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  1. “Don’t Lie To Yourself" was written & recorded in 2002. (*Song title is a video link, allowing you to open it as a 2nd tab & listen as you read.) The Idea When I began the writing process, there wasn't much to work with. · A simple chord progression, which evolved into my chorus section. · The hook (title) – “Don’t Lie To Yourself” with a tentative melody for those 4 words. That was it! Subject Matter Titles like this one paint a clear picture of the intended message. Simply put, it’s lyrical advice – “be honest with yourself”. Typically, lyrics with a ‘telling” tone are discouraged in songwriting circles. It seems that people don’t enjoy being told what to do…even in a song. Regardless, I decided to make an exception. In my mind, the title’s strengths outweighed its weaknesses. It was memorable, flowed nicely & would contribute to the mood I was hoping to achieve. Since the title was my central message, chorus sections were used to re-enforce that message & expand upon the “whys”. Verse sections were written last. They were used to set the stage…creatively describing why the chorus message (lyrical hook) was important. Lyrical message … in a nutshell Verses Regardless of what we’re taught as children, lying is one of the undesirable realities of life. The older we get, the clearer that becomes. It goes by many names in polite society…fabrication, mis-speaking, embellishment, selective omission, spin & stretching the truth. But once you strip away the niceties, it boils down to varying degrees of one thing – "something other-than the absolute truth". Choruses Although lying is an ingrained part of our existence, we need to be honest with ourselves. Self-delusion benefits no one…least of all “you”. Lyric Spend our lives…tellin’ tales Stretch and bend…the truth Learned that when…reality fails A lie may do But don’t lie to yourself You’re the only one to lose Don’t lie to yourself A lie only a fool would choose Life demands…shaded truths Hype & spin…abound As we grow…beyond our youth Truth is rarely found But don’t lie to yourself You’re the only one to lose Don’t lie to yourself A lie only a fool would choose Don’t lie to yourself You’re the only one to lose Don’t lie to yourself A lie only a fool would choose Copyright 2002- Tom Hoffman Song Structure Introduction / Verse / Chorus / Instrumental Verse (guitar solo) / Verse / Double-Chorus / Brief Ending Musical Fundamentals The song is set in the key of E minor. BPM 116 Unusual as it seems, the “introduction” was the last thing added to this arrangement. What can I tell ya’? It happens! Fortunately, I recalled a guitar didi that I’d stumbled upon the year before. It fit the texture of the song, but I needed something to merge it with the first verse. My solution was a single bass note, sounded on the last count of the intro. In the final mix, that note begins quietly, then grows into the verse…gradually becoming louder. That intro guitar didi consists of 2 separate acoustic guitar tracks. The first plays nothing but 2-note intervals. The 2nd is comprised of open string harmonics, which generate an eerie texture. The guitar arrangement for this song was a bit of an experiment. Other than bass, there are no electric guitars. It contains 3 separate acoustic guitar tracks, each performed on my trusty Yamaha & recorded through an MXL condenser mic. The simulated strings you hear weren’t part of my original version. I had no keyboard capability back then. They were added to the existing 2-track master a few years later. Real drums were used. The part itself employs both half-time & full-time beat structures. Half time is used exclusively until the 2nd chorus section. Both the 2nd & 3rd chorus sections are set in full-time. Finally, it switches back to half-time for the ending. Final Production Notes The recording was done on a Tascam PortaStudio 788. It’s an 8-track digital deck, consisting of 6 mono & 1 stereo channels. - Drums were recorded to the only stereo pair of tracks (7 &8) - Everything else went to single mono tracks....no doubling of any parts Performance Credits Drums, Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Keyboard Strings – Tom Hoffman Vocals – Tom Hoffman Supplemental Video (50 sec. clip of guitar solo portion) - https://youtu.be/vHfuWSaYYYI Tom Hoffman "About Me" Muse Member pg. Tom Hoffman YouTube
  2. - Understanding the Thought Process Behind Drum-Part Creation - Whether you compose through electronic means or utilize an actual drum kit, it’s helpful to know what works best, what doesn’t & why. Regardless of method, the thought process behind creation is the same. Brief audio snippets (green text) are scattered throughout this article. Opening the links as “new tabs” allows you to hear the example while you’re reading the corresponding description. As a starting point, I’ve put together a short-list of variables. These are things I take into consideration when structuring drum parts for a new song. What’s the genre of the song? For a multitude of reasons, I don't begin structuring a final drum part until song-basics are pretty well set. By basics, I mean: Melody A rough idea of lyrical content & subject matter Backing chord patterns (basics of the song's musical movement) Tentative song structure (intro, verse, chorus, bridge, etc.) Those basic components tell me what type of song I'm dealing with. Regardless of personal preference, the drum part you craft should be an appropriate match for song & genre. For example, a typical metal drum line probably won't fit well in a country/pop song. By itself, the part may sound cool & impressive. More-so, if you happen to be