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#1120232 - 11/30/16 12:56 PM SONG TONE  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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TONE

This is going to be a little "suggestion lesson" that I want to mention to those of you who are in the LYRIC areas of chat room and songwriter sites. As well as anyone who writes songs in general, PARTICULARLY new people, but this is a serious point to those of you who put so many things out there.

TONE
The TONE of your song means EVERYTHING. As I look down the titles in Lyric sections, I see titles of anger, bitterness, depression, self loathing, etc. There are so many about "death, sickness, being rejected, a whole lot of "NOT", DON'T" CAN'T, WON'T, etc. As writer we should be able to write anything we want. That is CREATIVE EXPRESSION. But there is a point that most people are interested in OTHER people listening, collaborate, or even just COMMENT on songs. And of course, a big complaint on all music sites is "NO ONE IS COMMENTING ON MY SONGS." Most people go through a lot of sites, where they have gotten the same thing.

What this leads to is people to go to the INTERNET and get pulled into all the scams, schemes and bad advice. That is why there are so many threads that start "Has anyone ever heard of...." because they figure if they pay money to get into a contest, a pitch service, a film and television library, someone will listen to their songs. Well guess what folks. THOSE PEOPLE DON'T LISTEN TO THEM EITHER. Except to GET MONEY.

Look at it like this. Have you ever been to a party where most people are having a good time, laughing, talking, a few singing, a few paired up romantically. Everybody is in the spirit (and the SPIRITS). Over in one corner is one person all by themselves. They have a scowl on their face, any one that comes up to them, they glare, or say something nasty, so generally everyone just avoids them and hope they don't "go postal."

That is what those songs and titles are like to most people. The anger, bitterness, disappointment, challenges, are easy to write. Like buying a great car, you just drive that car and love it. But you get a LEMON? EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT IT. Posts are made on Social media, the dealership is targeted, some take out ads in newspapers, consumer hotlines are alerted. It is GAME ON!!!!
Songwriters are like that. They want to wear their emotions on their sleeves, and TELL EVERYONE how terrible everything is.

Guess what? MOST PEOPLE DON'T CARE ABOUT THEIR PAIN. They have THEIR OWN PAIN. They don't need someone ELSE to TELL THEM HOW THEY FEEL. They want someone to tell them HOW TO GET PAST THOSE FEELINGS AND MAKE THINGS BETTER. Even in songs with SOMBER SUBJECTS, DEATH, DISEASE, DEPRESSION, etc. can have a NOT SO TERRIBLE ending. they can have a twist. And especially in a world that already has so much negativity in it, people really don't need anymore.

So I would strongly suggest you look at your TONE on your songs. Also look at PRONOUNS. How many songs have "I, ME, Myself, MINE", etc. verses the songs that have "YOU, WE US, OUR". How many songs are ACCUSING SOMEONE ELSE OF MAKING THINGS BAD FOR THE WRITER? Or how many songs CELEBRATE things that are good?

There are some very good PROFESSIONAL DEVICES that can be used to achieve this. First is the TWIST ON THE TALE.
This is where a song takes you in a direction you didn't see coming. There is conflict, story, and resolution. Here is a hit song written by a friend of mine, Rory Feek, recorded by Clay Walker. Rory had his own horrible time last year when his wife Joey, died after a long public battle with Cancer. She was amazing and such a sad loss. But this song was written before that but applies to that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVyhvFYJQaI

The other is called ROPE OF HOPE. This is where you take a very hard situation, death, disease, abuse, etc. and find a positive ending on it. This was written by another guy I knew, Harley Allen, and recorded by ANOTHER guy I know, John Michael Montgomery. It's about spousal abuse, and death. Try to turn that positive. Here they do.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JxrYAumI-I

Hope it helps.
MAB

#1120233 - 11/30/16 01:22 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Both nice songs, real tearjerkers.

#1120236 - 11/30/16 01:39 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Well yes and no. They BOTH have somber issues, breaking down in cars, dealing with challenges in life, money, stresses on family, spousal and child abuse, etc. But BOTH wrap it up positively. They both have a ROPE OF HOPE, that LIFTS the listener and gives them a good feeling at the end as opposed to just re-stating things THEY ALREADY KNOW.

The thing about that is that is HAPPENS EVERY DAY. There are always RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS. There are volunteers in neighborhoods who work shelters, help their fellow men and women. There are people that do good for society. These kinds of stories ACTUALLY HAPPEN.

Last week a woman that had disappeared three weeks ago and was kidnapped, was found alive and well just before Thanksgiving. This stuff happens. WE just have to look for it. As songwriters THAT is much more effective than just talking about the misery and all the negativity that is out there. The listeners ALREADY know about that stuff. They are involved in much of it. They don't NEED to hear about that.

