singer-songwriter

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.

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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

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Vanessa, Neel, Blair, Linda, Michael, and Phil

Canadian songwriters rock the nineties

Maybe you didn’t ask for it but we did it anyway – the 90’s song draft – this time with Canadian songwriters. Blair Packham sat in for a sick Bruce, Vanessa joined the gang for her song picks, and much fun was had. Of the many writers of the Great White North, here are a few highlights:

  • Alanis Morrisette
  • The Tragically Hip
  • Bruce Cockburn
  • Tal Bachman
  • The Odds

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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

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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

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Dokter Nomi – writing the pop song

What a pleasure to have Dokter Nomi back in the studio to share his hooky pop tunes. This time, one of them was produced by our very own Neel Modi. During the show we talked about:

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Dokter Nomi’s lyrics

Dokter-Nomi-Party-in-NYC-Lyrics

Fallen-Star

Bruce, Phil, Blair, Vanessa, Neel, and Linda

Rhyme-a-rama with Blair Packham!

We figured it was time to talk about rhyme; a cornerstone of songwriting. So we invited one of our favourite singer/songwriters – Blair Packham – to take a closer listen to songs with a plethora of rhymes and one with virtually none! We talked about:

  • The songwriter’s personal approach to rhyme
  • Does rhyme distract from the the emotion of the song?
  • Kinds of rhymes – rhymezone.com
  • Perfect rhymes for something certain (e.g. right/might)
  • Assonance rhymes for uncertainty or negative feelings (e.g. around/down, blood/rush)
  • Pat Pattison – how do rhymes serve the song?
  • Rhyme schemes
  • Neel’s notes on rhyming from Pat Pattison’s Songwriting course on Coursera
  • The notion of the “illusion of authenticity” – stay tuned for a future theme show with Blair!

Listen to the show

 

Download the lyrics

Simple Twist of Fate by Bob Dylan

Cry Me a River by Arthur Hamilton

You’re the Top by Cole Porter

Fast Car by Tracy Chapman

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

Listen to the show

The Lyrics

Valiant-of-Vimy

Deep-Water

Watch the live performances

 

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

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

Listen to the whole show

White-Blank-Page

Operator-Jim-Croce-Lyrics

One-More-Minute