a fan of metal. The thing is, no one will ever hear it by itself! It’ll only be heard within the context of the song. Bottom line - writing new parts is always about how they affect the song as a whole, NOT about the part itself. As a drummer, I was slow to learn that lesson. As a songwriter, it was immediately obvious. Perspective is an amazing thing! Genre is a vague concept. Because of that, it's not unusual for a song to straddle several. Proper arrangement choices (including drum parts) can help push that song in one direction or another. Let’s look at a specific example (audio snippet #1) …say your song straddles country & pop. You could push it in the direction of country by employing twangy guitars and a country sounding drum part. How is the movement of the melody structured (meter, flow, rhythm)? Remember…melody is the single most important part of any song! Whether it's sung or played instrumentally, that melody & its appeal have a huge effect on the song's likability. If you're the songwriter, this is your money-maker. Protect it at all costs! If you're the drummer, you need to recognize & accept a harsh reality. Your drum part will NOT be the reason that listeners like the song! It can certainly be a contributing factor, but it will NOT the big reason. I was a drummer long before I became a songwriter, so I've stood on both sides of this argument. Drummers prefer challenging parts…songwriters want parts appropriate for the song. And while I do empathize, it all boils down to this…“arrangements are created as support for songs”, not the other way around. What matters most is how your part effects the song as a whole. Moving right along, try to craft something that compliments the melodic movement of the song. Once you have a specific part in mind, try playing it along with the melody. If others are involved in the project, ask for their input. If you’re working alone, songwriter/musician forums can be useful for obtaining outside perspectives. What type of arrangement do you have in mind? I'm not suggesting the whole arrangement be set-in-stone before starting the drum part, but it’s helpful to have at least a rough idea. Do you plan to use piano? Are you thinking of multiple guitar tracks? Might additional percussion be a good fit (congas, tambourine, shaker, etc.)? What I’m getting at is this…whatever ideas you do have for the arrangement, factor those into the creation of your drum part. I’ll list a few more in-depth examples: A) If you plan a busy arrangement…with lots of instrumental movement, a simpler drum part may be better. A song isn't a contest for dominance! If you have cool ideas for intricate piano parts & a tasteful signature guitar track, your drum part should allow those parts to shine through. No, the drums don’t have to be boring! Just build the complexities into simpler song sections. Those piano & guitar parts I referred to…let's say they’re intended for the verses & bridge. That means your chorus sections can employ a more sophisticated drum part. Varying the dominant instrument from section to section adds variety to an arrangement. It also makes the dominant instrument more noticeable. When that chorus section rolls around & the drums start kicking butt, that change immediately grabs the listeners’ attention. B Sometimes arrangements are sparse. It’s not unheard of to strip instrumentation down, utilizing only bass & drums for the verse sections. This type of arrangement presents the perfect opportunity for creative drum parts. You can experiment with intricate syncopation, polyrhythms…really flex those creative muscles. Limited, simple instrumentation = fewer potential conflicts. C) If some parts of your arrangement are already fixed (final), do those parts heavily accent specific counts? Do several parts accent the same counts? I ask these questions because it is possible to over-do accents. Too much duplication can make an arrangement sound stiff. D) What impact, if any, would you like drums to have on the songs’ development.... beginning-to-end? I’ll clarify that question a bit by breaking it into smaller parts: a) Would you like the song to build as it progresses? If you do, drums are an easy way to achieve that end. It's not uncommon to bring them in gradually, layering in additional complexity & momentum as the song progresses. b Would you like a specific section of the song to jump out & grab the listener’s attention? (snippet #2) One way to achieve that is to hold back much of the instrumentation (including all the drums). The song you hear playing in the background does exactly that. "The Real World" begins with a verse comprised of a single guitar & vocal, adds an organ around the half-way point, then smacks you all at once with the entry of drums, bass, piano, a second guitar & doubled vocal. c) Would you prefer drums to play a minimal part in the songs’ development? One way to achieve that is with a consistent sounding drum track. Something with the same feel start-to-finish. "Rain King" by Counting Crows is a great example of consistency. d) Would a change in drum tempo, from half time - to full time be useful? (snippet #3) It’s a common method for varying the feel of a song. Say your song is set at 120 BPM. The beat used for your verse sections can be made to feel as if it's being played at 60 BPM, while the choruses are played full-time (120 BPM). Selecting Beat Patterns Have you ever heard a song on the radio & been instantly being drawn to it? For years I accepted that experience at face value, never bothering to ask myself why. Then I began writing songs. As a writer, I discovered it was in my best interest to explore those whys. Why am I attracted to some songs more than others? For me, the answer has a lot to do with the feel & flow of a song. Both of which depend upon beat & rhythmic choices. You may have noticed that the subtitle for this section is plural - ”patterns”. Ideally, you will select MORE THAN ONE. It's not uncommon to use 2 or 3 variations of a basic pattern for the verses of a song, then select something entirely different for the choruses. Bridge sections are often assigned unique patterns, to help set them apart from the rest of the song. Before leaving this section, I’ll share a few commonly used methods for building in variation. (*All examples assume a right-handed drummer.) 