They need a BREAK from all that. As we talk about ISSUE or PROTEST songs, this applies. Just stating the obvious, or making one's own comments on that, really does very little good. That doesn't RAISE awareness, only tells people what they already know. And in most cases, people don't feel they can do anything about those big issues (and RARELY CAN.) So they ignore it. Especially when the TONE of the "cause song" just makes them feel bad about the cause.

Writers can decide what they want to do. But want to be tuned out? Keep on with the negative. People really enjoy using their Cell phones to get away from that. Want people to pay attention?
Better find a positive spin or a ROPE OF HOPE.

Up to you.

MAB

#1121964 - 01/05/17 02:42 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Thanks for posting another enlightening piece Marc. Being no great shakes as a lyricist myself I often look down lyric boards for potential collabs. In line with what you are saying, often the whole game is given away in the title leaving the lyric nowhere to go; “I Loved But You Left” sort of thing. This can be fine for a riff driven pop song but not so for a more lyrical/message song.

On rope of hope. With the recent sad death of Greg Lake I listened to an article about the story behind I Believe in Father Christmas. Apparently when writing the lyric Pete Sinfield felt his first two verses were a little too cynical so turned it around by offering hope and positivity in the third. Works for me.

Of the 2 songs you cited I really like Chain of Love, great song with a lovely sentiment.

Thanks

#1121975 - 01/05/17 05:19 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Thanks Nigel, and thanks for posting. Songwriters and artist always will go for the negative or a position of pain, because we live it all the time. And so does a majority of the general public. It is sort of like getting a great car. If you have a great one, you don't talk about so much. You don't tell everyone who you meet about it or write editorials for the paper. You just enjoy it and drive it.

But if you get a LEMON, EVERYBODY IS GOING TO KNOW IT. The Better Business Bureau, the dealership the individuals involved, etc. The papers, web sites, Facebook, social media, EVERYONE GETS THE COMPLAINTS!!!

But those also get old. Fast. I always like to go by a piece of advice my mentor, Ron Muir told me:

When it comes to your problems, there are only two types of people.
"Those that DON'T CARE.
Those that are GLAD YOU'VE GOT EM'!"

I've been through as many disappointments as anyone in music, closer to more deals, cuts, hits, etc. than you can imagine, but often have felt like "Moses, viewing the promised land.
Yet, I've still been able to remain in the game when most of my contemporaries, many who had huge hit records, have dropped out completely.

So my key has always been to avoid "Swimming in the River of Bitterness" and try to find the rope of hope, or twist on the tale. By the way, Rory Lee, is one of the writers on "Chain of Love" which is one of the best "twist of the Tail" songs. He is a good friend of mine and just went through a very public and heartbreaking public death of his wife, Joey from Cancer. So finding a way to put a good face on horrendous tragedy is something he has been able to do that inspires many others.

I don't know what people can do in the music business. I don't know what the music business is going to look like in the future. But I know artists and writers have an obligation to make the world a better place than before them. And I believe that one way we do that is not just re-state what people already know. It is by getting them to look at things in a different way they never thought of. Finding the positive in subjects are a physical manifestation of that.

Thanks for reading.
MAB

#1121978 - 01/05/17 06:14 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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Eh, Well,
Hank had his somber songs, TAKE THESE CHAINS FROM MY HEART and his Non Somber songs, SETTING THE WOODS ON FIRE. Ballads are pretty easy to write but hard to sell in a lot of cases. Either type can be hard to write. What ever it is, it has to be good. Not everybody can write em!


Ray E. Strode
#1122044 - 01/06/17 05:56 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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An interesting thing happened in the rock and country worlds in the 80's and 90's. Country started out in the 50's as songs for the working man, and a lot of "cry in your beer" songs. The heart wrenching ballads, "He stopped loving her today" were the mainstay in country.

In rock, that really began in the fifties, it was all about partying. "Let's go to the Hop" "The Twist" Rock around the Clock" etc. was the main things about rock music.

During the socially relevant 60's into the 70's, there were much more somber songs. The antiwar and protest era was apparent leading into disco in the 70's, heavy metal and corporate rock in the 80's.

Then something started happening in the late 80's and is really the reason I moved to Nashville. The rock of "my day" Journey, Boston, Loverboy, heavy pop music, changed into the "depression session" of Seattle grunge music, negative influences of rap, hip hop, alternative, and other types of negative things that moved into the mainstream.

At the same time, Country, went "happy", with groups like Alabama, Exile, and most everyone else after that with "Friends in Low Places" and most of it was about the party.

A large part of this was due to the change from smaller venues into large arenas and festivals. The anger and depressions songs are hard to maintain when you have fifty thousand screaming fun seekers in an outdoor stadium.

So the heartbreaking ballads and more somber songs, gave way to the up tempo and party songs. The angry bitter songs gravitated into rock and other formats because those are built a lot on "teenage angst" and negativity.

