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#695297 - 02/23/09 05:50 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Mark Kaufman]  
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,554
Jack Swain Offline
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Jack Swain  Offline
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Berwyn, IL, US
...Today was Angie's birthday
I guess it slipped your mind
I tried twice to call you
But no answer either time
But the postman brought a present
I mailed some days ago
I just signed it love from mama
So Angie wouldn't know...
(Merle Haggard)

Well, I agree there is a positive component, but it is a "tear you up" song.

#696060 - 02/25/09 04:03 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
Joined: Dec 2008
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Rand Bishop Offline
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Rand Bishop  Offline
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Nashville, TN
Big Jim:

I don't think anyone is interested in squelching creativity - even the executives. Most people in the music biz actually appreciate great work, regardless of its attitude. It's just a matter of whether they feel they can actually do anything with it commercially (get it on the radio, sustain a mainstream career with it, etc.) After all, it takes a massive investment to launch and sustain a recording career. So, every decision along the way can be critical. As Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen have a built in following, they have always been free to express all the dark dynamics of life.

What I've observed through nearly four decades in this biz is that hit songs make people feel better - whether it's the commiseration offered by a sad song or the exhiliration provided by an upbeat tune, or the inspiration of an anthem of idealism. Music works when it speaks the truth. People have an intuition for honesty and they connect with genuine emotion.

At this point in time, I doubt if a lot of people wanna be dragged into an artist's wrist-slitting self-indulgence. So, if writers wanna write that kind of stuff, that's cool. They just shouldn't complain when those execs don't jump up and down and scream, "That's a freakin' hit!"

Best,
Rand Bishop
songwriter/producer/author Makin' Stuff Up - secrets of song-craft and survival in the music-biz
www.makinstuffup.net


Rand Bishop
Songwriter/producer/author
#696134 - 02/25/09 07:21 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Rand Bishop]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
BIG JIM MERRILEES  Offline

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Edinburgh, Scotland. UK
Hi Rand I agree 100% My point is a bit more subtle than that. Some people refuse to even give certain genres or styles a chance opting for the tried and tested clones instead.

When my kids were young they would not eat certain types of food. "Cause I do not like it" was the reason. Problem was they had never tried it... after trying it they liked it and will now try anything.

#696258 - 02/26/09 02:49 AM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
Joined: Dec 2008
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John Marnie Offline
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John Marnie  Offline
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Posts: 249
Barrington, NJ (US)
Hey here is a line from an old friend of mine. Sorry to say, he passed away.

We played one of his original songs with a line in it like this;

ICE, FROZEN, RAW TO THE SPINE.
FROZEN SUICIDE CLAW INTERTWINED

wOW!


John Marnie: Drummer and singer in
"Too Little Time" Band:
http://www.TooLittleTime.net
#696359 - 02/26/09 11:44 AM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Rand Bishop Offline
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Rand Bishop  Offline
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Nashville, TN
Big Jim:

Over the last several decades, labels have utilized consultants and market research to determine which songs should be released. A sample audience is given 20 or 30 seconds to respond to a new track. This is partially why there is so much sameness and mediocrity on the airwaves.

As someone who embraces new music (even at 59), I've always found that there are three kinds of new songs, new artists: First, the very rare kind that grabs me by the shorthairs from the get-go with a certain freshness, vitality and/or passion. Second, artists that sound odd, quirky, alien or abrasive - often, although I find the music challenging, these are the songs and artists I eventually fall in love with. Third, there's the preponderance of forgetable, recycled same ol' same ol'. If I'd been given less than 30 seconds to decide whether those songs and artists would be part of my musical landscape, I would have missed out on some of the most meaningful stuff of my life.

Thus, because our world is now about marketing, and not about music, because radio is about selling advertising and not about supporting or exposing artists, and because demographically targetted playlists are programmed by conglomerate corporations - we are deprived of hearing a lot of wonderful stuff. The labels, who still depend on radio to break their product, would probably take a lot more chances if they felt those chances would pay off. But radio resists anything new - even though every break-through artist with a fresh new sound re-vitalizes the music scene.

