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Friedemann

3 Tells You're An Amateur Songwriter

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Friedemann    0

Howdy Songwriters,

I just wrote this blog on the 3 things you are doing that make it clear to any professional songwriter that you're an amateur.

You can read it here:

http://blog.holistic-songwriting.com/2016/04/19/3-classic-tells-that-youre-an-amateur-songwriter-and-how-to-fix-them/

If you have the time, please also consider answering one of the questions at the bottom of the page.

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Alistair S    47

Howdy Songwriters,

I just wrote this blog on the 3 things you are doing that make it clear to any professional songwriter that you're an amateur.

You can read it here:

http://blog.holistic-songwriting.com/2016/04/19/3-classic-tells-that-youre-an-amateur-songwriter-and-how-to-fix-them/

If you have the time, please also consider answering one of the questions at the bottom of the page.

Hi Friedemann,

Could I suggest you list out what the 3 things are and maybe amplify a little? It is fine to link your own pages to illustrate the discussion, but it should be possible for people to join the discussion without your link as well.

Alternatively, could I suggest posting in the self-promotion forum?

Thanks :)

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Joan    11

Howdy, Friedmann. Can you post a link to where you park your songs online? Or post some of them on musesongwriters? It's one good way for people to get to know what you mean when you say things, once we get a load of your taste and style. If I can get to know some of your songs or lyrics, it puts your skill level on display, which puts everything in perspective and establishes your bona fides. You're trying to engage this community as a mentor or a teacher, and you might actually have a lot to offer that way. But I have no idea whether I would like to sound more like you or less like you, until I hear what you sound like or see how you put lyrics together.

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Lazz    24

Brief return from self-imposed exile to say Friendemann’s blog is largely bollocks.

3 things that make it clear to any professional songwriter that he is an amateur.

1. Not knowing how to voice extensions effectively

2. Suggesting that avoidance of these extensions is a productive way of dealing with them.

3. Recommending the “power chord” as another alternate solution

I love the b9 for dominants – a diminished triad built on the 7th is a decent common voicing for it – it gives you the 7th, the b9, and then the 3rd.

(We can already hear the 5th resonating from the root anyway, so the 5th is as usual basically redundant.)

As for the 11th, if you find unhappily dissonant scrunches between 11th and 3rd, why not simply change one of them?

Making the 3rd a minor interval or sharpening the 11th could be a great way to go.

Others here might just dump the 3rd altogether and render the voicing as a sus4.

Then again, a dominant 11th chord – a C11, say – is far better seen as Gm7/C.

And what on earth is wrong with a 13th?

It’s pretty widely used – I mean damned common and unproblematic – in the dominant vocabulary.

In a Major tonality, the 13th is likely seen as (for instance) a C6 – no problem.

No issue in a minor tonality either.

I could go on and on about the misleading bullshit I found, but have no intention of wasting more time on it.

The idea of this dude setting himself up as a source of knowledge and guidance is as objectionable as it is risible.

There is much less going on than meets the eye.

Sorry - but I could no longer restrain myself.

I feel much better now.

Thanks.

Bye.

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Friedemann    0

@Alistair S: Good comment, will do. Thank you!

@Joan: A good idea. I have put a link to my showreel in my signature.

@Lazz: I think we're coming at this from a slightly different angle. My post is targeted at Pop musicians, not Jazz musicians,

which is why I try to explain the concepts as simple as possible.

I love the b9 for dominants – a diminished triad built on the 7th is a decent common voicing for it – it gives you the 7th, the b9, and then the 3rd.

(We can already hear the 5th resonating from the root anyway, so the 5th is as usual basically redundant.)

When I play jazz (which I studied btw) I love the b9 for dominants, too and I'll throw in a #11 for good measure. But in pop,

I won't. It's just not the style to do that.

The "leave out the 5, it's redundant" is a jazz thing (well, technically Chopin did it too), and in Pop leaving the fifth is the standard.

As for the 11th, if you find unhappily dissonant scrunches between 11th and 3rd, why not simply change one of them?

Making the 3rd a minor interval or sharpening the 11th could be a great way to go.

Others here might just dump the 3rd altogether and render the voicing as a sus4.

Then again, a dominant 11th chord – a C11, say – is far better seen as Gm7/C.

