rhymes

Bruce, Vanessa, Linda, Rebecca, Nick, Frank, and Neel

Songwriting with a purpose; Rebecca Lappa

Part way through her cross-country tour which began in her hometown of Edmonton, Alberta, singer/songwriter Rebecca Lappa stopped in at the Song Talk Radio studio to share two original songs. She was accompanied on piano by the talented musician Nick Samoil. We talked about:

  • releasing your first album at the age of 12
  • FACTOR grants
  • Canada’s Music Incubator
  • metaphor list as a writing tool
  • co-writes
  • the story is the thing
  • a song about a Vimy Ridge hero
  • 1st or 2nd person in a song

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The Lyrics

Valiant-of-Vimy

Deep-Water

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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?

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Robert-Priest-Lyrics

Watch the live performances

Vanessa, Phil, Linda, Bruce, and Neel

How to write a break-up song

True to form for Song Talk Radio, the day before Valentine’s Day seemed a good day to talk about break-up songs. So Phil brought “Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)” by Jim Croce, Neel chose “One More Minute” by “Weird Al” Yankovic, Bruce performed a new original tune “I Don’t Love You Anymore”, and Vanessa selected “White Blank Page” by the band Mumford & Sons. We talked about:

  • conflict in break up songs
  • break up song experts – The Smiths, Jann Arden, Morrissey
  • Operator” chord progression – I, III, IV, V (Nashville numbering system), finger-picking, guitar riff
  • One More Minute” – original song in a doo-wop style, one idea repeated getting more extreme, a bridge might have helped
  • “I Don’t Love You…” – Key of E, lyric tune-up to bring clarity, needs a bridge?, Neel finds the word “hating” too harsh
  • White Blank Page” – maximum drama through arrangement, a religious song?, abstract songs let the listener interpret
  • remembering phone numbers in the age of the cell phone

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White-Blank-Page

Operator-Jim-Croce-Lyrics

One-More-Minute

Phil, Bruce, Gravely James (Chris), Vanessa. Linda, and Neel

Gravely James: Rockin’ the blues with soul

Blues-rock-soul singer-songwriter Gravely James shares his journey from a trumpet-playing kid to a kickin’ singer-songwriter. He also treated us to two incredibly energetic performances of his songs. We talked about:

Download the lyrics for Farewell Anita and Snapchat Lady

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Watch the live performances

Neel, Phil, Vanessa, Bruce, and Anthony

Creating songs when you have an unconventional singing voice

You don’t necessarily need to have a fantastic voice to write or even perform songs well. We looked at some of our favorite songwriters with unusual voices and how they did it.

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We talked about

 

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

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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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Blair, Phil, Neel, Vanessa, and Bruce

Blair Packham and two of his favourite songs

For this special episode, good friend of the show Blair Packham (frontman of The Jitters, co-creator of Song Studio), brought in two of his favourite songs and together we dove deep into each song. We talked about:

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The Songs

 

Phil, Bruce, Brighid, Carmen and Vanessa

Brighid Fry: Songwriting with multiple collaborators

Teenaged singer-songwriter Brighid Fry joins us to talk about her many collaborations and solo songwriting processes. Singer-songwriter Carmen Toth filled in for Neel – thanks Carmen! We talked about:

  • the challenges of being a teenaged singer-songwriter
  • collaborating in different bands
  • songs written for placement in TV, movies, etc
  • are perfect rhymes overrated?
  • Regina Spektor
  • how to write the hook in a song

Download the lyrics for Cool-Cruel and Alarm

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