Ray, that is why those songs stopped in the 70's. They just didn't have the market to support it anymore. When people "age out" of a certain type of music, it no longer sells. The music industry doesn't really care what type of music there is. It only cares on sales. Of songs, merchandise, live audiences.

That is the bottom line for why music changes the way it does. The audience demands it. And the customer is ALWAYS RIGHT.

MAB

#1122047 - 01/06/17 07:01 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Whazzat?
Since I listened to country music since the early 50's I wouldn't say early country was for the working man. MOVE IT ON OVER, Hanks first song was a comedy to say the least. I wouldn't say Webb's first hit song WONDERING was just for the working man. Maybe the first song for the working man was WORKING MAN'S BLUES by Merle Haggard. SEVEN YEARS WITH THE WRONG WOMAN By Eddy Arnold wasn't exactly for the working man. SMOKE, SMOKE SMOKE THAT CIGARETTE by Tex Williams wasn't exactly a song for the working man. There were all kinds of country songs so there was no one type of song released. Not sure what SONG TONE MEANS but when writing songs it had better be good whatever it is. Write a Hit!


Ray E. Strode
#1122052 - 01/06/17 08:01 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Ray,

While country did have some of that, Roger Miller would be a great example, the vast majority of country in the 50's, 60's and 70's were devoted to more somber subjects. They even had terms "Crying in your beer" music, and "Murder Ballads", (Folsom Prison Blues, El Paso, Long Black Veil." That is what that type of music was known for.

Song "tone" means just what it says. The "TONE" of the subject matter, if it is a "depressing", "angry", "negative", or "bitter" song or up tempo and positive, up lifting, designed to make the listener feel hopeful or happy. The vast majority of country for the past 30 years have been this way which is all publishers will always say "Up tempo" and positive" in any pitch sheets or requests.

The majority of new or amateur writers will always write negative, bitter, angry, depressing songs. The very kind that nobody in this market really wants to listen to, radio won't play, and the majority of major artists won't go anywhere near.

The vast majority of songs on songwriter web sites, are mired in depression, self flagillation, or the negative side of life. What I am suggesting as the purpose of this post is that you "attract more attention with positive, verses negative songs" because there are so many more of the latter.

MAB

#1122436 - 01/13/17 07:14 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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"I wouldn't say Webb's first hit song WONDERING was just for the working man. Maybe the first song for the working man was WORKING MAN'S BLUES by Merle Haggard. SEVEN YEARS WITH THE WRONG WOMAN By Eddy Arnold wasn't exactly for the working man. SMOKE, SMOKE SMOKE THAT CIGARETTE by Tex Williams wasn't exactly a song for the working man"

Ray, I'm afraid you are WAY TOO NEW thinking the first working man song came in the 50's Actually started a LONG time before that. In the 20's with my relative, Jimmie Rodgers, the singing brakeman or blue yodeler. And songs like "This Land is Your Land" in the 30's by Woody Gunthrie, and songs about the "Oakies" in the depression are actually ALL songs about the WORKING MAN. They pre-date Webb, Merle, Willie and all, actually before many of them were even born. The songs of Hank Williams Senior are all considered "working man songs."

That does not mean just "songs about working men." It means blue collar songs and songs about "average people" as opposed to things like "Puttin' on the Ritz: or pop music which was about high society.

Country was designated from the beginning (the first actual "country record" was "The Bristol Sessions" by Jimmie and AP Carter and the Carter trio, featuring Mother Maybelle Carter. That is considered the first country record. 1927.) it was called "Common music for the common man in the common tongue."

That is "Working man's music." That is what country has always been.
MAB

#1122439 - 01/13/17 07:35 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Happy Endings..
People LOVE Happy Endings

#1122484 - 01/14/17 01:22 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Well Shucks oh fire,
Yas accuses me of living in the past and now you are re-visiting it. Well, I never! Now probably a lot of Folk music, before lectricity mind ya was sometimes about the "Working Man". Humm, maybe I speak too soon? Probably MULE SKINNER BLUES waz bout the workin man? Er, maybe I'VE BEEN WORKING ON THE RAILROAD no? Lessee, maybe TOTE THAT THAT BALE. no?


Ray E. Strode
#1122497 - 01/14/17 05:45 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Actually working mans music started before any of that. It starts with the slaves and plantation workers who invented blues

Blues later then influences all styles of music, like country, gospel, rock n roll, jazz, r & b.

You could make the argument that all music is working mans music. How many artists write songs about being filthy rich? Only people taking shots at rich people write songs like that.

Even rich rock stars still write songs from working class or poor points of view.

Why? Cause there are more poor and middle class people, than there are rich

#1122542 - 01/15/17 02:01 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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"Well Shucks oh fire,
Yas accuses me of living in the past and now you are re-visiting it. "- Ray Strode

Ray, my comments on you are that you don't believe ANY MUSIC has been created at all since 1955. But I've also told you that I am fairly well read and astute on musical history, particularly as it relates to early rock and roll and country. And I've had relatives in the business. Jimmie Rodgers was my Grandmother's second cousin and she remembered him being a family reunions when she was a little girl.

