Tag Archives: SAC

There’s Hope!

(SAC Songwriting Challenge-epilogue)

Lookie! Lookie! I did it! I made it through Pat Pattison’s songwriting course!
There’s hope for me yet!

oil pat

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And there’s hope for Spring too!  Morning coffee visuals in my backyard:

oil tulips done

oil flower 2

“A moment of satisfaction and hope before I’ve sunk into a funk or tizzy over something not worth a funk or tizzy.”
-Lyrics from my ode to coffee song “Morning Lover”

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I See The Light! I Smell Cake!

(SAC Songwriting Challenge-Week 6-FINAL!)

eyelight

I see the light!

I made it! I submitted my final peer evaluations for Pat Pattison’s course this morn! This songwriting course has introduced me to a whole world of what I don’t know. But now I actually know what I don’t know, and what I should know. And knowing is half the knowing! Now when I discuss songwriting, I have new musical vocabulary as well as deeper definitions for common vocabulary like stable and unstable. I’m able to absorb song execution tactics with more profound saturation. I see a door to a valuable toolshed, a door beckoning me like freshly baked cake to a whole new world of songwriting. Knowing that door to the toolshed is there, and that I have access to it whenever I find the initiative to flick the latch, is as comforting as eating half that freshly baked cake and knowing the second half of the cake is there for dessert!

Thank you to SAC for instigating yet another great blogging challenge, and thank you thank you thank you to Berklee College and Pat Pattison! An unstable hero is just what I needed!

unstablePat Pattison-a sung hero!
(Get it? He’s not unsung? ‘Cause he sings and stuff? Get it?)

Resistance is Fertile

(SAC Songwriting challenge-Week 5)

Resistance is fertile and insidious and endemic. During this week’s songwriting assignment, I found myself quivering with defiance.  Every moment was a battle of the nitwits (myself, me and I). Even my shoulder devil and shoulder angel were harmonizing, “I don’t wanna do it!” I managed to cough up an assignment submission, but resistance has now crept into my will to finish this blog entry.

!Katangst-FringeTO-A_Depper_Kind_of_Love-0027-Corbin_Smith

I don’t wanna do it!

To Stress or Not to Stress…

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.

cmwnap2Me saying goodnight to CMW 2013 and dreaming of CMW 2014!

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!

FOUR_WINDS_POSTER_smile_budd

Canadian Music Week report snippet from SAC

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.

Songwriters Association of Canada

by Alan Hardiman

CMW Demo PanelCanadian 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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I am my own tool! (SAC Songwriting Challenge 2013-Week 2-Prosody)

katkinder001

Wee me!

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. 🙂

SAC Songwriting Challenge 2013-Week 1-Boxes

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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!

FUCK CANCER!


I am an active member of the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC), which offers various workshop opportunities and resources for songwriters.  I meet regularly with a group to showcase works in progress and sometimes collaborate and exercise skills. One SAC exercise was to take a song that we love and play with the lyrics and/or musical components.  Playing with music and emulating others is a helpful exercise in developing our own talents.  As children, we learn task, behaviour and language by imitating those around us.  It’s important for artists to find their own voice, but I believe experimentation with something that inspires us is a great playground and springboard to our own possibilities.

I chose Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujahkd lang’s rendition changed my relationship with music.  I had the opportunity of soaking in an intimate performance of hers.  I sat 5 feet from her on the same floor.  From the moment she inhaled her first singing breath, I knew I was forever changed.  Watching her use her phenomenal instrument to allow the release of such a beautiful and powerful spirit, to feel it move about the room, that spirit souring on a wave of soul that carried me to another dimension was… (sigh) enigmatically indescribable.  But I blissfully digress.  I love the work of Leonard Cohen.  He’s a true music-smith and storyteller.  I also love that his first name is my last.

The lyrics I wrote for the SAC exercise are Fuck Cancer, but I have since gotten more mileage out of Cohen’s incredible Hallelujah sound bed.  I was asked to sing Hallelujah at both a wedding and a funeral this summer, so I changed the lyrics again and again to suit each of these events.

Excuse disclosure: This was an exercise in writing, not singing, so these aren’t slick recordings of the songs.  But if I wait until they’re made spiffy, I may not ever get to it.  My to-do list is way longer than the lineup for an iPhone 5!

Here are my three adaptations– with lyrics and link to sound in case you’d like to sing along!

