copyright - the legislation, the options, how and when to register
rhyme schemes - list of the names and types of rhyme
song check list - A list of questions to ask yourself to help you decide whether you have written a classic song.
Chord Map in the key of C - Copied, with permission from Steve Mugglin's wonderful site "Music Theory for Songwriters."
10 song writing blunders - a comparison between classic songs & indie/demo recordings - kindly supplied by Roedy Black.
36 rules for bands - a light-hearted look at things to avoid.
Publishing basics - kindly supplied by Irene Jackson
How good your demo should be? - including tips on marketing
A songwriters collaboration agreement - for those that think they need one.
How to make a $million from your music - the secret information they don't want you to know.
How to make a $million from your music Part II - A list of some of the more dubious ways to part a musician and songwriter from their hard-earned cash.
How to make a $million from your music Part III (UK-version) - a light-hearted look at some of the advice available (for a price) on the net.
including for wordsmiths, music makers, general song writing groups, songwriter web rings and fellow song writers with helpful tips/links
including for singing, piano, guitar, drums, harp, ear training and on line music stores.
including software, home recording advice, singer/song writer services, preparing for the studio, recording studios.
including loops, sf2, royalty free
Including critique boards, promotion and critique boards
including band registration sites, lyric sites, further link sites, genre specific sites, humour, and miscellaneous links
internet radio, magazines.
Copyright and royalty collection agencies, song writer and musician organisations, legal advice sites, including a separate UK listing for the same
Where a copyright is claimed be sure to ask the copyright holder, other than that, you are welcome to use any other page for your own site, please let me know so I can add a link to you.
Richhoncho's Songwriters Links
a record in your bedroom
The following article was first printed in the Daily Telegraph and reprinted with the permission of the author, Daniel Pemberton
Years ago if you wanted to make a record that sounded as good as the stuff you listened to you'd either need a big record contract or a lot of money burning a very sizeable hole in your pocket. Today however as both equipment prices tumble and quality increases, almost anyone, if they're prepared to invest a bit of time and effort, can make a vaguely professional sounding record in the comfort of their own bedroom. Even I did it about three years ago when I completed an album called (rather predictably) 'Bedroom' which I recorded using a cheap four track, a Korg keyboard and a drum machine that I couldn't programme very well. It came out on a small indie label and while it wasn't exactly the Sgt Pepper's of the 90's it did OK and got a bit of radio play and made me look big and tough for about three minutes. I even got to do a couple of TV scores off the back of it while I was still using a load of equipment that you could now probably pick up for under £750 second hand. So I guess in theory I'm supposed to know a bit about this.
If you want to get started the first thing you have to work out is how much money you want to spend and what kind of music you want to be making. You don't have to get a state-of-the-art set up to get good results; someone with a home computer and a £50 keyboard could just as easily create a hit as a band in a huge recording studio. In fact it's often better to limit yourself when you start because you'll not only be forced into creating something more individual and unique (rather than just trying to copy your favourite group of the moment) but you'll also learn how to use your gear a lot better.
As there is no one correct way to creating music or setting up your own studio this is not going to be a step-by-step guide to making a record. However it should give you a good idea of what you can do and how to achieve what you want. In rather simplistic terms the first half (printed here) gives advice on products that make noises while next week's will focus on how you can actually record those noises. It's a bit of a chicken and egg situation but hopefully it'll make some sense and partly help you on your way to making a record from the confines of your own home.
Generally a keyboard is loaded up with lots of 'real instrument' sounds like violins, pianos and guitars which personally I always think sound horrendous. Synthesizers on the other hand are usually full of sounds that are not only more unusual (and thus more suitable for making electronic/dance music) but ones that you can have a bit of control over. This means that rather than be stuck with a set number of presets you can alter the sounds to your own specification, changing everything from the attack (which determines how fast the noise begins) to LFO speed (makes things sound more 'wobbly').
In the past these kind of things were the preserve solely of men with big beards but now, as it's pretty accessible to everyone, I always recommend buying a synth because you'll not only get more out of it in the long run but you'll also be able to produce a more unique sound. However if you're one of those people who wants to 'recreate an orchestra in your living room' then a keyboard will probably do the trick. If you're planning to use the machine to play back a lot of different sequenced patterns it's probably wise to also check that you're getting one with both polyphonic (can play more than one note simultaneously) and multi-timbral (can play more than one sound simultaneously) capability.
