SAC songwriting challenge-Week 4
Oh man, during this week’s Pat Pattison songwriting lesson, I got lost by “industrial strength magnets” when a squirrel hopped upon my windowsill… or rather I was drawn vegetatively to the windowsill in hopes of luring a squirrel to hop on by and entertain me. This week’s lesson felt like someone forced me to go camping against my will. And camping is ALWAYS against my will. Ugh. Perhaps I’m over-exhausted from Canadian Music Week shenanigans.
To stress or not to stress… within music, means to analyze the syllables and whether they’re nouns or articles or verbs or squirrels. I tried sooooo hard to pay attention. Okay, to be honest, I can’t precisely qualify how deep my effort to pay attention was, for I kept winding up unconscious. I felt a tangible resistance to attention paying. It felt like the times I’d feigned attention while being scolded for something I planned to do again anyway. The stress was definitely ON.
I didn’t like it. So I shifted my attention to something else important to me: my next live show, for which I plan to perform new songs that are in various stages of incompletion. The most amazing thing happened! I was working with lyrics and– guess what! I found myself employing the tactics of syllable stress in my writing– and– I altered the chorus of one of the songs so that the chorus’s title was more defined! I couldn’t believe it! It worked! Pat Pattison’s songwriting tools had hoed their way into my songwriting process and it wasn’t painful or numbing! Weehaaaaahoooooooey! I believe there’s hope for me yet! I CAN use tools outside of myself! Needless to blog, I am thrilled with the prospect, and recharged with vigor! I feel like I’ve benefited from a long-needed nap! Yowza! Yowza!
And on the songwriting note– ha! Get it?! If you’d like to be among the first to hear these new songs, you should come out to Smiling Buddha Bar next week! There’s even some open mic slots, so you could play a song new or old as well! I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be a smack-on good time! Come if you can!
The Four Winds Collective smiles at Buddha Thursday April 4th 9pm!
This is an excellent recap of a truly valuable songwriting panel put on by SAC at CMW 2013. The session was ripe with sage advice, inspiring music and charming banter.
Canadian Music Week wrapped up last Saturday with a special SAC Words and Music DemoListening Session at the Toronto Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre. I have attended a few Date With A Demo sessions before, but this was by far and away the best yet, for a couple of reasons.
First, the 23 songs auditioned by the panel during the two-hour session were, as a group, of much higher quality than I had seen at any SAC session before; and second, because the panelists themselves, drawn from different sectors of the industry that are all relevant to aspiring songwriters, gave such precise prescriptions for making good songs great.
Moderated by SAC’s own Ania Ziemirska, the panel included Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter Melanie Doane; radio promotion and music director Andrea Morris; Juno Award-winning producer Gavin Brown; and internationally acclaimed producer-songwriter Brett Rosenberg. As Brown…
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(SAC Songwriting Challenge Week 3)
Wanna package?! I’m in an Expedia.ca commercial!
Oh, you’re back here and not surfing YouTube? My attempt to distract you has failed.
It’s time for me to confess another deficiency. In Week 3 of the SAC Songwriting Challenge, Pat Pattison started talking about C major triad root position 5th of the G tonic function overtones root position substitute… and I was befuddled to distraction and confronted with another disadvantage of mine: I don’t play an instrument outside of myself. Yes, I’m my own instrument. I use my face (mostly the mouth part) and my butt. But it’s not what you think. My mouth is the wind instrument. My butt is the rhythm section. As I shake it and swing it, drop to my knees and thump to the ground, I am my own percussion. This music theory had me skidding up against my shortcoming. I hadn’t felt so challenged since I’d tried to make coffee that morning before having had coffee. Not only am I coming from a place of zero songwriting technique, but I also lack the theory and techniques behind music. Bah! Luckily for me, the lesson turned to rhyming with words. I know about words. My favourite words from the lesson are assonance and fricative. Say them out loud for utmost pleasure!
I continue to struggle with the tools of songwriting… the analysis… the arrangement… but the operative word in this sentence is CONTINUE. I embrace the discomfort of evolution and will improve by it!
As P!nk says, “You gotta get up and try, try, try!” Ooh! Let’s get distracted by P!nk’s video for Try. I could seriously watch this a million times over and never tire, especially if I had a bag of chips at my side. Always with the chips. Sheesh!
