Old 05-08-2013, 06:34 AM   #81
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Remember: the question is "Why do I think that in every creative process there have to be limitations, also known as rules".
You seem to be ignoring the fact that our "acceptable" harmonic structures of today evolved,and they don't obey the narrower rules or limitations of history.
Tunes that we consider to be within the boundaries of "the acceptable rules" would have been considered unpleasant years ago.
In the same way,folk tunes or rhythms of unfamiliar cultures can seem odd and "unmusical".

I understand the point you're making (and that 99% of "acceptable music" falls within "the rules" so far),but you only have to look at the history of music and harmony to see that what are currently accepted as limits will be surpassed in the future - by people who continue to explore and to "break" the rules.

The same applies to structure - where there may be a "story" that you don't understand because the coherence isn't apparent for now.
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:22 AM   #82
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Actually last saturday: a friend of mine (I hope he doesn't read this ) played his current live show. Him with a laptop for audio, a woman with a laptop for the visuals. It began with noise. White noise. After 5 minutes, pink noise was added. The girl on the video lappie didn't move a finger. Never. He did sparingly. It went on like that for almost 1 hour.
Not every attempt to convey ideas is successful - but that doesn't mean it should't be attempted.
Go round the pubs of any city on a saturday night,and you'll hear lots of equally unsatisfactory attempts made at entertainment by people playing cover versions of songs which do fit your rules.

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But it's 2013 – and there is no genius in declaring something genius anymore. Just like you can't declare something "art" because you declare yourself an "artist" anymore. And you can't declare some notes and chords "a song" because you declare yourself "a songwriter".
Those times are over. I really do hope we all know that! Because there is more to it. We all should have developed criteria (or know that these criteria exist) in order to distinct "legit" art from "bad" art.*
That said, my criteria are based on the codes used and sent out by an artist, the intersection with my knowledge and taste, and last but not least his personality. Basically they could be described as "a condensed insight in the artist's past, present and future, communicated with essential craftmanship" more or less.

How much of modern music does strike you as "art"?
Personally speaking,I'd put that figure at well below 1%.
Much of what's considered music is repitition of "rules".
Sometimes there'll be music I just "don't get" - that's fine,and it's no worse than any chart show.
That means that,by my calculations,people who follow the rules are about as unlikely to produce art as someone with a laptop fiddling with white and pink noise.
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:24 AM   #83
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@Sound asleep, msore:

It is indeed not easy, I have to admit (It actually would be easier in German, because we have far more specific terms for most of the unclear concepts)

Nowhere I said "everything" was popular music. Classical is not "popular", neither are free jazz, avantgarde and experimental music, not even a hybrid would be valid, because those approaches are too disparate. Though each form has their own rules, too! Otherwise it wouldn't be possible to communicate with the "receiver"!

I was talking about "what is a song", and that songs don't exist outside a popular genre. Now please allow me one last attempt, promised Remember: the question is "Why do I think that in every creative process there have to be limitations, also known as rules"....


* please ask again if you don't understand why, I've been sitting here much too long already
beingmf. I think after someone reads through the semantic quibbling above (and maybe that is unavoidable in questions like this) there is not as much 'distinction' between what you and I are saying as it first seemed.

On the other hand, there are many MORE distinctions between types of music than you seem to be willing to make. And many distinctions - mostly flexible and evolving ones - between the kinds of 'rules' people follow, even in the same genre.
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:27 AM   #84
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people who follow the rules are about as unlikely to produce art as someone with a laptop fiddling with white and pink noise.
I agree with that.

If beingmf is a purveyor of surprise in his music, then I am confident he could provide us with examples of how he broke or changed or mixed up rules in the middle of writing a "song".

Consider the great popular (and some no so) songs listed in the thread about the greatest rock song ever. Without exception, the composition of these songs DID involve rule-breaking or rule-changing.
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:34 AM   #85
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Read Bourdieu "Distinction", "Neutralisation and the universe of possibilities" (my translation In the German edition around page 95). It's all laid out in splendid clarity.
I went downstairs and could not find my old copy of Bourdieu's Language and Symbolic Power [highly recommended to the patient inquirer], but I went to Wikipedia and found this statement, which I think applies powerfully to songwriting, and musical composition.

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Bourdieu insists on the importance of a reflexive sociology in which sociologists must at all times conduct their research with conscious attention to the effects of their own position, their own set of internalized structures, and how these are likely to distort or prejudice their objectivity. The sociologist, according to Bourdieu, must engage in a "sociology of sociology" so as not to unwittingly attribute to the object of observation the characteristics of the subject. She/he ought to conduct their research with one eye continually reflecting back upon their own habitus, their dispositions learned through long social and institutional training.
That is, the best songwriters consider their own patterns of songwriting in the process of writing songs. And that process will twist "rules" around.
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Old 05-08-2013, 11:16 AM   #86
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@Sound asleep, msore:

It is indeed not easy, I have to admit (It actually would be easier in German, because we have far more specific terms for most of the unclear concepts)

Nowhere I said "everything" was popular music. Classical is not "popular", neither are free jazz, avantgarde and experimental music, not even a hybrid would be valid, because those approaches are too disparate. Though each form has their own rules, too! Otherwise it wouldn't be possible to communicate with the "receiver"!

I was talking about "what is a song", and that songs don't exist outside a popular genre. Now please allow me one last attempt, promised Remember: the question is "Why do I think that in every creative process there have to be limitations, also known as rules".

As I tried to explain above, almost all of msore's examples are "popular songs", because they are either meant to be memorable, easy to digest or they emerge from a cultural background where tradition is more prevalent than innovation.