Changing the major third to a minor third does exactly what I suggest in the article to avoid the rub with the 11. #11s are uncommon in modern Pop as well.

Leaving out the third to create a sus4 is technically the same as when I say if you need to sing the 11, leave out the third of the chord. I just wanted

to avoid to get too far off track by talking about suspended chords.

A dominant 11th does not exist in my book, as it sounds shite. A C11 (c-e-g-bb-d-f) is not the same as a Gm7/C (c-g-bb-d-f). The Gm7/C does NOT have the avoid note (e-f),

and is therefor fine. Again, this article is meant for Pop musicians and talking about inversions and upper structures as you're suggesting would have been overkill.

And what on earth is wrong with a 13th?

It’s pretty widely used – I mean damned common and unproblematic – in the dominant vocabulary.

In a Major tonality, the 13th is likely seen as (for instance) a C6 – no problem.

No issue in a minor tonality either.

I checked the article again to see if I made a mistake, but can't find what you're talking about. Could you please point me to where I said the 13 is problematic?

I was only talking about the b13 if the fifth is used (which is an avoid note).

I'm asking you to please read the blog again and more carefully. If you find a mistake, please let me know and I'll gladly change it.

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R-N-R Jim    5

Hi Frie

Those are nicely recorded snippets of your songs...but do you have a site that we can hear the songs in their entirety? Plus...did you have any songs chart in your country as far as radio airplay? Just curious...

regards

R-N-R Jim

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R-N-R Jim    5

Those are great chord blends Bruce. I wonder if there is a Fripp scale?

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Bruce N    0

Fripp music, well that's a whole other practicum in and of it's self, eh. Aside from a rudimentary understanding of l-lll-V, theory, it's mostly Greek to me after that, no doubt having a working knowledge of the upper echelons of music theory can only benefit you, especially if you're a composer, for me it's mostly training by ear, a lot of what is explained in Burt's video is what I've learned or discovered by happenstance, though it is nice to learn why those notes sound pleasing to the ear, and why certain notes don't work, bad notes ? Though I think some dissonance notes can still have a needed walk on part in a composition. A current song I've been working on, fiddling around with incorporates a lot of the 9 -11 13th chording, triad, melody aspect to it, didn't even realise that's what they are, or called, only that it sounded pleasing to the ears, lol.

If there's one thing I might add to Friedemann's post, not only are there bad notes that should be avoided, there's also a number of good notes that should be left out or considered as an avoidance in a composition also. Sometimes, less is definitely more.

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Alistair S    47
... bad notes that should be avoided

Surely a note is only heard as a bad note based on the note that follows it ... which may be the bad note, or not.

OK, I dunno. I confused myself.

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Oswlek    20

A talented friend once told me, "there are no wrong notes, just poor choices." I suppose that is more geared toward jazz (his area of expertise) but I've found it a useful mindset in my compositions as well.

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Neal K    13

"there are no wrong notes, just poor choices."

Your friend definitely didn't hear me solo in "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" on Saturday night.

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DinoRider    16

TBH this is just an add for your lyric-less story telling thingy, as proven by reason #3 on this list.

Besides you can know and practice these things you talk about and still be an amateur, not everyone wants to be "pro".

Oh I get it, the "pros" won't know you're amateur. WGAFF

Peace

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R-N-R Jim    5

Pro songwriters these days are over rated. But then again, I feel bad that they dont have the quality of artists to write for that they did back in the day. Imagine having the luck to write songs for the Monkees and The Carpenters? I would sink into a deep depression if I had to write songs for Celine Dion or dime a dozen boy bands.

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The biggest tell you're an amateur songwriter.

You are reading articles on how to be a professional songwriter from people who are not professional songwriters.

I guarantee 99% of the bands I grew up listening to never read an article on how to write songs.

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Mike B    73

I guarantee 99% of the bands I grew up listening to never read an article on how to write songs.

I bet they didn't post their songs on an online forum for critiques, either! :lol:

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Lazz    24
I checked the article again to see if I made a mistake, but can't find what you're talking about. Could you please point me to where I said the 13 is problematic?

You’re right: you didn’t. My presumptive rushed misreading is at fault.

I'm asking you to please read the blog again and more carefully.

