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  • Song Writer's Ball

    I'm looking for some feedback on the idea hosting a get-together wherein song writers meet and try to help each other write better songs.

    I'm going to host a "song writer's ball". I expect to have a fairly informal gathering the first time or two, perhaps to meet once a month or something. I'm definitely open to suggestions as to approach and organization but I'm thinking we'll introduce ourselves and describe where we're at musically and what we want to get out of the whole thing. Then, depending on how many people attend, we'll each present part of a song we've written, being open to honest feedback and critique, and unabashedly try out new suggestions and approaches despite what our initial biases might tell us. Perhaps we'll even record the whole thing for future reference and learning.

    I now open the table up to discussions, suggestions and so on. Thank you very much and have a wonderful night!

  • #2
    I live in a city of just over a million people, and it is large enough to support events such as the one you describe.
    Given the population of the twin cities, I expect it should attract reasonable interest.

    I have never attended any of our local songwriters events, but here is their website to give you an idea of some of the events and organisational structures.

    http://www.scala.org.au/index.htm
    'Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn'.
    CHARLIE PARKER

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    • #3
      That is fantastic information; thank you for sharing! There are other song writing groups already. I'm looking to start a new, very-inclusive one to expand everyone's understanding of the craft and to come up with and share new ideas and approaches. I did find out that there is a relatively formal group, and their site is here: http://mnsongwriters.org/

      It was very helpful to see what other groups are doing. I'm hoping to put something together within a couple of weeks and start some sort of discussion forum/e-mail newsletter/Facebook group/whatever.

      John

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      • #4
        I'm a participant of the local songwriter's group. Each meeting opens with a speaker of some sort. Some of the speakers are from within the group, or local songwriters of repute. We had an intern from BMI come in (who happened to be one of the leaders' daughter). That's 30-40 minutes. Then there's a 20-30 minute "rap session" where people share upcoming gigs, new open mics, and other "career" news. After these sometimes-too-long opening ceremonies, people start with songs. It's pretty much an open mic format, where you sign up, and get up to play.
        In this group, you play two songs, or you can play one song and get it critiqued, with each person getting about 10 minutes. If you're getting a critique, you bring in copies of the lyrics for the other members, who write their suggestions on the lyric sheet and turn them back in to the writer. I've found the critiques to be pretty useless most of the time, as there's a wide range of standards people are holding the songs to--some are thinking in terms of modern day commercial appeal, some just want them to be as clever as possible, and I'm usually looking to get a song to where it'll communicate with my bar audience as effectively as possible. There are times when I have a few specific questions about a song when I bring it in, and that helps to focus the criticism on information that's useful to me (I try to do the same thing on this forum). Usually, I prefer to play two songs that are a little half-baked; playing them in front of an audience usually makes clear to me what's working and what isn't, and I couldn't ask for a more forgiving audience.
        There's a strict "no covers" policy, which has actually needed to be enforced a few times, but at the December meeting, people are encouraged to bring in a holiday cover tune.
        The group meets once a month (I think it's the second Wednesday of every month), and reserves the performance space at a local bookstore. We sometimes get bookstore browsers wandering in to listen, but it's mostly pretty intimate.
        There's a monthly reminder/upcoming news email, and a Facebook page that doesn't get much traffic.
        My attendance has been spotty over the last few years, due to a schedule conflict, but they're apparently doing "assignments" lately, where people are given some parameters for a song they're expected to write for the month. This is apparently in response to some people's habit of bringing the same ****************ing song in every month to play.
        I'm getting near novel length here, but I'll come back if I think of anything else. I imagine the Twin Cities could support a few of these groups, if you can differentiate yourself. I had an acquaintance who lived in a town with a "four-track club" (obviously a few years/decades ago) where folks would write, arrange, and record a song every month, also with assignments. If there's already an established group in town, you might think about taking on an angle like that.
        Jukejoint Handmedowns (my band)

        Find our album on iTunes!

        A Month of Songs (Songwriting blog)







        Originally Posted by gennation


        Neither of us is gay or anything, it just happened.

