Songwriter's Toolbox

By Michael Shorr

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Description

Want to learn the tools professional songwriters use? The Songwriter's Toolbox is a music appreciation class and songwriting training session in one. This podcast is based on my experience as a professor at Berklee College of Music as well as a student (Songwriting, '02). My goal is to help you tap into your full potential as a songwriter. Please subscribe and comment. I'd love to hear what you think. For more info, my home site is ChocolateStrawberryStudios.com

Episode Date
Songwriter's Toolbox - Multiple Meanings (Bruce Springsteen)
How does a great writer layer meanings in their lyrics?&nbsp; In "Into the Fire", Bruce Springsteen gives us a fantastic example.&nbsp; Also, today is the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC.&nbsp; I'm sharing this amazing song (and the story behind it) as a remembrance of those who died that day - from office workers to passengers to police and fire fighters - and in the spirit of giving comfort to those who lost loved ones in those attacks.<br /><br /><a href="http://streetschool.net/Podcasts/SongToolbox_Fire_Springsteen.mp3">SongToolbox_Fire_Springsteen.mp3</a><div class="feedflare"> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=KynQmmwxNUc:k6-QRl2S8Dk:yIl2AUoC8zA"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></img></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=KynQmmwxNUc:k6-QRl2S8Dk:63t7Ie-LG7Y"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=63t7Ie-LG7Y" border="0"></img></a> </div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SongwritersToolbox/~4/KynQmmwxNUc" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
Sep 11, 2011
Songwriter's Toolbox - What are Modes?
The concept of "modes" perplexes many folks who love writing or listening to music. But the concept is actually very accessible. By examining a Persian mode used by Iranian-American songwriter Ali Eskandarian, I'll give you a quick and, hopefully, very understandable explanation (and demonstration) of what modes are.<br /><br />Will this be useful for your own songwriting? While it might be too much to assume that a songwriter steeped in one musical tradition can quickly sound authentic in a new style, you might at the very least find elements of another form of music that could give you a new palette to work with in your songwriting. Music has a long tradition of mixing, sharing and remixing - in ports, international cities and, these days, by radio, TV and the Internet. And it's definitely a way that people from different cultures can find a common ground.<div class="feedflare"> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=rmHGPNsKIHo:7l7Rqt-U3ic:yIl2AUoC8zA"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></img></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=rmHGPNsKIHo:7l7Rqt-U3ic:63t7Ie-LG7Y"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=63t7Ie-LG7Y" border="0"></img></a> </div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SongwritersToolbox/~4/rmHGPNsKIHo" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
Dec 26, 2010
Songwriter's Toolbox - Chord Power Progressions (Ryan Tedder, Kelly Clarkson "Already Gone")
Who wants an easy way to get new ideas for their songs? Who wants a good way to add power to their songs? Every songwriter I know, including me! Today we're going to talk about a tool called Chord Power Progressions that's used in the Kelly Clarkson Top 20 hit "Already Gone", co-written with Ryan Tedder. <br /><br />The books I mention in this podcast are by Jimmy Kachulis. They're called Songwriter's Workshop: Harmony and Berklee In the Pocket: Essential Songwriter(co-written with Jonathan Feist). FYI: you can take courses in songwriting with Jimmy at BerkleeMusic.com (where I teach, too).<div class="feedflare"> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=nDj4-j9I7ko:89_RxHpiHLI:yIl2AUoC8zA"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></img></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=nDj4-j9I7ko:89_RxHpiHLI:63t7Ie-LG7Y"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=63t7Ie-LG7Y" border="0"></img></a> </div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SongwritersToolbox/~4/nDj4-j9I7ko" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
Dec 23, 2010
Songwriter's Toolbox - Are Titles Massively Important? (Roseanne Cash)
I always knew that a song title was important. I just didn't realize how massively important! In this podcast, I share one of the most astonishing things I've learned about songwriting ever.<br /><br />If you're interested in checking out the title categories (and maybe suggesting some of your own), I've posted this list on our website, artofthesong.org on the "Forum" page.<div class="feedflare"> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=ikJAXBnZ_qs:JRuTZAp6-tw:yIl2AUoC8zA"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></img></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=ikJAXBnZ_qs:JRuTZAp6-tw:63t7Ie-LG7Y"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=63t7Ie-LG7Y" border="0"></img></a> </div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SongwritersToolbox/~4/ikJAXBnZ_qs" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
Nov 13, 2010
Songwriter's Toolbox - A Chorus Tool (Bruce Springsteen)
