The Speedway League School/Collaborative Songwriting

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Project Goals[edit]

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

Session Logs[edit]

October 9th[edit]

Summary (by JMS)[edit]

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.

Session Guide[edit]

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***

October 16th[edit]

Summary (by JMS)[edit]

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.

Session Guide[edit]

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

Essential Concepts[edit]

Communication[edit]

Clear communication with your collaborators

talking objectively, nonpersonally about how you feel about ideas or processes

Writing[edit]

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

Delivery[edit]

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?

Writing Techniques[edit]

Freewriting[edit]

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.

Project Files[edit]

/Songwriting Cloud

Unfiled Notes[edit]

Ralph Murphy - 10pm mentality versus 7 am mentality

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wBOUJ5Mbrk

Berkeley Hooks lecture - kinda diffuse

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBI0L2rfgic