The Poetry in Songwriting

It seems to be a pattern that lyrics are often disappointing without the emotional backdrop of the music they accompany. Likewise poems which stand perfectly on their own can be very difficult to fit to music without taking into account the natural rhythm in the writing itself. It is interesting and sometimes unsettling to listen to a piece of music transform mediocre writing into art which is precious to thousands of listeners.

The structure of the writing seems to be the key as to how it connects to the music. If the intention is to write a poem that relies on it’s own musicality, then it may be difficult to avoid a clash when it is fit to precomposed music. This is because a structured poem already has musicality, a structure, an aesthetic. Thus, the music will have to be tailored to work harmoniously with the musical structure that is already present in the poem.

Lyrics written for music however, often lack their own rhythm and read off the page more like a list of statements. This allows the phrases and words to be tailored, moved around, and laid nicely over the rhythms of the music.

Thus, in the writing of lyrics, the music becomes just as important to the beauty of the poetry as the meaning of the words themselves.


Let me know what you think.





The Songwriter’s Challenge

So often songwriting becomes the topic of debate in popular music: whether someone writes their own material, how sincere the lyrics are, the musicality, the simplicity, etc. Its an art-form which is so difficult because it is often so simple. It requires mature writing both lyrically and musically without relying on virtuosity or intellectualism. All that counts is its connection with the listener. However, because of the art-form’s starkness it can often be twisted by aesthetics, sexuality or any marketing tactics meant to draw in the audience while detracting from the musical expression. Also, because songwriting is such a large part of our entertainment industry you often have to question whether a song is stuck in your head because it the result of a formula that is being pushed out like a factory product or whether it really means something to you as a sincere expression. Take Bruno Mars for example; I recently heard a girl say, “he gets it, he knows what girls want to hear.” But does he get it or does some musician on the label’s payroll get it. When it really comes down to it, does that even matter?

Some would obviously say that a song’s origin doesn’t really matter but rather the meaning that each person derives from it. I say “bullshit.” I would like to think that when I buy something, it is a quality product and not something that breaks down after I take it out of its deceivingly well packaged box. In addition, it’s more than an annoyance that generations are fed some of the trends that corporate interests think will make them the most money.

Now, for some true songwriting: Dink’s Song – First recorded in the early 1900’s.

Introducing: C Dub Trois

This is a video of the talent that is coming out of the Lowell music scene today. The group features students from Berklee and UMASS Lowell performing in UMASS Lowell’s beautiful senior recording studio; recorded, mixed, and filmed by UMASS Lowell students.

The song, The Unheard Philosophers, is an original composition by the saxophonist Cam Wharram.

Emotional Memory and Our Favorite Songs

There’s no doubt that we personalize every piece of music we listen to. Though, what happens when we want to listen to a piece of music fresh again? Simply put, it’s impossible.

All too often our favorite songs or artists have been ruined by a traumatizing breakup or stagnated by an overbearing amount of the same emotion. Now, breaking some personal connections with our songs will be harder than others, but we can at least listen to our music from a different angle, and therefore, bring a fresh perspective to our old time favorites.

When we first listen, we are open, simply letting the music affect us without attachments or expectations. Though, because we are open the music comes into us along with other things in the environment, like our current situation, surroundings, moods, other art, and personal interactions. This is when the attachments are created. With enough time these attachments can become very strong. However, with the right amount of time and intention we can replace these attachments with new, more temporary ones. We simply have to focus on recreating that “openness” that we originally listened with. Essentially, “awareness” is the key. Your mind will automatically recall the strongest memories that are associated with a piece of music while you listen casually. But by truly listening in the moment one can get down to the music at its essence and experience a new level of the art. A song is much bigger than just your personal feelings and is at once fit just for you. We can experience many levels of meaning in a piece of music, and frequently we only scratch the surface.

As in meditation, we can clear our mind and simply let the music enter unaffected by our current state, then choose when to let our surroundings and emotions attach themselves. So, next time you’re listening, just try staying aware of the moment and listening with fresh ears.




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