Up until the 20's, ALL music were old folk music and African rhythms and blues coming from the south. In 1926, Ralph Peer recorded the "Bristol Sessions" and that was used to create a new format called "Country." It is stuff that had been around for hundreds of years, Spirituals from the slaves, Appalachian folk music, etc. and was put into a "FORMAT DESIGNATION."

Most music was about the "working man," but again this is when the various designations started to be organized, "Pop" for "popular", Jazz, Big Band, etc. started to be indentified as
such. Country was fairly exculsivly talking about men and jobs, "16 tons", Working in a coal mine" and other songs, while pop, jazz and others went for more Urban themes.

At any rate, "country" has usually kept that designation. You are not likely to hear anyone describe modern day rock, pop or rap and hip hop as "working man's music."

MAB

#1122543 - 01/15/17 02:46 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Well, of course,
I do have a double CD of music from WW1, A 4 Cd collection of Songs of the early 30's and 3 CD's from The Hit Parade. before 1955 or there about, not to mention Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Schubert, etc, etc, etc! And I have heard about every country song that came out, on the radio, at the time, from about 1950 on. I also have some of Ray Anthony, Buddy Hackett, Glen Grey,even some Glenn Miller, also Those Wonderful Years, Instrumental Gold, 3 copies of Beethoven's 9th, Mozart's 40'th, 41'th, The Egmont Oveture, The Emperor Concerto, by Beethoven, And COUNTRY MUSIC IS HERE TO STAY by Simon Crum! Well I don't want to leave out the 1812 Overture by?

Ya wanna be careful of those little statements you make from time to time, they may come back to bite ya!

And I would say, supported by millions, that some music was diluted after 1955. Of course there are some composers still doing great work today. I hear some new works on PBS that are outstanding also.
Eh, a lot of Folk Music also came out of Appalachia by the Scotts and Irish. Before lectricity, mind ya.


Ray E. Strode
#1122561 - 01/15/17 06:05 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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I dint know if that's true any more Marc. Country music is pop music today

Rock music has delivered many kinds of working class music, way back since the animals, then it hit really big in the 80's

You can't come home from work listening to the radio without hearing...

Working for the weekend by loverboy.

Huey Lewis was a clear working class artist. Working for a living, a couple days off...

Mellancamp wrote about working in the heartland. Listen to rain on the scar row, minutes to memories

The stones had several working class songs.

Billy Joel had tons, uptown girl, Allentown, Downeaster Alexa, his early stuff was all about humble neighborhoods and people.

The biggest of which is Springsteen, who made a career out of working class American ideas

Listen to badlands, factory, racing in the street, out in the street, working on the highway,
Spare parts, working on a dream, to this day it's still working class

Now I agree that there is a lull in music today that has working class elements, but one band that does is the gaslight anthem , green day somewhat does too

It's been said working class music is no longer wanted by labels any more, I guess the 80's saturated that market.

But it's not just country, and country comes from the blues.

I can think of I've been workin on the railroad, that was written before the turn of the 20th century

As long as there are working class people there will be music that targets them.

Last edited by BenJones; 01/15/17 06:09 PM.
#1122564 - 01/15/17 06:23 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Always loved this by Huey Lewis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcIK3akktLU

Billy Joel, uptown girl (even the video brings out the working class idea)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCuMWrfXG4E

Springsteen workin on the highway
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_DT9FjhHL8

#1122568 - 01/15/17 08:32 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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I consider all of those fakers and therefore actually did not exist. you are simply doing too many drugs and have invented all of them.

#1122573 - 01/15/17 09:16 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Did you turn into couchgrouch? Lol

Well, seems you may have a bias there.

Personally I think uptown girl, blows away Johnny pay checks take this job and shove it

I prefer bto's taking care of business to dollies 9 to 5. But to each their own

There are hundredsof working class rock and pop songs out there.

To me, Classic country, not today's contra was more about drinking, smoking, cheating, and trucks, when do they have time for work , when engaging in all thos vices?..

I've been workin on the railroad...1900

Last edited by BenJones; 01/15/17 09:17 PM.
#1122603 - 01/16/17 02:59 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Yes, I have channeled my inner Grouch. He and Ray don't believe there is any music outside of what they like. I thought I would join that.

In all sincerity, what I am talking about is designations used in the press, critics, in the general music industry. Country tended to be more BLUE COLLAR than most other forms of music. All music does have those themes, but country is the one that was designated and mostly identified with it.

And that is a thing that many people have to understand when it comes to music, genres, descriptions, etc. Many people will make claims about modern country NOT BEING REAL COUNTRY, and I have given countless examples of how through out history, every successive generation makes the same complaints. It's true, it's NOT THEIR COUNTRY MUSIC. But their problems are that THEY ARE NOT THE ONES WHO SET THE DEFINITIONS OR THE RULES. Those are done mostly by the fans.