OTOH there are many "popular" genres whose "products" can't be called songs. Film scores, background music, ambient, techno spring to mind.
Techno is all about rhythm and sound (coincidentally (?) the name of one the most notable acts in this genre). Techno tracks (nobody would ever call them songs), as the name already implies, cannot be played with an acoustic drumset, a piano, a double bass, and no further processing, let alone amplification.
[There are attempts to do exactly that, but where's the point? The genre originated from the "liberation from the means of production", the democratization of the "studio system" and major label politics. You didn't need Sigma Sound and the Philly Strings any longer in order to produce energetic disco music. Alone. And the best of all – you could simply leave out all the cheesy "song-like" refrains and strip the track down to its basics: a bass line that aimed directly to your stomach, not your brain, raw, sexy and perfectly tailored drum machine beats and some chord changes that led nowhere. Meaning the physical and spiritual experience on the dancefloor seemed to be never ending.]

Ambient tracks (you can't play them with any other sound than the exact one used in the final piece) seems to be a genre where total freedom is allowed, no, even requested. Without a doubt, Brian Eno is not only one of the originators, but still the untouchable Leitfigur. For most of the recent compositions he limited himself to ONE synthesizer. Because he knows very well that a) total freedom is not possible b) limitation makes you search for the inherent boundaries (> innovation / approximation of freedom / fun / surprising).

One artist I like very much is Matthew Herbert. He puts so many rules and limitations upon his own creative process, it's not even funny. One of his last compositions was made out of a 10 second audio snippet of a bombardment in Libya. No other source was allowed. Does his music sound "limited" or "popular" or "simple" or "cheap" or "predictable"?

I don't know about you guys' background. I've studied screenwriting – and no matter how hard I've tried to like or respect a movie without a "story" (of any kind whatsoever), it isn't possible. Because the reception patterns of "film" are clear. Anything else is "a deliberate deconstruction of a movie for the sake of breaking taboos or playing mind games". It's a theoretical movie. It is NOT SATISFYING. Why, except for provoking, should anyone be proud of his unsatisfying works of art? There is of course a lot of theoretical music – but the question is: does it have to be heard?

Actually last saturday: a friend of mine (I hope he doesn't read this ) played his current live show. Him with a laptop for audio, a woman with a laptop for the visuals. It began with noise. White noise. After 5 minutes, pink noise was added. The girl on the video lappie didn't move a finger. Never. He did sparingly. It went on like that for almost 1 hour.
First of all, you could have done that 1955, maybe 1965, and it would have provoked a scandal and all the beatniks would have said "This is the music of the future!".

But it's 2013 – and there is no genius in declaring something genius anymore. Just like you can't declare something "art" because you declare yourself an "artist" anymore. And you can't declare some notes and chords "a song" because you declare yourself "a songwriter".
Those times are over. I really do hope we all know that! Because there is more to it. We all should have developed criteria (or know that these criteria exist) in order to distinct "legit" art from "bad" art.*
That said, my criteria are based on the codes used and sent out by an artist, the intersection with my knowledge and taste, and last but not least his personality. Basically they could be described as "a condensed insight in the artist's past, present and future, communicated with essential craftmanship" more or less.

Read Bourdieu "Distinction", "Neutralisation and the universe of possibilities" (my translation In the German edition around page 95). It's all laid out in splendid clarity.

Curious question: do I come across as the purveyor of mainstream easy-to-digest cliché music??? Hm... In real life, my musical approaches are mostly considered "unexpected" and "different"...

* please ask again if you don't understand why, I've been sitting here much too long already
I see, to me, song always meant just a piece of music. But wikipedia seems to think that "song" is music that is sung to at least some extent. But, even with that definition, you have to admit that there is much music that is sung, that is not popular music.

Rules, and limitations, that you impose on yourself, on your own music, such as limiting your tools, or you sound source, or what have you, is not the same thing as "rules of music".
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Old 05-08-2013, 11:27 AM   #87
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Not every attempt to convey ideas is successful - but that doesn't mean it should't be attempted.
Go round the pubs of any city on a saturday night,and you'll hear lots of equally unsatisfactory attempts made at entertainment by people playing cover versions of songs which do fit your rules.




How much of modern music does strike you as "art"?
Personally speaking,I'd put that figure at well below 1%.
Much of what's considered music is repitition of "rules".
Sometimes there'll be music I just "don't get" - that's fine,and it's no worse than any chart show.
That means that,by my calculations,people who follow the rules are about as unlikely to produce art as someone with a laptop fiddling with white and pink noise.
I don't know what percentage I would put it at, I mean, probably the percentage would be less high in popular stuff, than in struggling stuff that hasn't been very accepted by people, but to me, there are 2 categories of music, and most other things that involve creating something.

In music, it is a distinction between artist, and entertainer, in many other things, it is craftsman, and artist.

To me, what makes the difference between an artist, and an entertainer, is the intent.

To me, an artist creates for the sake of art, for a message, for the "beauty" of the thing, to create something that holds meaning for them, for the sake of creating it.

A craftsman, or entertainer, creates to satisfy a need, or a demand. Creating for others, or for a purpose other than just art, such as a chair for sitting, is not necessarily art. If it is designed just for sitting, it is not art, if it is designed for need, to fit a price point, or something like that, it is not art. But, if a chair is created as an artistic symbol, or just the creator being free, making a chair they think would be awesome, without regard for how much it would sell, then it is art.

I'm not putting down, or scoffing at entertainers or craftsmen though. I think they are people with a job, like everyone else, except theirs is probably quite a bit cooler than most others.