FUCK CANCER

The lyrics “Fuck Cancer” are pretty severe.  The words “Fuck” and “Cancer” individually have pretty stirring effects on the ear and heart (also that other “C” word, but I’ve not made a lyric of it.)  So when Fuck and Cancer are put alongside each other, juxtaposed with the haunting splendor of Hallelujah’s sound bed, there’s a palpable reaction from the crowd I sing it to.   Some people read the lyrics before hearing the song and immediately thought, “No, don’t do this,” until they heard it sung and changed their tune to, “Oh, yes, do this.  Don’t even come up with an original song bed and melody to this.  It’s gotta be wedded to the sound of Hallelujah.”  Others suggested maybe toning down the “fuck” to “damn” or even “darn” or “screw”.  I wrestled a bit with the concern of harshness, because I don’t strive to offend.  However, I do strive to affect.   Yeah, Fuck is harsh.  So is Cancer.  So when Cancer’s less harsh, I’ll agree to soften the lyrics.  Until then, Fuck Cancer!!!

Hallelujah FUCK CANCER
(Leonard C. adapted by K. Leonard)

I had an aunt with guts of gold
A hefty laugh and warm hand to hold
You’d fall in love before you knew it
Her smile was bright, her humour sharp
Her encouraging words could dispel the dark
With cruel notice, she was gone before we knew it
Fuck cancer, Fuck cancer,  Fuck cancer,  Fuck cancer

Grampie fought the great evil abroad
He’s the old kind of brave we’ll forever applaud
He fought for freedom from might
Taught me I was never alone
Gave a lonely young girl a place to belong
And in the end he surrendered to only one enemy
Fuck cancer, Fuck cancer, Fuck cancer, Fuck cancer

I have a friend who’s been fucked before
She’s battled the devil who comes back for more
She struggles inside but she doesn’t show it
She’s a buoyant wave on a frantic sea
And the kind of friend I strive to be
If she’s gone too soon, the world becomes less worthy
Fuck cancer, Fuck cancer, Fuck cancer, Fuck cancer

We all know that your end will come
And though the path be snarled and long
We’ll find our way and fight you strong
Sing a battle cry with all our might
Stun the dark to succumb to light
Sing with perpetual echo: Fuck you, cancer
Fuck you cancer, Fuck you cancer, Fuck you cancer, Fuck you
Fuck you cancer, Fuck you-ou-ou… Fuck you cancer
Fuck you…. Fuck cancer

HALLELUJAH FOR A WEDDING

I sang this in Germany to a German congregation in an itty bitty delight of a village.  There were less than 10 people who understood the meaning of the lyrics I was singing, but there were many a tear streaming down from the effect of the melody and soul of the song.  The wedding and funeral versions of Hallelujah both begin with Cohen’s original lyrics and deviate from them.

HALLELUJAH For a Wedding
(Leonard C. adapted by K. Leonard)

I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
It’s amazing how music goes through ya
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your love is strong and you live the proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
She took your hand and won your heart
Gave your life a brand new start
And from your lips she drew Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I’ll do my best and love you much
With all I feel I need your touch
It’s truest of truth, I wouldn’t fool ya
I’ll stand by you through right and wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
And raise my voice in hallowed Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

HALLELUJAH FOR A FUNERAL

I also added a splash of Charlie Pride’s Crystal Chandeliers because it was my aunt’s favourite song to dance to.  Singing it a cappella in the church, it was easy to break into Crystal Chandeliers.  But I am really pleased with the result of breaking into the different song whilst remaining in the sound bed of Hallelujah.  I was even able to retain the original melody of Crystal Chandeliers and then meld back into the melody of Hallelujah.  Isn’t music amazing?!

Hallelujah For a Funeral
(by Leonard C. adapted with love
and a splash of Charlie Pride by K. Leonard)

I’ve heard there was a secret chord
David played and it pleased the Lord
It’s amazing how music gets to ya
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
It baffled the king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Listen, I’ve been here before
I know this room and I’ve walked this floor
But all that was familiar is new
The legacy you’ve built is strong
I stand before the Lord of Song
And raise my voice in hallowed Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your love is true and your friendship such
You can mend a heart with a simple touch
The power of the spirit runs through ya
And even though you can’t stay long
Your love and light to us belong
It echoes in every heartfelt Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

The crystal chandeliers light up your paintings on the wall
The marble statuettes are standing stately in the hall
But will the timely crowd that has you laughing loud
help you dry your tears
when the new wears off your crystal chandeliers

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

So that’s an example of a SAC music exercise that resulted in much play and education for me!   What are your thoughts on playing with music in this way?  What are your thoughts on the harsh lyrics of Fuck Cancer?  Do you think I should play with creating original music to go along with the lyrics, perhaps even just for the exercise of it?  Or do you prefer it this way?  (This is an academic question, of course, because it’s not my music bed to use beyond an exercise. ;p)  I think I’d really learn from your opinions!

