Archive for June, 2009

David Wilcox guitar tunings for every song/album

June 29, 2009

This just seen on Facebook: the complete list of tunings from David Wilcox. David’s die-hard guitar-playing fans probably already know about this, but if not, here is specific tuning and capo info for every song on every album.

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More juicy songwriting tips

June 23, 2009

24 More Juicy Songwriting Tips

Your copy of the long-awaited second volume has arrived. Fans of the original 24 Juicy Songwriting Tips asked for more and we delivered with Volume Two: 24 More Juicy Songwriting Tips. Includes tips for lyricists and melody writers, tips on how to avoid writer’s block and how to conduct more efficient solo and co-writing sessions.

Formatted like the original for a quick read, you’ll refer back to it again and again. It’s spiral-bound so it lays flat and stays open to the page you want; works well in a music stand and on any flat surface (also available as a pdf file).

Tools, Not Rules

  • Practical tips on every page
  • Use them whenever you get stuck for a word, phrase, verse, bridge or chorus
  • Learn how to prevent burnout and writer’s block
  • Learn how to start with the ending
  • Give your song a (painless) extreme makeover
  • Learn how to engage your whole body in the creative process

Available in two versions – as a digital file (pdf) and as a hard copy soft cover book. With the PDF version you get faster delivery, while the printed version can be carried anywhere. Plus, you can dog-ear it, write on it, read it in bed, in the tub, etc.

The suggested retail price is $19.99 for PDF and $24.99 for hardcopy. That’s what you’ll pay on Amazon.com. But for a limited time, Tip Jar readers pay only $14.99 for a digital PDF and $21.99 for a printed copy (includes shipping/handling).

Check out 24 More Juicy Songwriting Tips!

Melody

June 22, 2009

Whats up fellow songwriters- I was doin some songwriting research online just looking for inspiration on the craft of songwriting and came across a really cool technique for coming up with melodies.

Basically the idea is set up a loop in a recording program (garage band) that goes for 20 minutes. Maybe the four chords your verse or chorus uses. Then hit record and sing melodies over that progression for 20 minutes. Ever come up with melodies for 20 minutes? Its pretty weird that’s a long time! And you can’t judge what you are doing you just kind of let it all come out, let yourself really just get creative. I found I felt tapped out at 5 minutes! Then to keep myself going had to get really creative and sang some really high ideas. Then really punchy ideas, then borderline rap melodies. When you finish let it sit for about an hour then go back and pull out your favorite ones. I had 13 I thought were really cool. AWESOME! 13 melodies i think are awesome, now the problem is figuring out which one i think is the most AWESOME. Good problem to have,

Much love tell me how it goes for ya-

Andy Grammer

with permission from Andy Grammer, a comment he posted to the Facebook group Performing Songwriters (United Worldwide).

ELEW

June 21, 2009

Tom Dowd & the Language Of Music

June 19, 2009

Tom Dowd & the Language Of Music is a 90-minute documentary film profiling the life and work of a man whose personal history reflects the evolution of modern music and recording technology: legendary producer/recording engineer Tom Dowd.

A former Atlantic Records engineer responsible for some of the most important R&B, rock, and jazz records ever made, including Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Ornette Coleman, Cab Calloway, Charles Mingus and many more.

Interviews with recording industry icons tell the story of this humble genius, while historical footage, photographs and classic music tracks capture the magic of the recording studio. Dowd recounts the recording sessions and technical achievements that altered the course of contemporary music.

Filmmaker Mark Moormann premiered this independently produced feature-length documentary at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and the film had its international premiere at the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival. It has screened at festivals around the world to overwhelmingly enthusiastic audiences and widespread critical acclaim.

How to grow fresh air

June 16, 2009

Departing from songwriting for one post, here’s a real find from the ‘too good not to share’ department. Another amazing video from TED.

Researcher Kamal Meattle shows how an arrangement of three common houseplants, used in specific spots in a home or office building, can result in measurably cleaner indoor air. With its air-filtering plants and sustainable architecture, Kamal Meattle’s office park in New Delhi is a model of green business. Meattle himself is a longtime activist for cleaning up India’s air.