But I always like to go with a definition told to me personally by Country music legend Tony Brown. Tony started out as a keyboard player with Elvis. As his career developed he became a HUGELY successful publisher, then a producer with people like Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, and many many others, finally being the president of MCA records through the 90's into the mid 2000's.

I have known him casually for about 20 years, and he has known OF me, for a few of those. As is often true in Nashville, everyone SORT of knows everyone but they don't really KNOW everyone. But I knew his wife at the time, Anastasia Brown, a little better and one night we were in the waiting area of this local resturant all sitting next to each other and having drinks. Anastasia was actually asking me about my business and was asking about things I do. Tony was half interested in the conversation and then one moment came up and I got to ask him what I had wanted to for a while.

I asked him, "Hey Tony, a lot of people go through this stuff about "what is and what is NOT country." They make all these claims about what is on the radio is not country and just pop or rock. What do you say about it?"

He said, "Well 'Pop' stands for "POPULAR" and we always want to be that. But the reality is that if country writers write it, country artists cut it, country radio plays it, country critics endorse it, and most importantly COUNTRY AUDIENCES EMBRACE IT,
IT IS COUNTRY."

And that's really the deal. If you listen to rock now to what it was ten, twenty, thirty years ago, what is it now? Not even close. "Urban "soul, (Motown), compared to the Urban soul of rap, hip hop, etc. today? Not even in the same ballpark.

So that is as it is with all music. Each generation squeezes out the previous generation, puts their spin on it, takes it over. The charts change. The artists, producers, labels, publishers, all change. It's generational and it is as predictable as clockwork.

There are elements that are similar. I will always contend that 'COUNTRY" is the story telling format. And even if the "story" is about going down to the river, watching my girlfriend named "GURL" dancing in the moonlight and drinking cold ones in the back of my pick up truck," that is STILL a STORY.

So the "designation" of working man's music and country, even while other's might have similar themes, is a designation none of us made or have control over. So everyone can make claims to represent whomever they want.

The public is the ultimate deciding factor.

Back to Da Couch. Peace out. YO YO WAKA WAKA!
MAB

Last edited by Marc Barnette; 01/16/17 03:00 PM.
#1122607 - 01/16/17 04:10 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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To most of that, I say, fair enough.

Ii think what your talking about is that country was founded on those ideals, rock music kind of co opted it. Rock was founded on stupidity and silly fun, country was founded on seriousness and real life. And guys like mellancamp and Springsteen were influenced by Hank Williams and those classic country coots. I mean Springsteen has a song called mansion on the hill, sound familiar?

To the other points. As I said before I have tried to influence my nephew and niece on music, I have played them the Beatles, they have no use for it at all. In fact, they make me feel bad, and I question my own taste in music when I'm done talking to them, lol. I'm like this is freakin the Beatles, they are like I can't understand him, what a stupid song, who writes a song about a yellow submarine... I mean it's all so foreign to them

It's what your accustomed to, I think it has to do with radio. Radio changes, and whatever the media feeds the listening public is what's considered good

You get a few rebels who like to listen to underground music, but not as much any more.

But as you say it's always been like that. Don't forget many parents of kids listening to rock n roll thought it was the biggest bunch of crap music to ever hit the earth

Teenagers loved the Beatles, but parents didn't. "Real" musicians thought the Beatles were talentless.

It's rare when a kid like the same music their parents did. If they did they would grow up too fast and not be kids any more.

Last edited by BenJones; 01/16/17 04:13 PM.
#1122644 - 01/17/17 03:39 AM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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I've always said that one day they'll probably find some cave drawing with a Cave Dad telling his Cave kid about how good music was "back in his day."

Probably will be Couch Grouch and Ray in those drawings too.

MAB

#1122652 - 01/17/17 12:33 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Well Gheezh Marc,
If I remember correctly Marty (Robbins) had his first recognized hit SINGING THE BLUES in 1956! In or about 1959 he had a huge hit EL PASO! And if I remember correctly about 1961 or so the old possum himself, (George Jones) had a few hits, SHE THINKS I STILL CARE was one of them! Of course a bit earlier Webb was putting out hit after hit and ultimately put 97 songs on the charts. After listening to much of the day's country offerings Hank (Thompson) said those so called artists weren't qualified to carry his guitar case! Most of this was before your time Marc. I've seen scribblings on a piece of paper that was used in the studio to cut a big hit. They just cut it not knowing what they were doing! Today those Studios have enough knobs, bells , and whistles to launch a moon shot! In the first days of telephone switch boards the ladies were on roller skates the boards were so long to get to a call and patch it in. Some of those control boards in those studios are so long you need roller skates to adjust all those dials on time!

