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  1. Happy Birthday! Have a great day. :)

  2. Hey! Where have you disapeared to? We miss your inputand your presence!

  3. I just re-read every single post. I am the only one who mentioned Neil Young. Makes me wonder what others think. I won't put him ABOVE some of the great ones listed, because they each have their style and merits. Just wanted to know if anyome else here would rate him with the greats.
  4. Your observations are excellent. Like all the others, they seem to fit illuniate another aspect of the discussion. That said, to put critiques of content and emotion off-limits based on the concept that we all like different things, is a slippery slope, and if it applies to emotion and content, then why not to coherence and form. Your incoherence might be my soaring freedom, etc. Typo made some excellent points about some things having to be understood, and we shouldn't have to refer back to explanations of the 'guidelines' with every criticism. Another quideline that pervades these forums (intentionally) is that we are critiquing with an ear toward writing commercially viable music. If you want to write wonderful music, there are absolutely no rules. If it sounds wonderful so one person, and everyone else hates it, it can be considered a success. But if you want to write commercially viable songs, it is reasonable to look at the elements that are common to those songs, including phrasings, content, subject matter, rhyme schemes, etc. Before your song gets on the radio and we find out if people like it, it first has to be 'approved' by experts, who would include record labels, publishers etc. These persons look very closely at the content, subject, mood, feel, message, theme, etc of the song in determining whether it is a commercially viable song. It's helpful to have other experts, many with professinal experience, to comment on these issues before you take them to a record label and try to get them to invest some $$ in your project. I can write songs that are coherent and techincally perfect, knowing full well that no one in their right mind would ever publish, record, release or buy it. The feedback fro others on the emotional content of our work is critical.
  5. Jan, it's an excellent topic. There are times when I think the reviews ask for story that is completely outside the intended scope or message of the song. They are asking, in effect, for a different song. But there are other times when the song screams for more 'story' We need to get our story straight. What do we mean by 'story'? Basically it means "who, what, when, where, and / or why?" But beyond this, it has two subtly different meanings. One is for the physical facts to be laid out more clearly. This is the request that sometimes grates on the lyricist, who has no intentions of rewriting his lyric to satisfy a reviewers random request. But the other kind of story is the fulfillment of the one the lyricist set out to tell. The elements of a song have to be self-supporting. Who decides? A consensus of listeners. Since we don't have that level of access and communicaiton with a large body of listeners, we rely on reviewers. With regard to love songs as you mentioned, when writing directly 'to' your love, sometimes a lyric just doesn't connect because it is goes TOO FAR in speaking directly. If you were really speaking to your love or ex-love or whomever, it's a fair assumption that the person would know what you were talking about - your shared background, etc., so you would never need to address it. The only thing that is important is your message, which in your mind, shines against the backdrop. But your audience lacks that context and cannot see the backdrop in your mind. You may think your lyric conjures it up, but perhaps it is insufficient. So in that type of lyric, you need to 'step back from the topic', because you are too close, and fill in enough context or story so that we know enough to relate to your words. In this type of lyric, the context becomes the story. When context is lacking, we can't relate well enough to your words to get their full emotional impact (which is what we are going for in songs) so we ask you to fill in the details of the story. It doesn't have to be the who, what, why, when, where details. It doesn't have to blow the mystery. It just has to set it up better, so you can knock us down better. You might feel that you are 'fudging' on the integrity of the lyric to include context for the listener, that you wouldn't if you were really talking to your lover. It's partly a matter of how skillfully you do it. And it's partly a matter of remembering that songs are art, not real life. Making art more life-like does not necessarily make for better art. Understanding your medium, including its limits, is what makes for better art, better songs. Your posted lyric, I CAN'T STOP LOVING YOU, for example, does a fine job of telling the story. It gives us all the context we need to appreciate your words. Nicely done. Norm
  6. a good free softaware is 'Audacity'. Download at: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/
  7. I don't know if I can pass up on this offer. Oh, but it seems I can....
  8. I propose that we collectively identify and discuss the merits of different writing elements that impact a lyrics clarity of message and story, in an effort to effect a style, build a mood, etc, Here are examples to start things off: Metaphor. What does it take to use it effectively? What is cryptic writing? I would say it is writing that conjures ideas that are hinted at through phrases that, by themselves, have no apparent meaning. 'Yes' and other groups have made a career of it. What other writing elements are commonly criticized for obscuring the clarity of the story or message, that may have justification in their lyrical use? At what point does poetic license make a song more effectivel, and at what point does it become inappropriate? Do we fall into the trap of reviewing songs for their clarity of message at the expense of their lyrical beauty, which is only revealed when set to music? Are there a lot of successful songs that don't have a clear theme, message and story? Are these usually performed by the writer? Or are they portable, and can still be effectively sung by others?