1) You can vary the specific part of the drum set being played by the right hand from section-to-section. (snippet #4) For example - hi-hat for the verses, ride cymbal for the chorus sections. It's a small change, but the impact on the overall texture of the song can be quite dramatic. For additional variety, you can sprinkle in a few hi-hat openings, as this example does in the verse sections. 2) You can vary hi-hat technique within a given song section. Playing it tightly-closed produces a very crisp, structured sound. Playing it semi-opened gives you a looser, free-floating feel. It's common for harder-driving songs to use the 2nd option. Pop rock & country tend to employ the tightly closed version, but often combine the 2 techniques. For example - tightly closed most of the verse, then semi-opened for the final measure or two. That small change produces a shift in texture just prior to entry of the chorus. The variance also serves to announce the coming of a change. It often precedes a cymbal crash, which punctuates the actual change in sections. 3) You can employ a basic right-hand rhythm, then utilize misc. percussion to embellish the feel of the pattern. For example - a quiet 1/4 note right-hand hi-hat (1-2-3 & 4 counts), then on a separate track record a tambourine or soft-shake to fill-in the straight 1/8 note feel. That gives it a busier, more constant overall texture. It also adds variety & depth to the rhythmic feel. 4) It’s common in metal & hard rock genres for the right hand to play a straight pattern on the edge of a crash-ride cymbal. This technique produces an effect comparable to a prolonged crash. When it’s combined with the heavy rates of compression that are commonly used in those genres, it adds a blurred, heavy edge to the song. I have one final piece of beat-pattern advice to pass on to non-drummer songwriters. Please…when you put together a song demo, DON’T select a single mechanical beat & use it beginning-to-end. IMHO nothing makes a demo sound more amateurish! It doesn’t have to sound like Neil Peart, but it does need some variation. Remember…every part of an arrangement impacts the listener’s impression. That includes your drum track! The Story on Rolls (Fills) You’ll find that opinions vary on…. · when to use a roll · what type is most appropriate · how complex they should be For drummers, many of those decisions are determined by personal style. Since most non-drummer songwriters lack percussive expertise, they tend to be guided by listening experience. For this tutorial, I’m going to stick to basics & allow plenty of room for personal discretion. Beats serve primarily to establish rhythmic feel, but rolls are used for a variety of functions: 1) Prevent monotony - In other words, to break up the consistent flow established by your beats, making the overall rhythm track more interesting. 2) Serve as fills… much as lead licks, keyboard or bass riffs do. Rolls are frequently placed between lyric/melody lines to help fill gaps & maintain the momentum. 3) Indicate (announce) a coming change, as demonstrated by the next audio clip. (snippet #5) Some examples being…. the start of a new vocal sequence a change from verse to chorus a shift in dynamics…quiet to loud, or visa-versa Rolls are also used in combination with lead licks, or other fill elements. (snippet #6) When they’re employed in this way, caution should be exercised. You want to avoid timing conflicts between fill instruments. Bottom line – it’s harder to pull-off, but very cool when it’s done cleanly! It’s common to alternate fill instruments. You can use a drum roll this time, a guitar lick next time, keyboard run, and so on. This will get you even more variety, with the added benefit of making each fill instrument more prominent. Listeners notice them more because they’re the only instrument presenting variation at that particular moment. To Crash or Not-To Crash Cymbal crashes are useful tools when employed tastefully. Here are a few examples of common applications: - to accent, or call attention to a specific count within a measure - to add dynamics to a section of music by boosting the high-end frequencies & overall volume of that specific section - to mark a change in the structure of the song (for example, moving from the verse to chorus) - in combination with rolls, particularly longer, more elaborate ones…to break them up, reinforce accents and add color, as shown in the brief demonstration below Tom Hoffman "Arrangement 101" resource pg. Tune-Smith.com