I mentioned before that I didn’t wish to waste a lot of time and, while I recognize that everyone could use a sub-editor, it remains the unavoidable responsibility of a blog author alone to read “again and more carefully”. As I read what you have written and try to imagine what the perception might be of someone who isn’t necessarily following the knowledge and understanding that you take for granted, for instance, I find myself stumbling into ambiguities which counteract your wish to make it understandable even unto popsters.

Not an easy thing to achieve, I know – but you still have to be your own sub-editor, and more assiduously.

I guess I'm asking you to write more carefully.

@Lazz: I think we're coming at this from a slightly different angle. My post is targeted at Pop musicians, not Jazz musicians, which is why I try to explain the concepts as simple as possible.

Again – you are correct: we are coming from a slightly different angle.

My own angle worries less about your genre distinctions because, after all, we all use the same notes and it’s all music that we’re making.

But here’s the main reason your angle causes me discomfort. The fact that the majority of people here are self-taught should not blind you to the other truth that many of ‘em have got a really sophisticated and informed set of ear-holes. (You would know that already, of course, if only you actively engaged with the forum and its cheery forum-folk. And the fact that you failed in that courtesy is I think what sticks in the craw of your readers here – it comes across as a tad rude and patronizing.) And some of these sophisticated ear-holes around here know perfectly well what the melody in their head sounds like, should sound like, even if they’re a little bit theory-challenged or a bit limited in the harmonic vocabulary of choices to support their chosen melody. Every historically significant commercial musician we can think of started out as an ear-player, remember. And what those ears productively benefit from, if their melody contains some of those “avoid" notes you write about, is not to have someone say “don’t use those notes – keep away from ‘em” but to have someone explain how to provide vertical support to make their melody-note choices work better in situ.

I do not accept that saying “don’t” cuts the educational mustard in this regard.

Saying that a C11 sounds shite is easy – like giving a man a fish.

The issue, though, is how to meet the voicing challenge of making it sound cool and groovy and “right”.

Give us the full rod and line of voicing as problem-solution, I say.

(Not that it matters much in the context of petty quibbles, but Gm7/C says to me pretty much the same as C11 – both say “dominant”, both say “Key of F”, both suggest the same scale-tones, both tell us that the 11th note from root C is on top, and neither of them removes the responsibility of the player to make their own decisions about how to voice the fucker. Having a b13th in the melody is similarly just another problem looking for a solution of our own devising. )

The other big stone in my shoe – the one I believe has also irritated others – is about protocol, about the appearance of attempting to set oneself up as an oracular authority to a community with which you have no active engagement. Easy to read the posture as looking down on lesser souls and perceive it as indication of arrogance and insult. I think you need to look out for that, and be aware of it, because I don't for one second think it gives us a true and fair picture of who you are really.

Also important to recognise maybe is that many people are rightly proud of being self-taught. Not only that, but the process of auto-didacticism is a source of pleasure and fulfillment in itself and they don’t want help, thank you very much, unless they ask for it. They could be either truly happy doing it for themselves, or are perfectly content with where they’re at and what they’re doing with no need to know anything deeper.

It’s equally true that the legacy of all our conceptually polyglot mixture is that we lack an active functioning topic area where we can productively discuss the nuts and bolts of harmony and theory and voicings and stuff, and that's because we also lack a commonly shared and understood language with which to talk about it. It’s good you went to school for this music-stuff. You learned the necessary language. Access to such opportunities were not available to me when I was coming up and keen. My education was on-the-job. Old-skool. So I kinda speak it enough to get by in some worthwhile working company. But it would be hard having a text-based dialogue about this stuff with, say, Alistair, unless we were happening knee-to-knee in real time.

Nothing else to say, I reckon.

Other than to wish you good luck in your endeavours.

And to hope our gang of criticisms might work to help you spot issues and improve your communication arts.

(It's a tough gig and we're a tough crowd.)

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Lazz    24
A talented friend once told me, "there are no wrong notes, just poor choices." I suppose that is more geared toward jazz (his area of expertise) but I've found it a useful mindset in my compositions as well.

It was Miles Davis who said that.

He also said something similar to Alistair's post, above - something along the lines that mistakes don't matter, it's how you resolve them that matters.

