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. 🙂
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!
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
I signed up for another SAC (Songwriters Association of Canada) blogging challenge! This time we are taking Pat Pattison’s 6-week online songwriting course through Berklee College of Music. Our first blog should answer these questions:
1) Where are you in your songwriting journey? Who me? I am Kat Leonard and I consider myself a bit of a hack songwriter because my songwriting process in the past has been to open up that great channel to the universe and let the song enter me from beyond while I eat a bag of chips. I’ve been songwriting for a little over 5 years. I sometimes write songs that will be entwined with monologue or standup material into a fuller show with a theme or storyline. My greatest hit to date is Jockstrap, where I proclaim my unwavering desire to be Johnny Depp’s Jockstrap. That song came easily. 2) What do you hope to gain from this challenge? In addition to growing alongside an inspiring and nurturing community of artists within SAC and Berklee, I hope to gain valuable songwriting theory and tools so that I develop a solid foundation of skills with which to create effective music. So here we go! Stay tuned for scintillating details of the progress! www.KatLeonard.com
WonderFest is a week away!!! We kick off Monday March 4th 7pm at The Central in Toronto with Heather Hill‘s free workshop Business Planning For Artists.
Tuesday March 5th 7pm at The Central join us for an open mic/collaboration night of music adventure!
Lisa Anita Wegner’s free session “How Art Saved My Life” happens March 6th 7pm at Fringe Creation Lab (720 Bathurst Street). It promises to be astounding and inspiring. This is Lisa’s recent blog, where she addresses technology, exhaustion and her brain injury, telling them what she really feels about them!
Thursday March 7th 7pm at Fringe Creation Lab (720 Bathurst Street) Nova Browning Rutherford leads a free workshop on Turning Wounds Into Wisdom, nurturing positive self-esteem.
Full workshop information and WonderFest schedule including Super Men Concert March 7th at The Central and Wonder Women VI concert March 8th at The Gladstone here:
dear exhaustion: you can be a bit overbearing, like a parent grounding me when i have to rehearse and perform the lead in the school play. i appreciate the message but sometimes i have deadlines. but you know what exhaustion? i appreciate you telling me to ease off. even though it took about ten people’s help and you didn’t go easy on me, i managed to get everything done, with one day to spare. by next week the reno on my space should be finished and that will be like heaven on wheels. greased lighting wheels. right now i am living in a cloud of construction dust, workman, cables, floor glue, and fumes. unable to locate anything and dogs barking at every workman move. that’s exhausting on it’s own.
dear ice: please cut me some slack especially when there is water on top. you’re slippery and i’m tired. i can’t…
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Announcing details on our wonderful workshops!
Workshop: Monday March 4,2013
Business Planning for Artists with Heather Hill
7:00pm at The Central, 603 Markham Street *FREE
A dream without a plan is just a wish.
It is easy to dream about your career as an artist, but without written goals, priorities and plans, your dream is just a wish. Heather Hill, an independent musician and a high tech product marketer, will guide you through the business planning process for your art. She will detail the areas you need to consider to be focused and successful: your company/artist story, your market, your goals, your strategy to achieve those goals, your customer/audience, your competition, your marketing tools you will need (the 5 Ps of marketing: Product, Promotion, Place, Price, People) and your financial plan. In this interactive workshop, Heather will help you to further define your plans and goals, and you will leave with a framework to help you continue this process.
Heather Hill – MBA, MA, ARCT
Late one night on a business trip in England, an unmistakable voice told Heather she needed to quit her executive career and return to her music. Heather left a successful high-tech marketing job, sold everything, went backpacking, and the songs poured out. She fell in love, had babies, wrote songs, made two albums, created a songwriting guild, and now she wants to bring change and spread hope and love to anyone who will listen. Rooted in piano rock, Heather Hill is currently working on her third release. She launched her second album Leuty Station in May 2012, which features a collection of songs about women’s issues and the courage to face life challenges head on. She quickly followed the success of the launch with a Canadian tour, TV and radio play. Her first album “Listen” was released in NYC in 2005. Her voice is often compared to Kate Bush, her piano style to and Tori Amos and her songwriting to a young Leonard Cohen. She is working with Jan Cooper Publishing in Vancouver.