Here's a great tool to streamline the process of writing a powerful chorus. Bruce Springsteen uses it and so can you.<div class="feedflare"> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=DZWWeaOqzkQ:bkAg0KIaZyM:yIl2AUoC8zA"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></img></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=DZWWeaOqzkQ:bkAg0KIaZyM:63t7Ie-LG7Y"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=63t7Ie-LG7Y" border="0"></img></a> </div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SongwritersToolbox/~4/DZWWeaOqzkQ" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
Jul 26, 2010
Songwriter's Toolbox - Universal Human Experience (Dolly Parton)
What makes a song emotionally powerful? Most often, the impact comes from a special combination of melody, chords, groove and lyrics. With Dolly Parton's song "Coat of Many Colors", one element seems to stand out most: the lyrics.<br /><br />By the way, thanks so much to all you podcast listeners who've emailed me to let me know how much you're enjoying this podcast. I'm so psyched it's valuable to you. It's truly inspiring to me and actually helps encourage me not only to keep writing the Song Toolbox but also to keep writing songs myself!<div class="feedflare"> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=vfR0U8tU5gg:hfLEp-SXySc:yIl2AUoC8zA"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></img></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=vfR0U8tU5gg:hfLEp-SXySc:63t7Ie-LG7Y"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=63t7Ie-LG7Y" border="0"></img></a> </div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SongwritersToolbox/~4/vfR0U8tU5gg" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
Jul 26, 2010
Songwriter's Toolbox - Lyric Writing - Character and Journey (Gillian Welch)
What makes a compelling song? Sometimes, it's the same thing that makes a compelling story: clearly defined characters who face obstacles that block their goals and the journey to overcome that opposition. Invariably, there's some lessons learned, too. It's a classic model for a story and a great way to write a song, too.<div class="feedflare"> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=bLRgNXSR1uc:oCI2eSjzZ1g:yIl2AUoC8zA"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></img></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=bLRgNXSR1uc:oCI2eSjzZ1g:63t7Ie-LG7Y"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=63t7Ie-LG7Y" border="0"></img></a> </div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SongwritersToolbox/~4/bLRgNXSR1uc" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
Nov 23, 2009
Songwriter's Toolbox - Creating Contrast using Short Notes and Long Notes (Eagles)
One of the most effective ways to make your songs stay fresh, keep listeners interested and really build drama is contrast. One of my favorite songwriting teachers, Jai Josefs, makes this point all the time.<br /><br />Contrast is a fundamental tool great songwriters use. They make sure that the sections of their songs - verse, chorus, bridge, etc. - each sound different. How do you create in your songs? This is where a deep understanding of lyrics and music theory really pays off. As Pat Pattison, at Berklee, likes to say, just ask "What do you got?" and then ask "What's different?" The more you know about lyric writing and music theory, the more you'll understand what you've got and what would be different. But we all have lots of experience listening to music - and we know intuitively when things sound different. So, whether by ear or by training, you can play around with making your song sections sound different from one another.<br /><br />To illustrate this point with melodies, let's check out the Eagles' song "Take it Easy."<br /><br />Happy songwriting!<br /><br />BTW: If you'd like to hear some of the music I've written, you can go to my music website: www.ChocolateStrawberryStudios.com<br /><br />Please comment if you'd like to. I look forward to hearing what you think!<div class="feedflare"> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=s0H_GJMUgzY:MpmGhr8z5dk:yIl2AUoC8zA"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></img></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=s0H_GJMUgzY:MpmGhr8z5dk:63t7Ie-LG7Y"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=63t7Ie-LG7Y" border="0"></img></a> </div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SongwritersToolbox/~4/s0H_GJMUgzY" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
Jul 23, 2009
Songwriter's Toolbox - The Power of Everyday Language (Janis Ian)
Where do songwriters find things to write songs about? For Janis Ian, a great source was the newspaper.<br /><br />You can check out Janis Ian's music and more at www.janisian.com. Janis is a legendary and extraordinary songwriter. She's also written a lot of great articles about songwriting and being a singer-songwriter including a column in Performing Songwriter magazine. (You can read many of these article on her website - click on "Prose".) In fact, she's written about lots of things - she's very smart, compassionate and interested in almost everything. (She'd probably say that these are qualities that help in her songwriting too.)<br /><br />And you can hear some of the music I've written at my music website: www.ChocolateStrawberryStudios.com<br /><br />Thanks again for listening. And please comment - I look forward to hearing what you think!<div class="feedflare"> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=Xc0pB3cSOzs:nPHRMyPVHIg:yIl2AUoC8zA"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></img></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=Xc0pB3cSOzs:nPHRMyPVHIg:63t7Ie-LG7Y"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=63t7Ie-LG7Y" border="0"></img></a> </div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SongwritersToolbox/~4/Xc0pB3cSOzs" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