It's a self-defeating system. I'm hoping that satellite radio survives, because that's where I discover new stuff these days.

Anyway, that's completely off the subject of positive and negative songwriting, but it's my theory as to why so few fresh voices and alternative genres are heard anymore.

Rand Bishop
songwriter/producer/author Makin' Stuff Up - secrets of song-craft and survival in the music-biz
www.makinstuffup.net


Rand Bishop
Songwriter/producer/author
#696373 - 02/26/09 12:06 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Rand Bishop]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
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Edinburgh, Scotland. UK
Thanks Rand.....I think we have common ground here....I have always been a rebel and bucked trends and the system.....to my cost...but I would not have it any other way.

I just said in another thread that..."Hype, advertising and peer pressure can make people do very strange things"

Sadly some of the people who make and take decisions about what gets "punted" to the public rely on that very fact...they hype crap...they do it well and get away with it...but will only choose something that has been done before and a thing they have full control over. Take no chances.... more of the same..... It worked last time so will work again..never change a winning formula...stagnate
That is all they know how to hype crap.

This is the negative side of the industry not sad wrist slitting songs.

#696376 - 02/26/09 12:08 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Marc Barnette  Offline
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There are also a lot of people that have had a lot of money and hype put behind them and failed miserably. So you can fool all of the people some of the time....

MAB

#696381 - 02/26/09 12:25 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
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Edinburgh, Scotland. UK
Good point Marc...that is the exception...there have also been a few that made it without hype just relied on talent.

The rule still stands true....most of the chart stuff produced is pure hype and lacks any quality or real talent. To say any different is just fooling ourselves and buying into this con. I had the misfortune of hearing Girls Aloud sing live on TV last week...not one of them could hold a tune. I could list a whole host of top pop stars who are similarily untalented. WHY? HOW ARE THEY ALLOWED TO GET AWAY WITH IT?

Cause hype and silly peer pressure take over.


#696383 - 02/26/09 12:27 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Rand Bishop]  
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Mike Dunbar Offline
Mike Dunbar  Offline


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Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Nashville Tennessee
Rand, I think your above post is completely on the subject. The business, though always favoring "up positive" songs from writers, seems to go in and out of periods where it is at least somewhat receptive to the tear jerker. With these test groups, those periods move in a smaller range.

It makes sense that technological advances have such an impact on music. There are more distractions. Music in the sixties and early seventies was the only youth oriented mainstream entertainment. We had three channels on television. Video games were not available in the home. The teenager's bedroom may not have even had a tv or a phone, but everyone had a record player. We would sit and wear out the newest album, listening to every nuance, every word that we could discern above the scratching and the hiss.

Today, most teenagers listen to music as a soundtrack. It's either imbedded in their video games or it is blaring in the car. They have a cable or dish that sends them channels with programs and movies aimed at them, also with soundtrack songs. And their shared culture is the text message. So the pop music of today becomes a soundtrack, very peer driven, and with little room for introspective or complicated lyrics.

In Country music, specifically, we have thrown the adult out with the bath water. The Garth Brooks revolution (David Allan Coe once called Garth "The Anti-Hank" smile ), didn't only show Music Row how to sell a lot of albums. It also moved Country music's target audience to the teen and young adult.

So basically, we're in a market that caters to the young. Until and unless the teen angst song gains popularity again (think Janis Ian's "At Seventeen") we'll be looking at a market that produces party soundtracks on the pop side, and young adult themes on the country side. The percentage of happy/sad will be disparate.