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GaryHale    19

Yeah, I bet each and every one of the below songwriters is totally depressed that their songwriting skills and mastery of their craft doesn't allow them the opportunity to work with great talent... because we all know that today's artists are universally terrible, not an original, accomplished talent in the bunch, not one, can you believe it? I do feel sorry for these songwriters - I mean, after you take away the Grammys, the money, the endless opportunities that come their way I mean, what do they really have?

Ryan Tedder – Net Worth: $30 million

Written Songs for: Adele, Beyonce, Maroon 5, Demi Lovato, Leona Lewis, Jennifer Lopez, and the list goes on.

Revenue as a Songwriter: Approx. $50 million in digital downloads

__________________________________________________________________________

Max Martin – Net Worth: $250 million

Written Songs for: Jessie J, The Backstreet Boys, Pink, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, and MANY more.

Revenue as Songwriter: Approx. $50 Million in digital downloads alone.

______________________________________________________________________________

Dr. Luke – Net Worth: $100 million

Produced/Written songs for: Kelly Clarkson, P!nk, Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry, Backstreet Boys, Flo Rida, Ciara, Miley Cyrus, and others.

Profits from Songwriting: Approx. $30 million in digital downloads

_____________________________________________________________________________

Sia Furler – Net Worth: $20 million

Written Songs for: Christina Aguilera, Eminem, David Guetta, Flo Rida, Beyonce, Rihanna, and others.

Profits from Songwriting: Approx. $14 Million in digital downloads

______________________________________________________________________________

Bonnie McKee – Net Worth: $30 million

Written Songs for: Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, Taio Cruz, Ke$ha, Adam Lambert, Britney Spears, Cher, and others.

Profits from Songwriting: Approx. $25 million

______________________________________________________________________________

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R-N-R Jim    5

In some sense that may be true Gary...the money is doing the walking...but most of the music they are writing doesnt speak to me. At some point I would love to ask these writers if they really loved what they wrote for the artist or they did it to pay the bills...I guess the term selling out comes to mind.

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I guarantee 99% of the bands I grew up listening to never read an article on how to write songs.

I bet they didn't post their songs on an online forum for critiques, either! :lol:/>

No sir! Lol

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GaryHale    19

This sums it up succinctly - "...but most of the music they are writing doesn't speak to me."

Jim, they're not writing for you. You're not their audience. Their audience for the most part is probably 30-50 years younger than you. Within the context of the artists they work with and the demographic they write and produce for these writers are masters of their craft.

More than a few voices on this site consistently put down contemporary artists, writers and producers. I don't understand why that is. I'm always excited and curious and, yes, envious, of what is being written and produced. I'm not one to look for reasons to undermine the success of others. I'm happy that people, any people, find success in the music business, doing what they love. Things change, styles change, tastes change, but to equate change with "selling out" says more about one's inability to accept change gracefully than it actually says about the change itself.

You're a bright, talented and opinionated guy who seems to enjoy exchanging ideas with others. Why not let you're guard down a bit and allow yourself the freedom of exploring new terrains, free of preconceived rigid musical beliefs. Enjoy the success of others; be open to it; learn from it... or be doomed to live in the past with the same soundtrack always playing in the background. Me, I'm always looking around the next corner, eager to see what's coming my way.

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R-N-R Jim    5

Actually Gary, I do enjoy some of the music that is being done or has been done the last 20 years...thing is, most of it isnt in the top 20 that the industry force feeds us.lol I would love to see some new bands/artists that I like get the same fair shake at airplay and see how it would fall out.

examples: The Weepies, Flop, Diiv to name a few.

You really have to hunt for good artists out there(CDbaby being a great source) and unfortunately the industry has force fed alot of artists by playing their songs for longer stretches rather than a 3 month cycle. You have to agree the top 40 in our day had a greater variety of songs and with shorter rotation cycles to keep things fresh. Once the industry started buying up all the radio stations, all bets were off that any regional band could ever get airplay to start a buzz about them.

Sure, college radio and the internet has in some ways given an outlet or exposure for indie bands...but to get that force fed exposure of national radio is still strangely relevant....and the record companies know it.