  3. This is certainly not as polished as a lot of songs here. I record with a hand held Tascam and am not an accomplished guitar player or singer. A Different Kind of Darkness There was this path I used to take home from a friend’s house It was through the woods and I’d walk it day or night As a kid I wouldn’t admit to being afraid of the darkness But every muscle in my body would get tight New moon nights, cloud covered skies Not even the stars to light my way We had this neighbor who had a dusk to dawn light I’d see that glow and know I’d be OK Chorus Looking back I can’t help but wonder Why fear’s a memory I’d save These days There’s a different kind of darkness And I’m trying to be brave The boogyman still visits in adulthood But not in your nightmares or your dreams You’ll find he can be easily summoned By turning on your outrage machine Terabytes of data are kept on you that show How to turn your fear into rage The bait to use, how to hook you, And keep you from leaving your cage Chorus Black and white That’s how you see things There's not a single shade of gray These days There’s a different kind of darkness And I’m trying to be brave Instrumental Bridge Time speeds up as each year passes I know some day this train will jump the track It’s a waste of time but hard to resist Thinking what you’d change and looking back The time you waste won’t even phase you After all it’s just another day But with age it tends to sneak up and haunt you That feeling that you’ve wasted it away Chorus At the end of the day I stare into the distance And question the effort that I gave These days There’s a different kind of darkness And I’m trying to be brave I’m still trying to be brave
  4. DonnaMarilyn

    Heard You Leaving REVISION 3

    A really quick write this morning. I'd been browsing through some old notes, phrases, etc., and one of them led to this. Clearly it's a very rough sketch. I realise the first part of the bridge is in the present tense, but in the traditional AABA format (which was often used in early theatrical productions), the bridge can be pretty much anything. Wondering though whether to put the verses in the present tense. Genre suggestions? Female vocals, but can be adjusted for male. I look forward to your feedback. (Update: Just back from an afternoon out, and got home with a kind of melody in my head. So I know the lyric's odd structure can work. ) Have at it! Donna UPDATE 21.03: Thanks to everyone's great input, I've made several changes (in blue). Let me know your thoughts. ***In the bridge, I've changed the first 4 lines back to the present tense. It sounds more immediate, and reflects the fact that the narrator is speaking right now. UPDATE 27.04: Made a couple of tiny tense changes (from past perfect to simple past). Heard You Leaving (REVISION 3) V1 Heard you leaving …You closed the door As caref’ly as you could Heard you tip-toe, like a thief In your sock feet down the stairs …Heard each muffled footfall And the creaking of the wood V2 Heard you leaving …I felt the clunk Of keys dropped on the matt Heard you heading, quick as lies For your car parked near the curb ... Heard you drive off slowly Knew you weren't coming back Bridge In my mind, I see her reaching For the man I just heard go You bend to her and whisper Every word I used to know Did you think that I was sleeping That my heart would never break? …My eyes were always open ‘Cept for when I was awake V3 Heard you leaving …Now I'll lie here like a stone until the dawn Heard me wond'ring in a moan How I’d make it through the day …Wasn’t only that you left me But the cow'rdly way you'd gone I heard you leaving © 2018 Donna Devine --------------------------------------- Watched You Leaving (Original version) Watched you leaving …Heard the door close ‘Bout as softly as it could Heard you tip-toe Down the old verandah stairs …Heard each muffled footfall And the creaking of the wood Watched you leaving …Heard the crunch Of tiny pebbles on the drive Heard you heading For your car parked near the curb ... Heard the slow ignition And the gears begin to grind Bridge Still in my mind, I see her reaching For the man I’d just seen go You bend to her and whisper Every word I used to know Did you think that I was sleeping And my heart would never break? …My eyes were always open ‘Cept for when I was awake V3 Watched you leaving …Heard the morning Stretch and put its coffee on Heard me wonder How I’d make it through the day …Wasn’t that you’d left me But the cow'rdly way you'd gone I watched you leaving © 2018 Donna Devine
  5. The original version of “Middle Class Blues” was written / copyrighted back in 1998. *Song title is a video link. If you open it as a 2nd browser window (new tab), that'll allow you to listen as you read. As is sometimes the case, I liked the song, but not the arrangement. In 2001 I remedied that situation with a partial rewrite. The revised version incorporated several new elements: a 40 second introduction a 2nd guitar part (rhythm) This new arrangement was re-recorded & that’s the version you’re hearing now. The Idea The song evolved from a guitar progression, set in minor pentatonic block form. I stumbled upon the pattern while practicing scales Built a song & melody around it Chose a topic that worked well with the music Created a lyric Subject Matter In a nutshell, it’s about the plight of middle-class America. As you might expect, it’s written from my perspective & based primarily on personal observations & experiences. Completely appropriate since songwriting is a means of creative self-expression. Lyric Got those middle class blues Well when I look at my economic state With what I make I ought to be livin’ great You gotta know my heart gets to feelin’ down When tax time comes around I pay for schools that I don’t even use I fund a war on drugs that we’re bound to lose You got know that I keep-a-waitin’ for Some way to even the score Got those middle class blues! Well now I know that I need to pay my share But while suppliers get rich from Medicare I’ve got to ask myself what it’s all about I just can’t figure it out ! The wealthy don’t pay much, cause they know the game The underprivileged