As a singer songwriter is hard to look objectively at your music, as it is almost an extension of yourself. Often songs are your stories and it is hard to see how they could be written better.
I had the opportunity to explore my stories for 3 days in the beautiful countryside surroundings of Kent, as part of the ‘ 3 day bootcamp Songwriting Academy’ run by renowned songwriter Martin Sutton.
Martin’s expertise and experience were so evident throughout the three days; taking us through every inch of how to carefully craft a great song. Each day was very intense, starting at 10:00am and finishing around 7:00pm; days were full of master workshops, practical activities and guest’s lecturers with a wealth of knowledge that could at times be overwhelming to take in.
Day one consisted of ‘An introduction to the foundations of songwriting’ using the SCOPE system. SCOPE stood for: Strategy, Creation, Optimization, Presentation, and Exploitation
During ‘Strategy and Creation’ we explored common denominators of hit songs, and it gave us songwriters a glimpse into the ‘matrix code’ behind current popular music. It really showed us how we cannot underestimate the time we put into our craft, and it helped us to strategize how we can write our songs in a way that can be understood by many.
‘Optimization’, on day 2, was more focused on musicality; looking at aspects of songs such as harmonic progression, melodic contour, rhythm and balance. This session was led by Jez Ashurst who delivered a fun workshop, with ease. Learning how to better use chord progressions that cause tension and release made sense, and the many musical examples given were eye opening, as they showed how western musical listeners crave certain things in popular song culture. The highlight from this day was the melodic phrases session, where using a simple clapping exercise, Jez encouraged us to come up with different melodic choruses, just from clapping different rhythms (very hard to explain in a blog, but if you catch me at a gig sometime, be sure to ask me and I’ll show you J)
Day 3 focused on ‘Presentation and Exploitation' with guest lecturer Tim Fraser - a very charming and charismatic storyteller. We learnt about making the most of every opportunity, as you never know who will be the person willing to give your song a chance. We practiced our elevator pitch and learnt never to leave home without your music!
After many hours of teaching, late night jam sessions , making friends and future collaborators; I came away feeling I had picked up some real insights into the world of songwriting.
Ultimately if you are thinking about songwriting as a career, it’s like any other business; if you put in the work…craft and refine your songs…think about the use of your words…along with collaborating and networking like crazy…then you may,
… just may, increase your chances of writing a hit song.
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