Saturday, March 10, 2007

Use of humor in a serious song

One of the songwriters last night was performing a pretty serious song and in the middle added two humorous lines. It sparked a good debate, should you or should you not add humor in a serious song. The crowd last night was evenly split.

In this instance the lines fit his personality perfectly. It really fit who he was and his music. They really did a good job of breaking the tension he had built up. However, if I was going to perform this song, those lines wouldn't work for me. It wouldn't fit my personality. Finally, the song was really strong with or without those line.

So the final answer is, it should stay the same and it should change (I could be a politician). The question really boils down to, who are you writing the song for and how will it be used?

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Speed bumps in songwriting

KG Morris had a great observation at last night's songwriters group, he called it avoiding speed bumps in a song.

This came up in time capsule song. The songwriter had the first verse age 22, the second verse age 32, and the third verse age 34. Two people in the room had a problem with the change in time period lengths. They said it distracted them. I didn't notice until it was point out. Ken called these items speed bumps. You're in the flow of the song and something impedes your progress with enjoying the song. Not everyone will pick-up on it, but those that do it's a problem.

Some other examples of speed bumps that I recently encountered,
- In "When the Talking Stops" - I referred to the same god as a he (my future wife picked up on it). Specifying the gender is not important, so I will change it.
- Using a war metaphor in a song not about war. With the current sensitivity to war it's time to find a different metaphor.
- In the song the Foundation Stands, first impressions were that the word Foundation didn't work in the chorus. Since the song was based on this words, it couldn't change. Instead I worked on phrasing.

Identifying and working with speed bumps is really important. That's the best thing in having a diverse group of people reviewing your song. The best part of being the songwriter is you can use these comments or chose to ignore them!

P.S. Really cool news - When Ken was in Nashville he worked with another artist on his song, "One More Sip." They changed the tempo, moved a few verses around and then had a professional demo. It's great and is being pitched!!! It's only a matter of time until you hear it on the radio.

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