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#696388 - 02/26/09 12:37 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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John Hoffman Offline
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John Hoffman  Offline
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St. Peters, Mo.
This is an interesting thread folks. The same good advice has been given many times regarding contemporary upbeat and positive writing. I find myself generally clinging to the types of songs I like. But it's in just that place I found a description of what a song should do. In Paul Simon's "Kodachrome" he says :

gives us those nice bright colors
gives us the greens of summer
makes you think all the world's a sunny day

so I have begun to try writing as much positive upbeat stuff as possible. Now if I can just get myself to listen to contemporary stuff maybe I can get over the "hobby hurdle".

thanks so much Mike and Marc,
John


Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword never had an editor.
#696407 - 02/26/09 01:07 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: John Hoffman]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
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Edinburgh, Scotland. UK
John I agree BUT it is nice to get into the shade every once in a while. Cooling down and chilling is good for the soul. Sometimes we need to be serious about an event or feeling.... we have to express it and share it....once in a while mind...it is all about balance.

#696408 - 02/26/09 01:08 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: John Hoffman]  
Joined: May 2001
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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Ray E. Strode  Online Content
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Brunswick, Ga. USA
Marty Robbins was a great interperer of sad lonely songs.

Three that come to mind are:

THEY'RE HANGING ME TO NIGHT
SHACKLES AND CHAINS and of course
EL PASO.

All good songs. Most today wouldn't write anything like this and Radio wouldn't play them but there is still a place for songs in this general style. Probably no one would take a chance on recording these type songs either.

Radio doesn't care what they play as long as it is not too serious and fills some space.

It was charged several years ago that Radio was dictating to the Labels what they would play. Talk about the inmates running the Asylum. I write what I like and let the Chips fall where they may.


Ray E. Strode
#696422 - 02/26/09 01:20 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Mike Dunbar Offline
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JPF Mentor

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Nashville Tennessee
Actually, Ray, radio plays sad songs quite often. Blake Shelton's current hit, "She Wouldn't be Gone" is a great example. My point, however, is that an unknown songwriter has a far, far greater chance getting the attention of the music business with examples of their "up, positive" songs.


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#696432 - 02/26/09 01:35 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Mike Dunbar]  
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niteshift Offline
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niteshift  Offline
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Sydney, Australia
Yep, would have to agree that upbeat numbers are the way to go if you want to make it as a songwriter.

Problem is however, that most songwriters are soulfull manic depressives, wrenching their guts out.

Every songwriter knows, that the pinacle of there achievement, is to bring a crowded room to absolute silence, with a song of sheer beauty, that it way beyond anything that has ever been played.

Fantasy land ? Of course, but what a great feeling it would be. I've only ever seen it done twice, in a club/pub venue, and it really was goose bump stuff.

cheers, niteshift

#696434 - 02/26/09 01:39 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Mike Dunbar]  
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John Hoffman Offline
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John Hoffman  Offline
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St. Peters, Mo.
Jim,
I'm no world traveller so I wasn't even aware the sun shone in Scotland strong enough to make shade.

Sorry Jim, I just couldn't resist. Actually considering your stomping grounds it seems that many of the best story tellers come from the British Isles.

Have fun,
John


Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword never had an editor.
#696439 - 02/26/09 02:00 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: John Hoffman]  
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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Ray E. Strode  Online Content
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Brunswick, Ga. USA
I do have uptempo postive songs.

Three are:
MAYBE I'VE FOUND HEAVEN
HANK, LOSE THAT HONKY TONK and
EAT MORE POSSUM.

Sure to be big hits for some lucky Artist!


Ray E. Strode
#696444 - 02/26/09 02:15 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Joe Wrabek Offline
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Joe Wrabek  Offline
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Garibaldi, OR USA
Ray, "Eat More Possum" sounds like an upbeat song after my own heart. As folks search for lifestyle adjustments in these troubled times, it may be quite apropos. I'd run with it. (Sustainably, of course.)

Joe

#696827 - 02/27/09 01:01 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Joe Wrabek]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Marc Barnette  Offline
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Nashville, Tn.
I did write one called "Aunt Matilda's West Virginia Awsome Possum Pie." Very special love ballad about a guy having a possum he can't get rid of tearing up his garbage all the time.

MAB

#696853 - 02/27/09 02:39 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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Ray E. Strode  Online Content
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Yeah Joe,
Come to think of it the song might be right up your alley. It is about the "Class" of current country singers, more or less bumming up the Airwaves. Not all of course.


