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. 🙂