time signature

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
Phil, Michael, Patrick, Vanessa, Linda, and Neel

Patrick Ballantyne: An album of longing

This week Song Talk welcomed Patrick Ballantyne back to our studio. Patrick is a veteran songwriter and musician who has worked with many top-selling artists such as The Trews, Meredith Shaw and Big Sugar.

On this episode, Patrick brought in a few songs from his upcoming new release so our Song Talk audience got to hear the premieres of two tracks – Vicious in Your Vanity and Beneath Your Skin.

We talked with Patrick about:

  • the origins of the songs on his new album
  • the difficulty of writing lyrics
  • his collaboration with Colin MacDonald from the Trews
  • how to organize songs for an album
  • the way lyrical inspiration changes as the songwriter ages
  • Patrick-Ballantyne-Lyrics
  • Patrick Ballantyne on WikiPedia
Vanessa, Bruce, Frank, Phil, and Michael

Frank Horvat and music for Human Rights Defenders

Award-winning and critically-acclaimed composer, songwriter, pianist, music educator and frequent Song Talk Radio guest, Frank Horvat returned to the show to talk about his latest project, The Thailand HRDs. Frank wrote 35 two-minute compositions for string quartet, where each movement was written for a Human Rights Defender in Thailand as part of photographer Luke Duggleby’s compelling photo essay., For Those Who Died Trying.

We talked about:

  • getting your music licensed for film and TV
  • how imposing creative parameters can free your writing experience
  • classical vs. modern composition and orchestration
  • using your time signature to sound like there’s no time signature

Listen to the whole show

Download the scores to follow along:

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

Listen to the show

Bruce, Hema, Neel, Frank, and Phil

Exploring non-standard time signatures & EDM with Neel Modi

Our very own Neel talks about creating non-standard time-signature based EDM music. Past guest and composer Frank Horvat co-hosted while Neel’s better half, Hema handled the social media.

Some stuff we talked about:

Listen to the show

Famous songs with odd time signatures

Neel, Etain, Vanessa, Phil, Patrick, Alon and Ivan posing

Electronic music creation with Audio Insurgency

Toronto-based virtuoso electronic music duo Audio Insurgency joined us for a second time to talk about their latest projects, including an album of inventive video game music covers.

Audio Insurgency is made up of Alon Rodovinsky and Ivan Popov. The guys previously appeared on Song Talk Radio in early 2016.

Patrick Ballantyne filled in for Bruce for this show. Thanks Patrick!

We talked about:

  • song writing vs. music creation
  • orchestral-like arrangements
  • how you know when your song is done (hint: song structure is the key)
  • the roles between Alon as composer and Ivan as producer and sound engineer
  • using a melody note outside the chord to open up a section of the song
  • ways to come up with your title for an instrumental piece
  • whether or not to change your tonal center in a dance song
  • The 440Hz vs 432Hz tuning debate

Listen to the show:

 

Neel, Phil, Jacob, Bruce, Nicole, and Janice

Jacob Moon a song writing star

With 10 albums over a 20-year career, Canadian singer/songwriter/guitarist Jacob Moon dropped into the studio to share a wealth of helpful tips and clear insights. “Live a Little” is a truly exceptional tune, a perfect marriage of lyrics, melody, theme and variation.  “Is That All You Got” is a gutsy rocker that looks at calamity with defiance and a “bring it on” attitude. The hour just flew by as we discussed –

  • live performance looping
  • putting cover songs on YouTube
  • social media
  • how to reharmonize your chords using the same melody
  • the influence on Jacob of songwriters Paul Simon, Ron Sexsmith, Joni Mitchell, and Jackson Brown
  • the benefits of writing a song using only a bass guitar (or the bass notes on piano)
  • open (alternate) tunings including the ever-popular DADGAD
  • how a great song requires hard work and lots of rewrites

Listen to the whole show

Check out Jacob Moon’s engaging and heartfelt performances

Talkin ’bout song structures

Bruce, Neel, Phil and Janice spent most of an hour on the subject of song structures with 4 different examples. We talked about:

  • the prologue verse (I Left my Heart in San Francisco)
  • writing for musical theatre (My Funny Valentine)
  • the connection between segment style and lyrical content (Band on the Run)
  • Sloan’s song with its many sections and its Beatles influence (Fading into Obscurity)

All in all, a fun and informative show. Thanks for the tweets Tony!

Further Reading:

Arranging Songs: How to Put the Parts Together

OITC with the team

Get loaded on songwriting ammo with One in the Chamber

One in the Chamber (Mike Baise – vocals, rhythm guitar, Cecil Eugene – lead guitar, vocals, Christian Dotto – bass, Gerrod Harris – percussion) join us to discuss their songwriting process as a band.  We talked about:

  • bringing a song to the band to be fleshed out
  • singing lead vocals with lyrics written by a bandmate
  • to be or not to be wordy
  • abstract lyrics
  • rock and roll

With influences streaming in from all eras of rock, One In The Chamber is a unique, modern rock outfit. Driven by roaring vocals, slinky guitar work, and fueled by driving bass lines and tight, deep grooves, One In The Chamber are able to bring together elements from the 60’s to present day into one tasteful flavour. Hailing from Mississauga, Markham, and Richmond Hill, One In The Chamber can proudly call Toronto and the surrounding cities home, and are excited to perform at your next big event. Be it Friday night in the club, a summer festival, or your block party. Drawing inspiration from the past, while keeping things fresh, One In The Chamber is your new favorite band.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oitcband/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/oitcband

Instagram: https://instagram.com/oneinthechamberofficial/

Exploring the art-rock strangeness that could only be Frank Horvat

Frank dropped by Song Talk Radio again, this time with songs from his recent release, Strange Machine.  We talked about:

  • using wikiloops for free backing tracks
  • unconventional time signatures, and unusual uses of 4/4
  • the differences between art songs and pop songs
  • a modern twist on the protest song
  • Frank’s experimental writing process using Logic

Listen to the show:

About Frank Horvat

With a Broken Social Scene-like attitude, Toronto’s ambient-edged art rock band, The Frank Horvat Band, uses a colourful canvas to create songs for a dynamic and intoxicating aural experience. Their latest album, Strange Machine, was crafted more like a playlist than an album with 10 songs, 5 singers and 13 musicians taking part. But the constants were producer Jean Martin who was part of the team for Tanya Tagaq’s 2014 Polaris win, and songwriter and pianist, Frank Horvat, with his own brand of protest songs.

Frank’s links