Ray E. Strode
#698451 - 03/03/09 09:41 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Mark Kaufman Offline
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Minneapolis
I'm trying to figure this new one out: positive or negative? It's a man basically lamenting a wayward love, and I don't know that the music is happy...I really don't know which way I'd call this one. Anyone care to help me out here?

Here's the link:

Serena

#698471 - 03/03/09 10:22 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Mark Kaufman]  
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Posts: 8,574
Mike Dunbar Offline
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JPF Mentor

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Nashville Tennessee
I'd say positive, she showed you what living is for, how it that negative? smile


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#698703 - 03/04/09 08:02 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Mike Dunbar]  
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 2,242
Sam Wilson Offline
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Sam Wilson  Offline
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Nashville, TN USA
This is a particularly touchy issue, isn't it?

A lot of the time, my own lyrics are considered to be negative, but I'm really trying hard to tell my readers what's REAL, not what's negative.

I've been told that many times, but I guess that, like everything else, all is subjective.


Co-Write Friendly.....Look at my blog on My Space.

http://www.cherokee46x@yahoo.com
http://www.myspace.com/ronnievanzantfan
http://www.facebook.com/sambwilson

Ronnie Van Zant fan
#698712 - 03/04/09 08:59 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Sam Wilson]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Marc Barnette  Offline
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Nashville, Tn.
Sam,

Pointing out reality is a good thing. But it doesn't have to focus on the negative of the reality. Have you ever read in the papers, or known any one who did a random act of kindness? Ever heard where someone did a songwriters benefit for someone with Cancer? That doesn't mean that the Cancer is not real. It means that a lot of people got together to help somebody fight it.
That is much of what I talk about. Most songs in the country format are not so much positive as they are just not NEGATIVE. they find a way through whatever life's troubles are. Songs like "Live Like You Were Dying" or "I've Had Moments" come to mind continualously. And that is what I am talking about. And there is also the matter of perspective.
Songwriters write from a perspective of pain. They live it and that is what they want to write about. Fair enough. We all have pain. But in the world of trying to get attention, it is the equivilant of focusing the camera on the million other people who have pain. It simply fades into the background because every one else writes the same thing.
So it basically comes down to what you want to write about. Everyone has the opportunity and responsibility to write what they want to write. But if you want to get attention the last way to do this is to do the same thing everyone else does.
So there are some of us that look to find the "rope of hope" or "twist on the tale" songs, which are the ones that get more attention, simply because they are different. It doesn't have to be an "Up with people, Mr. Happy everything is wonderful day" as much as it doesn't need to be the "Everything is terrible and life sucks and I hurt you and you hurt me, every minute of every day."
Nobody has to be reminded how bad things are around us all. I think people have to be reminded that there is some good in the world.

MAB

#698724 - 03/04/09 09:50 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Marc Barnette]  
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 3,541
Michele Howlett Offline
Top 100 Poster
Michele Howlett  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 3,541
Hunter Valley NSW Australia
Hi Mike and All

Well just recently I have been thinking about the Negative and Positives, and it is having a huge impact on my life, that after talking to MAB, I'm going in the direction of the positives.

I have just recently decided to set up my own business here in Australia, to prevent bullying in the workplace. So I'm now doing a TAFE coarse that will give me the opportunity to go into workplaces to teach others ways of preventing bullying from occurring in their workplace. Yes Positive! I'm now twisting some of my songs with negative, and positives, which is fun.

My first song, is a good example of Negative and Positive, don't you think. It has that negative and positive twist to it that many have been congratulating me on.

