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!