creativity

Writing the emotional gamut with Beige Shelter

Indie rock band Beige Shelter stopped by to talk about forming the band, producing their first album, and performed two songs. Our very own Neel Modi took the co-guest seat as producer, drummer, and co-writer. A good friend of Song Talk Radio, Patrick Ballantyne filled in for Neel’s host spot.

Beige Shelter is:

  • Adi Aman – songwriter, vocals, rhythm guitar, ukulele, harmonica
  • Neel Modi – producer, percussionist, co-writer on Colours
  • Tom Kuczynski – bass guitar
  • Karan Sabharwal – lead guitar (absent)

We talked about:

  • Adi’s first appearance on Song Talk Radio over two years ago
  • Where the band name came from
  • Adi’s approach to capturing a wide range of emotions with his yin-yang philosophy of songwriting
  • Neel’s approach to producing the album – check out his blog post on this
  • Playing with your key signature to find the sweet spot for your vocals
  • Where you can listen to Beige Shelter’s debut album, Rumours we make, paths we take

Listen to the whole show:

Watch the live performances:

Dan Edmonds making it up in the moment

The Song Talk Team had the distinct pleasure of spending an hour with the very talented and original singer/songwriter Dan Edmonds. His fresh takes on music and how it’s made were both illuminating and engaging. He played two of his intriguing recordings – “Love Can Be a Tunnel” and “To Be That Needle”. We talked about:

  • improvising lyrics in the recording studio
  • letting the listener make their own meaning from the words
  • the two-chord song
  • the fun and challenge of touring
  • finding management

Here’s the show. Have a listen!

 

allister-with-the-team

Thoughtful lyrics and music with Allister Bradley

Pro songwriter Allister Bradley joined us for an hour to talk about two of his catchy, thoughtful songs and his process for getting them done. Stuff we talked out:

  • Toronto’s Song Studio
  • Making it in the music industry
  • Writing with your secondary instrument
  • Using session musicians
  • Why you should whistle your melody
  • Chord progression tip: make each chord in your progression a perfect fifth above the previous one

Download the lyrics for the songs.

Connect with Allister

Listen to the full show

Bruce, Patrick, Phil, and Neel

“A song is good if you like it,” says Patrick Ballantyne

Bruce, Neel and Phil were all happy to have Patrick Ballantyne back in the Song Talk Radio studio for the third time. He always brings great songs (listen to “Make Believe” and “Sky” for proof) and lots of experience to share about the songwriting process for our listeners. When writing a song, he starts with the music – almost always on the guitar. For contrast, he has started writing on the piano where he has less competency and is forced to “keep it simple.” After writing solo for many years, he recently joined a group of collaborators and enjoyed the process.

Listen to the whole show:

See the live performance:

Making an Emotional Impact as a Performer: Part 1

Having been immersed in the wonderful world of singer-songwriters during my time at Song Talk Radio, I’ve attended quite a number of gigs and open mics over the past year.

Everyone I’ve seen perform has great talent in singing, playing an instrument and writing music.

However, I find there’s a lot of variation in a performer’s ability to make an emotional impact on me as an audience member.

A singer may have an amazing voice, but if every song in their set (or even a single song) is delivered in the exact same way and with little variation in emotional expression, I might leave thinking: “That was a good show”, but not feeling that my mind was blown or heart inspired.

So, I’d like to share an exercise – the Song Interpretation Exercise, to be exact – that may help in taking your performance up a notch in the mind-blowing, heart-inspiring department.

Read more

Blair Packham packs emotional power

From the moment Blair Packham started to speak, we knew we were in for some great lessons from a master songwriter and experienced teacher. If You Were Mine featured a great bridge and instrumental break. In Her Dreams started out as a story of a woman in a call centre and moved to a daughter caring for an ailing mother. In our wide-ranging conversation we also touched on the following:

  • who are you writing for?
  • does the song connect emotionally with the listener?
  • collaboration is good
  • ask for feedback and use it
  • write from your creativity
  • the new singer-songwriter accent (Shawn Mendes song Stitches for example)
  • song-writing workshops (songstudio.ca)

Listen to the full episode

Talkin ’bout song structures

Bruce, Neel, Phil and Janice spent most of an hour on the subject of song structures with 4 different examples. We talked about:

  • the prologue verse (I Left my Heart in San Francisco)
  • writing for musical theatre (My Funny Valentine)
  • the connection between segment style and lyrical content (Band on the Run)
  • Sloan’s song with its many sections and its Beatles influence (Fading into Obscurity)

All in all, a fun and informative show. Thanks for the tweets Tony!

Further Reading:

Arranging Songs: How to Put the Parts Together

Scott Neary – Tools, tips, and some very cool things

Seasoned professional guitarist, singer-songwriter, and all-around nice guy Scott Neary shares some of his best kept songwriting secrets. Scott also accompanied the talented jazz songwriter Steven Teatz for his appearance on Song Talk Radio. We talked about:

  • The great chorus debate – to repeat it verbatim or not?
  • Why you should whistle your melody
  • Why, sometimes, you need to ask, “Why does there have to be a chord?”
  • Why you should re-harmonize your chords after you develop a great melody on conventional chords
  • Symmetry, or lack thereof

 

New standards by Steven Taetz

Multi-talented singer songwriter Steven Taetz turned the Song Talk studio into a smoky nightclub with his perfect renditions of his own songs. Waiting for Wishes (co-written with Emma-Lee) had so many “hooks” we lost count (listen for pre-chorus one and two, and the first chorus!). Lately (co-written with Gavin Bradley) had us enraptured as Steven delivered the plaintive lyrics of a man who fears his lover may have strayed. Listen to the awesome bridge!

Listen to the entire show here!

Adding musical interest with chord subsitutions

Have a listen to an informative and lively discussion on chord substitutions. In this show we talked about: