Well, Heather Gardiner, Head of Music Supervision & Licensing for Vapor Music, issued this week’s challenge – to write a 60 second piece of music for use in an advertisement (that could also be cut into 30 and 15 second pieces):
The spot features a child so we’re looking for something child-like, light and playful, fun, capturing the moment and that captures the spirit of a child. However, we don’t want to be emotional or heart-stringy — we’re looking for something that’s purely fun.
That was my focus this week – and with my 4-year old son’s help, I just kind of stopped at the “purely fun” part of the task – I mean the piece is called “Super Happy Fun Time” for heaven’s sake! I didn’t quite get up to the feel of having a contemporary song, and was more like a Pee Wee’s Playhouse filler song. But it was fun…
May the Muse be with you… in Super Happy Fun Time way…
Well, I had a rough week with this challenge. As I’ve already stated, these are uncharted waters for me… My daughter just turned 13 so you think I might be hearing a lot of current music in the house, but God bless her soul, she listens to a lot of older tunes (her favourite – The Beatles). I wrote one song (Waking Nightmare) base on Rehtaeh Parsons‘ tragic death after her attempted suicide. I didn’t end up having time to record that one for this week, but I thought I’d put a line or two here:
I can’t fake that smile
It’s been a while
Since I wanted to anyway…
Why do I have to be strong?
When you know what’s right from what’s wrong
Not exactly light fare… Some of the lines in that song (and the working title) were right from Rehtaeh’s journal. Very sad…
So, another song took hold later in the week inspired by the recent campaign that started earlier this month with a Super Bowl Ad – the”Like A Girl” campaign. The campaign shows differences in how people perceive the phrase, “like a girl.” And thus, the first verse is:
He meant it as a joke
When he spoke
But a little piece of me broke
Shattered my glass house world
The girl takes ownership of the phrase and wears it proudly. I gave myself some wiggle room to be able to put it into the third person if need be, but my daughter helped me out with vocals on this one. Here it is:
May the Muse be with you… and can’t wait to see what Week 3 has in store (and still working on the Week 1 challenge!)
Boy, if I thought I was out of my element with the first week’s challenge (due in 5 weeks), this week’s challenge (due in a week) has me hyperventilating even more! This challenge comes from Rob Wells who writes/produces with such artists as Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez, among others… Here’s the gist of Mr. Wells’ “reverse” pitch:
I’m looking for strong female based Pop/Top 40 songs. Think Selena Gomez. Think Demi Lovato. Think big. Think hits. Think target audience of 13-18 years old.
This challenge will NOT be easy… I’m really hoping the Muse will be with me…
So I took my own advice from my last post and signed up (late) for the SAC’s Songwriting/Blogging Challenge. I was just accepted today, so I’m behind one week, but I can catch up. The thing is, after listening to Matt Dusk’s “reverse” pitch on how the songs should feel (up and down tempo, Daft Punk/Foster The People to John Legend/Lana Del Rey) I’m feeling I may not be up to the task. These are not my contemporaries – I have exactly one song in my personal collection (Pumped Up Kicks) so I’m doing research right now listening for the feel that Mr. Dusk wants (now, I have a lot of Matt Dusk in my collection, but lo and behold, he wants something different!).
Wish me luck – I’m waiting for this new Muse to be with me…
Tune into your PBS stations on January 2, 2015, for the gala event that was held earlier this week in Washington. The Library of Congress awarded Billy Joel, one of my favourite songwriters, the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Tony Bennett, John Mellencamp and Kevin Spacey were among those on hand to celebrate the music legend, while Barbara Streisand, James Taylor and past Gershwin winner Paul McCartney appeared in video greetings.
Huffington Post wrote about the event here and this is just a snippet from that piece:
Joel’s tunes were enough to have Republican and Democratic congressional leaders sitting side by in the divided capital, clapping to the same beat.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor saluted Joel, a fellow New Yorker, for creating an enduring lyrical and musical legacy for the nation.
“For more than five decades, Billy Joel has inspired new generations of performers, musicians and singer-songwriters,” she said. “Tonight we recognize Long Island’s favorite son, even if he is a Mets fan.”
May the Muse stay with you Billy!
Here’s a video snippet from Euronews with Kevin Spacey on the harp with the Piano Man:
Just enjoyed listening to an interview of Willie Nelson on NPR. Mr. Nelson is promoting his new album, Band of Brothers, which is to be released today. Here’s a little snippet of the interview:
ARUN RATH: Now you are such a great songwriter but it’s been more than a few years since you released an album and one with so much new material on it. I’m curious have you been writing songs the whole time or are all these very recently written?
WILLIE NELSON: I’m sort of a spasmodic writer I guess. Roger Miller said it pretty well. He said when a writer has to sometimes stop and let the well refill because you run out of things to write about or good things to say. So I think he’s right. Also you have to have some kind of challenge or goal. And there was this new album that we wanted to do. And I needed some new songs. And I said well you know why don’t I write something?
And when you’re Willie Nelson, you can do just that…
Listen to the interview now:
May the Muse stay with Willie and be with you (and that’s even funnier with the reference to Willie as the Yoda of songwriters)…
Award-winning poet, Ariel Gordon, is guest-editing the Arts column for the National Post and had an interesting interview of three diverse songwriters about their writing process (upon Ariel’s confession that their songs assisted in her writing process as a poet). You can find the short-but-compelling interview here.
Q: Do you have a songwriting tic? By which I mean particular language or particular images (or sounds, I suppose…) that always seem to be a part of the first draft of a song? I became preoccupied with writing poems about pears in the weeks that followed picking small yellow pears from a friend’s yard. I also re-used an image from my first collection in my second, because it’s still something that sticks with me…
CC: Most of my writing is me working through my knots, my mistakes, trying to frame them, share them, get them out of my head to make room for all the new knots and mistakes that come out of living and bumping through this world.
AC: I absolutely succumb to this as well and it seems to tie album to album. I produced one album that seemed littered with jewel imagery; there were diamonds and rubies everywhere. And another that eked out themes of construction and architecture. But these happened unbeknownst to me at the time.
NR: I always seem to gravitate back to hidden meanings and non-linear thinking. I ask a lot of my “readers” but I truly believe they can handle a more literary approach to songwriting. I refuse to dumb down any part of a lyric for anyone’s sake.