Brian May - The Prophet's Song

Strangeness as a Design Feature in Songs

When I was a student at McGill University back in the mid 80s, I heard a performance of a remarkable piece of music called Opus Clavicembalisticum, written by the composer Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, born in London, England. When it was written (1930), Opus Clavicembalisticum was the longest piece of piano music ever written: 4-and-a-half hours in length. The […]

Pensive songwriter

What Are You Doing to Improve?

What are you doing to improve as a songwriter? You’d probably answer that question by saying, “Well, I’m trying to write more“, or “I’m trying to become more consistent…” That’s one way of saying that you don’t really have a plan. No one improves without change. You want to get better at baseball? You change the […]

String section from a symphony orchestra

Travel Day

I’ve had my head a bit out of the songwriting/composition world in the past couple of days, as I had a couple of big concerts on my schedule yesterday. First was a concert where I conducted Symphony Nova Scotia in a performance for seniors, and that’s always a lot of fun. Most of the time […]

Songwriter - Pianist

A Quick Tip For Remembering The Melody You Just Created

Let’s say you’re on a bus or out for a walk, and you’ve just come up with a great little bit of melody. It’s got great possibilities, you’re thinking, but you’ve always found it hard to remember the tune after even ten minutes, and you feel a bit too self-conscious to dig your phone out […]

Songwriting tools for lyricists

Songwriting and Finding the Story

One of the biggest differences between writing a song and writing a book is the number of words you’ll use. A novel might use 80,000 or more words to describe a story, but with a song lyric you really only get a tiny fraction of that; maybe 100 words or so. So with novels, the […]