Songwriting

Pat Pattison – Professor of Songwriting (Berklee)

Ah, what a wonderful evening with the one and only Pat Pattison, lyric-writing extraordinaire, Professor of Songwriting from the famed Berklee College of Music. It’s been 2 years since attending one of Pat’s seminars and though I’ve been dabbling in, but mostly out of my songwriting, just being in the presence of songwriting royalty has given me the kick up the butt I needed to get back on the horse again with my songs. So this smile you see is the smile of reinvigoration, of excitement and of thirst – here’s to plenty of new songs, good, bad and ugly!

 

complete cheese – and I love it!

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Happy First Birthday Monday Ditties!

Today marks 12 months worth of #mondayditties =p woohoo! It was a little project initially started to justify buying an iPhone outright (it wasn’t the latest iPhone, however it was still a substantial outlay of funds!) but it has now become just part of my working week. It’s been interesting the many conversations I’ve had with people who have caught it on social media, some who even hang out for Monday just to see what I’m going to post next (does that mean I have an actual following???) … from creative peers, to parents of students, to students themselves (which is a little disconcerting when I have primary school aged students mentioning my #mondayditties to me – they may have liked my outfit, song or makeup or hated all choices featured in the video … =p) people seem to be enjoying my little ditties. YAY! So Happy Birthday #MondayDitties here’s to more #musicmaking and a big thank you to all for your comments, likes, dislikes, suggestions and generally for hitting play when you see a little Monday video posted. If you want to get in on the fun follow me on Instagram or FB =)

Here’s a selection of screen shots from my ditties #IpullfunnylookswhenIsing =p

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Picking the brains of these extraordinaires: Pat Pattison and Bonnie Hayes workshop

Pat Pattison and Bonnie Hayes. Two of Berklee’s (College of Music) finest professors, royalty in songwriting, two people who genuinely care about the art of writing songs and equipping their students with the tools to produce better music, sigh!

This last weekend I got to spend time picking the brains of both Pat and Bonnie at their recent songwriting workshop. To simply be in the presence of these two was awe-inspiring with their knowledge, experience and line-up of phenomenal musicians/ songwriters they have taught/ worked with (Pat taught John Mayer and Gillian Welch to write songs and had recently spent a week teaching the writers at Disney, that’s write DISNEY, to write better songs for their movies, just to name a few, and Bonnie played for Billy Idol back in the day and wrote songs for Bonnie Raitt – BONNIE RAITT!!! Not that name dropping matters =p ) but to top off the delightful weekend I was fortunate enough to have my song “Someday” appraised by them. Of course they were ruthless (in a good way of course) and everything they had to say about my song was totally right; the melody and the setting of the lyric were disjointed at times… giving emphasis to inconsequential words like “of” and “the” detracted from the emotional response of the listener … the content in the 2nd verse plateaued so there was no reason to sing the chorus again … oh such gold! Of course none of this was negative feedback, in fact I was so thankful for their honesty – how else am I going to get better as a songwriter? What I was thoroughly taken back by was how encouraging both Pat and Bonnie were. Bonnie dealt with the music and Pat dealt with the lyrics #dreamteam. They loved the chords and the melody, the bridge was “very Bacharach” (as in Burt!), the chorus was beautiful “remarkable” even, and the “will you think of me someday” catch line was “so cool” but the setting of the lyrics had to be perfect, no just kinda good or just a little lumpy or clumsy.

Ok Pat and Bonnie, yep you totally schooled me with my own song. Thank you for the kick up the bum and the reminder to never settle for just KINDA good … perfection here I come!

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Pat Pattison; Songwriting Genius Extraordinaire

“The most important thing is to write in your own blood. I bare intimate feelings because people should know how other people feel.” Joni Mitchell, Time Magazine, December 1974.

I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember, even before I wrote songs. I wrote stories in school, have journaled endlessly and am hopelessly in love with the use of language to convey ideas, dreams, hopes, desires, loss, mourning, fear, anger and every other facet of human existence.

It was at uni that I started dabbling in songwriting and soon after I discovered Pat Pattison; songwriting genius extraordinaire, Berkley School of Music’s Professor of Lyric Writing and Poetry, the guy who taught John Mayer, Gillian Welch and many others to write songs – jackpot! And thus starting the snowballing desire to harness and sharpen my songwriting skills, ever striving to write songs that not only convey a message but really connect and even pull at the heart strings of my listeners.

It was a joy to be able to spend the last weekend in the presence of Pat (and many other budding songwriters), picking his brain and having him share his knowledge and experience in a workshop titled “How do I know when I’m done with a song?” … and Pat’s answer to the title? “When I’ve done and checked everything I know … so how much do I (we) know?”

Often what drives one to write is a feeling but as Pat pointed out, writing a song from what we feel never makes a song ‘better’ rather just makes a song ‘different’, due to the fact that our feelings change so regularly. So in light of this, Pat insisted to start with the BIG 3 QUESTIONS: 1. Who’s talking? 2. To Whom? 3. Why?

1/2. Who’s Talking? To Whom?
This describes the relationship between the singer and the world of the song, more specifically the point of view that is being used in the song. Am I (the singer) speaking to you (the person who broke my heart) or am I (the singer) speaking to you (the listener or the world) about a 3rd party he or she? Or am I (the singer) just telling you a story where the characters are seen through a looking glass or periscope? The closer the address (you and I) the more intimate the singer is with the listener.

3. Why?
What’s the moral of the story? Why am I (the singer) singing?

Pat challenged us to realise the answers to these questions were not discovered accidentally, rather they were very specific conscious decisions that each writer must ask themselves during the process of writing, as well as when they were checking to see whether they were ‘done’ with the song.

… and this was all just skimming the surface =p So back I go to the writing desk …

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