Jack Conte

June 12, 2009

I know nothing about Jack Conte, but his song and video are cool. At the end of the video, after the song, he talks to his fans. Well done self-promotion. I found him on a blog called MicControl.

Skip the drum solo

June 10, 2009

Zoom H2

I swear by my Zoom H2 digital audio recorder. It’s an inexpensive unit that does several things a songwriter needs.

First, it’s a way to record ideas (melodies, titles, rhymes, concepts) on the fly. Sure, you can carry around a notebook, but you can’t easily record a melody with pencil and paper, unless you have staff paper and you’re good at notation. And even so, I think it’s faster to just sing it into your handheld recorder.

Second, it works well for recording live performances. It contains two pairs of xy pattern stereo microphones.

Third, it can be used as a direct audio interface to your computer. Connect it your PC via USB and use the H2’s microphones and recording inputs to record audio directly to your PC.

Fourth, it works as an external USB drive. Turn off the H2, plug it into your computer and transfer your recorded wave and mp3 files from the Zoom to your computer for further tweaking, editing, organizing.

Fifth, everything is included: ear buds, wind screen, tabletop stand, mic clip adapter, 1/8 inch stereo to RCA cable, AC adapter, 512MB SD card and USB cable.

Zoom H2 two side views

Other features – settings for low-cut filter, automatic microphone gain control, compression presets, sound-activated recording, track splitting, a two-second prerecording buffer, metronome, an instrument tuner, and A-B audio looping.

See a six minute video demonstration from Portland Music Company (scroll past the first minute to skip the drum solo, really).

Or read a CNET review here with photos and video.

Street price is in the neighborhood of $130- $150, nearly half the price of its competitors.

Finally, check out the Zoom H4n, the latest offering from Samsun.

Harvesting your dreams

June 8, 2009

kennedys

This weekend I attended an amazing songwriting workshop presented by Pete and Maura Kennedy and sponsored by the Songwriters’ Assoc. of Washington. The Kennedys have found a whole new way of thinking about songwriting.

They suggest that we can use our dreams as source material for our songs and they offer specific ways to remember dreams and how to mine them. Many of the techniques for remembering dreams will be familiar to those who have read about dream interpretation. But the big news to me was how our rich dream lives can supply writers with original, creative ideas and images.

They point out that 1/3 of our lives are spent sleeping. During dreams we often see fantastic, magical, other-worldly images, characters and stories. We can use any of them as the subject for a song or as imagery in a song.

To take it further, in lucid dreams (dreams in which you are aware you are dreaming), you can ask (a character in your dream or your sub-concience) for a song. At least one songwriter in the class had already experienced lucid dreaming.

The Kennedys latest (tenth) CD is entitled “Better Dreams”, a project inspired by their dreams.

Random tips

June 5, 2009

Never throw out an idea because you think it’s too silly or too simple. Maybe it’s not right for the current song you’re working on, but save the idea. It may be perfect for your next project or another song six months down the road.

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Strive for balance. A simple melody line is often a perfect match for a complex rhythm or chord change. If you have a complex melody, pair it with a simple rhythm and/or a basic chord structure.

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As an experiment, try writing in a variety of styles, as many as you can: (soul, country, rock, polka, cajun, children’s, Celtic, emo, Latin, metal, house, etc). You may think you already know what style is right for you, but if you explore other styles, you may find that you’re a natural at something else. If you never try other styles, you’ll never know. You may create a new style all your own.

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When you get stuck, change something … anything. For example, you could find a new room to write in, or just stand up and walk around. It will change the energy. I suggest you change just one thing at a time. One little change may be all it takes.

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When you get stuck, give it a rest. Take a deep breath and do some stretches (or splash water on your face). Even a 5 minute break could give you a new perspective. Or it could simply provide an opening for that perfect new lyric to pop into your head.

Or change your focus from one aspect of the song to another. It you’re stuck on the melody, work on the chords for awhile.

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When you get stuck, radically change one element of your song, i.e. play it twice as fast (or twice as slow), change it from major to minor or swap the verse with the chorus. It may not be the answer, but it may spark the new idea, new melody, new lyric, etc. that leads you to the answer.