conventions

Neel, Mike, and Phil

The Best Songs Have Only 3 chords

This week on SongTalk we look at a simple songwriting technique that may be more complicated than you think – songs with one chord progression.

That’s right, no guest this week just the SongTalk team – Phil, Neel and Mike – talking about the ways songs with just one series of chords repeated over and over have become huge hits.…

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Don, Neel, Donna, Matt, and Phil

Donna Linklater: Songwriting and Composition, What’s The Difference?

This week SongTalk welcomed Donna Linklater to our studio.

Soprano and composer/songwriter Donna Linklater studied opera with Sylvia Richardson at Brandon University. Toward the end of her studies, she began to focus on new music and was especially taken with the aleatoric music of John Cage which gave her greater freedom of creative expression.…

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Neel, Mike, Blair, Don, and Phil

Keeping It Real with Blair Packham

This week SongTalk welcomed our old friend Blair Packham to our studio.

The Toronto-based artist, first gained attention for his work with ’80’s power pop band The Jitters. He is now an acclaimed solo artist and musician. Blair released two strongly-reviewed solo albums before shifting his focus to composing music for TV and films, teaching songwriting at the post-secondary level and in numerous special event workshops, and co-hosting a long-running major market weekly radio show about music (“In the Studio” on the BellMedia talk radio network).…

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Neel, Michael, Vanessa, and Phil

Songs by the Hosts: how we wrote ’em

For this host’s show, Michael, Neel and Phil brought in a song each and discussed how we wrote and some cool approaches in the songs. AND, Vanessa was in the house!!! What a fun episode!

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What we talked about

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Vanessa, Michael, Ritha, Taylor, Phil, Micah, and Neel

Making the most of your voice with Taylor Abrahamse

This week, professional singer/songwriter, voice actor & co-founder of Silverthorn Studios recording, Taylor Abrahamse joined us in the studio at SongTalk World Headquarters.  Taylor was a Top 40 finalist on Canadian Idol, has performed on stages across Ontario, has also written & produced musicals, and music for animated series and viral internet music through Corus, DHX & Super Planet Dolan.…

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Michael, Ritah, Robert, Phil, Micah, and Neel

Robert Ball: Giving Voice To The Personal

This week SongTalk welcomed Robert Ball to our studio.

A native Torontonian, Robert Ball is a multi-faceted singer who has traveled to and performed in over 60 countries around the world.
His sound has been described as soulful, jazzy, Neo-soul and he is a much in-demand session singer.…

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Back row: Gerrod, Mike, Cecil, Christian, Linda, and Phil. Middle row: Ritah and Micah. Front row: Michael, Neel, and Vanessa. Whew!

One in the Chamber on their debut EP

Indie rockers One in the Chamber joined us following the release of their first studio EP, I’ve Got Something To Say…. We talked about:

  • One in the Chamber’s first appearance on Song Talk Radio
  • difference between their demo EP and their studio EP (hint: pre-production)
  • writing as a band collaboration
  • thwarting conventions around song structure
  • guitar solos: a good thing or a bad thing?

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Bruce, Vanessa, Pete, Michael, Neel, and Phil

Peter Eastmure and writing his dreams

Singer-songwriter Pete Eastmure grew up on a horse farm, on the side of Blue Mountain. Needing to find something else, Pete at a young age hitchhiked out to California and entered into a personal musical journey that forever changed him. Pete honed his craft of songwriting from many years of exploring musical genres like folk, pop and jazz, only to go back to the well spring of his country roots.…

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Steven Taetz sharing jazz songwriting tips

Writing Jazz Standards: Songwriting Tips with Steven Taetz

Jazz songwriter Steven Taetz returns to talk about creating new “Jazz Standards”.

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Stuff we talked about:


The Great American Song Book Buy The Great American Song Book 

Charts for The Great American Songbook
A “Fake Book” with just a lead line and the charts for the songs.

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Making the most of a three-chord song

On this program Bruce, Neel, and Phil, (and Linda) each brought a three-chord song to share. We looked at what each song needed to do (if anything) to compensate for the lack of chord diversity. We talked about:

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The lyrics

Download the chord/lyric sheets to follow along:

Ming-Tea-BBC

Now-You’re-Leaving_Lyrics

Radiohead-Street-Spirit

The-Joker

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Dokter Nomi – writing the pop song

What a pleasure to have Dokter Nomi back in the studio to share his hooky pop tunes. This time, one of them was produced by our very own Neel Modi. During the show we talked about:

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Dokter Nomi’s lyrics

Dokter-Nomi-Party-in-NYC-Lyrics

Fallen-Star

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Vanessa, Neel, Linda, Frank, Phil, and Bruce

All About Key Modulations with Frank Horvat

Good friend, manic composer, and musically big brained Frank Horvat joined us to talk all about key modulations, with three example songs. We talked about:

  • the difference between borrowing chords and modulation
  • chromatic alteration, where a single semi-tone difference can change the contour of your chord progression
  • referring to the circle of fifths to see modulation that are close or far from your base key signature
  • using pivot chords to bridge the gap between key signatures
  • key modulation between different sections of a song vs.

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Phil, Linda, Mike, Vanessa, Patrick, and Bruce

Randy Newman’s “Cowboy” & “Somewhere” from West Side Story dissected with Patrick Ballantyne

Patrick Ballantyne stopped by to pull apart two of his fave songs. The open and emotive “Cowboy” by Randy Newman, and “Somewhere” from West Side Story by Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein.

Stuff we talked about:

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