Im just saying that alot of what the industry promotes doesnt seem timeless in a musical sense. I know...you may say its us oldies that crow from a bygone era, but when I see young kids wearing Beatles or Led Zep shirts, I know their parents didnt force feed those shirts on them :) Good music never dies, it gets rediscovered through bands that bring that sound back in their own way...but unfortunately these days seldom gets the airplay it needs to succeed...because it doesnt sound "new". I will take good over new any day :)

As far as audience...well...if money talks , Im sure more retro bands would make it since alot of us oldsters still buy music...and we still buy cds! lol not a download of one song from an artist like some money strapped teenager does. Anyways..whats "old" still makes money...you would think the industry would know this and maybe cultivate more good "old" music.

just sayin

R-N-R Jim

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Alistair S    47
... But it would be hard having a text-based dialogue about this stuff with, say, Alistair, unless we were happening knee-to-knee in real time.

Hard?

Well nigh impossible, surely?

And, even knee to knee, I'd probably need constant prodding to pay attention.

:(

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Mike B    73

Brief return from self-imposed exile to say Friendemann’s blog is largely bollocks.

3 things that make it clear to any professional songwriter that he is an amateur.

1. Not knowing how to voice extensions effectively

2. Suggesting that avoidance of these extensions is a productive way of dealing with them.

3. Recommending the “power chord” as another alternate solution

I've had my disagreements with Lazz, but I'm in agreement with him regarding this holistic blog.

1) There is no adjective 'avoid', so "Avoid Notes" doesn't mean anything.

2) Listen to Prince songs - that's funk-pop, right? Purple Rain uses a sus4 (or 11). It's not the exception to the rule.

3) Always play a triad? Nonsense.

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Lazz    24
... But it would be hard having a text-based dialogue about this stuff with, say, Alistair, unless we were happening knee-to-knee in real time.

Hard?

Well nigh impossible, surely?

And, even knee to knee, I'd probably need constant prodding to pay attention.

No, mate. Not at all.

Easy as pie once we switched a decent light on.

Brief return from self-imposed exile to say Friendemann’s blog is largely bollocks.

I've had my disagreements with Lazz, but I'm in agreement with him regarding this holistic blog.

I fully expected you to accuse me of bullying.

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Jim,

More than a few voices on this site consistently put down contemporary artists, writers and producers. I don't understand why that is.

I'll try to explain :)

Their audience for the most part is probably 30-50 years younger than you. Within the context of the artists they work with and the demographic they write and produce for these writers are masters of their craft.

They're not written for people who understand music, but anyway, the problem that really worries me is their audience is just too HUGE, which is scary, if you think the fact that majority of the world consumes daily repetitive mental numbing noises... That's scary

Things change, styles change,

U mean, what we once knew as Pop Music transformed into gimmicks music, acting music, a vehicle for high skilled competitors to achieve financial success. That's the craft you mentioned before. There are great schools for that, to cater for the music industry as I guess most of the names you mentioned came from.

tastes change, but to equate change with "selling out" says more about one's inability to accept change gracefully than it actually says about the change itself.

u r pointing out the existence of a daily massive defecation of "artists" worldwide through the almighty mass media, so they can guarantee that 9 out of 10 teenagers won't have a clue of what music used to sound like. Their ears gets successfully conditioned from birth, and in such a way that they can no longer perceive subtleties or/and nuances.

A person can't never miss what he/she never had. That's not taste changing, that's effective taste conditioning and mind/sense numbing. Can't stop thinking about Brave New World. :)

Why not let you're guard down a bit and allow yourself the freedom of exploring new terrains, free of preconceived rigid musical beliefs. Enjoy the success of others; be open to it; learn from it... or be doomed to live in the past with the same soundtrack always playing in the background. Me, I'm always looking around the next corner, eager to see what's coming my way.

The only thing left for us to do is just to wait all this rubbish pass, hopefully before I die haha

But seriously, kids don't deserve to end up being musicaly retarded due to the industry needs.. Someone gotta show them some good old records :)

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Mike B    73

Hey BMS, old thread, but valid arguments!

I think we can define those kids/teens/now 20-somethings who listen to this new crapmusic (and don't know any better) as ones who didn't get enough exposure to good music when growing up. Their parents have the tv on all the time at home, don't play music (either themselves or records/CDs), or go to concerts (bringing the kids). There are a lot of people/parents like this - music was never a big part of their world. I've seen this - people I've worked with, as an example.