Yesterday they had musicians, today they have computer programs, and mediocore music.


Ray E. Strode
#1122661 - 01/17/17 04:16 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Hey Ray,

Guess what? today we use those EXACT SAME 'SCRIBBLINGS' on songs because when they come into the studio, the musicians NEVER hear the songs. They go on the "Nashville Number system", which was started in the 50's and is still the standard today. That has never changed. Musicians in Nashville use numbers so they can change keys, feels, whatever in the studio. They almost never listen to a recording of the song. They don't have to.

Actually now, more and more the studios have gotten SMALLER as computer technology has replaced the big giant boards of yesteryear. Most of the big studios have gone out of business (I know many of those) and the few still operating are all much more effective. The days of assistants, assistants to assistants engineers, extra players, etc. have all given way to economic realities. Very lean and mean now.

As far as "beyond my time," one of the most interesting things about my career is from the beginning, I was able to meet, hang out with and get to know pretty well those people FROM before "my time." Talking to musicians, agents, managers, publishers who worked with Hank Williams Senior, and hearing THEM talk about HANK SENIOR not being accepted, the problems he ran into with the country establishment, hearing people involved WITH Webb Pierce, Marty Robbins, Roger Miller, Kristofferson, Nelson, Tom T. Hall, and many many others, has been interesting getting this stuff first hand from people who were actually there.

That's why some of the stuff you get from me is not going to be "direct from the wikipedia" or third of fourth hand. Almost everything I talk about is FROM the actual people involved in it.

So while some of it may have been "before my time", the people who TOLD it to me, it was NOT before their time.

MAB

#1122662 - 01/17/17 04:44 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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I always learn something from you Marc.....The Good Old Days are TODAY....lol
We only have today so go for it.

#1122693 - 01/18/17 12:55 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Uh, Well,
Let's get back to Marc's thing, Song Tone. If writing a song with verses and words for the song to be successful there has to be A Beginning, A Middle and An End. While some musicians in Nashville now use the Number System if you buy a song book with sheet music it will no doubt have the chords listed as the old system, A, B, C, etc. Not actually sure but I think the system of using letters of the alphabet to name chords may have developed from the Spanish Guitar. Been a while but the Steel Guitar was developed by the Hawaiians. When the Spanish left they left guitars and not knowing a lot about the guitar the Hawaiians started using a steel bar to play hence the steel guitar.

Probably in the early days of Nashville and other places few if anybody read music. They learned to play from each other and played by ear as it is known. So get your Song Tones out, and write a song! Or if you can't find a Song Tone you can use a guitar as a substitute!


Ray E. Strode
#1122718 - 01/18/17 04:26 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Originally Posted by Ray E. Strode
Uh, Well,
Let's get back to Marc's thing, Song Tone. If writing a song with verses and words for the song to be successful there has to be A Beginning, A Middle and An End. While some musicians in Nashville now use the Number System if you buy a song book with sheet music it will no doubt have the chords listed as the old system, A, B, C, etc. Not actually sure but I think the system of using letters of the alphabet to name chords may have developed from the Spanish Guitar. Been a while but the Steel Guitar was developed by the Hawaiians. When the Spanish left they left guitars and not knowing a lot about the guitar the Hawaiians started using a steel bar to play hence the steel guitar.

Probably in the early days of Nashville and other places few if anybody read music. They learned to play from each other and played by ear as it is known. So get your Song Tones out, and write a song! Or if you can't find a Song Tone you can use a guitar as a substitute!


I'd say most professional studio musicians don't need much more than a piece of paper with the chord and lines showing where he next section is. They have incredible ears and can create musical bits on demand.that is where the real musician still kicks computers buttocks, a real person will always b able to listen to the artist and understand what they want to hear, and then deliver it

Reading music comes in handy more in stuff that is already written, like doing covers, or playing in symphonies o in ensembles where there is no improvising you play what is written

The musicians on late show like letter mans old band used to amaze me. These guys showed up to work on the set of the show, the band leader tells them what guest is going to be playing that night, and what song they will do, the musician then has to learn every part they need to play in minutes.

The classics they already know, but the new stuff they have to learn fast. Those guys are amazing musicians

Last edited by BenJones; 01/18/17 04:29 PM.
#1122765 - 01/19/17 02:18 AM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Ray and Ben,

While that is an interesting dialogue about the number system, and studios, it is not really what I am talking about at all. This is not a "TONE" in the sense of a guitar or notes or any of that.

What I am talking about in "SONG TONE" is about the NATURE of the song. Is it negative, angry, bitter, petulant, preachy, dark, etc? It is in SUBJECT matter and the approach to song matter. My contention is that a majority of amateur songs tend to dwell on that.

The TONE of most commercially successful songs are POSITIVE or at least NOT DEPRESSING. And yes, there are always examples of negative songs becoming hits. There are always exceptions to every rule.