But still, there is a distinction there, between artist and entertainer. It is not in content or anything, nor if it is indeed popular or not. One artist, might be like tupac, sending out a message, and then others might follow suit trying to imitate the same sort of thing because it sells. They might be similar in content, and they might be similar in sound, but one is art, and the other is a song crafted for entertainment purposes.
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Old 05-08-2013, 03:36 PM   #88
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To me, what makes the difference between an artist, and an entertainer, is the intent.
Absolutely – that's what I wanted to say with "the artist's personality". Damn language barrier
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Old 05-08-2013, 03:58 PM   #89
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If beingmf is a purveyor of surprise in his music, then I am confident he could provide us with examples of how he broke or changed or mixed up rules in the middle of writing a "song".
I am Yes, definitely. But I'm not sure if you would understand my "codes". They often play with the expectations in a genre.
One remarkable thing though: the "hit" of the pop band, in which I sing and write 100% of the songs, is a 6/8 verse and a totally unexpected 4/4 chorus in a different tempo, plus the harmonic structure of the verse is not really predictable at all. Let alone the "bridge". Yet it all sounds totally familiar and went kind of "popular", although there's only a handful of people who have a listening copy. It's fun to watch that process – suddenly somehow it appears on mix CDs by DJs from a totally different part of the country and so on...

And I have no idea why exactly this tune, and not the others, which I personally like just as much.

EDIT: just found an essay again which I liked very much the first time I read it: http://insomnia.ac/essays/the_conspiracy_of_art/
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Old 05-08-2013, 06:55 PM   #90
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I am Yes, definitely. But I'm not sure if you would understand my "codes". They often play with the expectations in a genre.
One remarkable thing though: the "hit" of the pop band, in which I sing and write 100% of the songs, is a 6/8 verse and a totally unexpected 4/4 chorus in a different tempo, plus the harmonic structure of the verse is not really predictable at all. Let alone the "bridge". Yet it all sounds totally familiar and went kind of "popular", although there's only a handful of people who have a listening copy. It's fun to watch that process – suddenly somehow it appears on mix CDs by DJs from a totally different part of the country and so on...

And I have no idea why exactly this tune, and not the others, which I personally like just as much.

EDIT: just found an essay again which I liked very much the first time I read it: http://insomnia.ac/essays/the_conspiracy_of_art/
I think there is a misconception with music, popular music, that it must be kind of "predictable", or common, suited maybe for simple people that don't understand music, and is easy to make.

I don't find this the case. There needs to be some sort of "predictability", to some extent, sure, but i think that for music to be popular, it needs to be a bit unpredictable, fresh, though it flows so nicely, that one idea nearly introduces the next one, which can give some of the familiarity. But even that, when played with, when the unexpected comes, it is actually very nice. I love music when you think it will go one way, and then it goes another, and where it went instead, is very nice.

To me, music is like comedy. A joke needs to have an unpredictable punchline, it needs to be fresh, and new, and unexpected. If you have heard the punchline before, it won't be funny, if the punchline is too predictable, it won't be funny. But, unpredictable is not enough.

If you introduce some idea, on your build up, and then just blurt out some unexpected punchline, that doesn't really make sense, it being unexpected, doesn't make it funny.

Music is like this. If it is too bland, and common, it is uninteresting. It is not enough that the notes "work" a computer program can't churn out hit song, after hit song, even though you can program into it any sort of rules you could imagine.

It is not enough though, to be unexpected, if your music is just not to the norm, follows some given set of rules, but is awkward or what have you, then it won't be well received. to me, that is not good music. Some people might like it, and find it just a refined taste for connoisseurs, because it follows some set of rules, that you must be well versed in theory to recognize, but it won't be popular.

There is some intangible quality about music that makes it good. It needs to be fresh, and unexpected, and yet.. well, good. Just like a joke needs to be fresh and unexpected, and funny, whatever funny is. It would be hard to write rules about what funny is, but you could easily go and write some guidelines for jokes, some tendencies, and you could call those "rules" also.

But to me, good music, or funny jokes, are not tarnished, by sharing some similarities with, even a large number, of other jokes, or music. They are not tarnished by how simple or complex they are either, how deep or shallow they are, they can only be judged, by funny, or "good music" I guess, musical, for lack of a better word.


I feel you about the language barrier, at least german resembles english to some small degree. But thinking or speaking in a language that is not your primary one is tough. I'm quite fluent in french, and even then, my ideas are much better expressed in english.

Your grammar in writing though, is very good, I would never have guessed that it is not your native tongue from that.
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:41 AM   #91
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Rules, and limitations, that you impose on yourself, on your own music, such as limiting your tools, or you sound source, or what have you, is not the same thing as "rules of music".
Yes they are. They are the same KINDS of rules, although of course not exactly the same exact rule. They are conventions, patterns of behavior, models of how to get something done.
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:42 AM   #92
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To me, music is like comedy. A joke needs to have an unpredictable punchline, it needs to be fresh, and new, and unexpected. If you have heard the punchline before, it won't be funny, if the punchline is too predictable, it won't be funny. But, unpredictable is not enough.

If you introduce some idea, on your build up, and then just blurt out some unexpected punchline, that doesn't really make sense, it being unexpected, doesn't make it funny.

Music is like this.
Unless ... hmm ... it is music of a different kind, by and for people different from you.
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Old 05-09-2013, 08:30 AM   #93
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I am Yes, definitely. But I'm not sure if you would understand my "codes". They often play with the expectations in a genre.
...

