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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.

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Technical songwriting blunders

      

The following is an extract from the website of www.completechords.com as part of an article called 10 technical blunders where it can be read with additional  information. 


* These studies compared two groups of songs:

1. The "Great Song" Group: A sample of the world's greatest songs by the world's greatest songwriters, including Lennon & McCartney, Cole Porter, Joni Mitchell, Jagger & Richards, Smokey Robinson, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, and others.

2. The "Ordinary Song" Group: A sample of typical songs that songwriters and bands release independently, or send as demos to record companies, music publishers, producers, and established recording artists, in hopes of getting signed to a song publishing deal or recording contract.

Based on the preliminary findings of this research, here are just ten of the many technical blunders songwriters make, and how to avoid making them. (The final results, to be published in 2005, may vary from these preliminary findings.)

USING MUSICALLY UNPALATABLE CHORD PROGRESSIONS
* Songwriters who have no knowledge of the Harmonic Scale tend to write, clunky, musically unpalatable chord progressions. Such progressions mitigate against the human brain's natural tendency to want to process intervals and harmonies that reflect simple frequency ratios. 

* We found that the chord progressions of "Great Songs" tend to follow the natural clockwise flow of the Harmonic Scale to a much higher degree than "Ordinary Songs:

INCORPORATING TOO MUCH "UNIQUE" MELODY
* When you take the entire vocal melody of a three or four minute song and subtract out all the repetitions of the melodic parts, you have the core "unique" melody of the song. In this study, Great Songs averaged only about 20 seconds of unique melody. Ordinary Songs averaged 38 seconds-nearly twice as much unique melody:

* Human short term memory lasts only a five to seven seconds. Your short term memory (and the collective short-term memory of your audience) can only hold a few pieces of information. (That's why, for example, telephone numbers-exclusive of area code-are only seven digits long.)

* In pre-literate times, songs served the purpose of transmitting news. Any successful song really functions as an elaborate mnemonic device. It employs as many memory-helping elements as  possible-rhyme, regularity of rhythm pattern, repetition of catchy melodic phrases, etc.

* Songwriters who are not aware of the importance of short term memory limitations overload their tunes with too much unique melody. They do this to try to prevent the song from becoming monotonously repetitive. Big mistake.

* You can avoid this by repeating only a few unique melodic phrases many times throughout the song.

* You can use many other ways to create variety. For example, you can modulate to other keys, use variant chords, or introduce chromatic chords.
.
EMPLOYING A MUSICALLY UNPALATABLE MELODIC RANGE
* We found that most Great Songs have a melodic vocal range of 12 to 17 semitones (the pitch range of the lowest lead vocal note to the highest lead vocal note, ignoring all vocal harmony).

* By contrast, Ordinary Songs tend to have much greater variability of melodic range. Many have a melodic range of fewer than 12 semitones or more than 17 semitones. Make sure your songs are singable by just about anyone, without being too limited. Keep the melodic range to a comfortable 12 to 17 semitones.

FAILING TO FIRMLY ESTABLISH TONALITY
* We found that Great Songs establish tonality quickly and maintain it throughout the song, even with modulating to other keys.

* Many Ordinary Songs often lose their way and fail to firmly establish
tonality (40% of the time): You can avoid getting lost like this by understanding the meaning of tonality and its importance, and by using the tonic chord emphatically and "pointing" to it via use of the V or V7 chord.

NOT BUILDING IN ENOUGH SEQUENCE-TYPE REPETITION
* A sequence is a melodic or harmonic phrase or configuration that gets repeated at a different pitch.

* For example, in the Lennon-McCartney tune, "Eleanor Rigby," think of the melody that goes with the words, "Picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been." The three notes corresponding to the words
"rice in the"
form a sequence that gets repeated on the words
"church where a",
then on the words
"wedding has."

* Using sequences like this enables you to repeat melody, but not exactly note for note. Sequence introduces variety while preserving necessary repetition (unity). We found much more sequence-type repetition-about three times more-in Great Songs than in Ordinary Songs:

PAYING INSUFFICIENT ATTENTION TO METRICAL CONCORDANCE
* We found that in Great Songs, the melodic line and the lyrical pattern adhere closely to the same metrical structure. We did not find this to be the case with Ordinary Songs:

* Songwriters find it easier to write lyrics that do not closely agree with the melody line. It's like writing prose. But in a musical context, it's harder for a listener to remember such lyrics because the irregular meter keeps forcing revisions to the melody.

* To avoid this problem, take the time to sweat out lyrics that adhere closely to the same metrical pattern as the melody line.

WRITING IN 4/4 METER EXCLUSIVELY
* All of the Ordinary Songs in this study were found to be in 4/4 time. However, the Great Songs showed metrical variety. While most were in 4/4 time, nearly a quarter were in 3/4 or 6/8 time:

FAILING TO EDIT LYRICS THAT GO ON AND ON AND ON
* We found that Ordinary Songs have less lyrical repetition and are longer than Great Songs. With Ordinary Songs, the overall effect is verbosity. The cure here is pretty obvious: focus the subject matter more tightly, edit out trivia, repeat emotionally powerful words, phrases, and lines.

NOT UTILIZING CONNOTATIVE LYRICAL ELEMENTS
* We found that the lyrics of Great Songs demonstrate more and better use of the connotative elements of language. These include:
1. Words with high emotional impact.
2. "Personal" words- i.e., words that specifically reference people, as opposed to ideas such as political messages, or inanimate elements such as landscapes. 3. "Personal" sentences- i.e., questions, commands, interjections, fragments, dialogue, etc., as opposed to straightforward declarative sentences.
4. Concrete words-words that appeal to the senses (especially the sense of sight), as opposed to abstract ideas and concepts.

SPENDING MORE TIME AND ENERGY ON RECORDING THAN SONGWRITING
* The Ordinary Song demos and independent releases we studied tended to be slickly produced. The songwriters who made them were obviously spending way more time and energy (and money) on getting perfect recordings of ordinary songs than the other way around.

* T-Bone Burnett, ace producer of dozens of great albums (including the movie soundtrack, "O Brother, Where Art Thou"), put it this way: "These days, instead of musicians playing instruments, instruments are playing musicians."

* Bob Dylan once commented: "See, when I started to record, they just turned the microphones on and you recorded . . Whatever you got on one side of the glass was what came in on the controls on the other side of the glass."

* The truth is, anybody can write a song in 10 or 15 minutes. Writing "a song" takes no special talent whatsoever. The same goes for painting "a picture" or writing "a poem." Anybody can create a mediocre piece of "art" in a few minutes.

* The real question is the question of quality, substance, emotional staying power. Most songs written in 15 minutes, "in a burst of inspiration," actually sound mediocre to everyone except the songwriter and his or her family members and acolytes.

* The way to overcome songwriting mediocrity is to get educated about techniques you can use to compose effective music. 

* A truly great song will sound brilliant with nothing more than a guitar-and-vocal or keyboard-and-vocal presentation. Vocal skill matters little. Reverb matters less. Only the tune, the chords and the words really matter. If the song does not make it in a bare-bones rendition, it does not make it.

Reproduced with permission.
and Roedy Black Publishing Inc. and CompleteChords.com. All Rights Reserved.

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