The main thing I am talking about here is in newer songwriters coming into places like Nashville with songs with the darker tone. It mostly just gets boring to listen to. When you hear it continuously it just sort of runs together.

But that is what I refer to in "SONG TONE." It is the tone of the subject matter. Not the musical tone.

MAB

#1122816 - 01/19/17 06:14 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Originally Posted by Marc Barnette
Ray and Ben,

While that is an interesting dialogue about the number system, and studios, it is not really what I am talking about at all. This is not a "TONE" in the sense of a guitar or notes or any of that.

What I am talking about in "SONG TONE" is about the NATURE of the song. Is it negative, angry, bitter, petulant, preachy, dark, etc? It is in SUBJECT matter and the approach to song matter. My contention is that a majority of amateur songs tend to dwell on that.

The TONE of most commercially successful songs are POSITIVE or at least NOT DEPRESSING. And yes, there are always examples of negative songs becoming hits. There are always exceptions to every rule.

The main thing I am talking about here is in newer songwriters coming into places like Nashville with songs with the darker tone. It mostly just gets boring to listen to. When you hear it continuously it just sort of runs together.

But that is what I refer to in "SONG TONE." It is the tone of the subject matter. Not the musical tone.

MAB


Indeed..and in agreement..

Many of these writers who simply must consistently write a darker shade of song (and there's nothing wrong with that) might have better luck promoting themselves to "artist" and performing their songs themselves. Any fan base they establish at least knows what they are getting.

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 01/19/17 06:17 PM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1138976 - 03/23/18 03:31 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Marc,
I have an example of TONE with a simple word change. A few years ago I was putting a piece together for the Year of Alabama Music. I wrote the song (Rest Your Soul in Alabama) and went to the regional audition and performed it... I had one particular line in the chorus:
"Oh, my love I lost you a thousand times".
Jim Parker, one of the local adjudicators said flat out at the end of my presentation, "Chapman, you had me til you LOST your love! It brought the song down." I didn't get through to the next round. I went to my writer's room later and simply changed the word LOST to FOUND and it made all the difference in the song. I play it often now whereas, it could have well been one of my 'Throw Away' experiements:) Instead the song was actually published in a Southern Romance Novel by Kimberly Lang [More Than Anything : A Magnolia Beach Novel]

https://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=13407358

Keep everybody mindful of their craft, Marc. Nobody does it better!
Chapman

#1141299 - 06/02/18 05:54 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Originally Posted by Marc Barnette
. . . . How many songs are ACCUSING SOMEONE ELSE OF MAKING THINGS BAD FOR THE WRITER? . . .

Too many!

In the mid-sixties, when I was in junior high school, I didn't like Dylan at all. It was all snark: "You've got a lot of nerve to say you are my friend," "You just wasted my precious time," and so on were on the AM stations all the time.

He just sounded like a self-pitying crank.

But when I was maybe fifteen, I got a little Zenith radio with FM. WOR-FM was blasting Dylan, too, but it was songs like "Lonesome Hobo," "Maggie's Farm," "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again," "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest," "John Wesley Harding," Visions of Johanna," and "The Times They Are A-changing."

Totally different (as you say) tone. That's when I found the other Dylan - funny, philosophical, tender, poetic, righteous, moral, just. Really, really great stuff.

It turned out the guy has whole constellations of tone. That's what makes him Dylan!

Last edited by Delmont; 06/03/18 08:30 AM.
#1141645 - 06/09/18 10:11 AM Re: SONG TONE [Re: BenJones]  
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Originally Posted by BenJones
Actually working mans music started before any of that. It starts with the slaves and plantation workers who invented blues

Blues later then influences all styles of music, like country, gospel, rock n roll, jazz, r & b.

You could make the argument that all music is working mans music. How many artists write songs about being filthy rich? Only people taking shots at rich people write songs like that.

Even rich rock stars still write songs from working class or poor points of view.

Why? Cause there are more poor and middle class people, than there are rich

Good points, as long as you keep in mind that working people's music is as old as humanity. For instance, before American slavery there were sea chanties and farming songs that are alive and well in the English-speaking world today. How old are "Cockles and Mussels" and "Pop Goes the Weasel"?

But it hasn't all been working people's music. Robert Burns put a lot of British and Scottish folks songs on paper. When Beethoven got his hands on them, he reduced all the modal scales to just the major and minor keys he was used to using and his audience liked hearing. He wasn't composing for the unwashed masses. He was composing for people who went to recitals and symphonies.

If you haven't read it, John Berger's Ways of Seeing is a short, short book that tells that story vividly.

During the Renaissance, composers, writers, and visual artists fought savagely to win aristocrat patrons who would clothe, house, feed, and pay them. They had to. It was sell or starve. It's not much different today. So it's a stretch to call all music working people's music.