can’t, the end result’s the same That leaves the middle class to pay & pay Hope we get our someday! Got the middle class blues! Copyright 1998 – Tom Hoffman Over the years, the timeless nature of this lyric has been mentioned more than once. Sadly enough, it’s as relevant now as it was in 98. Purchasing power of the middle class hasn’t improved. Middle class tax burden hasn’t decreased. I still pay into a tax base for schools that I’ve never used. NO, I’m not advocating a school voucher alternative! I simply have no children. No children = no use of schools. Our “war on drugs” has been an utter failure, yet we continue funding it with tax dollars year after year. Pharmaceutical profits continue to grow, since our government is no longer allowed to negotiate the cost of Medicare drugs. Thank you G.B.! More tax loopholes exist for the wealthy today. The poor are no more able to contribute to our tax base than they were in 98. Leaving the middle class to shoulder the lions’ share of the tax burden. The end result being – “We’ve got the Middle-Class Blues!” None of those areas has shown improvement in the past 20 years. I’m sure there are conclusions to be drawn from that, but I leave those to you. I am but a humble songwriter stating the obvious. Song Structure Introduction / Verse – Verse - Refrain / Guitar Based Verse-Refrain Section / Verse – Verse - Refrain / Ends on Repeat of Musical Refrain Musical Fundamentals “Middle Class Blues” is a guitar-based arrangement…key of A# minor. If I do say so myself, some of my more creative guitar work. When I made the decision to add that 40 second musical introduction, I doomed the song to commercial failure. If you weren’t aware, long introductions are frowned upon in the world of commercial songwriting. Since the average listener tends to focus on vocal, delaying its’ entry is tempting fate. Attention spans being what they are, your listener may go elsewhere. BUT…since I’m not a professional songwriter, my focus was on creating a well written song, not a commercially viable one! When you make your living elsewhere, you can afford to base decisions on personal preference, rather than industry norms. That being said, I did build in a little something to help with damage control...“Got those Middle Class Blues”! That single line of vocal at the beginning of the song: 1. Tells the listener that there WILL BE vocals in the song. Why does that matter? Because some people, including my wife, won't listen to instrumentals. If she thinks it’s an instrumental, she will simply turn it off. 2. Re-enforces the lyrical hook…that catchy phrase you want to stick in your listeners’ head after the song has ended. BTW in this song, it’s also the last line heard. Final Production Notes This was one of the first songs I recorded after upgrading to the digital realm. My Tascam PortaStudio 788 had a total of 8 recordable tracks…6 mono & one stereo pair (tracks 7 & 8). 4 tracks were used for guitar, all done with my SG 1 track for bass guitar 1 for vocal Drums were recorded in stereo (7/8) Performance Credits Guitars, Bass, Drums & Vocal – Tom Hoffman Tom Hoffman "About Me" Muse Member pg. Tune-Smith.com Tom Hoffman YouTube
  6. malcolm

    Orion & the Seven Sisters

    [[ Folk, country, singer-songwriter, something like that. I was thinking of Aimee Mann's latest. I thought about adding another verse, but maybe that enough? It's a bit of a longing song. You should come away from a longing song feeling as if something is missing. ]] Verse 1. She has lived all the seven sins on the seven seas but shipwrecked herself in the far ambiguities. Stranded herself between the one and the other, she's married a stranger, run off with his brother, then walked out on him in the middle of a ham and cheese. Verse 2. She has places to be, and men tend to hold a girl down. So she stands in the door after dark in her slippers and gown. She already knows she'll be gone before Christmas. She just needs a night when there won't be a witness. Except for the stars that are rising up over the town. Chorus When the cold days come and Orion is hung in the sky. When the birds have flown and no one is home in the night. She will go with the hunter a sword on his belt. They will chase the seven sisters until time runs out. They will chase across the sky until time runs out. Instrumental, chorus again, and fade
  7. lyriCAL

    Walk the Wing

    OK, hope I'm not getting silly here and please remember this is all in fun. It started with Donna, I guess, talking about ghost writing. Then Joe decided to ghost write (am I using the term properly?) a lyric of Jonie's. Now, this lyric is basically ghost written from Joe's lyric Light It Up. He has a line about his life being upside down and that image made me think of wing walkers, the daredevils who ride atop the old-time airplanes in air shows. This lightweight lyric is really about someone doing it back when those airplanes were still new. Lyrically, there's no resemblance at all to Jonie's original (which is a far better lyric) and there's only a minimal nod to Joe's words (which are also far better than these) though I wrote it mostly trying to keep the rhythm I heard in his lyric as I read it on the page (not from the song version). It was a challenging exercise because it feels so weird to do and I'll confess right now that I haven't done much revising so it's pretty raw. But here it is: Walk the Wing Verse 1 Everybody is on my side As I’m flying high up near the clouds The people are just specks below But I still hear the roaring of the crowds (Chorus) See me walk The wing You wonder will I live or die See me walk The wing I’m home here as I touch the sky Verse 2 Always wanted to storm the barns Since my jaw first dropped at a flying show Even when the circus came to town It seemed like it all went down way too slow (Chorus) See me walk The wing You wonder will I live or die See me walk The wing I’m home here as I touch the sky (Bridge) A climbing spin into an inside loop My heart always skips a beat when I’m upside down A hammerhead so we start to dive I never feel so alive on the ground (Chorus) See me walk The wing You wonder will I live or die See me walk The wing I’m home here as I touch the sky (Repeat)