"Don't push my button" grin

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=35945164

Hmm, where's Jim and Kevin? when I need them, how do I change my soundclick that others will be able to listen to all of my songs, golly gosh. I can't find the URL? My soundclick still isn't right hah, when I click on my soundclick link here, it just takes me to my home page, and I can't find my other songs? crazy cry grin

Michele cool



Last edited by Michele Bolton; 03/04/09 10:09 PM.
#698729 - 03/04/09 10:38 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Michele Howlett]  
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 5,788
Lynn Orloff Offline
Top 40 Poster
Lynn Orloff  Offline
Top 40 Poster

Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 5,788
PA of the great USA
Thanks Mike for this interesting thread. Alot of insight and helpful information for the songwriter to consider. Makes me want to look at my list of songs and see what the ratio is. I understand what you mean also how sometimes even a somewhat negative lyric might come across as a postive song given it's upbeat tempo and/or melody mood. Thanks for everyone's input. smile

Best of positive writing, smile
Lynn


My Music at Soundclick
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=788266

~call it a blessing or call it a curse, but I see all of life in verse~

Always open to collaborations smile

God Bless Our Military!!!
#698836 - 03/05/09 12:37 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Lynn Orloff]  
Joined: May 2008
Posts: 4,179
Tom Shea Offline
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Tom Shea  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: May 2008
Posts: 4,179
Nebraska
Marc has a good point. A song can note the negative and then provide an uplift of overcoming a challenge.

Tom


Thomas Shea

Thomas Shea - Songwriting
http://www.soundclick.com/thomasshea

Justice - Songs
http://www.soundclick.com/justice-nebraska

#698882 - 03/05/09 03:22 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Tom Shea]  
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 2,242
Sam Wilson Offline
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Sam Wilson  Offline
Top 200 Poster

Joined: May 2004
Posts: 2,242
Nashville, TN USA
I do write the occasional happier piece, but the inescapable fact is, I didn't create this world, nor did I win a lottery in order to be here.

I write what I know and what I see.......alongside of also writing about things that I wish and hope for, but may never see.

Maybe my intent is to be that which one might see and try to change, so that one's world might become slightly less caustic and frightening, but the change that I speak of must be undertaken by the many, in order to be felt/seen/appreciated by the few.

Love, pain, cloudy days, snowstorms, and that wonderfully unanticipated yet wholeheartedly appreciated beautifully sunny day that only comes ever so often......

It all ties in, and it all finds its way into my path, at one time or another.....


Co-Write Friendly.....Look at my blog on My Space.

http://www.cherokee46x@yahoo.com
http://www.myspace.com/ronnievanzantfan
http://www.facebook.com/sambwilson

Ronnie Van Zant fan
#699742 - 03/08/09 07:25 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Mike Dunbar]  
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 3
scotmill Offline
Casual Observer
scotmill  Offline
Casual Observer

Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 3
The question is an important one, and perhaps one that we don't tend to think about so much as songwriters. What happens when we practice conscious lyric and melody writing as opposed to just letting a particular emotion or feeling flow. I will sit down sometimes with the conscious approach, meaning that I have made a decision on a particular day to write a song that is as far away from a cliched love song for instance... or a decidedly positive song because the last two were negative ones. We can thusly affect the percentage of positive to negative. It might seem counter productive as a song writing approach which some might say should be born entirely out of emotion, but for me a forced song is good exercise. This approach expands my options. To answer the question, I would say that I write about 50/50 positive to negative.

#699748 - 03/08/09 07:52 PM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: scotmill]  
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 6,561
Mark Kaufman Offline
Mark Kaufman  Offline

Top 40 Poster

Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 6,561
Minneapolis
Interesting comments, scotmill, and welcome to JPF. smile

Personally, I think songs born entirely out of emotion tend to affect the songwriter more than the listener. The most emotionally effective song in the world will also be well-crafted. I trust my emotions to come through in a song, but I rely on mechanical songwriting skills like melody, arrangement, lyrics, dynamics, performance and chords to deliver those emotions to the listener.

Not disagreeing with you, just introducing another element to it.

-Mark

#700439 - 03/11/09 12:36 AM Re: Your positive and negative songs. [Re: Mark Kaufman]  
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,384
mattbanx Offline
Serious Contributor
mattbanx  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,384
Northern Minnesota
I like recordings that show a light at the end of the tunnel through bleakness, typically sad or rebellious.
But 5 of the 29 mp3's I have up on the net have an outright happy quality to them.

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