And the beat goes on

DSCF4145My days off from work are fast becoming a time for songwriting in the STS tradition. Thus far in my experience creating songs from spoken stories, I have worked with people in my community and beyond, as well as from people who are no longer living but whose stories have been captured on film in oral histories.

I am beginning to feel more and more comfortable moving through the beginning stages of STS.

1. Spoken Story
2. Carriage Returns to shape story in prose structure
3. First readthrough for rhythm, groove, and tempo
4. First singthrough for possible melodic germs (aka melodic beginnings for the chorus)
5. Shaping of the chorus (words and melody)

From this point, I am less certain of how to proceed. I can shape verses to tell the story over the course of the song. I can begin to identify a possible bridge. I can try strumming different probable chords from the scale of the melodic key of the chorus.

I feel as though the versions of melody and chord structure that I create for verses seem to imitate the chorus. There is not enough variation or distinction between the two. And it is as though I have gotten stuck into a pattern of creating something similar for each song I write. I am victim to my own tendencies.

DSCF4128So, in anticipation of beginning the process of finding a melody and groove for Amy’s Holocaust song, I met with my partner Malcolm Brooks to discuss possible ways to transcend these learned creative limitations.

Malcolm suggested a series of songs to study as models:

1. Kingston Trio MTA
2. Johnny Horton The Battle of New Orleans
3. Long Black Veil
4. Beatles I want to hold your hand
5. Beatles Girl

The final song we looked at, Beatles “Girl,” began with minor melody in the verses and resolved in the chorus by shifting to a major key. This seemed fitting for the way I have shaped Amy’s song with an emotionally difficult and painful storyline in the verses and hopeful emotion in the chorus.

So my next step will be to choose a minor key that I can use to sing variations of minor melodies for the verses and shifting to major melody for the chorus. I will use the key from the Yiddish song Amy hummed toward the end of the session last week and try variations on that melody.

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