In his Berklee College of Music songwriting course, Pat Pattison assures us that there are no rules, only tools. Phewf! Rule-free, everybuddy! Woop! Woop! And yet…
This week we learned to use the tools of lyric line lengths in the great strive for prosody (all things working together toward a common goal) to evoke sensations of stability and instability. Being a songwriter who usually just opens the channel and lets the song write itself while I eat chips on the couch, I found I was intrigued by the exercise of analytical songwriting and yet I stumbled over the process of using the tools.
I reminisced among myself and realized that I displayed the same work processes when I was a youngen’ (as pictured here with bangs on their own trajectory). I used to refrain from studying for a test so that I could test how smart I was “naturally”. I would whip my Math textbook across the kitchen floor in frustration when I couldn’t solve a riddle. My dad would enter the cyclone of calculus and ask, “Did you read the chapter that explains how to solve the problems?!” “No!” I’d shout, “I should be able to figure it out just with my brain!” To persuade my mother that she was putting me to bed too early I would plaintively explain, “Mom! I’m not even tired! I could win the human race with no running shoes on!” Clearly I didn’t need tools because I am my own tool. And what a tool am I!
With creativity I’ve always resisted analysis (Read: work)! I don’t wanna know what note I’m singing and what the 3rd harmony line is. I don’t wanna emphasize diphthongs. I don’t wanna explore each word in a scene and attach a motivational tactic to it. I don’t wanna consider the rule of threes. I don’t wanna create a lifelong backstory to a 10-minute scene. I wanna renegade communicate each individual moment from my heart! (Read: I don’t wanna practice and develop, I just wanna sit on the couch eating chips till it’s showtime!) Clearly I need to learn to sharpen the tool that is I and learn to use some tools outside of myself. Hopefully I don’t trip over them like I trip over myself. This course is a great start for me. 🙂
There’s a new monthly cabaret show in town! I had the honour of being part of Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir kick off!
Writer/poet/horror aficionado/editor Lizzie Violet launched her brand new monthly cabaret – Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir – at Q Space last night. And what a fun, sexy and thought-provoking night it was.
The cabaret premiere included feature performers Mullet the Clown, David Bateman and Kat Leonard, as well as a very talented line-up of open mic folks. Music, comedy, spoken word, poetry, a zombie clown telling stories and performing card tricks – it was a mix of the ridiculous and the sublime, visceral and cerebral, personal and political, as these talented artists took the stage. Q Space is a casual, intimate, welcoming storefront place, with a cool, eclectic and creative group of folks – and it’s the perfect home for the cabaret as friends, fellow artists and neighbourhood peeps gather to support some incredible local talent.
Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir will be a monthly event, the second Sunday of…
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From moment 1 to moment infinity, carried in a sweet memory, the final hurrah of WonderFest (Wonder Women in Concert) was pure magic! There was raucous laughter, sweet sobbing, and moments of crowd connection not experienced every day. It will live in my heart forever.
We heard accounts of how the week of WonderFest had changed peoples lives for the better: people writing music again, people leasing a bar to start their own business, people quitting jobs they didn’t belong in. There was generosity in spirit and applause both onstage and off.
Magic hovers over the crowd! (Photo by Arlene Paculan!)
If you are interested in becoming involved in next year’s WonderFest, please contact us through WonderWomenWorld.tumblr.com or @LMGProductions or email us at ImWorthItInfo@yahoo.ca.
Spreading empowerment through art never felt so good!
Oh, man!!! There is so much of the spreading of empowerment through art happening during WonderFest that I feel I can’t do it justice in prose!
For fuller details on our experience, see our WonderWomenWorld blog!
In a nutshell, Day 4 brought us:
Workshop: Turning Wounds Into Wisdom lead by Nova Browning Rutherford.
The group learned to accept the discomfort of change, to focus on actions that lead toward our goals and values, and that life is in fact long and not short therefore we have plenty of time to figure things out and follow our path!
The Workshop group!
Super Men Concert! Wowza Wowza what a lineup of talent to digest! The evening was jampacked with music and words to move the soul, friendship to fill the heart, and laughter to jiggle the belly!
Arlene and I with the wonderful Super Men!