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        • #5
          Maybe you can start a skype group with some of us songwriters here. I'd be interested.
          "Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a look at the American Indian" — Henry Ford

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          • #6
            Maybe you can start a skype group with some of us songwriters here. I'd be interested.


            Wow... does that work. I've used Skype as a one on one forum, but can you work a group in Spype? This sound interesting...
            __________
            Your god doesn't exist but my god does and he is all loving. If you disagree with me I'll kill you. - Prince Ea

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            • #7
              I thought they discontinued Skype groups a couple years ago, actually. I'd toyed with the idea of trying to set up realtime songwriter's roundtable kind of things. The fidelity wasn't too awful -- but Skype's really oriented to speech, which it does very well... acoustic guitar, even properly miked didn't come over super great... but it would have been usable, I think. That said, back in the late 90s 10 or 20 people from the old Mp3.com used to do live 'open mics' over an even more primitive telephony thing. (With that system, one person had 'the mic' at a time -- which actually worked out pretty well, the moderator controlled it [but there were no untoward mic-takeovers, anyhow ].)


              With regard to the real-world meet-up, sounds like fun. While open mics often let you do a few songs in a row, with songwriter things where there will be discussion of a song, I think it's best to limit it to one song each as you go around the circle. Then you can start back around if you have time. (I see the OP was talking about 'part' of a song -- and if you have a lot of epic-writers churning out 40 verse leviathans, I can see the point of that, maybe, but I think most folks' songs are probably going to be 3 or 4 minutes (some might seem like more ) so I'd probably lean toward the whole song presentation for most of them.


              music and social stuff

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              • #8
                These are great suggestions. The more I read and think, I agree that presenting a song in full, wherever it's at in the process is the best approach. There are plenty of open mics around town already so I don't need to duplicate that effort. There are also songwriting groups but I like the "four track group" idea, where people write a new song a month and bring it in for help, perhaps engaging the group to self-record and release the "cream of the crop" as voted on by the group.

                One good point was personal bias. I have it, too, and I want to remove it from the equation as much as possible. That's why having a number of viewpoints other than my own will be helpful when crafting a song. It's not all about me, though, that's for sure!

                I've got a date set up (Friday the 13th) for the first one and will gauge where to take it from there. Your feedback is super helpful and I am grateful you've all chosen to share your side of things!

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                • #9
                  I didn't get it that people would be bringing in recordings... that could be helpful, especially for those who don't work on 'portable' instruments like a guitar or portable keyboard. If an electronica composer brings in his compositional efforts for feeback, he's probably going to need to play a recording. I've heard of a mix of live and recordings for critique circles before and I think it makes good sense.


                  music and social stuff

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                  • #10
                    I didn't even think of the "bring your own recording" aspect of it but arrangements could be made for that. After all, if they have a recorded demo, sure, why not? I was referring to recording the session and somehow distributing it if people were on board. Since there won't be a piano, only acoustic guitar at this first gathering, that will be part of the deal. And although presentation may be important, I'd almost rather people bring in a super stripped-down version of the song or play it live. After all, we're not judging the performance or the performer, just the song!

                    But mostly, I want it to be a free and open forum for people to discuss writing songs, present them, get honest and helpful feedback, and make musical connections! All of these responses are extremely thoughtful and I'm glad to hear them all!

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                    • #11
                      you can use oovoo chat also
                      On skype group, no video, but skype with just add people to your conversation, maybe video is possible. Also on oovoo, I know one can use video on one on one, but more I'm not sure.
                      "Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a look at the American Indian" — Henry Ford

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                      • #12
                        Wow... does that work. I've used Skype as a one on one forum, but can you work a group in Spype? This sound interesting...


                        If the group owner has premium skype, yes it works with video, but sound is ok. You can add over 10 people on it. I have a language skype class I've started and right now I have 12 memembers joined
                        "Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a look at the American Indian" — Henry Ford

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          One of the great advantages of the group I'm in is that we can show up to each other's shows--you'd lose that w/ an online version.
                          Jukejoint Handmedowns (my band)

                          Find our album on iTunes!

                          A Month of Songs (Songwriting blog)







                          Originally Posted by gennation


                          Neither of us is gay or anything, it just happened.

                          Comment



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