In this edition of The Sunday Songwriter:
- Why you should embrace your guilty music pleasures
- When writing imagery into a lyric, are you using all seven senses?
- Why do you listen to your favourite music over and over again?
- You’ve been singing every day of your life since childhood — even if you don’t think you have
Embrace Your Guilty Music Pleasures
Tough-guy punk rocker Henry Rollins listened to Madonna’s Like a Virgin on his Aiwa cassette player over and over. “Floss your teeth, brush, rinse and BITE ME!”, he writes. I’m with Henry on this one — Quit worrying about how others will judge your listening habits and just enjoy the sounds. Embrace your “weird taste” — if you’re serious about songwriting, you can learn something new from anything you listen to.
When Writing Imagery into a Lyric, Are You Using All Seven Senses?
This is a short article on Wikipedia that lists out seven types of imagery found in literature. It starts with the traditional five senses that many of us learned about in school, then goes beyond it to two lesser-known types: Kinesthetic and Organic imagery.
Why do you listen to your favourite music over and over again?
For my first few years as a songwriter, I rebelled against what I saw as pop music’s obsession with “THE BIG CHORUS”. Music shouldn’t be so repetitive, I thought at the time. But as I’ve learned more and more about the craft, I’ve come to realize that many forms of music all over the world embrace repetition — it’s not just American pop. In all genres of music, repetition done right works magic on our minds. Elizabeth Margulis, concert pianist and director of the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas, explains the effects of repetition on the brain in this long, thoughtful article for Aeon magazine. Make a cup of coffee and take your time with this one — it’s worth it.
You’ve been singing every day of your life since childhood — even if you don’t think you have
Please note that this is a link to a PDF file, so it’ll probably be very difficult to read if you’re using a smartphone.
We think of everyday speech as entirely different from singing — but the speech and song centers in our brains overlap, and the two share a lot in common. Here Diana Deutsch, Professor of Psychology, talks about some of the “Musical Illusions” she’s discovered over her decades of research. Along the way she also explores how good readers score higher on tests of musical ability, and why all mothers are natural singers. This Scientific American article is a somewhat long read, but it could change the way you think about music, language, and songwriting forever. Make an even bigger cup of coffee and settle in.