  8. “Slow Down” was my very first song. (*Song title is an mp3 link. You're welcome to listen as you read.) Originally written/arranged/recorded in 1995, it was rerecorded 3 years later. Although copyright is considered valid from the date of creation (1995), the song wasn’t officially registered with the Library of Congress until 1998. The Idea Typically, my songs evolve from one of 4 starting points: - a chord progression - a riff/pattern - a section of melody - a central theme This particular song grew out of a progression. While experimenting with combinations of 2 & 3 note intervals, an interesting pattern emerged. It utilizes traditional I-IV-V framework, but layered changes within the framework give it a unique flavor. Fundamentals The song is set in Mixolydian mode. For those not familiar with the term, it’s essentially a diatonic major scale/key, with the 7th note flattened. The flattening of that single note alters the step pattern, dramatically changing the feel of the resulting composition. Although it’s common practice to utilize notes not contained in the primary scale (key), I chose not to do that. Every note played or sung in this song falls within the confines of A mixolydian. Three separate guitar tracks were written for this arrangement. The primary guitar plays the progression depicted in that earlier tab chart. The secondary guitar part is all 2-note intervals. Guitar track #3 is comprised of single-note leads and fills. Song Structure Introduction (8 sec.) / 8 Bar Musical Interlude / Verse-Refrain / 4 Bar Interlude / Verse-Refrain / Bridge (Middle-8) / 8 Bar Interlude / Verse-Refrain / Ending w. fade Subject Matter Because of the feel established by that primary guitar progression, this song wouldn’t have worked with an uplifting lyric. Serious, dark subject matter was called for & substance abuse (specifically alcoholism) was my final choice. I wrote it from the perspective of the alcoholic (first person), in this case male. It depicts the abuser’s downward spiral, revealing his changing mind-set as the addiction progresses & the relationship disintegrates. Melody & meter were written before the lyric, as is the case with most of my songs. The downside of this particular structure was that it didn’t allow for many words. I had to rely on subtle changes in person, tense & tone to convey my lyrical message. Personally, I enjoy the challenge that comes with that style of writing, but it does present obstacles: The message/meaning isn’t as obvious. A greater burden is placed upon the listener to listen intently. If you try to cherry-pick key words & phrases from this lyric, as happens with more popular forms of music, you’re likely to miss the point. Lyric I smile and start another day You smile and tell me it’s OK We should have known we would get through it You’d think we’d know by now I promise I…won’t drink much tonight I know I blame my life on you You tell me I don’t have a clue You should have known not to back-talk me I’d think you’d know by now I know that I..said I would slow down Should slow down Must slow down Will slow down Next week swear I’ll slow down! I get up & start another day You’re not here to tell me it’s OK I should have known you didn’t love me You’d think I’d know by now I don’t care if…I ever slow down! Final Production Notes Both the 1995 and 98 recordings of this were done on a Tascam 424 (4-track analog cassette recording deck). Some years later, when I converted to a digital setup, those original analog tracks were transferred to the new digital system, cleaned up, compressed & remixed. That digital remix is the version you’re listening to now. Recording process: The drum track was recorded all at once. No overdubs were possible, because it was done using a freestanding electronic metronome. With old analog decks, if you tried to record a standard click-track, you’d end up with ghosts of it bleeding through to other tracks. Even after the click track was erased, remnants of it remained & would be audible on the final recording. Drums & bass guitar shared a single-mono track. Drums were recorded first, then primary guitar, then bass. At that point in the process, a premix of drums & bass was bounced over to the remaining open track. That premix-bounce allowed the original recordings of each to be erased. Additional guitar was recorded onto 1 of those newly vacated tracks…lead vocal onto the other. Final lead licks were recorded last, squeezed onto whatever track space remained. All guitar parts were recorded through a mic'd amp, with effects already applied. EQ & effects for the drum track were added pre-tape. Compared to modern standards, this was like working with stone knives & bearskins, but it got the job done! Performance Credits Drums, Guitars, Bass guitar & Vocal – Tom Hoffman Supplemental Video (1 min. 9 sec. demonstration / primary guitar progression) – https://youtu.be/x5dzZMNeVlk Tom Hoffman "About Me" Muse Member pg. Tune-Smith.com Tom Hoffman YouTube *BTW that MP3 link at the top is set-up as free download. If you'd like a copy for your personal use, you have my permission.
  9. Weird how a thought/image springs to mind out of nowhere, and where it takes you. I hadn’t even been thinking about my childhood… FYI, the rhythm in each first line is: da da da da da da da-da A very quick, spontaneous write this morning. This might need a bridge after V2. Or maybe not. I'll think about it later. Anyway, definitely a first draft. Your constructive critique is welcome. Donna UPDATE 1: I've added a quick bridge (which I'll keep tweaking). Does it improve or detract from the rest of the lyric? In V1, the 'big forever sky' refers to the actual seemingly endless expanse of sky across the prairies. In the bridge, the 'big forever sky' becomes more metaphorical, representing possibilities and growth. UPDATE 2: The bridge is now the chorus (thank you, Jack ). Big Forever Sky (Watching) V1 Watching dad sit by the window Where he’d stare across the lake Dreaming of the prairies And the trains he used to take The forest couldn’t hold him And the mountains were too high He needed room to move in And a big forever sky V2 Watching mom sit at the table Reading tea leaves in her cup Dreaming of the promises And things she’d given up Her husband couldn’t hold her But she didn't say goodbye [She] Only drifted deeper Into living out their lie Chorus Each of them aching Each of them breaking Each of them well knowing why But too far beyond speech They remained out of reach Of a big forever sky ...A big forever sky V3 Watching how we lonely children Sprang like weeds around their feet Scrambling for sunlight Full of needs they couldn’t meet Our parents never saved us Though we didn’t know that then And if we could repeat it all We’d love them both again Chorus Each of us aching Each of us breaking Each of us well knowing why But too far beyond speech We remained out of reach Of a big forever sky ...A big forever sky © 2018 Donna Devine
  10. DonnaMarilyn

    Playing Dead

    The lyric was inspired by a short poem by Norbert Meyer, quoted in the wonderful book ‘The Lost Language of Plants’ by Stephen Harrod Buhner. (Buhner used the poem as an example of all things in the universe being perceived as alive, in contrast to the notion of the universe-as-machine, with elements of Nature being non-sentient.) ‘Just now A rock took fright When it saw me It escaped By playing dead’ Anyway, the lyric is my – somewhat obscure - tribute to this marvellous poem. As always, I welcome your feedback/constructive critique. Donna Playing Dead V1 I long to learn the wildness ways The alchemy of nights and days The secrets in the wonders all around me V2 I long to learn the human soul Bring back the part religion stole And lose the claims of science that impound me Bridge So I’ll get my hands dirty I’ll watch the plants grow While in soft leafy whispers They tell what they know And guide me away from the world and its dread Lead to a path back to healing instead Till at last I’m at home …And if you should ask Why I’m still as a stone …Like the rocks in my garden I’m just playing dead V3 I long to know how water sings Where spirits dwell in lakes and springs I want a tribe of naiads to astound me V4 I long to know what mountains dream What every woodland’s heard and seen And hold the heart of wisdom once it’s found me Outro And if you should ask Why I’m still as a stone …Like the rocks in my garden I’m just playing dead © 2017 Donna Devine
  11. Hi all, I'm Guido, I'm from the Netherlands and writing and sometimes performing songs. Can you please have a look at the song from the link down here and give some feedback? Please comment on the music and the lyrics and not so much on the production of the song (it's just a home recording). It would be nice if you give specific suggestions of what you would have done differently. Thank you in advance!
  12. This is an older song. It's vulnerable, which is different for me. I realize it expresses emotions very few people would relate to. Any feedback is appreciated. I am wondering what goes through your head listening or reading the lyrics even if you don't relate, so feel free to share. Do you think it's overly emotional? Do you think it is a good song? Lyrically & Musically? What can make it good/better? What works well? Do certain lines stand out in a good way? Do certain parts stand out in a good way (to your ears)? What doesn't work? Any suggestions to fix it? It has a weird structure. To a listener, is that bad or does it work? Soundcloud Link: Youtube Link: Lyrics I know I'm nothing to you I know I don't deserve your help but when I stand in front of you it's the only time I don't feel hell I don't deserve your concern but if you saw the blades in my veins the cries I hold in the only dream where I win if you saw the blades in my veins would you offer to help? if you saw the knives in my heart that rip my soul apart they only go deeper and the climb grows steeper if you saw the knives in my heart would you think it's fair? would you even care? and would you offer to help? if you saw the hatred that's burning my mind red if you saw the holes all around my soul if you saw the hatred would you think it's fair? would you even care? and would you offer to help? you see I only exist when you speak to me though I clenched my fists and fought hart to be free but the light passes through as if there is nothing there though a knife goes right into this ghostly body of air will you change my end? and lend me your hand? do you think it's fair? do you even care? and will you offer to help?