EDIT: just found an essay again which I liked very much the first time I read it: http://insomnia.ac/essays/the_conspiracy_of_art/
I just read this in the Baudrillard essay you linked to:

Quote:
Both, however, corresponded to the will to crack the secret of desire and the secret of the object. Up until the disappearance of these two powerful configurations -- the scene of desire, the scene of illusion -- in favor of the same transsexual, transaesthetic obscenity, the obscenity of visibility, the relentless transparency of all things.
Having everything spelled out, making everything follow clear rules, forcing your writing to mimic the genre, and being artistically consistent -

all that

is pornographic.
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Old 05-09-2013, 09:47 AM   #94
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Yes they are. They are the same KINDS of rules, although of course not exactly the same exact rule. They are conventions, patterns of behavior, models of how to get something done.
Rules of music theory, as in general rules of music in general, is different from rules you apply to a specific work, such as the sources of sound you choose to use, are different, in that one is a set or rules you imposed for a specific work, for a specific purpose, and the others are rules about music in general.

They are different. By definition.
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Old 05-09-2013, 09:50 AM   #95
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Unless ... hmm ... it is music of a different kind, by and for people different from you.
Some jokes i might not find funny, while others do, but that doesn't change what funny is, that is caused by what people perceive, and whether or not they find it funny. For instance, a punchline that seems predictable to me, might seem very funny to someone else.

Funny is still funny. No matter what, i think it needs to have a certain effect on people, but whether or not it does have that effect on a given individual, depends on the individual.
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Old 05-11-2013, 04:37 PM   #96
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What methods do you use for writing lyrics?

Keep turning over ideas until I come up with something that is especially compelling, vivid, musical, or clever. Then try to develop that into a narrative progression with a beginning, middle, and end, or else into a conceptual framework that has a sense of development. Or sometimes, just think of cool things that rhyme.

Is there a particular form you use? (eg. ABAB/AABA) (ABAB being a Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus structure)

I try to follow the "one repetition, one reprise" rule, on both a small scale and a large scale: repeating anything once is good, repeating it two or three times is lazy, repeating it more is outright boring. And any good idea can be resurrected once, later in the piece, but doing it over and over is dumb and boring.

Also, songs should ideally have some sense of development and conclusion. Simply repeating the same structure over and over until you run out of lyrics is usually suboptimal.

So, for example, acceptable forms (on either a large or small scale) might include:

- ABABCAB
- AABBAB
- ABCBABCBA

... and so on. Bad forms might include:

- ABABABAB...
- AABBAABBAABB...

Is there a certain process you go through when writing lyrics? What is it?

Writing lyrics is not the same as writing poetry. A song lyric absolutely needs some kind of "hook", some memorable, singable, or clever line/concept that identifies the concept to people who have not memorized the entire lyric.

So, for example, a line such as "Getting paid, minimum rage" could be the basis for a good song, but "I wish I made more money" is much harder to work with, unless it is set to an exceptional melody. There has to be something vivid, clever, memorable... ideally there is a snappy chorus lyric that also becomes the name of the song... "Attack of the peacekeepers" is much better than "Are we really achieving our objectives through military force?"

Ideally, I always want some sense of beginning, middle, and end. The third verse should reflect a more developed conceptualization than the first. That tends to be easiest and best when there is a bona-fide story, but even abstract lyrics should endeavor to go from simpler to more nuanced concepts, as the song progresses.

Where do you find inspiration for writing lyrics?

Everywhere. Shakespeare is handy, when in doubt.

Are there any people/writers who have influenced you? Who are they?

Everything that has ever happened to you is an influence, from your mother's tit to stepping on a lego. Writers who have come before show us different ways of structuring thoughts and telling compelling stories. Copying them is a quick path to being second-rate, and nobody anywhere ever bought a concert ticket or a CD because the artist was "almost as good as" the Beatles or John Coltrane or Chumbawumba: they bought the record they wanted, not the one that was "similar" to it.

What kind of things do you write about? Why?

Things that are vivid, compelling, and emotionally affecting. Duh.

What do you do about writer’s block? Tips?

Sit your ass down and keep writing bad stuff until something good comes along. One does not write a "moonlight sonata" by staring at the moon until a complex polyphonic symphonic score appears in one's head, complete with multiple themes in complementary keys, plus accompaniment and three-part development section... You get a whiff of an idea and then apply ass to chair and pen to paper for a long time, throw most of it away, and keep working until something comes together that starts to sound good. And hopefully, it sounds a little bit like moonlight, but that's optional.

What comes first? The music or the words?

Assuming you are writing a "song", neither is worth a damn until you have both. A song is a lyric set to melody. A great bit of writing that is un-sing-able is something different from a song. A brilliant melody is likewise not the same as a song.

Writing instrumental or wordless music is as different from songwriting as sculpture is from architecture.

Do you write the music yourself or with a band/other collaboraters?

Whatever works.

Where do you start? (With The Beat (Drums)/The Rhythm (Guitar)/The Melody (Guitar)/The Voice (Vocals)?)

Start anywhere and with anything. A good writer tries and throws away 1,000 ideas for every one that works out.

Are there any processes you go through with the writing of the music?

Develop the melody first and foremost. Cool licks, riffs, rhythms, and so on can be reused and recycled almost anywhere. What makes a good song is the melody and lyric.

When is a song considered finished? When is a song ready to be shared?

When it has a beginning, middle, and end, and when further improvement is just decoration. Nothing is ever "finished". Everything is always ready to be shared. If you are embarrassed to share it, that's usually because you know it's not very good.

Hollywood (which is full of hacks and mediocrities) loves to portray geniuses who are smarter and more talented than everyone else, but who are afraid that everyone will think their brilliant work is dumb. That's not usually a realistic concern: most people who are smarter than everyone else, and who are producing better work, are also smart enough to realize as much.

In what ways do you think music communicates with an audience? How powerful is it?

Music is the most direct and powerful means of communication with the human spirit that exists. Good music bypasses the brain and the conscious mind, and communicates directly with the body and the soul.

