Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Co-writing songs

Julie and I participated in a co-writing workshop offered by Steve Seskin. Steve compared co-writing to dating, sometimes it works other times not. Since Julie and I are beyond the dating stage, both in our relationship and in songwriting we wanted to hear more.

A couple of points that I took note of:

- You need to make your partner comfortable during the co-write
- You need to be yourself
- When co-writing, you don’t work on the song when the other is not around
- Both of you have to love every line. Either throw the line out or hold it for later inspiration.
- Define your strengths. For example are, you better at big ideas or individual verses, melody or chords …
- Like dating you need to:
-- First get to know each other
-- Set a time and parameters around the date (what time, for how long…)
-- Define your relationship

The last bullet, define your relationship, had the most meaning for us. We had been co-writing for years but had not defined our songwriting relationship. For example, in the majority of our efforts, I arranged some chords, Julie provided a melody and then I wrote the lyrics. We struggled with the song College Years, because we followed this process. I came to find out later that Julie felt strongly about the melody and wanted to have a part in the lyrics. However, by that time I was invested in the lyrics. As Steve pointed out, true co-writing means working on everything together. From now on, we'll define this relationship for each song we’re working on together.

Some artists compartmentalize these tasks. For example, Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics and Elton John developed the music. Rarely did Elton John ever change the lyrics.

Another partnership between Burt Bacharach and Hal Davis was recently described in Performing Songwriter. The partnership was founded with Hal Davis writing the lyrics and Burt Bacharach writing the music. However, on “Raindrops Keep Fallin on My Head,” Burt developed the opening line. Hal tired to change it, but couldn’t find anything better. What’s interesting was that the melody was composed to fit Bob Dylan. Luckily for B.J. Thomas, Dylan turned the song down.


At 2:52 PM, Blogger budi said...

Thanks for the info. I was looking for articles that describe song writing (alone or teamwork). I hope you can write more things related to your work.


Post a Comment

<< Home