  13. This is a demo of our song Southern Dreamer! Let us know what you think about, thanks! Lyrics: Listen to me my sweet southern dreamer, I have been wishing you well. Tied up my tongue so I wouldn't bite it When I try and tell you how I feel. As your head lays on my shoulder, I know that you're wishing me well. But I won't let this dream tarnish up like silver I'll say it now or never And I'll show you that I can't just sit around and wait forever I'll say it now or never And I'll tell you that... Wait another night What a drought, my love is gone Haste, with heavy feet A tired heart is lost, oh well Listen to me my sweet southern dreamer, I have been wishing you well. Trip over words, I've always been clumsy, Yet, I know you're wishing me well. But I won't let this dream tarnish up like silver I'll say it now or never And I'll show you that I can't just sit around and wait forever I'll say it now or never And I'll tell you that... I love you. Copyrighted, 2016
  14. Dear all, I am a singer-songwriter from New Delhi, India. The song I am sharing with you today is called More Than That. It is about our constant yearning to mean something more to ourselves, and to others. I hope you all enjoy this song. I would love to hear your thoughts about the music, the lyrics, the arrangement, the production etc. Here is the link to the song on Sound Cloud. Lyrics- Long days and stellar nights Whistling winds in flight Dry leaves soaked in dew Feathers dressed in white Sweet love symphonies Sketched on perfect lines Slow dancing memories Growing young with time Make me something more than that Bright star I’ll follow you Take me somewhere further that My dreams may all come true New love and burning hearts Different worlds apart Sun bathing flower fields Nature’s work of art Sky gaze and fantasize Day dreams come to life Two minds synchronize Subtle truths and lies Make me something more than that Bright star I’ll follow you Take me somewhere further that My dreams may all come true I am eager to hear from some of you. And look forward to checking out music from other artists as well. Warm Regards Manta Sidhu
  15. Without The Muse, my debut EP wouldn't be possible. I returned to writing songs back in February 2015 and started by learning the ropes here by posting in the Lyrics/Song Critiques. I learned a lot from everyone who commented on my work. Some of the artists here inspired me to sing my own songs, so then I started working on my performance skills- playing the guitar and singing again. I would have never thought that more than two years later, I would be releasing my debut EP. My next goal is to go into the scary world of performing live, and I've been practicing almost everyday. The producer of my EP has already agreed to perform live with me as a musician/background vocals. (I just gotta get the nerves to get on stage!) The whole journey has been fun and I keep on reminding myself that the goal is to keep having fun. All of this would never have been possible if not for the Muse. So THANK YOU! Oh yeah, here is a link to the album: https://bretteelizabeth.bandcamp.com/releases
  16. Took this one to the Songwriter Circle on Saturday (music is complete) and got some suggestions, so some revisions: All's Fair (4-18-17) V1 Deepest feelings Emotion stealing Hearts are so easy to break Our darkest dealings Need of healing We all do whatever it will take V2 Bullets flying Leave us crying Fills us with nothing but doubt There’s no denying All too terrifying The need for love is what it’s all about CH They say all’s fair in love and war Everyone wants to win, everybody wants more We’re all looking for something somewhere In love and war, all’s fair, all’s fair V3 Love’s the answer Hate’s a cancer The cure must come from within Fate’s a dancer Subtle romancer Even though we know that love should win Ch Br We do whatever we can to get love When we’ve got it, we still need more We do whatever we must to win love Win at any cost, what’s it all for? Ch ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Been working on this one for a week. Last night I started working on the music and realized I needed a third verse, so that one may need the most revision. I reversed the original order of the first 2 verses. All’s Fair V1 Deepest feelings Emotion stealing Hearts are so easy to break Darkest dealing Need of healing We all do whatever it will take V2 Bullets flying People dying Doesn’t matter which side you’re on There’s no denying All too terrifying It comes, the apocalypse’s dawn Ch They say all’s fair in love and war Everyone wants to win, but who is keeping score Answers must be out there somewhere In love and war, all’s fair, all’s fair V3 War’s a cancer Often a master And killing’s a mortal sin Love’s the answer All that matters We all know that love should win Ch Br We do whatever we can to get love When we’ve got it, it’s still not enough We do whatever we must to win war Win at any cost, but still we want more Ch (edited to add 'to' in bridge!)
  17. New collaboration with a great singer-songwriter, Revival Choir. All criticism very welcome - thanks
  18. New song "Every step" -> looking for critique on structure, melody, instruments etc, lyrics...please do critique/suggest anything though! Thanks
  19. Hi everyone, This is my original song, "Make you stay". It is singer-songwriter/pop in genre. I am looking for critique about how to improve my songwriting skills. I am not releasing anything commercially, just trying to develop my ability and learn how to make my songs more interesting. Anything from critique on lyrics/melody/structure to mixing tips/voice etc. I really would like your to be brutally honest as I know I have a very long way to go and I am going to really use the criticism as I go forward to develop more content. I hope the song means different things to different people, but to me it's simply about missing your opportunity with someone and only realising it once it's too late. Thank you in advance. Lyrics: So this is how the story ends Decided we were better off as friends The way you look tonight with your sorry eyes and your goodbye smile Nothing I can do to make you stay Same old you and same old me Beginning to see things differently From the moment that we met you were saying things that I won't forget There's nothing I can do to love you less Am I wasting time trying to make you feel the same So I'll try and try change my mind cause I can't change the rules of your game but I'll still try Can we go back To when we were more than friends Can I be the one you love again Cause I can't bear to watch you walk away Darling I would do anything to make you stay Such a feeling such a rush It started off as little more than a crush and it's the way you look tonight with your sorry eyes and your goodbye smile there's nothing I can do to change your mind Am I wasting time trying to make you feel the same So I'll have to change my mind cause I can't change the rules of your game but I'll try So can we go back to when we were more than friends can I be the one you love again cause I can't bear to watch you walk away darling I would do anything to make you stay Back to when we were more than friends can I be the one you love again cause I can't bear to watch you walk away darling I would do anything darling I would do I would do I would do anything I would do I would do anything to make you stay
  20. This is just a small part of a song I started today, looking for criticism and suggestions of how to take it forward. Thanks in advance