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November 10th, 2008:

Stellula Music In Schools Program

Click the banner above to learn about this interesting program available in Simcoe County. As per the website:

The Stellula Music in Schools Program helps children and youth create music and art through writing, photography, and making CDs/DVDs and movies. Students learn about creating music from professional musicians, filmmakers, animators and sound production people.

The Program encourages students to express themselves through songwriting in a safe and supportive environment while building meaningful relationships with other students, teachers and professionals in the music business.

Best of luck to this program and other similar programs (see the School Alliance of Student Songwriters site too)… the Muse is truly with them…

Chrissie Hynde on Songwriting

Musicradar.com interviewed Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders on a variety of issues, including the new rockabilly-themed album (Break Up The Concrete), the early Pretenders aura and, of course, songwriting. From the interview, here’s some quotes on the latter topic:

On songwriting

Let’s talk about your songwriting. Does it come easily to you? Do you have a process?

“I can go months or even a year without thinking about songwriting. I’m not very ambitious. Songwriting isn’t my life; it’s just something I do. It was a way for me not to be a waitress. [laughs] So when I know I have to make an album, I sit down and see what’s in my head. That’s it, really. No process. I’m not a tortured artist. I’m not even an artist.”

When you do write, how do you demo material? I imagine you’re kind of old school, just a tape recorder and you singing and playing.

“I don’t even do that. I just remember the songs and play them to the guys live when we’re in a rehearsal room. I have my lyrics sheet and chords written down and that’s it. I don’t know how people work all these computer programs and whatnot for songwriting. If it helps them, great. But for me, I go by memory.”

That’s very interesting… so many different “methods” (or lack thereof) to songwriting… Chrissie certainly turns all the “hit-making” song crafting philosophies on their head with that simple “No process” statement… But hey, one method isn’t “better” than another… I think… so long as the Muse is with you I guess…

Of All The Things

A documentary to look out for as set out in IMDB:

The most unlikely comeback of the year. Dennis Lambert was one of the most successful and diverse songwriter/producers of the ’70s and ’80s, with hits like “Ain’t No Woman Like The One I’ve Got”, “Rhinestone Cowboy”, “Don’t Pull Your Love”, “Baby Come Back” and “Nightshift”. He had chart-toppers in almost every genre of music, and at one point four of his songs were simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, a feat previously accomplished only by The Beatles. That was then. Today, he’s a 60-year-old family man selling real estate in Florida. But it turns out his obscure 1972 solo album is still huge… in the Philippines. A Filipino concert promoter has been begging Dennis to tour for decades, and in 2007 – thirty-five years after the release of his album – he finally agreed. “Of All The Things” is a hilarious and touching pop/rock/country/R&B documentary that follows Dennis on his whirlwind tour as he rediscovers his passion for music — a two-week adventure that takes him from the comforts of Boca Raton, through the remote outer islands of the Philippines, to a sold-out show at Manila’s famous Araneta Coliseum for thousands of fans he never knew he had. Some lives deserve an encore.

Well, this I have to see and I’ll be looking for it in the theatre or on DVD… Let me know if you see this somewhere…

Of Montreal on Songwriting

Just some thoughts from Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal on songwriting from a recent Toronto Star article:

“For some reason, laziness is celebrated in music where it’s not really celebrated in other art forms. Most pop songs are just riddled with laziness.”

Some might bristle at Kevin Barnes’s reductionist assessment of pop songwriting’s verse/chorus/verse template, but at least the Of Montreal front man and increasingly proficient professional provocateur is backing those words up with the wildest musical ride he’s ever put to tape on his latest disc, Skeletal Lamping.

I’m not so sure I agree… It takes creativity, even within “lazy confines”, to compose a pop song that people can enjoy… A “formula” does not negate the creativity, and knowing the “rules” just makes it easier to break them… it takes a Muse…

USC Offers Pop Music Degree

The Los Angeles Times recently ran an article detailing the introduction of a Popular Music Degree at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. As described on the school’s website: “ USC Thornton is proud to announce a new bachelor of music degree in pop music performance, the first of its kind at a major university. The program, which will begin in the 2009-10 academic year, will provide a place for instrumentalists or vocalists whose passion is popular music — be it rock, R&B, folk, blues or country.”

And a quote from the LA Times article follows:

Students still will be required to study music theory, history and songwriting, but they’ll also learn about entertainment law, record promotion, marketing, publicity and other fields pop musicians need to understand to succeed in the evolving music business.

“We built this program recognizing that the nature of the music business is changing,” [Associate Dean Chris] Sampson said in a separate interview. “We’re looking to create a broader number of opportunities for our students to successfully make careers in music. Turning out records that end up making the charts, that’s the top of a broad pyramid. I expect other students might find their way into becoming music directors, arrangers and a variety of different roles.

“The whole idea is that we’ll be bring it all together under one umbrella. . . . We are building a network of people in different disciplines, whether in technology, business or law . . . and within a college atmosphere, students will have some room to experiment.”
May the Muse be with you…

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