piano

Phil, Bruce, Jeffery, Linda, Vanessa, and Neel

Great songwriting tips from Jeffery Straker

Canadian and internationally-reaching singer/songwriter Jeffery Straker joined us to talk about his process, collaborations, and great songwriting advice.

We talked about:

  • Conservatory training vs. ear training
  • When not to give your chorus a conventional “lift”
  • Editing your song, even the main title and hook so it brings your idea to a better light
  • How to use space in your song
  • What does “prosody” mean?
  • Economy of lyrics
  • Does your song need a bridge?
  • Collaborating with Royal Wood and Lawrence Katz
  • Keeping track of and building a bank of your song ideas

We also welcome Linda Lavender who will be helping out on the tech board in the future. Thanks and welcome aboard Linda!

Listen to the show

Download the song lyrics and follow along

Beauty in the Grey

Deliver Me

Vanessa, Bruce, Michelle, Phil, and Neel

Michelle Thibodeau moves from opera to pop

Michelle Thibodeau is a pop-folk singer/songwriter from Moncton, New Brunswick, now based in Toronto. She performed live for Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber (2012) and David Foster (June 2017) as well as recently playing the leading lady “Nancy” in a professional production of Oliver the Musical. Her most recent single “Checkmate” (Oct 2016) was played nation-wide on CBC and Michelle is currently working on her third album of original music. At the age of 16, Michelle began writing songs on both guitar and piano, and 10 years later it is still her primary passion. For more information on her upcoming releases and performances in the GTA and the Maritimes, visit michellethibodeau.ca.

Download the lyrics

Checkmate

Easy Target

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Watch the live performance

The Oh Chays: the ins-and-outs of making a living as a songwriting couple

The always surprising, risk-taking, gear-shifting, soul-belting Oh Chays are beholden to no single genre. Currently writing and recording their second album, The Oh Chays are a husband and wife duo raised on trad jazz, rockabilly, gospel, and the Detroit radio of the 70’s and 80’s. Consistently wowing audiences with their versatile musicianship, songwriting, and razor-sharp wit, The Oh Chays are not to be missed live.

Since their inception in 2014, The Oh Chays have racked up an impressive list of accomplishments winning the Canada South Songwriting Competition in August 2017 for their song The Glass, competing in the 31st Annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis Tennessee, and reaching the finals of the Toronto Blues Society’s talent search with their song Big Old World.

The Oh Chays have backed friends of the show, Blair Packham and Patrick Ballantyne

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Bruce, Brandon, Belinda, Sintja, Phil, Vanessa, and Neel

Sintja Baba – songwriting with a band’s support

Multi-instrumentalist and back up vocalist Sintja Baba has been playing alongside various Toronto acts and is currently playing that role in Marlon Chaplin’s band. She started her own band THE NAIVE, where her music has taken the shape of various genres. Her EP, “Saw the Sun” is a medley of catchy upbeat hooks and mellow ballads. We talked about:

  • Jazz program at University of Toronto
  • longterm song development
  • songwriting as expression of longing
  • Brazilian music influences
  • theory versus intuition
  • keyboard as cello

Listen to the whole show here:

Saw The Sun lyrics: saw-the-sun-lyrics

Dirty Streets lyrics: dirty-streets-lyrics

Artist website:
www.thenaivemusic.com

Twitter:
www.twitter.com/sintjababa

Facebook:
www.facebook.com/thenaivemusic

YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6qOAVsw-qknKN5ZDGxqycg

SoundCloud / MySpace:
www.soundcloud.com/thenaivemusic

Neel, Raphael, Amir, Phil, Vanessa, and Bruce

Pop songwriting with Amir Brandon

Pop music singer-songwriter Amir Brandon joined us to talk about two of his upcoming songs, working with producer Thomas McKay, and the stories behind his songs.

We also talked about:

  • Collaborating with other songwriters
  • Battle Royale: grammar vs. lyric vs. meaning vs. melody
  • How to write a really long chorus
  • Chord choices and mixing up major, minor, and 7th chords
  • Last week’s show on non-verbal hooks
  • Doing cover songs on youTube
  • The competitive nature between Eddie Murphy’s and Freddie Mercury’s music careers (aka Phil’s faux-pas)
  • Narrative and longing through the seasons in Waiting for Summer

Download the lyrics for Amir’s songs Diamonds-Rain-Lyrics and Waiting-for-Summer-Lyrics.

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Sherry, Bruce, Jenny, Phil, Nicole, and Neel

Bridging classical and modern idioms with Jenny Perez

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

Listen to the show

Download the lyrics for Mr. Tinder

Watch the live performances

Connect with Jenny

http://jenniferperezmusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Jennifer-Perez-Music-1426411830986082/

Phil, Bruce, Bob, Vanessa and Neel

Bob Wiseman on pushing your songwriting envelope

Producer, composer and Blue Rodeo founder, Bob Wiseman stopped by to share tips on pushing your songwriting approach to get out of a songwriting rut.

Listen to the episode here:

Some stuff we talked about:

 

 

Joel, Phil, Carmen, Emily, and Bruce

Doin’ that Blues Thang with Emily Mac

Emily Mac is a singer-songwriter and a regular at our Songwriter’s Roundtable Meetup. She joined us with piano player Joel to perform and talk about two of her songs, Back to the Rhythm and When It’s Gone. Special guest host Carmen Toth filled in for Neel. We talked about:

  • how learning to play an instrument helps to ground your accapella writing
  • why it’s good to be the stupidest person in the room (when collaborating)
  • how songwriting is like working a muscle
  • Stevie Nicks
  • Muscle Shoals
  • Carmen’s (best ever) explanation for millennial whoops in pop songs: “You have to write lyrics that a drunk person can sing”
  • opportunuties for changes through lyrics, arrangements, and musical centres
  • why you should hold back if you’re a strong singer

Listen to the whole show:

Connect with Emily:

Website

Instagram

Twitter

youTube

Facebook

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

All About Chords with Frank Horvat

Songwriter, composer, and music teacher Frank Horvat joined us to talk about scales, the different kinds and colours of chords, and using chords as a palette for your songwriting.

We covered:

  • Intervals (2 notes) and triads (chords with 3 notes)
  • Major and minor triads and their different tonal colours
  • The hardly-ever-used diminished (or seven) chord
  • The Nashville chord numbering system
  • The tonic (I) and dominant (V) chord relationship
  • A typical blues chord progression (I-IV-I-V-IV-I)
  • Chord extensions (7th’s and 9th’s)
  • Writing from the head vs. the heart

Listen to the full show:

Useful resources while you listen to the show:

major_1st_posn
Major scale in F# (raise one fret for G major scale)
Minor scale in F# (raise one fret for G minor scale)
Minor scale in F# (raise one fret for G minor scale)
barrechordshapes
Typical chords shapes

 

chords-on-piano
Common chord types on piano
image showing the circle of 5ths
The Circle of Fifths
guitarists-picture-chord-encyclopedia
The Guitarist’s Picture Chord Encyclopedia