Jan 09, 2009
Songwriter's Toolbox - The Water and The Conduit (Don Richmond)
Ever get discouraged in your songwriting? Today's tool helps me get inspired again. It comes from singer-songwriter-instrumentalist-teacher-philosopher Don Richmond. It's called "The Water and The Conduit" and I hope you find it as helpful as I do.<br /><br />You can check out Don's music and more on http://donrichmond.com/dons.htm. Plus, Don's written an extraordinary book called "Getting Your Music Past the Fear." You can order a copy through his website.<br /><br />By the way, you can hear some of the music I've written at my biz website: www.ChocolateStrawberryStudios.com<br /><br />Thanks again for listening. And please comment - I look forward to hearing what you think!<br /><font class="artistInfo"><font class="vanity"></font></font><div class="feedflare"> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=JzjP4jgxgMg:bE6PtfpTIEA:yIl2AUoC8zA"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></img></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=JzjP4jgxgMg:bE6PtfpTIEA:63t7Ie-LG7Y"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=63t7Ie-LG7Y" border="0"></img></a> </div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SongwritersToolbox/~4/JzjP4jgxgMg" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
Dec 16, 2008
Songwriter's Toolbox - Weaving a Story (Amy Correia)
Today's tool from my Songwriter's Toolbox is called "Weaving a Story". We'll learn about this tool by checking out the song "The Bike" by a master storyteller: singer-songwriter Amy Correia. Wait till you hear how she weaves her tale!<br /><br />You can check out Amy's music and more on MySpace at <font class="artistInfo"><font class="vanity">www.myspace.com/amycorreia</font></font><br /><br />And remember: it isn't a rule, it's just a tool to make songs more powerful.<div class="feedflare"> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=egnGLXYm2hA:jITLfJKXWCM:yIl2AUoC8zA"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></img></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=egnGLXYm2hA:jITLfJKXWCM:63t7Ie-LG7Y"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=63t7Ie-LG7Y" border="0"></img></a> </div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SongwritersToolbox/~4/egnGLXYm2hA" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
Dec 16, 2008
Songwriter's Toolbox - Being Ready for Inspiration (Don Conoscenti)
Today's tool from my Songwriter's Toolbox is "Being ready for inspiration." We'll learn about this tool by checking out the song "The Other Side" by folk singer-songwriter extraordinaire Don Conoscenti. www.donconoscenti.com<br /><br />Remember: it isn't a rule, it's just a tool to help give birth to great songs.<div class="feedflare"> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=XtsrGVYHfBs:G5w6C4bVOqA:yIl2AUoC8zA"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></img></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=XtsrGVYHfBs:G5w6C4bVOqA:63t7Ie-LG7Y"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=63t7Ie-LG7Y" border="0"></img></a> </div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SongwritersToolbox/~4/XtsrGVYHfBs" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
Dec 16, 2008
Songwriter's Toolbox - Phrasing (Jackson Browne)
Today we learn about phrasing in Jackson Browne's song "The Pretender."<br /><br />It's my first post of a podcast. Let's see how it works!<br /><br />By the way, The Songwriter's Toolbox is where I keep that tools that I use in my role as the Song Analyst on Art of the Song - Creativity Radio (www.artofthesong.org). It's also the title of my forthcoming book! Stay tuned....<div class="feedflare"> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=nt3tV623wsk:LgRxCFc6auY:yIl2AUoC8zA"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></img></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=nt3tV623wsk:LgRxCFc6auY:63t7Ie-LG7Y"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=63t7Ie-LG7Y" border="0"></img></a> </div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SongwritersToolbox/~4/nt3tV623wsk" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
Jun 12, 2008
Learning to Podcast
This is an experiment. In an effort to learn how to podcast, I'm setting up a blog and figuring out how to make a podcast of the Song Analyst (from Art of the Song Creativity Radio - www.artofthesong.org) available over the net. As a podcast I'm calling it the Songwriter's Toolbox.<br /><br />Thanks for being patient with me as I stumble about!<div class="feedflare"> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=QNEDGL456QY:1gtclSsgEvo:yIl2AUoC8zA"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></img></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?a=QNEDGL456QY:1gtclSsgEvo:63t7Ie-LG7Y"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/SongwritersToolbox?d=63t7Ie-LG7Y" border="0"></img></a> </div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SongwritersToolbox/~4/QNEDGL456QY" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
Sep 14, 2007