Good music is more powerful than any dictator or army: the dictator orders you to march, and maybe you do, since the alternative is getting shot. But music, good music-- it plays a march and your spirit marches, without any orders or instruction. Maybe you can force yourself not to get up and dance, when you hear a hot Motown track, but your spirit is powerless to refuse the impulse. A gun at your head can make you pretend, but music makes you actually become.

What makes a song? What attracts you to a song?

A lyric set to melody in a way that amplifies the power of both.

Do you have a preferred style or genre of music? What is it? Do you think this has an influence on your writing?

There are only two genres of music: good music and bad music. A lot of stuff is in-between.

Do you see a career for yourself in song writing/playing music? Or do you already have a career as a musician?

Art is art, and business is business. In a world where Mozart died a pauper, and Van Gogh only sold a single painting in his life (and that to his brother, who was also feeding and housing him)... in a world where the cast of the Jersey Shore will never have to want for anything, but where James Jamerson couldn't get a gig in his dying years...

There is very little overlap between art and business. What popular artists of today will anyone still be listening to in 2063, 2113, and 2263? That might seem like a ridiculous question, but radio stations, weddings, TV soundtracks, and holiday specials still routinely play music from 30, 50, 100, 250 years ago.

If you think music in 2063 will be completely different, take a look at a typical wedding playlist today: you'll hear Motown, the Beatles, plenty of music that is 50 years old.

Making good music, and making a "career" as a musician are as different as being an inventor is from being an engineer.
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Old 05-12-2013, 10:40 AM   #97
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Default Songs and Families

I wrote this for Mother's Day. Lamenting olden days of music and family.

==============


Songs and Families

[verse]
Coming over today
all the children
bringing their children
lunch will be all afternoon
everyone bringing a nice dish
little ones listen to the old
and vice versa.

In the center of town
where life lived
not any more though
people would gather and gab
telling each other about how
all of their problems got solved
or got worse now.

[chorus one]
Songs about the ways of the old days
sun for the sake of the young
songs by aunts and uncles who
took the time to write
down words to tune
to fill the rooms.

When we are all together
someone starts
everyone joins in
coming out all the guitars
violins maybe a banjo
even if you don't have an instrument
you can sing, right?

[chorus two]
Blues or ballad from one to the other
was the way it was once
maybe a waltz turning into a samba
rock songs and broadway
days of porches days of yore
why don't we sing anymore?

[verse]
When we are all together
someone starts
everyone joins in
coming out all the guitars
violins maybe a banjo
even if you don't have an instrument
you can sing, right?

===================


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Old 06-27-2013, 07:50 AM   #98
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Here is an example of an extremely back-and-forth, or cyclical process.

Yesterday I read my wife's copy of NYTimes Review of Books, in which there was an article about books about the tragically interconnected lives of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Yesterday I messed around on the guitar and came up with a verse structure and melody. Somewhat discordant, going in and out of "friendly".

Then this morning I thought of a few lines that seemed to COME out of my ongoing subliminal thinking about their lives, and in particular about how poetry should serve your life, and not the other way around. I looked at the half-finished manuscript I had written the melody and chords on, and I adjusted the syllable structure of the poetry lines to fit the melodic line, and then forced myself to add words in such a way as to match and fill out the rest of the verse melody.

Then the next task was to write music for the chorus, for which I purposefully used and twisted around some of the elements I had already created in the verse, but I purposefully changed the first few lines of the chorus from 4/4 to 3/4, to suggest a more thoughtful or sentimental mood. That chorus was basically chord sequence with leading melody note, but the phrasing and melodic filling out was undone. Using the timing and length of the chorus, I wrote words for it, and then I had a pattern (la-di- da-di-da) for filling out the melodic notes for the chorus.

Then I used the end part of the verse (which had a different character, alternating MajorNinth with MinorSeventh chords) as a C part, with no lyrics.

=============


Sylvia and Ted

[verse]
Coming on like a truck
in traffic of publish and perish
only by losing can getting
come across as sincere
be accepted honestly as
scary as hell
sweet as gas
barrelling down hard
on whomever is in the way.

[chorus]
Watch me
watching the way I am alone
secretly drenched to the bone
watch me
love is an act
of sensual and bare
balancing and then what
writing it all down.

[verse]
I am in a club
a club of one at a little time
follow my rules of else
come to me but do not
come so close that I come
out of my self
out of my own
unexamined need
for being what I always was.

Watch me
watching the way I am alone
secretly drenched to the bone
watch me
love is an act
of sensual and bare
balancing and then
what
writing it all down.



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Old 06-27-2013, 08:07 AM   #99
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Your songwriting method floors me, msore. It is such a stark contrast to my own, which generally consists of 'jam it out for months until it feels right'. I am impressed to no end that you are able to think that way.
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Old 06-27-2013, 09:54 AM   #100
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Lemme tell you something strange, KF.

If you use your analytical and planning abilities to the max, so that they "become a part of you" [as Garth said in Wayne's World] they stop being SO analytical, and they start to "feel" like "feeling".

Another thing - the converse of what I just said - is that if you pay more and more attention to all the tiny but crucial decisions you make as you are "feeling it out", all that thinking process comes to focus and you can see how MUCH analysis there really is going on behind the scenes in your "jammin".

Planning and feeling? There really is never one without the other.
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Old 06-27-2013, 02:35 PM   #101
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Usually im way picky on phonetics to the point of obsession once it occurs to me that a line would sound good a certain way. Let me give an example. Recently in a song chorus I decided the line would sound good ended with an 'a' phonetic [ah] and the chorus line was meant to be in praise of a certain female, if youll forgive the 'pop' style [closest thing to pop I ever wrote] it goes:

"Shes a la la la la la la la la [something something]" -that is something good and ending with 'a' [ah]

Hadnt realized how tight a corner i'd painted myself into, tried many things and eventually [in desperation] settled for "Queen Carita" that im hoping kinda means Charity Queen in a good way, msore are you familiar enough with Spanish? as I know youre Texan, does this line make any sense? or at least is not a known insult haha
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Old 06-27-2013, 08:24 PM   #102
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You know Morgon, sometimes painting yourself into a corner is a nice challenge.

But usually I just don't recognize the power of corners. I do what I want. Allowing corners to have power over you is unnecessary, and can be neurotic.

Whenever there is a problem - in art - there are myriad ways of getting out of it artfully. With lyrics, you can solve a phonic problem with a semantic solution, or with some repetition, or with a paraphrase, or with a translation, or with ...

I know enough espanol (and french and arabic) to get myself into some tricky corners, and to appreciate great writing in those languages, but not enough to brag.
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Old 06-27-2013, 09:31 PM   #103
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morgon View Post
Usually im way picky on phonetics to the point of obsession once it occurs to me that a line would sound good a certain way. Let me give an example. Recently in a song chorus I decided the line would sound good ended with an 'a' phonetic [ah] and the chorus line was meant to be in praise of a certain female, if youll forgive the 'pop' style [closest thing to pop I ever wrote] it goes:

"Shes a la la la la la la la la [something something]" -that is something good and ending with 'a' [ah]

Hadnt realized how tight a corner i'd painted myself into, tried many things and eventually [in desperation] settled for "Queen Carita" that im hoping kinda means Charity Queen in a good way, msore are you familiar enough with Spanish? as I know youre Texan, does this line make any sense? or at least is not a known insult haha
Charity is caridad in spanish. Queen though is reina. Using a spanish feminin word would be a quite easy way to get yourself out of that pickle, but i find that in pronunciation there are many more possibilities than there can appear to be.

One example is that your "ah" sound you want, tends to make the mind think that the word must end in 'a'.

But, this is not necessarily the case. I find that the last consonant of a word can kind of be dropped. like, "that" would be very acceptable for that, and many other words in a similar way. Also, you can stretch some in pronounciation, like "foreva". finishing in "AH" is not that much of a dead end.

It's not like you were stuck trying to rhyme with orange.
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Old 06-27-2013, 09:41 PM   #104
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sound asleep View Post
Charity is caridad in spanish. Queen though is reina. Using a spanish feminin word would be a quite easy way to get yourself out of that pickle, but i find that in pronunciation there are many more possibilities than there can appear to be.

One example is that your "ah" sound you want, tends to make the mind think that the word must end in 'a'.

But, this is not necessarily the case. I find that the last consonant of a word can kind of be dropped. like, "that" would be very acceptable for that, and many other words in a similar way. Also, you can stretch some in pronounciation, like "foreva". finishing in "AH" is not that much of a dead end.

It's not like you were stuck trying to rhyme with orange.
Thanks guys, as its already recorded, you've convinced me that its close enough to claim 'poetic license', 'foreva' was/is a good option too, dammit, anyways moving right along...
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:12 AM   #105
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Default rhyme in "quotes"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sound asleep View Post

It's not like you were stuck trying to rhyme with orange.
What could I rhyme with "orange"?

aren't
coriander
flowered
handshake
far-flung
surging ...
etc.

Taking "rhyme" not too rigidly.
But then ...
I have been told I am a libtard, so ...
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:18 AM   #106
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Default lines and pauses

As I was writing a song this morning (about my nature-worship religion) I realized a big thing that I do that distinguishes my songs and writing style from most songwriters.

Due to the way poets read and write poems, in lines but without intent that the lines should be read separately, the real "breaks" in poems are not at the ends of lines (only visually) but rather at the ends of stanzas.

If you apply that to songs, like I do, then there is a feeling of rushing and a sense of rejecting pauses at the ends of lines. That leads to rather dense and jammed together melodies, if you are putting that kind of lyric to music.

Yeah. And that is what I do and what I like in a song. Most songwriters, especially in folky genres, LOVE the pauses. They write in a format that is like: LINE pause RHYMED LINE pause ... etc.

My style - as influenced by my poetry reading habits - is more like
LINE LINE LINE LINE LINE LINE pause.
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:42 AM   #107
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I rather like the song Frank Mills from the musical Hair. There are no two lines in it that rhyme and it has an odd cadence, but it turns out to be a nice little song that neatly expresses the feelings of the character.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dr7NHppaN7U

I met a boy called Frank Mills
On September twelfth right here
In front of the Waverly
But unfortunately
I lost his address

He was last seen with his friend,
A drummer, he resembles George Harrison of the Beatles
But he wears his hair
Tied in a small bow at the back

I love him but it embarrasses me
To walk down the street with him
He lives in Brooklyn somewhere
And wears this white crash helmet

He has gold chains on his leather jacket
And on the back are written the names
Mary
And Mom
And Hell's Angels

I would gratefully
Appreciate it if you see him tell him
I'm in the park with my girlfriend
And please

Tell him Angela and I
Don't want the two dollars back
Just him!
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Old 06-28-2013, 08:07 AM   #108
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That one is charming, flowing, conversational, mysterious and loving. Near rhymes throughout but not pushy, not square.
thanks tls
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Old 06-28-2013, 11:28 AM   #109
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msore View Post
That one is charming, flowing, conversational, mysterious and loving.
Those are all good adjectives, and consistent with what I believe the author was going for.

Actually, the entire musical Hair is a wonderful and powerful blend of words and music to create images of the way life was in the 60s. Not just the crucial issues of the day, but also people dealing with everyday life. Hm - I think I'm going to have to give it a listen this afternoon.
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Old 07-07-2013, 10:55 AM   #110
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Default looking around and writing what I see, I guess

I was thinking about people in my life, in particular my daughters. They want things to be A CERTAIN WAY, and spend endless time on Pinterest and various shopping sites to define the one way they want their life of buying to be.

And there are many men who are turned off by that and instead of being at home, the color-coordinated and gadget-filled home, they'd just as soon be somewhere else.

Meanwhile, are they paying attention to their loved ones?

So I wrote this:

================

Ready for Love to Love

[verse]
She cared for his best interests
with a heart of kind deeds
watching out for his needs
his clothes and his meals
she cared for his big new house
she spared no expense in her zeal.

[chorus]
The weather never stops why do we?
The flowers grow and die and grow again
so every year the world is gloriously
ready for love to love.

[verse]
After work he and his buddies
would go out to the pool hall
and let off some steam
he had no idea why
he took pleasure in being distant
he saw not much reason to try.

The weather never stops why do we?
The flowers grow and die and grow again
so every year the world is gloriously
ready for love to love.

[bridge]
Birds do
not get wrapped up in ideals
fox and fish
don't know what a grudge feels like
men and women
tell themselves stories of pride
and immanent
disaster.

The weather never stops why do we?
The flowers grow and die and grow again
so every year the world is gloriously
ready for love to love.

The music as I wrote it down is melody and chords. No bass line yet.

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Old 11-19-2013, 05:01 AM   #111
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Theres one old-metal style song on my record, I was just reading through it and given the theme I think the words work well.

INQUISITOR

BEWARE! THE INQUISITOR
GUARDIAN OF THE LAW
COMIN' FOR ME, COMIN' FOR YOU
PRICE UPON YOUR HEAD
NOTHING TO LOSE

TO SURVIVE IT THROUGH
YOU'RE GONNA NEED A CLUE
OR FEEL THE FIRE OF HIS BRAND
HE CANT WIN I CANT GIVE IN
TO THE INQUISITOR
APPROACHING THE GATES OF EVERMORE

ENTHRONED! IN AN ACT OF WAR
DESECRATOR AND A FOE TO ALL
WHERE NONE ARE FREE
AND NOTHING HOLDS TRUE
AND ALL MUST HEEL
TO THE TYRANTS RULE

TO SURVIVE IT THROUGH
YOU'RE GONNA NEED A CLUE
OR FEEL THE FIRE OF HIS BRAND
HE CANT WIN I CANT GIVE IN
TO THE INQUISITOR
APPROACHING THE GATES OF EVERMORE
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Old 11-19-2013, 02:28 PM   #112
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Originally Posted by morgon View Post
Theres one old-metal style song on my record, I was just reading through it and given the theme I think the words work well.

INQUISITOR

BEWARE! THE INQUISITOR
GUARDIAN OF THE LAW
COMIN' FOR ME, COMIN' FOR YOU
PRICE UPON YOUR HEAD
NOTHING TO LOSE

TO SURVIVE IT THROUGH
YOU'RE GONNA NEED A CLUE
OR FEEL THE FIRE OF HIS BRAND
HE CANT WIN I CANT GIVE IN
TO THE INQUISITOR
APPROACHING THE GATES OF EVERMORE

ENTHRONED! IN AN ACT OF WAR
DESECRATOR AND A FOE TO ALL
WHERE NONE ARE FREE
AND NOTHING HOLDS TRUE
AND ALL MUST HEEL
TO THE TYRANTS RULE

TO SURVIVE IT THROUGH
YOU'RE GONNA NEED A CLUE
OR FEEL THE FIRE OF HIS BRAND
HE CANT WIN I CANT GIVE IN
TO THE INQUISITOR
APPROACHING THE GATES OF EVERMORE
Holy crap, M, reading that was just like reading lyrics written by my 23 yr old metal head son. The ALL CAPS thing works for metal too!

Funny to me how kids like my boy hate religion, but then in their lyrics they sound so ancient, biblical, epic and olympian. Sin, judgment, right and wrong, war and the end of the world. Strangely religious non-religious lyrics, eh?
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Old 11-20-2013, 10:33 AM   #113
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Song lyrics can be turned out of any conversation -->>


I have a brother who dabbles in poetry. And he has a friend who recently moved to Portland.

Here is the email that his friend sent:

Quote:
On Fri, Nov 15, 2013 at 1:01 PM
Alive in Portland. Lots of weird folk here. Rains came. Got a tall stack of books and some good vinyl to keep me occupied and dry. Work sucks. So do most things. Oh well. It's not all bleak. Could be worse? Could be better. We should all take some advice from Honest Abe.

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."

Johnny
And here are the two verses that resulted from applying songwriting to the email:

Quote:

Alive in Portland with weird folk and rain
could be worse - I'm feeling no pain
my books are stacked, my powder is dry,
my music is black, keeps me occupied
it goes around,
and around
and around
and around

It's not all bleak, I've got my axe and a file
six hours to kill - I'll sharpen a while
what goes around comes around
I'll do my work with a smile
what goes around comes around
in a while
in a while
in a while
And then my own addition - based partly on the original note, and partly on my own experience in Portland:

Quote:

->chorus or bridge:

Across the bridge or not
either bank is after hours
wandering a way to hedge
inspiration milked and soured
before I can sing it.
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Old 11-20-2013, 10:50 AM   #114
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What methods do you use for writing lyrics?

I just start with a thought... and build on it. Sometimes it's the chorus, and I work backwards, sometimes it's the verse and I work forward. I use the typical verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge structure, as I like it the most in music. I often use a rhyming dictionary (just makes things easier) or a rhyming website.

Is there a particular form you use? (eg. ABAB/AABA) (ABAB being a Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus structure)

As mentioned above-- yeah, the typical thing. Sometimes atypical.

Is there a certain process you go through when writing lyrics? What is it?

