QUESTIONS, ANSWERS, AND SONG PATTERNS

Patching It Together

It’s been raining here.  Just the first rain of the Fall cum Winter, and already it’s old.  Why is it that every sunny day of Summer seems like its the first day of sunshine to come my way, but only one day of rain and it feels as if it’s been raining forever?  So my last blog posting covered a lot of territory, and concluded that I was going to change my thinking and methodology for how I approached the genres in which I write.  Someone wrote to me and asked me what it was I was trying to say.  I responded that I didn’t really know how to answer the question.  What can I say?  I will say this:  Hey readers, this is an exploration of my life and career as a songwriter/performer–nothing more nothing less.  I have decided not to write these posting at an academic, Ph. D., level which would bore you blind and make you want to shoot me.  I could, but I’m scared.  I’m qualified–been there, got the degree, bought the T-shirt, wore the robe, but dammit, I like this way better.  Nuff said!

I’m arranging, recording, mixing, and mastering two songs to send out by the end of the week.  Christmas songs.  One is a jazzy Christmas Carol titled “Christmas Praises,” the other one is a irreverent medium-paced rocker titled, “The Christmas Tree Boogie.”  They are a lot of fun, each in its own right, and I hope they get selected.  Nothing is for certain at any time, but in the music industry, this is especially true.

The question floating around on several of the social networking sites to which I belong is, How do we write a song and what is that song’s pattern?  It is a good question up to the point that any one song can set up a pattern for all other songs.  I might say that there are a few really great patterns for pop songs that have seemed to work over the years, but no actual one pattern for all.  NO COOKIE-CUTTER, FORMULA, SONGWRITING!

I do find, however, that my songs fall into several different song patterns, and these are:

Verse/Chorus/Lead — Verse/Chorus/Tag/Out

Verse/Verse/Verse/Chorus/Lead — Verse/Out

Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chours/Lead — Verse/Chorus/Bridge/Chorus/Out

These are my basic patterns, and while I am not locked into them, I just prefer them.  They are the boundaries of my musical comfort zone.  As to my rhythms, I really like a strong swing, next to that would be a heavy straight-eight, and sometimes, rarely, a shuffle.

Last week I wrote that I had been challenged to write out on my comfort zone, and I am glad that I was asked to do such a thing, because anytime I do that I grow.  that I a good thing.

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4 thoughts on “QUESTIONS, ANSWERS, AND SONG PATTERNS

  1. Ejoyed the blog and agree with regards to your track arrangement. Radio listeners need to hear the familiar and the common Hook/Verse/Hook/Bridge/Verse or Verse/Hook/Verse.. easy to navigate and sing along. Its GOOD this is your comfort zone… your first radio hit is just around the corner!

  2. Hey, Hliary – I actually LIKE the rain that accompanies autumn, but not a steady diet of it! But this time of the year seems to be when MY creative “juices” flow the most(?). I like your songwriting “flow chart”, and, I too concur with that structure, but what’s missing (and it’s not something you OR I can diagram) what’s missing is the “from-the-heart-and-soul” vibe that is the ultimate driver for any song worth a second listen. I don’t have your P.H.D. credentials, but as a journalism-school dropout, I DO like playing with words. I like putting those words to music a little bit better than just simply putting ’em to paper/screen/voice-activated cassette recorder, though! Same as you, bro’ … later.

  3. Hi Mike, and thanks for your reply. The degree don’t matter at all. My favorite songwriter is Billy Joe Shaver, who puts together some of the finest strings of words of anyone I have listened to. He has an eighth grade education, but never make the mistake of thinking he is undereducated. The man is my hero.

    About writing from the heart. I agree with you about that, but the lyrics just cannot stop there. It’s kind of like the farmer in the story where a preacher comes up to him and remarks what a lovely, and beautiful farm God gave to him. The farmer thought awhile and replied, “Well, it is beautiful now after 20 years of heard work, but you should have seen it when it was just God taking care of it.”

    It is just not enough to write from our hearts. We need to craft what we get. Man on man, we just owe our audiences more than that. It’s the crafting that makes the heart-work come alive.

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