to meet. The person you need the most may not be the person you think  you need the most so you basically need to know them all.... Rowena says the first 50 friends you make will be the hardest ones. After 100, it gets easier. Knowing one person is like having a gold membership on a credit card.

This will take a lot of work. So get started!

When in London, you are never far away from useful people. London is comprised of three main circles: Media people, Finance people, and all their supporters make up the last third. So like I said before, its good to know them all.

Stay relevant, read up on autobiographies about singer-songwriters like me, and get caught up with the Publishing Rights Societies like ASCAP, BMI, and PRS. Look up publishers who accept unsolicited demos and write with EVERYONE.

** I spent an hour and a half looking through the library books at Newton Park Library and just before leaving decided to look through the journal section since I don't get out to NP that often. It was a small room with about 7 ceiling-high shelves on a track so they can be moved left and right to see the contents of the shelves. I found about 2 years worth of the magazine Performing Songwriter and spent about 30 minutes going through, finding my couple articles. I also found a reference to Barcelona's Absolutes in the 2009 issues, which made me very very happy! :D


Then... I saw a glimpse of a Sound On Sound magazine on the other shelf, so I reeled it open and found the last 10+ years of SOS... I forgot all about publishing and songwriting for the next 3 hours hahahah

Thoughts

Can't think. Must do research. Happy Valentine's Day!
~SR