As always, wishing you much music and play!

www.KatLeonard.com

TORONTO FRINGE IS UPON US!

A Depper Kind Of Love, Fringe 2011
Photo by Corbin Smith

Ah, Fringe!!! The Toronto Fringe Festival is an annual festival for which companies are chosen by lottery to produce a show. Touted as the fringe of the theatre community, it is considered by many to be an arena to create and play and learn and dance at the Fringe Tent. It is a fun-filled community of adventure and edification for all involved– participants, volunteers and audience alike. It’s like being away at a camp ripe with fun and games, friendship and love, beer and festival food. The adventure is extended and amplified if you’re involved in the national and/or international Fringe Festival circuit which includes Edmonton, Regina, Vancouver, Ottawa, London… on and on… and then you’ve got outside Canada too… USA, UK, Downunder… There are some who are able to eke out a living doing these festivals. What a thrill it could be! For info on Canadian Fringes you can start here: canadianfringefestivals

I was chosen by lottery last year for Toronto Fringe 2011. Amazing! The first time I had submitted and I was chosen. As fellow Fringers know, that’s rare. Many would-be participants are still entering year after year and waiting for their moment to Fringe. Of course, one can always participate in Fringe by being brought onboard by a company who was chosen, or by volunteering, but it’s a whole new Fringe-game when you’re the production company.

I feel my being chosen happened for a reason—for all the trials, tribulations and triumphs, it caused me to stretch and discipline myself as an artist, writer, songwriter, singer, dancer and producer. In a personal artistic time of wavering between acting and singing, between being comical and respectable, I discovered I am at my best when I allow all that I am to bond together. With encouragement and input from my beloved friends and band mates Gene Abella and Eden Letrondo, the one-woman show A Depper Kind Of Love was born. I hunkered down and within 6 months had written and recorded 10 original songs, produced and released my debut CD, A Depper Kind Of Love, and written a 52-minute one-woman show with a 52-minute video to accompany it. But more than that, I was able to discover what great capacity and possibility I have as an artist if I allow myself to let it flow and spillover instead of trying to compartmentalize my talents and skills. It truly is amazing and I will never return to the old. Director Christopher Sawchyn, SM Skye Regan and TP Rod Pizarro came onboard and helped bring Depper Love to life and stage and also made Fringe 2011 the best Fringe I’d ever experienced despite its challenges. The copious time spent with them creating, planning, laughing and dining are some of the most electric and joyful of my life. Incidentally, Skye and Rod are seen on this year’s Fringe homepage in the picture of the great poster sprint of Fringe 2011. It was a mad rush to poster the Fringe Tent poster wall. It was utter madness. My injured hamstring twitches at the thought of it. The “Fringe-ury” that keeps on giving!

You can read more about my journey in my guest blog for the Songwriters Association of Canada.www.ItAllStartsWithASong.com But enough about me.
It’s time to celebrate Toronto Fringe 2012!

TICKET GIVEAWAY!
I have two pairs of tickets to give away for Thick and Thin Productions’ show Life in the Raw. I so admire the people of Thick And Thin. They are theatre veterans talented in all aspects of theatre and music from writing, performance and production. I just know it’s going to be a great show, and I think you should go! Comment below or message me to enter the giveaway for the July 5/July 7 shows!

