piano

guitar piano graphic

Learning an Instrument for Songwriting: What You Need To Know

There are many benefits to your musicianship when you learn and master playing an instrument. You increase coordination, cognitive skills that include better memory, and create a higher level of social awareness. 

The piano works as a wonderful starting point for most musicians, as it provides a good base in music theory, and it helps make identifying chords and key signatures a much easier task. But the guitar also provides an equally solid foundation for learning chords and is utilized just as frequently with songwriting. There are numerous advantages to learning and knowing how to play one of these instruments if you write songs. No matter which avenue you select, picking one of these classic instruments will undoubtedly assist and grow your songwriting abilities. 

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Neel, Michael, Ritah, Matthew, Phil, and Micah

Favourite Movie Soundtracks!

This week SongTalk welcomed our pal Matthew Reid to our studio to talk about movie soundtracks.

We chose our favourites and talked about why they made the cut and what were the runners up.

 

We talked about:

  • what are the criteria of soundtracks – are they a collection of songs from other sources, are they custom music made specifically for the film project or is there a grey area in between?
  • how soundtracks are created
  • the avant guarde composers used in soundtracks
  • Here are our selections and other items we discussed

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/nine-minutes-that-changed-the-world-1.4138404

 

 

Phil, Micah, Jeff, Ritah, Michael, and Neel

Creating Soundtracks with Jeff Alan Greenway

This week SongTalk welcomed Jeff Alan Greenway to our studio.

Greenway is a film composer, singer/songwriter and pianist from Pickering, Ontario. He has written music for film, worked as a session player, orchestrator and arranger, released his own original album “Great Expectations” and wrote the score to the international documentary The Secret Life Of Frogs, which won a Nature award at the Cannes Media and TV festival.

We talked with Jeff about:

  • his evolution from singer/songwriter to film composer
  • how to work with directors and producers
  • the workflow for creating soundtracks for other people’s projects
  • how he creates “to order”
  • how his songwriting process has changed

FB: http://www.facebook.com/jeffalangreenwaymusic
YT: http://www.youtube.com/jeffalangreenway
TW: http://www.twitter.com/jeffalangreen
SC: http://www.soundcloud.com/jeffalangreenway
Website: http://www.jeffalangreenway.com

Matthew Reid: Music Composition – Live, recorded and improvisational

This week SongTalk welcomed Matthew Reid to our studio. Matthew is a critically acclaimed, award winning composer for film, television, games and theatre. His funny songs have delighted almost a million people during his tenure as composer for Toronto’s world famous Second City comedy theatre. His comedic musical, The Second City Guide to the Symphony was has been performed by top orchestras across North America since 2014.

As a film composer, he recently won several awards as a composer collaborating with Tim Burton’s producer, Derek Frey on the multiple award-winning film, Green Lake.

Currently he’s completing the score for the 9/11 feature doc, No Responders Left Behind, constantly creating production music tracks and finding a little time to compose classical chamber music.

We talked with Matthew about:

  • being SecondCity’s musical director
  • ways to challenge yourself as a composer
  • what is involved in scoring a film
  • how to take a new approach to classical music
  • making recorded music samples sound realistic
Back row: Michael, Blair, Linda, Neel, and Phil. Front row: Ritah and Micah

This Is Spinal Tap: 35 Years Later

This week SongTalk Radio has a special episode celebrating the 35th anniversary of the classic film, “This Is Spinal Tap”. And joining us in our trip down memory lane is one of our favourite guests on the show Blair Packham. We talk about where and when we first encountered this classic cult comedy and how true it was to our own experiences in the music business (hint: very!)

On this episode, Neel, Phil, Michael and Blair talk about:

  • how the film was made
  • what has made the movie so popular many decades later
  • our favourite Spinal Tap moments
  • why this early mock-umentary was so influential
Bruce, Blair, Vanessa, Michael, and Neel

What’s a cover song anyway?

Our own Michael Proudfoot proudly stepped into the world of cover songs. He uncovered a treasure trove of examples and ideas. Have a listen as the Song Talk Radio team plus Blair Packham (The Jitters) tackles:

  • when everything was a cover
  • the difference between 45, 78, and 33 1/3 rpm records
  • professional songwriters writing for professional singers
  • How The Beatles shifted pop culture by both writing and performing their own songs
  • Jimi Hendrix covers All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan)
  • authenticity (Sarah McLachlan) and self-expression
  • Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Carole King, Leonard Cohen
  • singing someone else’s song – making it universal
  • Husker Du, Love Is All Around (Sonny Curtis)

Listen to the whole show

 

Steven Taetz sharing jazz songwriting tips

Writing Jazz Standards: Songwriting Tips with Steven Taetz

Jazz songwriter Steven Taetz returns to talk about creating new “Jazz Standards”.

Listen to the show:

Stuff we talked about:


The Great American Song Book Buy The Great American Song Book 

Charts for The Great American Songbook
A “Fake Book” with just a lead line and the charts for the songs.

 

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

Phil, Neel, Jeff, Bruce, Michael, and Vanessa

All about Modes with Jeff Alan Greenway

Composer, singer-songwriter, and piano virtuoso Jeff Alan Greenway joined us to talk about musical modes — what they are and how they are used in songs.

Jeff went through each mode and sang a well-known song live with his piano.

Listen to the whole show:

Additional resources about modes:

https://ledgernote.com/columns/music-theory/musical-modes-explained/

http://openmusictheory.com/scales2.html

http://openmusictheory.com/popRockHarmony-EverettSystem2.html

Here’s an easy to understand video that explains modes.

Here’s a list of songs for each mode that Jeff provided.

Not specifically about modes, but BBC’s History of Music in 50 Pieces podcast is excellent to learn about the development of scales, thirds, and harmonies in Western music over the centuries, and a lot more!

Linda, Neel, Bruce, Michael P, Michael Thorner, Vanessa, and Phil

Michael Thorner turns a webcast into an album

Toronto singer/songwriter Michael Thorner dropped by the studio for a chat about his music. He brought two catchy tunes from his recent webcast/album release The ehMTee Show; Don’t Let it Go and Point Edward Fair. We talked about:

The Lyrics

Don’t Let It Go

Point Edward Fair

The Links

Facebook

Soundcloud

Spotify

Get the DVD

Listen to the whole show