If you've never read any of their stuff, Adorno and Horkheimer have a different perspective. They split music into two groups: the elevated compositions of the great classical composers and music manufactured for the masses by the music industry - which they subdivide into two groups: loud mechanical music to market to young men and sentimental goo to market to young women.

They had fled to southern California from Nazi Germany. They had good reasons to be alarmed, mid-twentieth century, by what they saw as fascism's and corporatism's (the two words were synonymous before World War Two) profitable cooptation of western culture. Although I don't know that they ever stated it, for them, folk music was dead - or, at least, no longer relevant.

So - rich rock stars writing to the working class? Adorno and Horkheimer were telling it like it was. And is.

Last edited by Delmont; 06/09/18 10:21 AM.
#1141646 - 06/09/18 10:22 AM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Good post Delmont. As far as rich people writing working class songs, there are a few things you should consider though.

1. They werent always rich, and know the struggle
2. Artists lie in service of the truth
3. How many people write love songs about people that never existed? How do they know anything about being in love if they have never been in love?

Imagination writes the songs. You definitely need an understanding of what it may be like to live a certain way or feel a certain way, but you can write from any point of view you wish, and nail it.


Last edited by Fdemetrio; 06/09/18 10:25 AM.
#1141648 - 06/09/18 11:34 AM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Well,
I would agree that the slant (Song Tone) on a song can sell it or kill it. A couple of my Ballads may show the example very well.

Both are posted on the Web Site under Rays Music at http://www.geocities.ws/fiverosesmusicgroup/ Entitled: HERE IN THE COUNTRY and THIS HEART BELONGS TO ME. The first one is not very emotional at all but can work for a lot of Artists. The second is very emotional and probably would be passed over by almost everyone. After I got back the demo I didn't pitch it to anybody. When We put up the Web Site I decided to include it.

Last edited by Ray E. Strode; 06/09/18 11:35 AM.

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#1142151 - 06/21/18 09:58 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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Originally Posted by Fdemetrio
Good post Delmont. As far as rich people writing working class songs, there are a few things you should consider though.

1. They werent always rich, and know the struggle
2. Artists lie in service of the truth
3. How many people write love songs about people that never existed? How do they know anything about being in love if they have never been in love?

Imagination writes the songs. You definitely need an understanding of what it may be like to live a certain way or feel a certain way, but you can write from any point of view you wish, and nail it.


Yup! Just to clarify:

- Re point 1, I wasn't talking about rich artists. I was talking about rich patrons.

- Re point 2, yes. And artists also lie in the service of a darn good story.

- Re point 3, I don't know. I do know that the characters in my songs are all made-up. I once heard a radio interview with Justin Hayward. The DJ said that "Nights In White Satin" is a beautiful song and asked who inspired it. Hayward said, "No one." The DJ, said, "You mean it's not about someone you know?" Hayward said, 'No. It's just a song."

- Re imagination: Exactly!

#1142596 - 07/07/18 04:45 AM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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R&M Offline
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The market, like many on here know, has much to do with schtick wnd perseverence. How many have had success in it completely as planned?
Most of the artists I like were at the end of their rope or on the verge of being criminals. Whether that tone be lo or hi fi.

#1142607 - 07/07/18 11:11 AM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Fdemetrio Offline
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Yeah r@m the list of would be criminals if not for becoming big stars is quite large. It makes you think about the nature of being a musician, is it a way to not have a real job and make tons of money?


Last edited by Fdemetrio; 07/07/18 11:12 AM.
#1142661 - 07/09/18 12:50 PM Re: SONG TONE [Re: BenJones]  
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Cheyenne Offline
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Florida U.S.A.
Those Real Musicians you talk about were generally old hams with no

real talent The Beatles re John and Paul wrote outstanding songs , up to then

most Pro Bands were limited in their Chord Repertoire I met loads of them

The Beatles were the first Recording Band that featured original modulations

that is why they were so successful They hit the charts , when music was getting

Old Hat and very dated The Beatles were innovative in many ways and lead us

into a Special Time in Music History They wrote lyrics in general to a

sequence of guitar chords, one of the best ways to write They Were Rock - Blues - Folk

and Skiffle- plus Jazz All Mixed Into One The Prosdy between their Lyrics and Melody's

Was Superb , Nothing Before or Since has come even close to them

Last edited by Cheyenne; 07/09/18 12:53 PM.

One of the most important principles of songwriting is to remember that a good song is a partnership of many different components, all working together to produce a satisfying musical experience.

In that respect, song components are either enhancing or compromising their combined effects.
#1142869 - 07/15/18 12:34 AM Re: SONG TONE [Re: Cheyenne]  
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Jazz, blues and folk looked to be the standard traditionally, along with knowing sheet music. Much else in the last few decades seems more of a loose derivative. I embrace that but at the same time love the tradition and familiarity of a George Benson or a Chuck Berry song. There is always that familiar link through time. However trampled over.


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