Week 1 of 6in6

Well, well.

I wasn’t sure that it would work. But, I managed to produce more song this afternoon than I have in a few months. Life gets in the way.

Here is/was my workflow:

During the week, I answered some of the questions. Finding existing titles, opening lines and themes was easy.

Creating 5 each of my own led me to procrastination.

This afternoon, I sat down, A.I.C. (ass in chair – see my previous blogs), and finished the questions.

By the time I finished, I had starts on two songs. I picked one and ran with it.

I did the three-box thing, learned in last year’s challenge. Wow, that made it easy to bear down on what I wanted to say and when to say it.

Of the 5 new opening lines I wrote, I used 3 of them in the first verse. They just seemed to fit together.

I whipped out MasterWriter II and used it to search for rhymes for the most important words I was using (see my actual worksheet below). I didn’t do all of the rhymes at once, but on a verse by verse basis. MasterWriter II is great, but if you don’t have a copy, rhymezone.com + Pat Pattison’s teachings on family rhymes will get you exactly the same result (just add elbow grease).

Verse 1 was easy – I had 3 of the 5 lines handed to me by the “assignment”.

I annotated verse 1 with the number of “stresses” in each line. Basically pop a finger up each time you hear a down-beat in the lyric.

As I started to work on verse 2, I got the vision of a bus snorting. (In T.O. they do that – pneumatic kneeling buses bring the steps closer to the ground when picking up customers).

This invoked the vision of a some large animal, a rhinoceros, or, a bull in Spanish bull-fight. Honking big animal, snorting. I googled and immediately found a description of what such a bull is thinking (see worksheet below). This handed me my second verse on a silver platter.

I revamped verse 2 a couple of times, to try to follow the stress pattern of verse 1. Not hard. Some of the earlier lines of verse 2 expressed what I wanted to say, but didn’t fit the stress pattern. Tweaks here and there made them fall in line.

Since I was thinking animals, the 3rd verse rolled off my fingertips with little resistance.

I made the verses 5 lines long and the chorus 3 lines long, to keep the song off-balance (and, btw, harder to sing, as you’ll hear :-).

At last October’s MasterClass session, PPP taught me to de-complicate my chorus’es, so that everyone could sing along. I think I did that with this chorus.

So, I had a set of lyrics that made “sense”, their meaning grew from verse 1 to verse 3.

Now, for the melody.

If you start a song from the lyrics, you are “forced” to follow the rules of English (expressed in the Book Of Agreements, aka the Dictionary).

The lyrics already carry their melody. I simply need to step back and hear the melody what the lyrics are speaking.

I figuratively put my fingers in my ears and spoke my lyrics as naturally as I could.

When I felt I was on a roll, I pulled my fingers out and listened to what my mouth was saying. I listened to which words were accented and which were not. Which words used which musical intervals.

That defined the melody.

I “played in” the song with that knowledge and started to find places that I could stretch notes. The melody got stronger as I played with it, all the while respecting the language.

I haven’t got there yet. My soundcloud clip contains a huge “setting” mistake. In the first line I sing “MYYY face” instead of “my FAAACE”.

The first-verse hawk is real. I watched a big hawk fly away with a squirrel in its talons from my backyard just last week. In the west end of T.O.

==== Soundcloud ====

(raw recording on a Zoom, some compression and reverb)

======== assignment ===========

Existing
——–

Opening Lines:
————-

Really don’t mind if you sit this one out.
(Jethro Tull, Thick as a Brick)

I hurt myself today.
(Johnny Cash, covering Reznor’s Hurt)

I heard there was a secret chord
(K.D. Lang, cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah)

Titles:
——-
The Thunder Rolls
Yesterday
Five Years

Themes:
——-
Resilience (Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Eddie Schwartz)
Black melancholy (Requiem, Jethro Tull)
Frustration, Complaint Department (Get In Line, Ron Sexsmith)

New

5 titles
Jealous Guitars
To Be Rich
Let’s Tax Wall Street
Hide the Beer
Exit Visa

5 themes
Trapped, boxed in
Bread and circuses
The floods and the ice-storm
Warm and quiet, satisfaction
On the beach, teaching my son to ride a bike

5 opening lines
The wind tears tears from my eyes
The eagle blinks its eyes
Ghostly sunlight flits down the shaft
The roof cracks with cold
Snowman sags, icicle piercing his heart

========== song “as is” ==============

The wind tears tears from my face
The roof cracks and shivers
The eagle blinks its eyes
Squirrel’s neck snaps
And I go back inside

Trapped
This wasn’t in the contract
Trapped

Runaround, up and down in this town
Bus snorts and paws the ground
Then bucks me off at work
Bound in a four-sided cage
The telephone reins me in

Trapped
This wasn’t in the contract
Trapped

Greedy, war-mongering hawks
Drone down their fiery talons
The eagle winks its eye
Sells me plasma screen lies
My wage pays its way.

============ work sheet ==================

box 1: trapped in this house
box 2: trapped in this town
box 3: trapped in this world full of greedy, war-mongering crazies

trapped, sapped, flapped, contract, attacked, matter-of-fact, accessory after the fact
town, drowned, unbound, earth-bound, stamping ground, overwound, runaround,
elites, gentry, nobility, silk-stocking, grandees
war-monger, hawk,

4 The wind tears tears from my face
3 The roof cracks and shivers
3 The eagle blinks its eyes
3 Squirrel’s neck snaps
2 And I go back inside

Trapped
This wasn’t in the contract
Trapped

[I’m hurting to leave this town]
[match the melodic pattern of line 1]
[Spent too many years in this town]

Runaround, up and down in this town
Bus snorts and paws the ground [http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_will_a_bull_do_if_it_is_angry?#slide=11]
Then bucks me off at work
Bound in a four-sided cage
The telephone reins me in

Trapped
This wasn’t in the contract
Trapped

Greedy, war-mongering hawks
Drone down their fiery talons
The eagle blinks its eyes
Tells me plasma screen lies
Pays its way through my wage

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