"Get something fully done, dammit" - that's my process. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Where do you find inspiration for writing lyrics?

Life, loneliness, rejection, getting older, movies.

Are there any people/writers who have influenced you? Who are they?

Juliana Hatfield, Matthew Caws of Nada Surf (coincidentally, they make music as a duo called Minor Alps)... Ben Lee (especially his 90s stuff), The Innocence Mission (a band I cannot live without), Andrew Jackson Jihad, Elliott Smith, all the unsung singer/songwriters who have brilliant acoustic folk songs and get overshadowed by all the famous people.... and also, I really love John Mayer and think his writing is top-notch. I love so many styles of music... Azure Ray/Maria Taylor is another huge influence, Jimmy Eat World, The Album Leaf, Mazzy Star... etc.

What kind of things do you write about? Why?

Loneliness, usually. Because I'm lonely.

What do you do about writer’s block? Tips?

Muscle through it, or work on something else... or read other people's lyrics to get ideas and get back on track, or listen to some great indie music.

What comes first? The music or the words?

Most of the time, the music. Occasionally the words and melody.

Do you write the music yourself or with a band/other collaboraters?

Almost always by myself. Occasionally collaborate.

Where do you start? (With The Beat (Drums)/The Rhythm (Guitar)/The Melody (Guitar)/The Voice (Vocals)?)

Strumming chords on guitar, or some basic piano patterns/chords.

Are there any processes you go through with the writing of the music?

Just the typical process that everyone goes through-- building chords, parts, transitions, lyrics, vocal melodies, vocal harmonies... beats are usually an afterthought as I think the melody/harmony and lyrics are the most important part of a song.

When is a song considered finished? When is a song ready to be shared?

When it's finished... I can be too much of a perfectionist, but these days I just want to constantly put stuff out, even if it's "not perfect."

In what ways do you think music communicates with an audience? How powerful is it?

I think audiences connect most with lyrics, and hooks. Melody draws you in, but the lyrics keep you there.

What makes a song? What attracts you to a song?

The melody, lyrics, and vocal harmonies.

Do you have a preferred style or genre of music? What is it? Do you think this has an influence on your writing?

Yes-- indie folk, anything with female vocals. Yes, greatly.

Do you see a career for yourself in song writing/playing music? Or do you already have a career as a musician?

I'm too old to make anything happen, but I keep trying to at least share my heart/work with the world (if anyone's listening). I teach music to pay bills.

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Old 11-20-2013, 02:28 PM   #115
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Holy crap, M, reading that was just like reading lyrics written by my 23 yr old metal head son. The ALL CAPS thing works for metal too!

Funny to me how kids like my boy hate religion, but then in their lyrics they sound so ancient, biblical, epic and olympian. Sin, judgment, right and wrong, war and the end of the world. Strangely religious non-religious lyrics, eh?
Haha well I also have a song with the lyric "I got my own religion rock on" but I don't spend much time dwelling on the subject tbh.

from Cambridge online dictionary:
desecrate
verb [T] /ˈdes.ɪ.kreɪt/

› to damage or show no respect towards something holy or very much respected: The mosque/shrine was desecrated by vandals.It's a crime to desecrate the country's flag.
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Old 11-24-2013, 09:20 AM   #116
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Default a protest song

After recently reading lyrics and commentary on Bob Dylan's great song - The Masters of War - and after hearing so many young people (including my own children) gab on and on about getting big screen tvs and iPhones for Thanksgiving (holy shit!) - I wrote this protest song on a sunday morning:

Contemporary Blues

[A]
Media bullshit on the rise
gossip gossip
ideas buried under
bullshit gossip and political trash
all the real stories squashed
they cannot compete with the flow
of corporate power and cold cash.

Techies on speed in our bedrooms
spying spying
commerce is now an arm of
national security
fuck you and your fairy tale
war for profit, peace for sale
raise your voice to no avail.

When we were young we tried to change
and rearrange the world
we got some things started but
change is hard and the old guard
chews and spits it out
somehow each new generation has
got to wake up from the slumber party.

[B]
When will you have something to say
when will you say something strong
when will you value something that's right
to fight for with all your might
when will you take off your slippers
and stand up to the gold diggers?

Hey children hey teenagers
look arond you, see where it's going
when will you see through the mystery
turn off the tv and stand up to history?
When will you join hands with the old
and be something moral, constructive and bold?

Two kinds of ancestors -
what kind are you or will you turn into?
The kind that worked to make things good
or made a bundle off the neighborhood?
One or the other, which on will you be?
The future of the world is waiting to see.


24 November 2013


[A]
C /// C7 /// F /// F9 ///
C /// G /// D7 / E7 / F ///
C7 / D7 / G7 /// ////


[B]
C /// G /// F /// E7 / F7 /
C /// G /// F /// E7 / F7 /
G6 /// E7 /// Fm7 /// G7 ///
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Old 12-15-2013, 12:22 PM   #117
msore
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Default holiday song

Here is a holiday song for y'all. I am not a christian or an xmas person, but it is part of every American's experience (unfortunately).


End of the Year

End of the year it's been a good one
in December we are all of us older
and ready
to ask some bold questions like

Why did my doctor prescribe this pill
where did I hide that hundred dollar bill
how is it I'm getting heavier still
and what the hell happened to my memory?

End of the year train stops at the station
crowds are happy to be closer to home
and everybody
assumes a holiday tone saying

Why can't I find a parking spot
how did I spend more money than I've got
who should be on my list and who's not
the city is stressed and suburbs overwrought.

End of the year get away from it all
find a warm corner with a pint or cocktail
celebrate
and watch the mindless snow fall

with the one who knocks you out
with the one who makes you tingle
with the one worth singing about
and get ready for a more glorious year.
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