ideas

Vanessa, Bruce, Frank, Phil, and Michael

Frank Horvat and music for Human Rights Defenders

Award-winning and critically-acclaimed composer, songwriter, pianist, music educator and frequent Song Talk Radio guest, Frank Horvat returned to the show to talk about his latest project, The Thailand HRDs. Frank wrote 35 two-minute compositions for string quartet, where each movement was written for a Human Rights Defender in Thailand as part of photographer Luke Duggleby’s compelling photo essay., For Those Who Died Trying.

We talked about:

  • getting your music licensed for film and TV
  • how imposing creative parameters can free your writing experience
  • classical vs. modern composition and orchestration
  • using your time signature to sound like there’s no time signature

Listen to the whole show

Download the scores to follow along:

The 1st Annual Holiday Gift Guide: Great Gifts for Songwriters

With the holiday season just around the corner, we decided to help you out with some great gift ideas for songwriters and musicians in your life. We put them into four categories:

  1. Stocking Stuffers ( 0 – $15)
  2. Small Gifts ($15 – $100)
  3. Good Gifts ($100 – $300)
  4. WOW! Gifts ($300+) (the, gee if I only had a super-generous someone who had money to burn…)

Our suggestions ran the gamut from a cool Christmas tree ornament (under $15) to a Bob Dylan model Gibson guitar (WAY over $300).

So have a listen. It’ll make your holiday shopping a happier tune.

Listen to the whole show

 

Neel, Mike MacInnes, Michael Proudfoot, Vanessa, Linda, Bruce, and Phil

5-Year Anniversary Spectacular!

For our 5-year anniversary, we visited moments past and our favourite bits. Song Talk Radio Superfan Mike MacInnes joined us (for the 5th time!)

Listen to the show

Some of our favourite theme shows:

Some of our favourite guest shows:

We talked about:

  • How to write lyrics that are specific but open enough to allow the listener in
  • The distance between being inspired to write a song and developing it with craft
  • What the heck is polytonality?
  • We’ve done 47 theme shows in that last five years! Thanks to Mike MacInnes for the research
  • The growing Song Talk Radio Team

Eric Walker, jazz/pop/blues fusion

Eric Walker is a singer/songwriter from Toronto and a member of the blakeley walker band. He was a founding member of the Toronto Songwriters Association which has met the second Saturday of the month for the past 17 years. We talked about:

  • playing Harry Belafonte songs on the ukulele
  • writing a song with 47 chords
  • master songwriting teacher Andy Krehm
  • composition teacher Gordon Dalimont
  • SONG – “Umbrella” – looking back at the beginnings of a relationship
  • SONG – “Renovations” – building and renovating love
  • short chorus – good or bad?
  • how the Toronto Songwriters Association events work

Listen to the whole show

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

Vanessa, Phil, Michael, Norm, Sherry, and Bruce

Harpin’ Norm: songwriting with a harmonica

Virtuoso harmonica player and singer-songwriter Harpin’ Norm Lucien joined us to talk about two of his songs and why you need many, many harmonicas, ideally on a Batman-style utility belt. Sherry Jacoby filled in for Neel – thanks Sherry! We talked about:

  • how to write simple songs that are also nuanced and have substance
  • starting your songs with the chorus or the title
  • how to incorporate sing-alongs in your performances
  • our How to Approach the Media episode

Listen to the whole show:

Download the lyrics for I Wish I was the Strongest Man and Strong Enough for Love

Adi, Bruce, Linda, and Neel

Songs about mental health

It was Canadian Mental Health Week‘s 66th year and we thought we’d put a spotlight on songs that talk about the challenges of maintaining mental health.

This year’s hashtag is #getloud.

For this special show, we had guest host Adi Aman from Beige Shelter, and four songs that talk about mental health.

We talked about:

  • Beige Shelter’s mental health advocacy song, Light Your Way
  • Song Meanings, a great site to see others interpretations of popular songs
  • suicide
  • addiction
  • the role of music and art in mental health
  • Loving Vincent
  • Oliver Sacks and his work with Alzheimer patients and the power of music

Listen to the show

Download the lyrics for the show to follow along:

The songs

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

Phil, Neel, Vanessa, and Bruce

The 2017 Year End Wrap-Up Show!

Join the gang as we go over our favourite bits of the last year and lots more stuff!

We talked about:

Listen to the show:

Neel, Bruce, Patrick, Phil, Vanessa, and Anthony

Patrick Ballantyne’s Canadian song picks

Popular guest co-host and guest on Song Talk Radio, Patrick Ballantyne dropped by the studio to share two of his favourite Canadian songs. “Help Me” by Joni Mitchell is a great example of her unique combination of melody, structure, and lyrics to evoke a casual conversational tone. Includes a great instrumental hook. Patrick’s other pick was a song by Ian and Sylvia, “The French Girl”, in a very unusual version recorded by Gene Clark. As we discussed the tunes, we talked about:

  • Patrick’s new album – “Calendar”
  • Hearing songs of yearning at the age of 13
  • Joni Mitchell’s unique vocal style
  • adding a 2/4 bar in a 4/4 song
  • When the root chord is a 7, it creates tension
  • Led Zeppelin

Listen to the show