conventions

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

big treble clef falling on man - notes from a non-songwriter - songwriting tips

Notes From A Non-Songwriter or “The Stuff You Need To Know”

When I joined Song Talk Radio as social media maven over a year ago, I knew nothing about songwriting. In the past, I learned to read music and play a few instruments including flute, bass clarinet, French horn and the drums. But I had never entertained the thought of writing a song.

In my first few months at Song Talk Radio, I didn’t understand much of the songwriting jargon the team (Bruce, Neel & Phil) would throw out during our broadcasts. I found myself frantically googling in the background to try to understand what they were talking about. These days, I understand most of what they discuss, but every once in a while they use a term I’ve never heard before.

Here is a list of terms that I’ve learned through my time on the show, and I hope it might be helpful to beginner songwriters too. I’ve found it a helpful resource to refer back to.

A Tacet: Latin for ‘be silent.’ A word used in orchestral and vocal scores to direct a particular instrument or voice to remain silent during a particular passage or section.”N.C.” (‘no chord’) is often used in guitar tablature or chord charts to indicate tacets or rests in the accompaniment. Read more

Phil, Bruce, Avery, Vanessa, Linda, and Neel

How to manage your own career with Avery Florence

Avery Florence stopped by the studio on the cusp of her first tour. She was excited! “Road trip!” Her songs were a treasure trove of musical delight, and her tips about managing her own career were helpful to anyone trying to make a living as a singer/songwriter.

Here are some of the things we talked about:

  • the music business
  • The Harris Institute
  • touring, booking your own gigs
  • The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron
  • writing when inspired
  • collaboration
  • recording “live off the floor”
  • guitar or piano?
  • breaking up with a band

Listen to the show!

Download the song lyrics and follow along

BLEED

FLY

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Neel, Phil, Bruce, Vanessa, and Anthony

Songs from your childhood

We talked about the first songs that resonated with us as kids.

Stuff We Talked About:

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Bruce, Phil, Vanessa, Robert, Dave, Bob, Neel, and Anthony

Robert Priest, songwriting poet

Multi-talented Toronto poet, novelist, and singer/songwriter Robert Priest brought two great songs to the show. He also brought two talented musicians to back him up – guitarist and vocalist David Hines and guitarist Bob Cohen. We talked about a wide range of things including:

  • the difference between poetry and song lyrics
  • collaboration in song writing
  • song structure
  • work habits
  • breaking down the inner critic
  • “highway” songs
  • writing for children
  • a poem about John Lennon
  • Robert’s website

Watch the live performances

 

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Bruce, Ed, Phil, Vanessa, and Neel

Ed Roman a Canadian original

Ed Roman is an award-winning singer/songwriter, performer and multi-instrumentalist from Shelburne, Ontario, Canada.  Blurring the lines between pop, rock, folk, and country music genres, Ed’s uniquely crafted songs have received regular rotation on more than 100 terrestrial radio stations across North America and more than 400 stations, worldwide. On this program we had some lively discussions about:

  • What is “Canadiana”?
  • Being human and the influence of family on songwriting
  • Music as a way to deal with dyslexia
  • Forming a band at the age of 14 and writing original tunes
  • Lyrics have many meanings for the listeners (good!)
  • Emotions in the performance
  • Protest songs – what happens behind the scenes?
  • Holding onto unresolved chords versus fulfilling expectations

Download the lyrics

The Way She Goes

I Told You So

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Bruce, Hema, Neel, Frank, and Phil

Exploring non-standard time signatures & EDM with Neel Modi

Our very own Neel talks about creating non-standard time-signature based EDM music. Past guest and composer Frank Horvat co-hosted while Neel’s better half, Hema handled the social media.

Some stuff we talked about:

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Famous songs with odd time signatures

Neel, Vanessa, Bruce, Shelly, Phil, and Raphael

Shelly Peiken – writing the hit song

Multi-platinum hit songwriter Shelly Peiken, has written songs for, and with, Ed Sheeran, Keith Urban, Celine Dion, Cher, Reba McEntire, Christina Aguilera, Meredith Brooks, Britney Spears, Natasha Bedingfield, NSYNC, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Idina Menzel and Demi Lovato. Shelly Peiken is also a successful author who has written a book detailing her experiences in songwriting – “Confessions of a Serial Songwriter”. Shelly shared two songs with us – “Bitch” and “Who You Are”. Here are some of the things we discussed:

  • Shelly’s new book Confessions of a Serial Songwriter – Shelly Peiken
  • predicting a hit
  • co-writing
  • how the business has changed
  • the birth of a hit song (“Bitch”)
  • using well-known chord progressions
  • moving to Los Angeles when it was the centre of music writing
  • writing for Christina Aguilera

Listen to the whole show here

Lyrics are here…

Bitch

Who-You-Are

Watch the live performances here…

Neel, Phil, Bruce, Vanessa, and Raphael

Using Non-Verbal Hooks in Your Songs

In our latest theme show, we explored non-verbal hooks in songs. We looked at Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side, The Police Do Do Do, Da, Da, Da, Da and we played The Parkdale Hookers “Stop Draggen’ us no where, baby“. It was just the gang so its always a lot of fun.

Stuff we talked about

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The Songs

 

Neel, Blair, Sean, Bruce, Vanessa, and Raphael

Chord-based and conversational songwriting with Sean Bertram

Up and coming singer-songwriter and Humber College music student Sean Bertram joined us to talk about his education and his chord-based approach to songwriting. Blair Packham subbed in for Phil – thanks Blair! And welcome to Raphael, our new technical and audio specialist – welcome to the team!

We talked about:

  • why bother making an album anymore
  • writing as a hopeless romantic
  • why do we ( as humans) write songs?
  • writing outside typical “campfire chords
  • developing lyrics based on your chord choices
  • conversational storytelling: rhyme schemes and writing two verses before hitting the chorus
  • Song Studio
  • using falsetto in your songs

Listen to the show

Download the lyrics for Closure and She’ll Ruin Me.

Watch the live performances