Sunday, September 22, 2013

You Don’t Need Blurred Lines to Write a Song

By Kimberly Johnson

Hey, Hey, Hey. Those three words are burning up the radio waves, especially on 104.7 FM. The intro line belongs to Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines. (Some old school listeners say Fat Albert needs to jump into this). The groovin’ chart topper got me thinking. I want to write a song without blurred lines, you know, something catchy, something that will sell and make millions. Ok. I didn’t major in Music in college. I didn’t play an instrument in high school and I am not acquainted with the formal definitions of harmony, rhythm, and chord progression. But, I pay attention to words and their arrangement in a composition—guess that comes from my newspaper writing training. Listen to the words in the title song from the 70s sitcom, Maude. Lyricists Dave Grusin and Andrew Bergman knew who the target audience was (women), found a universal theme (strong women who had conviction) and tapped into a catchy beat (search for it on YouTube).

Lady Godiva was freedom rider. She didn’t care if the whole world looked. Joan of Arc with the Lord to guide her. She was a sister who really cooked.
Those are the elements needed to write a good story. And like any good journalist-turning-songwriter, I cranked up the Internet and came up with a hodge-podge of tips.

    *Keep a notebook handy and write down words, lines and verses that embody how you feel and think.

2: Be organized:
   *Get a central theme or subject. Outline what your message is to your target audience. Organize and       focus on what emotion you want the audience to take away from your song.

3: Keep Music 101 in mind and work through the technical stuff.
   *Write the chorus, first. It showcases the main idea in your song. Make it catchy.
   *Compose a melody, using a music scale “Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti” .
    *Write one melody for the first line, and then use various types of melodies for subsequent lines in the     song.
   **Hint: “A traditional song has four to five verses of four lines. Writing at least five plus a chorus can really help to make the verse and melody happen, as these are the most important things of the song to a lyricist. Write two last verses. Even the most experienced song writers are waiting for the inspiration how to write song lyrics by them, because these are normally the hardest to write.”
Ok. I didn’t major in Music in college. Nevertheless, I did write for a living and I know what components make for a good story.  I need to take a music class and not get blurred lines when I start this songwriting gig.

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