conventions

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”.

Listen to the show:

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.

 

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:

Listen to the whole show

The lyrics

Download the chord/lyric sheets to follow along:

Ming-Tea-BBC

Now-You’re-Leaving_Lyrics

Radiohead-Street-Spirit

The-Joker

Julian Taylor – dual roots and great songs

Julian Taylor is a Canadian singer-songwriter formerly with the band Staggered Crossing. His songs have appeared in television series including Degrassi: The Next Generation.  He now fronts the Julian Taylor Band. Julian dropped by the studio with his daughter Ella. We talked about:

  • Skookum Music Festival, Vancouver
  • Basic core band members together for 24 years!
  • Music first or lyrics first?
  • Finding a “treasure chest” of memorabilia in the attic
  • New album called Avalanche
  • Checking the quality of the melody – whistle
  • Sweeter – unusual song structure, lots of Canadian references
  • Love Connection – cool structure
  • started writing songs at age of 4
  • Mohawk/West Indian musical background

Listen to the whole show

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:

Listen to the whole show

Dokter Nomi’s lyrics

Dokter-Nomi-Party-in-NYC-Lyrics

Fallen-Star

Phil, Bruce, iLLvibe, Linda, Vanessa, and Neel

All about hip hop with iLLvibe

Toronto-based hip hop recording artist iLLvibe dropped by to share his music and his thoughts. Runner up to Drake for Toronto Rapper of the Year in 2016 and winner on “Canada’s Smartest Person” it was indeed an entertaining and informative hour!

We talked about:

Listen to the whole episode

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. repeating your last chorus as a modulation
  • modulating up vs. modulating down

Listen to the show

The song examples

Starman by David Bowie

Perfect Illusion by Lady Gaga

The Infanta by The Decemberists

Bruce, Phil, Blair, Vanessa, Neel, and Linda

Rhyme-a-rama with Blair Packham!

We figured it was time to talk about rhyme; a cornerstone of songwriting. So we invited one of our favourite singer/songwriters – Blair Packham – to take a closer listen to songs with a plethora of rhymes and one with virtually none! We talked about:

  • The songwriter’s personal approach to rhyme
  • Does rhyme distract from the the emotion of the song?
  • Kinds of rhymes – rhymezone.com
  • Perfect rhymes for something certain (e.g. right/might)
  • Assonance rhymes for uncertainty or negative feelings (e.g. around/down, blood/rush)
  • Pat Pattison – how do rhymes serve the song?
  • Rhyme schemes
  • Neel’s notes on rhyming from Pat Pattison’s Songwriting course on Coursera
  • The notion of the “illusion of authenticity” – stay tuned for a future theme show with Blair!

Listen to the show

 

Download the lyrics

Simple Twist of Fate by Bob Dylan

Cry Me a River by Arthur Hamilton

You’re the Top by Cole Porter

Fast Car by Tracy Chapman

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:

Listen to the show

Vanessa, Phil, Robert, David, Linda, Bruce and Neel

Robert Priest – how to write songs for children

We had the pleasure of having the prolific Toronto poet, novelist, and singer/songwriter Robert Priest (with David Hynes on guitar) back in the studio to share a couple of his children’s songs. We talked about…

  • testing a song on a 6-year old
  • moving from writing for adults to writing for children on the same day
  • chord choices for children
  • writing for younger and older children (the differences)
  • kids deserve quality songwriting
  • Inchworm” (an old favourite)
  • repetition in kids’ songs
  • using words that kids will have to look up (why not?)
  • the work habits of a prolific writer
  • Gilbert and Sullivan style (The Ships of Bath)
  • do you have to have kids to write for children?

Listen to the whole show

Robert-Priest-Lyrics

Watch the live performances

Vanessa, Phil, Linda, Bruce, and Neel

How to write a break-up song

True to form for Song Talk Radio, the day before Valentine’s Day seemed a good day to talk about break-up songs. So Phil brought “Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)” by Jim Croce, Neel chose “One More Minute” by “Weird Al” Yankovic, Bruce performed a new original tune “I Don’t Love You Anymore”, and Vanessa selected “White Blank Page” by the band Mumford & Sons. We talked about:

  • conflict in break up songs
  • break up song experts – The Smiths, Jann Arden, Morrissey
  • Operator” chord progression – I, III, IV, V (Nashville numbering system), finger-picking, guitar riff
  • One More Minute” – original song in a doo-wop style, one idea repeated getting more extreme, a bridge might have helped
  • “I Don’t Love You…” – Key of E, lyric tune-up to bring clarity, needs a bridge?, Neel finds the word “hating” too harsh
  • White Blank Page” – maximum drama through arrangement, a religious song?, abstract songs let the listener interpret
  • remembering phone numbers in the age of the cell phone

Listen to the whole show

White-Blank-Page

Operator-Jim-Croce-Lyrics

One-More-Minute