  9. It's a combination of familiarity and recording quality. The same thing happens with photographs. Most people don't think their photos really look like them or flatter them. One reason is that we are used to seeing ourselves in a mirror. But that is really a mirror image, and since our faces aren't truly symmetrical, what we are used to seeing is really backwards, so photos appear wrong to us. In our digital world, you may see enough pics of yourself to get over the illusion, and you look okay in photos of yourself. Most of us don't hear our recorded voices regularly. When we do, it's like seeing that first photo, and if the recording quality is poor, it's alike seeing a fuzzy photo, but not recognizing that the fuzz is a technical issue. Imagine seeing a fuzzy picture of yourself and believing you really looked fuzzy!?? That is what happens with vocals. You need to have a half-way decent recording, and get used to hearing yourself. Once you are familiar, you can begin focusing on deficiencies, through vocal technique, to make certain 'bad' sounds better. You may think you are putting a certain emotional inflection into a word, only to hear it sounding cracked or weak on playback. This is vocal technique, and by re-recording and listening, you will learn how to bring out the strengths in your voice. Think about when your friends sing, just casually. Some sound better than others, but few sound really bad. You don't sound bad to others either. I have a friend who is an accomplished composer and fantastic guitarist. Hes about 50 years old. He recently confided to me that when he listens to his own compositions, his guitar work doesn't sound very good to him. It just sounds like him. I told him, "That's your style. That is what makes your music unique. That is why people listen to you. It IS you, and it's a beautiful thing." It's still hard for him to get past that. So open your mind and accept your voice as this unique instrument. It may need tuning, and you may need to learn to use it better, but it's uniquely yours, and you can use it to sing like no one else!!!
  10. Good insights from Lazz. The bottom line is that a lyric needs to be written and heard on it's own merits, and not on pre-conceived notions of its component phrases. It's also important to remember that reading a lyric is different than listening to one. It's much easier to be critical when reading, where you can stop and examine a word or phrase at length. When listening, we are carried in the flow, and the music is an integral part of the phrasing, and therefore the meaning and context of the words. The purpose of learning the characteristics and uses of the minute components of lyrics is not to be able to write 'perfectly', but to develop better instincts for what works, and what sounds good. We learn to forget. But in doing so, our instincts have changed, hopefully for the better. American football provides an apt analogy. It's an incredibly complex sport from the coaches POV, and the players need to learn all of the nuances of their respective positions, not so they can think each play through clearly, but so they can react properly with no thought at all. One of the greatest running backs of all time was Marcus Allen. In an interview years after his retirement, he said that what enabled him to be so successful is that he could line up for a play, and know what every player on the field was going to do. That's 21 other people he was tracking in a matter of a few seconds. He had learned the elements of football so well, he didn't even have to think about it, and could just rely on his lightning fast instincts to guide him. It may not be coincidental that, even as a young man, I always thought of his running style as 'poetry in motion'.
  11. Sounds like we're all pretty much on the same page, each expressing it a bit differently. A lot of good lines have been used before, once or twice. I google all suspect lines, and I find hits. But I look to see how they were used. So when does an overused line become a cliche? You're cliche may be my soulful echo of a time gone by. What I have heard 10 times over, you may never have heard once. To me, a cliche is defined by its usage. The cliche works beautifully when it is the perfect phrase for the lyric. The more familiar the cliche, the higher the standard of usage. If you don't meet the standard, you've written a cliche.
  12. I've never sung in front of others in my life. No confidence. Sometimes people have made fun of me for being off-key in a group. I have a hearing loss which makes it worse. But I want to sing. I bought a little recording setup for my PC (border-line studio quality mic and pre-amp) and started singing. I amplified the sound and used headphones as a monitor. I was amazed at how much better I could sing when the volume was up, and found that the reason I was off-key was because I couldn't really hear my voice that well before. I found that my voice is pretty smooth, and I can carry a tune, but I don't have much skill or range. I also found out that I really have to sing out, or my voice sounds anemic - that may be partly a skill issue, not sure. Anyways, my point is that listening to your own voice and trying diffferent things clears up a lot of the mystery, and you begin to associate different techniques with different results. Once you do this, you can make some progress. I'm making some, but still don't have much confidence singing in front of others. From another perspective, my daughter began working on her voice when she was about 10 years old. She would sit in the basement and wail for hours on end. Her voice wan't that good, and frankly, some of her song choices had such disonant melodies that I couldn't tell whether she was hitting the notes or not. But now she is 13, and I'm pretty impressed by what the kid has accomplished. She was recruited into her school's 'select choir', which is well known in the area, and does college level vocal arrangements. But the real point is that she developed her voice with no real vocal instruction. Now she is at the point where a little instructin is making a big difference.
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