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!
The very talented singer-songwriter and improvisational artist Rachel Raditz brought one song to Song Talk Radio that she had written previously. The other she made up on the spot in the middle of the program. “Back in Hali” about a friendship that might be more set in Halifax had an unconventional structure and a melody that grabbed us by the ears. Rachel’s powerful and original voice brought made the song engaging throughout. Her second song featured completely improvised lyrics, melodies, and harmonies, was sung acappella using a loop device to surprising and entertaining effect.
Jenny Perez is a classically trained pianist and vocalist. She’s recently begun her journey as a singer-songwriter, bringing her classic flavours to her modern songwriting. For this show, Jenny was accompanied by Sherry Jacoby on guitar and backup vocals.
We talked about:
the difference between classical and modern pop singing
the learning your technique debate: how much technique is too much?
going from the major to the minor on the same letter (eg. G-major to G-minor) in your chord progression
gettin’ all free and easy with your tempo
how much perfect rhyming can you stand before its gets too cheesy? Check out rhymezone.com
the guys argued over the pros and cons of having deliberately provocative lyrics
To celebrate Pride in Toronto this week, we brought in five LGBTQ-themed songs to play and talk about. The songs spanned from 1983 to 2017, and included a diverse range of songwriters and topics. Musical book writer Stephen Witkin joined us for the show. Special thank you’s to Hema for handling our social media, and @SharonRose2012 for tweeting in!
We talked about:
Bruce and Stephen’s own coming-out stories
Heavy-handed vs. light and fun approach with the “message” in LGBTQ-themed songs
Acceptance of LGBTQ songwriters and songs in popular culture
Universal vs. LGBTQ-specific messages in the songs
Pop singer-songwriter Lora Ryan joined us with her guitarist Andrew Scott to share two songs and talk about her songwriting process.
Singer/songwriter Lora Ryan is poised to make some noise in the independent music scene. Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, she recently relocated to the Hollywood of Canada: Toronto, Ontario. Lora draws on personal experience to pen her lyrics, which can only be described as original and emotionally driven, sometimes angry, often angst-ridden, but always heartfelt and honest. “My world revolves around music,” she emphasizes.
We talked about:
writing poems with melodies = songs
using open mics, instagram and facebook for networking
articulating the end consonants of your words
finding the right tempo when performing live
moving your story forward through the verses
why you should have a great opening line
the relationship with your producer as a co-songwriter
Popular guest co-host and guest on Song Talk Radio, Patrick Ballantyne dropped by the studio to share two of his well-crafted songs. “Where Things Used to Be” is great example of the skillful combination of melody, structure, and lyrics to evoke a strong feeling of longing in the listener. Listen to the bridge in particular and the completely surprising chord on the word “dreams”. Patrick’s song “Plans” starts with a great line, “In California there are dates in the trees…” and connects to “dates on my calendar”. The message of a man who sees that he must change is both poignant and honest. As we discussed the tunes, we talked about:
Having a manager
How tasty an E flat chord can be in the key of G
The use of “pause” in songwriting
Co-writing and collaboration
Ticket sales and merchandise (how to make money in music)
Braeden Mitchell returned to Song Talk Radio for his third visit and contributed to a very lively and informative discussion of songwriting and recording. He shared two songs with us, Glory Days and Everyday Girl, both from his upcoming EP release. We talked about:
moving from a pop-rock sound to a folk-country style
a producer’s influence on approach, arrangements, structure, and more
why perform songs in a club to “test-drive” them before recording
For our Valentine’s Day special, each member of the Song Talk Radio team brought a favourite love song too woo our listeners. All the songs were very different, and we each had a different take on what makes a good love song:
Bruce appreciates authentic, honest expressions of love
Neel likes it when there’s a nuanced message
Vanessa looks for a specific emotional response in the listener
Etain likes sincere and from the heart love songs that you can dance to
Phil likes honesty and originality in his “happy” love songs, and
favourite twitter follower of the show, Sharon (@SharonRose2012), said “Love songs should make you remember what it’s like to be in love.”
We also talked out:
writing songs from a gay perspective
modern songwriting melodies
ska music vs. reggae
verse / refrain / B section song structure
Putting a twist on the default “I love you” message
Listen to the whole show:
Check out the love songs we love to love:
Here’s the team’s top picks, and even some great love songs that didn’t make it to show!
Bruce’s pick for the show was a song written by a gay songwriter:
And Bruce’s runner-up pick, a classic love song:
Etain’s pick for the show was a quirky and cheeky 80’s song:
Neel’s pick was an earnest and upbeat, catchy love song with a twist:
and Neel’s second choice (not featured on the show) was a quirky duet about loving in the biggest way possible:
Phil chose the first song he ever heard when he realized “that’s a great song”:
Phil also considered a beautiful new wave song for the show:
Vanessa brought a gorgeous, folky ballad by Jewel:
She also considered a collaboration song by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
And our twitter followers contributed to the conversation with their favourites: