Since some of our guys are a little more exhuberant, and want follow ups, I thought I would post those as well:
#1. "When you say 'relationships', MAB, I assume you mean writing songs about past relationships, and 'love songs gone wrong' songs. That makes sense because that is mostly what I hear when I listen to someone performiong in a coffee shop or a show at a writers room during a visit to Nashville."
A. Not, exactly. I am talking writing, performing, networking 'RELATIONSHIPS." Those are with other people who share similar interests. Could be a potential co-writer and artist to record a song, a producer, publisher, or people already established, or the "up and coming" person that might be a partner somewhere down the road. Songwriters, artists, and the like are nearly every where. Most towns and cities have open mic or talent nights. Writers nights in coffee houses, karaoke nights. You need to search them out and find associates. They all are driven by the same forces. Belief in themselves and their talents. Just like you.
In the "poor poor pitiful me" style of songwriting, that is what EVERYONE SEEMS TO DO. Do you really want to be just like everyone else?
#2. When you say "research" what exactly am I supposed to be researching? Artists, songwriters, former hit songs? How will that help me?
A. Yes. All of that. Finding out how a writer became a hit writer, an artist became a hit artist, songs became HIT songs are the way to find out how to get there yourself. All of those have their own stories, career paths. How did they go from where you are to where they are? It starts with your own favorite songs. GOOGLE is a great research tool. Then finding out how the song was writen, when was it written. Where did the idea come from? How was it pitched? How was the artist developed? Studying the format of the song, the structure, how it's message is delivered. "Elbow moments, musical hooks, pacing and phrasing." All of these tell the back story of the song. You need to learn how it and they got to where they are now. That will alwsy help you to fill in your own blanks.
#3. "I'm confused about 'conversational." I still listen to classic rock, R&B, pop, and even some hip hop, even hear all those styles in some of today's country music. What exactly do you mean about 'conversational' in today's writing?
A. For every "rule" there are going to be execptions. But many of the "rule breakers' are established writers or the artist themselves. For those trying to begin that road, you have to learn the rules in order to bend or break them. "Conversational is how most, particularly all of contemporary countr is written. If you can't 'speak it' you best not 'write it.' Again, research can show you on most current hit country songs. Read the lyrics aloud and you will see they are like two people talking.
#4. MAB when you say the key is to write to a "radio" audience. I don't always feel they are. Why don't they write more traditional country songs that older folks can relate to. Don't they care what older folks, like me, want to hear?
A. One of the main steps is to attract and keep attention. "writing for radio" means keeping it short, within a three- three and half minute format" having easily to sing melodies and easily memorable hooks. This is what is going to attract the attention of listeners, pubilshers, and other co-writers. IT gives your songs the best possible chance.
"Traditional" has changed in meaning over the years. Today's country singers might mean "traditional" is the mid 80's songs of George Strait and Alan Jackson. That might be different than the "traditional" of the 50's and 60's songs of Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash or Buck Owens.
For those who enjoy those types of songs, there are millions out there. Again, Google searches can help in that. But as times change, so does music and the main focus of music is for a younger audience, who buy in a more effective "voting bloc." Those are the ones who go to concerts, buy t-shirts, CDs, hats, join fan clubs. "Older people" have more uses for their money. So they are not catered to as a main part of the music industry.
#5. I get it about the chorus being the most memorable and melodic part of the song. I have noticed that. What about the bridge you spoke about earlier? Is a bridge nessasary? Does it too need a different melody, or can it sound like another verse"?
A. For the most part, due to time constraints now, less and less songs have bridges. Most country songs are verse chorus verse chorus. A bridge is there to wrap up the story and most hit writers tend to do that before they need a bridge. But Bridges can be usefull to fill in the blanks of a story. But it should be short, probably two to four lines, and sound different than other parts of a song. Some can use a "half verse" or a modulation as a bridge and their are musical bridges. It 'bridges" back to the last chorus.
More to come later.