There are so many different types of synthesizers and keyboards that it's impossible to single out any particular models. Some people prefer analogue models because are very 'hands-on' and supposedly have a more characteristic sound but on the downside they are notoriously unreliable and often go out of tune. Digital machines will integrate into a home MIDI set-up easier and often have more programming and memory features but are often accused of sounding 'sterile'. Prices can range from #50 second hand to #3000 new. You should be able to get an excellent synth for around #600.
What is MIDI?
Samplers work by allowing you to record, manipulate and then replay sounds through a triggering device such as a MIDI keyboard. Although this makes the operation seem rather basic the options available to you are boundless: you can do everything from chopping up and looping live drum beats (the most common use) to taking any recorded sound and by altering it's speed (and thus it's pitch) turn it into a musical instrument. Recent developments such as timestretching (which alters either the timeframe of the sample without affecting the pitch and vica versa) means that there's now a lot more scope to sample manipulation, bolstered by the introduction of powerful software tools like Steinberg's ReCycle, allowing you to create sounds and effects previously thought impossible.
While the most common route for obtaining samples tends to be off other people's records they can actually be taken from any sound source at all - the more imaginative you are the more unique your results are likely to be. And if you don't either have the time, or the record collection, to find the sounds you want then there are even companies such as Time + Space who specialise in providing a huge selection of CDs full of live instrument sounds and solo drum beats purely for the use of sampling. Although to some people there are still certain moral and ethical problems using samplers you're really going to have to get one if you're planning on making any kind of dance music; in fact without them many modern genres such as hip-hop or drum'n'bass probably couldn't even exist. Invaluable.
The two industry standard samplers used by almost everyone are the Akai S series (S1000, S3200 etc) and the Emu E range although companies such as Roland and Kurzweil also offer popular models. Playback only machines such as the Akai SO1 won't actually allow you to sample your own sounds but offer proffessional results at a very low price. The more memory you have the more sample time you'll have available and a greater number of outputs allow you to seperate different samples and apply external effects more clearly through a mixing desk. Prices can range from £300 second hand to £3000 new.
Drum machines can often be picked up very cheap on the second hand market, although certain influential machines with a distinctive sound such as a Roland 808 or 909 (used throughout the rave/acid house boom) can fetch high prices. Expect to spend about £50-£300.
If you don't want to splash out on either a Mac or a PC then second hand Atari STs can be picked up for as little as £50 with sequencing software about the same price. However if you already own a Mac/PC then see the next sequencing column.
Sequencers and Audio Recorders
If you're thinking of starting to make music and already own a relatively powerful home computer then I couldn't think of a better place to begin than with a software package like Cubase VST. Once you've got past the hurdle of learning how to use it, you'll have an immense amount of freedom over your recordings with the advantages of both audio and MIDI combined. As systems such as these become more prevalent I really do think there's going to be a significant change in the future of home music production; bands who previously could only use MIDI fitted equipment in their music will now be able to experiment with all manner of 'live' instruments in their recordings and vica versa resulting in a far greater range of recording possibilities for the home producer. Upgrading is well accounted for as well; you can add extra software plug-ins that will give you different effects units, noise reducers and compressors as easily as you would install a new programme.
To run software that deals with both audio and MIDI you'll need 2nd level cache, audio in and out slots and if you're a Mac user you'll generally require a 66Mhz + Power Mac with 16MB+ and System 7.5 upwards. PC owners will need a Windows 95 machine with at least a Pentium 100 processor, 24MB and a SCSI drive. Check however with the software you are buying - the two leading packages are Cubase VST by Steinberg and Logic Audio by Emagic. It's probably advisable to go for either of the big two because you're going to have to invest a lot of time to fully understand how your software works and as well as offering cheaper entry-level versions both are likely to be around and continually upgraded for a long long time to come.
Because of the introduction of digital portastudios prices are falling constantly and you should be pick up a good model for around £300 new. Features are generally the same but higher-up models usually have a small built in mixer as well. Fostex, Tascam and Yamaha are the most popular brands.
If you can afford it I'd try and get a hard disc based system due to the better editing and recording facilities. These normally cost a couple of hundred pounds more than the MiniDisc models which come in around £800-£1000 but are probably worth it.
For those on a budget multi-effects boxes are often the best bet as they offer a wide range of options at a reasonable price. However specialised units such as reverb-only boxes often give a better sound and are usually cheaper. Both will 'evolve' with your set-up extremely comfortably as they can be continually chain-linked to one another. Prices start from about £100 upwards.
(c) Daniel Pemberton. Re-printed with permission.
Daniel Pemberton is a writer and composer, and you can find more information about Daniel, including more useful articles at www.danielpemberton.com