Which brings us to tonight! Tonight is the WonderFest finale: Wonder Women in Concert! Gladstone Hotel 7pm (doors) 8pm (show) with art displays, videos, vendors, a special comic book photo booth for all, and of course the lineup of Wonder Women! I’ll be performing my new song Love Mania! Wakawakawakawaka! We hope to see you there spreading empowerment through art!
The foundation of friendships is a force for mountain moving! (Arlene Paculan and I, WonderFest co-conspirators!)
Think outside the box! There’s a box?!
Yes, there are several boxes, according to Pat Pattison’s songwriting devices for developing ideas that build a dynamic musical ride. The concept begins with three boxes, the sizes of which increase as the story progresses so that the first fits into the second and the second fits into the third. That third box contains and contextualizes all information that came before. Get it?
So what to put inside each box to propel an enthralling journey? Well, there are a few tools you can develop with. For example: Box 1 holds the past circumstances or feelings, Box 2 holds the present circumstances or feelings, and Box 3 holds the future circumstances or feelings. Or perhaps Box 1 holds information about you, Box 2 holds information about your mailman, and Box 3 holds information about what kind of package you’d like to receive from your mailman. Get it?
Do I get it? Perhaps I don’t even get it and I’m in fact on a course to flunk the course? Nah. How can I flunk something that doesn’t involve math? Wait. Is music theory coming up? Um…
You know what? I highly recommend taking a Pat Pattison Berklee course for yourself if you’re a musician or non-musician, a songwriter or non-songwriter. If you’re a human– and if you’re reading this you probably are or have a human helper– I think you’ll get a lot out of listening to Pat speak. Pat dispenses his knowledge with an easygoing and engaging finesse that is spiced with the subtle hilarity that makes your heart smile as your mind pulses with information upload. It’s like watching an A&E show in the era before reality-TV pollution, when you could learn something new about subjects known and unknown.
Exercise Week 1: We are to fill 3 boxes with ideas that propel a story based on the song title we chose from a list of options. I chose the title Fool’s Gold because it immediately brought to my mind an image of a dulled gold wedding band and the idea that some people fall for a false sense of security and bliss through marriage. Perhaps often lovers are duped by the belief that through marriage they will never be lonely, they will change their partner’s erroneous ways, and they will live happily in the ever after. Of course, all of that can happen but it’s not because of a band of gold. It’s because of a heart of gold. In my boxes I’m exploring the ideas that surround striving for and being patient for the value in the pure gold instead of settling for fool’s gold. Get it?
That was my exploration in Week 1 of the Songwriting Challenge with Pat Pattison. Stay tuned for weeks 2 through 6!
WonderFest Day 2 brought us the creative freeform session of open mic and jam collaboration at The Central! It was great to see the work of empowerment in action. There were a few individuals who came to the session to break out of their shell, get some practice and gather impetus to write that song, finish that CD, get up on that stage again and empower themselves to follow their dreams. Yay! It worked!
Some highlights of Day 2’s collaboration/open mic night here:
What a wonderful kickoff!
WonderFest Day 1 was a huge ball of fun and success! It started out with Arlene and I interviewing and performing on Rogers Daytime Peel! Arlene and I both wore turquoise– and we didn’t even plan it! Sonia our host wore boots to match us– again not even planned! We were meant to be on Daytime on this day to spread empowerment through art as well as hues of blue! 🙂
Even my socks and the rim on Arlene’s boots matched the Daytime set! I mean, come on! What a wonder! 😀 You can watch our video segment here: Kat & Arlene on DayTime!
In the evening we headed to The Central for the first free workshop of the week: Business Planning for Artists with Heather Hill! We had an intimate group of lovely attendees! Heather Hill is an easygoing and compelling workshop leader with engaging personal anecdotes and effective tangible knowledge to share. The tools and advice shared by Heather is applicable to all business types, and the information was soaked up by the mix of musicians, filmmakers, massage therapists and producers alike!
I couldn’t be more proud to be part of such a great evening and start to a wonderful week of wonderment at WonderFest! We still have 3 more free workshops and 2 concerts to celebrate during WonderFest!
Tonight we meet at The Central again for a night of collaboration and open mic performances! Sign up is at 7pm. Hope to see you there!
Happy WonderFesting, everyone! May you always feel empowered to make all your dreams come true!
For full details on WonderFest’s events, visit: www.WonderWomenWorld.tumblr.com