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Howdy Songwriters,

I just wrote this blog on the 3 things you are doing that make it clear to any professional songwriter that you're an amateur.

I just can't really go with a lot of the things in the article. I am an avant pop and world folk music fan, the latter of which journeys into the tonal palates of non-western harmony, some which avoid block chords entirely or 12 note systems. I would argue that all the rules need to continually be broken for western music to catch up. We barely use melisma in our melodies, hardly deviate out of 4/4 or 3/4, and insist on perpetually using the same tired combination of instruments in our music. So my ears are completely broken as to how can arrange a maj7 chord voicing or where and how you can sing the 13th, though I assure I'm competent as I've been playing many different instruments for about 15 years..

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Lazz    24
I just can't really go with a lot of the things in the article. I am an avant pop and world folk music fan, the latter of which journeys into the tonal palates of non-western harmony, some which avoid block chords entirely or 12 note systems. I would argue that all the rules need to continually be broken for western music to catch up. We barely use melisma in our melodies, hardly deviate out of 4/4 or 3/4, and insist on perpetually using the same tired combination of instruments in our music. So my ears are completely broken as to how can arrange a maj7 chord voicing or where and how you can sing the 13th, though I assure I'm competent as I've been playing many different instruments for about 15 years..

Of course, I endorse your dissatisfaction with Friedemann's bloggage style and content - but I am intrigued and challenged by your other comments.

My own thinking is that your claim that "we" (?) "barely use melisma" tells me you slept through every season of American Idol.

On the other hand, the observations about instrumentation and time-signatures in "western music" suggest you're narrowing that field down to some kind of western pop only.

So I'm confused as well as intrigued and challenged.

(But only if I think about it.)

Have to mention also, just for fun, that I feel an automatic allergic reaction anytime I hear another rehash of the stale old rebel-posture about rules that "need to continually be broken" or even that "western music" needs to "catch up". In any field of expression or creative endeavour, why the need to break things? Smashing stuff can't validate anything much except nihilism, surely. Which is where stale and old come back in. And what is it exactly that western music needs to "catch-up" to? Is there any credible musician-composer you know of (honestly, now) who can afford to take time off from doing what they do to worry over whether they're catching-up? And with what?

Sorry for being such an argumentative bastard - but I am trying to break rules and catch-up.

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Al DeTrolio    0

Without reading the 3 things he is gonna list 'first'.... the 3 things that pop into my head as things that amateur writers do (or don't do) are...

1) Having a poor command of the English language & of the craft of songwriting in general. (some possible examples could be... no command or use of Metaphor, not taking advantage of imperfect rhyme and it's tremendous value to open up your lyric writing options, no use of slang and alternate colloquialism, not using conversational speech in your lyrics to help draw the listener in, making sure to use repetition (without overdoing it), simile, clique’ twisting & alterations (people who leave cliche's 'as-is', and don;t take advantage of twisting them), having big meter & scansion issues, a lack of prosody between music and lyric, chorus melodies that don't soar above the verse- or well below it, chord progressions with no alterations used if the opportunity is there, no attention paid to using the right groove, and a poor presentation demo, etc. etc...

2) selling songs--- You ask people if they know how to sell a song or if they themselves have ever 'sold one'. (because song revenue is generally not made from selling the song away entirely.0

3) You are worried about rushing out to copyright everything you ever wrote (including the crap) and refusing to show anyone a song that isn't 'protected' in your opinion. That over protective fear shows that you have not been 'in the game' so to speak.

Those are 3 that just came to me, but there are more.

Ok... now I will read the blog post.

Al DeTrolio

https://www.reverbnation.com/aldetroliosongwriter/videos

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Al DeTrolio    0

I'm glad I didn't read it first. All I can say (that also comes to mind) is something a guy who has sold over 20 million records of his own songs said to me one day when we were co-writing something together... "Al... whatever works."

Songwriting is an art form not a science experiment. I know guys who can tell you every single thing imaginable about writing both music and lyrics from a technical & analytic standpoint as they study hit songs like a government agency... but ask them to show you their own song that knocks you on your ass, and they got NADA.