Workshop: Tuesday March 5,2013
With various local musicians and YOU!
7:00pm at The Central, 603 Markham Street *FREE
The greatest expression and art is motivated by curiosity, creativity and play. It is invaluable for an artist to be able to be spontaneous and creative with themselves and with others. Playing within your art is a magnificent way to be free and let the muse whisk you away; to play without a plan and let spontaneity open the omnipotent channel from the gods; to let a chance surprise become a gift of genius. Have you ever felt the spark and chemistry of creating something with another human being? Have you ever co-written a song? Join us for a night of collaboration exercises and open mic performances. You never know what magic will transpire and inspire!
Workshop: Wednesday March 6,2013
How Art Saved My Life with Lisa Anita Wegner
7:00pm at The Central, 603 Markham Street *FREE
After a trauma, art saved my life. Now I am allowing it to create my life.
Lisa Anita Wegner is an actress and film producer who in 2008 suffered a trauma-related brain injury. The Women’s College Hospital Trauma Therapy Program encouraged her to use visual art for her healing. At that point she began generating creative content, something Lisa had never done in her previous work life. Her first solo video, “So Who Am I Anyway?”, was bought by the Phoenix Art Museum for their video collection and was included in their Selection 2011 screening. Lisa was invited down to Phoenix to speak about her experience and show examples of how the injury has affected her work.
Screening a sample of film clips, personal therapy videos and pixel paintings, Lisa will tell her story for the first time in her hometown of Toronto at WonderFest. By getting to know her authentic self through art therapy, Lisa pierced the mundane to find the marvelous; she unearthed a creative life more fulfilling, rich and wild than she ever expected.
Workshop: Thursday March 7,2013
Turning Wounds Into Wisdom with Nova Browning Rutherford
7:00pm at The Central, 603 Markham Street *FREE
It is a vital process to develop and maintain positive self-esteem.
• Learn to use your past pain to propel your future progress.
• Learn to gain acceptance for what you are and let go of what you are not.
• Gain the skills to recognize and release toxic relationships at work, home or school.
• Take control and discover how challenges can be used as an opportunity to grow.
• Discover the secret to optimism no matter what life throws your way.
• Develop accountability skills – for past successes and for your role in the ‘drama’.
• Learn to use your voice and apply the 3 keys to a successful confrontation.
• See new results by taking action and create a Mastermind list.
Nova B. Rutherford has been helping young women and men develop a thorough understanding of ones own personal values – emotionally and spiritually – by using methods that are crucial to staying mentally connected to those values, which in turn help to create rewarding personal and professional relationships. Nova’s ten years of expertise in the entertainment, music, and marketing industries provides nuance to her programming which help to empower a new generation with these tools for life. Since 2009, Nova has provided her dynamic programming to such organizations in the U.S and Canada such as the United Nations Association, YWCA, NAACP, Youth Mentoring Connection, Voices Of Tomorrow The Remix Project, BlogTalkRadio, the AIDS Project Los
Angeles, Ontario District School Board, StoryCorps, ACT-SO and The Forgiveness Project. Nova has served as the keynote speaker at the “Women Empowering Women Symposium,” and as a featured panelist for the “United Nations Associations 100th Anniversary of Women’s Day” in Los Angeles, California.
And don’t miss…
WonderFest: The Concerts!
Thursday March 7,2013
Show: Super Men in Concert
Doors 9:30pm Show 10:00
The Central, 603 Markham Street
$10 at the door- receive $5 off Wonder Women in Concert
Friday March 8, 2013-International Women’s Day
Show: Wonder Women VI in Concert
Doors 7:00pm Show 8:00pm
The Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen Street West
$10 at the door