What is Life In The Raw?
Theatre director Barbara Larose working with playwright and composer Rick Jones has created a series of dramatic scenes punctuated with musical “arias”, monologues set to music. A cast of 5 portrays the poor but proud Whitaker family struggling to survive in 1930s Montreal. “So many life lessons handed down, but also great stories that had us in laughter and tears,” explains Larose. www.thickandthintheatreproductions.com

Where is Life In The Raw?
George Ignatieff Theatre-15 Devonshire Place
South of Varsity Arena near St. George subway

When Is Life In The Raw?
The full schedule is in the poster above, but the ticket giveaways are for Thursday July 5 at 10:30pm and Sat July 7 at 12:30pm
*leave a comment here or message me for your chance to win!*

Other shows to see:

One Night– By Brandon Pitts and Angela Brown- 32-year-old Penny has had enough of being a virgin and all the labels and baggage that comes with it.
The Shape Of Things– Neil Labute’s unblinking stare into the blood, guts and gristle of modern relationships.
Then He Wakes Up– by Matthew Sarookanian-Today Felix needs something to change.
Transit Diaries-by Meesha Albano- Love and relationships are explored on the seats of the TTC as each character faces choices to be made while in transition.
Fake News Fan Girl-by Sharilyn Johnson-Absolutely true story of one woman’s descent into fandom, and suddenly getting closer to her idols than she ever intended (or wanted).
*I saw this show when Depper Love was part of the Love & Obsession Festival last year. It is really, really, really good! I watched it twice.
Piecing Together Pauline -By Chris Coculuzzi and Roxanne Deans, a historical drama about 19th century opera singer Pauline Garcia Viardot.

If you have any Fringe 2012 suggestions, please share! I’m in the preliminaries of my schedule! Let’s get out there and enjoy supporting theatre! Ya! At Fringe, there is more than just something for everyone! Maybe I’ll catch you at the Fringe Tent!

For a list of plays and venues and more info on how to get the best out of Toronto Fringe: www.fringetoronto.com

Happy Fringing, everybuddy!

Love Kat

www.KatLeonard.com

PS If you’re looking for still shots of your Fringe show, I know a Fringe fan photographer who will do it for a mucho reasonable price!

Captivated And Reaching For Sunlight

Music normally captivates me in three ways:

1) The sound: the melody and ambience of simple tones or intricate chords dancing together in a magical arrangement

2) The lyrics: the words, specific or all-encompassing, that articulate, commiserate and motivate

3) The voice: The unquantifiable features of a singer’s tone and expression that speak to me irrationally and profoundly

Lily C captivates me in all three categories on Reaching For Sunlight.  This is Lily C’s debut English album and it is described as, “a collection of songs that reflect her journey to stay hopeful despite challenging circumstances.”

Reaching For Sunlight is joyful and beguiling pop music woven from sonic layers that lull and enliven.  It has rousing pep, addictive rhythms and penetrating depth.

The lyrics are enlightening, empowering and everlasting.  It may not be fair to extract lyrics from their song bed, but many of these are so powerful on their own that I had to list some of my favourites.

“…in my hurricane of grief can you show me how to breathe…”

“…just when you think that you’re gonna die, that’s when you realize you’re made to fly…”

“…I’m reaching for sunlight like city flowers do…”

Lily’s voice is like hard candy: sweet and solid.  It’s like whiskey licorice.

While listening to I Am A Bee, I swore I was soaring on the breeze with butterflies until someone walked in the room and I realized it was just me bouncing in my office chair.

Come Back To My Love affects me most intensely.  My heart is struck in all three categories– sound, lyric and voice.  The lilting piano notes lure me in off the top, and Lily’s supple and raw vocalizing clinches the enchantment.  Every time.  I could listen to her vocalization after the bridge on repeat forever.  It’s like she’s singing in my ear, whispering, speaking directly to me while I lay on a couch crumpled in defeat.  She’s the wee Fairy of Trust lulling me to the belief that everything will be ok; her metaphoric arms first cradling and comforting me before picking me up, dusting me off, and guiding me to stand again on my own with more strength than I had before.  If I were to do a cover of a Lily C song, it would be this one!

Listening to Lily C’s music is like starting your day off with a good breakfast: being nourished with your favourite cereal fortified with familiarity and optimism and sweet wee Lily bits that beam up at you through the milk, coaxing you to have a glorious day no matter what comes your way.  I think Reaching For Sunlight is a masterwork and I recommend you check it out! www.lilyc.com.  Lily also has a pretty inspiring blog: Take A Deep Breath.

I look up to Lily and look forward to more music from her.
I also look forward to sharing the lineup with her at the upcoming Wonder Women V event August 8, 2012 at 7:30 at Celebration Square in Mississauga.  But more about that later…

…until then, may the music always play!

Love Kat
www.KatLeonard.com