I take my lesson from that moment VERY seriously. (and they never have a valid response for me)

I'll admit that I also studied a great deal during the first 15 years, but eventually you gotta put away all that shit FOREVER and actually get down to the business of writing great songs. There's no way around that.

...and THAT is where most over book'ed people fail. They can critically analyze a great song, but they cannot produce one with their own pen & guitar.

Al DeTrolio

https://www.reverbnation.com/aldetroliosongwriter/videos

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I'd venture to suggest that a lot of the success that comes from songwriting and those big scary bank balances you tout out before us is not down to genuinely connecting with an audience.  There's something they do that resonates with enough people for it to work, granted.  But it's not all of it, probably not even most of it.  Nobody I know - old or young - likes most of the stuff they hear that charts.  Everyone has a complaint.

The difference is this, as is the difference with ANY form of art and the very reason why you should never take proness as a stand-in for quality: it's more about the marketing, and knowing the right people.  Why on earth do you even think that so few people write so many of the popular songs?  Because it's to quite a large degree not even anything to do with the songs at all.  The music videos are typically more important.  The trendy cliques that form around the image of the people in the music videos are typically even more important than the videos themselves.  The songs are not the main part of what's being sold, here.  So you can't say success in this field is down to being better than everyone else at writing songs, it's just not true.

I like some modern stuff.  Like anyone, I look back on my favourite era through nostalgia goggles and typically forget about (or over-romantically pedestal) all the crap that was also popular back then.  Just like I'll do once this current crop is sufficiently in the past and I'm similarly looking back on it with selection bias.  It's nothing to do with being old, beyond that necessary skew.  Doesn't change the quality of the people making the songs.

In that respect, I'd say there's one thing they consistently fail at when it comes to songwriting and it's a thing they're pretty much chosen because they fail at - they're way too homogenous.  Their ideas aren't interesting.  Every song's about being in a club, and even in that limited setting you don't get the more genuine emotions such as depressive jealousy or oneupmanship collateral to connect to since it's not about the song - it's about selling the image of the artist attached to it.  And that's it.

In this way, pop will never represent the pinnacle of music, because it shifts its definition to mean whatever is the current pinnacle of commercialism, whose aims are somewhat combative with the aims of writing a good song.  And by good song I don't mean one in a personally preferred genre, or written by my favourite artists, or about things I'd myself connect to - I mean one that resonates with someone, means something, does something, has some kind of interesting thing.  One you could dance to?  Sure.  One you could sit and listen to?  Sure.  Whatever its purpose is (keyly, a music purpose rather than an external one), however it's meant to be listened to - a song that achieves that purpose.  That, to me, is a good song.  There are a lot of good songs I can't stand but I know they're still good songs.

Formula kills a lot in that aim.  And formula is what a lot of 'successful' types lean on since in order to get successful in capitalist systems that cause money to be the thing that makes you more money (and lack of it the thing that stops you), there is only one dominant strategy - turtling up, and doing "what works".  It's grossly formula-encouraging.  And we don't all get necessarily exposed to the best selection of music because of that!

It is mitigated against to a large degree however by the simple fact that people tend to want to have a passion in what they do (however much they might not dare rock the money boat in order to express it) and artists have an amount of pride in being thought of by their listeners as good at what they do, and wanting their listeners to genuine enjoy their output.  Which certainly does happen!  Again, largely due to the sheer exposure dominance that heaps of cash thrown behind something can achieve - most listeners don't know any better (this also being why they prefer them young - put plainly, they've had less chance to absorb better stuff).

So a certain amount of that will always win out, and so you'll always get exceptions, breakthroughs and also a certain even underlying element of quality in pop.  But it's not excellence.  You have to understand it isn't the genuine measure of the best songs.  And yeah, most of my favourites are barely beneath the popularity surface themselves and that's likely due to not having heard of better stuff.  Everyone's collection is gonna be limited to a degree.  It's just according to how far you're willing to go in order to discover the best, that's all - me, I'm satisfied with a bunch of moderately popular artists.  I stopped there.  I may go deeper someday.  But like I said, there are spots of quality everywhere - there never won't be.  Because people love music.

The mistake is in thinking that the most exposed are the most loved.  That's generally not true, for all those reasons.

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