The Speedway League School/Collaborative Songwriting
Learn to write music that sounds good to us
Develop techniques for making creative satisfaction more accessible to more artists
Create music that is going to spread peace and love
Summary (by JMS)
We started with a couple of rapid-fire writing exercises just to get the creative juices flowing and to get our bearings for working together creatively. I said we should have two 'riffs' we try to compose this week from collaborative fragments. I also suggested we do them with absolutely minimal judgement and attachment, since the main purpose is just to turn the creative brain on and check to make sure we can get a work flow going with our computer recording and file sharing techniques. After the writing session we talked a bit about synergizing our goals, which I framed with two main concepts. The first was that the context of delivery is extremely important in the songwriting process and must be understood from the outset. The second was that we can provide an essential value to creative individuals by creating a process for songwriting that helps creative individuals get to 'creative equilibrium' more easily, before other listeners are even considered. I ended the session with some thoughts on brainstorming ideas for songs and giving a basic assignment to free-write for 15 minutes to generate material for the next session.
1:10 caleb brings a uke
1:40 Think less, make more
3:40 What do we think of Collaborative Songwriting
6:02 Things to expect
6:38 What a women wants at 7 AM - thinking of song context
11:20 Strengths and weaknesses are writers
14:58 Sketch session
24:04 What do you think of what we got so far
39:10 Creating collaborative goals
48:28 How would we write a song collaboratively?
51:18 What is our 'women at 7 AM?'
53:10 What songwriter miss about economics
55:10 Brainstorming - 99% of what you write is going to be s***
Summary (by JMS)
Realizing our greatest weakness was a lack of raw material, we conspired to get the rest of my YouTube channel to help us write the core material for a new song. In addition to a few short writing breaks, we designed a prompt we would send out to the channel to see if we can build some material for a new song that we craft as a group.
0:30 What did we do last time?
6:50 Most of the ideas we write are going to be bad ones
10:22 What was Jon writing about? Existential crises?
15:30 The process is way too nebulous...let's fix that
20:22 The Crowdsourcing idea
28:10 Working out the Wiki cloud
33:10 Jon gets giddy about an idea
34:30 What if we wrote a song this channel wanted to play?
37:10 Criteria for the song
38:27 A very frank discussion about John Mayer's albums
44:20 A second chance at freewriting for Wikiversity
49:20 The typing sounds like horses
51:00 Final challenge to the group
Clear communication with your collaborators
talking objectively, nonpersonally about how you feel about ideas or processes
Write freely and prolifically
Most of your ideas are going to be bad ones, and that's OK
Write lots and don't be afraid to change things or throw bad ideas out
When delivering a song, context is everything. It's an apocryphal story that Motown songwriters were very preoccupied with trying to write songs that 'women would like at 7 AM.' This is an example of the kind of conditions professional songwriters often think about when they are trying to write a hit song. Even for folks who are not concerned with selling songs, there is great truth in the idea that the context in which you present a song is at as important as the writing, if not moreso. That being said, begin with the end in mind. When you write a song, think about where and when it's going to be played. Who's going to play it? How long do they have to rehearse? What gear is available? Promotion/build-up?
The main goal with this is to work without inhibition. You take your lyric pad or your instrument and you just turn off the judgement and start making something! Whatever comes out, whatever happens naturally, keep going and trust it. For a lot of people this is uncomfortable at first, but it's often a good writing technique to start with since it lays a foundation of self-acceptance. Many talented writers go through phases of being crippled by self-criticism, and rather than try to develop better writing techniques it's often best to start with developing less inhibition.
So that you feel totally free, it's important to have a way of reviewing what you did later. With lyrics, it's usually easy to just look back at your notepad, though it's good to make sure you don't write more notes than you want to review! With sound, it's good to record and maybe make notes of the times when ideas you like occur so you can snip them out for reworking later.
Ralph Murphy - 10pm mentality versus 7 am mentality
Berkeley Hooks lecture - kinda diffuse