This lesson was another one that didn’t feel altogether new to me, but I enjoyed being reminded of it. As I’ve mentioned before, most of these lessons have consisted of things that I have thought about or at least been more or less aware of; the difficult part is putting them all into practice and being aware enough to consider all of them during the process of writing a song. So even when I find a lesson that I have thought of, it usually isn’t something that I’m thinking about constantly so it’s useful to be reminded, and always interesting to hear about it from someone else’s perspective. Now, on to the lesson.
This video was called “Six Best Friends.” I admit that the teacher really had me going for a while. He started off telling a story about how an important part of his writing process involves asking six of his best friends what they think. I assumed that these were all people whom he trusted, songwriters who all had different perspectives on the world. I was concerned that I don’t have that many people that I would ask. But it was all misdirection (though not as much as Bernice’s Story, which I’ll get to in a later post). When he said that he was a generous guy and would lend his friends to me, I was suspicious. Clearly, these were not very loyal friends (or he was not a very loyal friend) if it was acceptable to pawn them off on a stranger. And then he revealed his six friends:
The entire idea of the video was that you should consider your options, your answers to each question, when you’re writing a song. As I said, this is something I’ve thought about and mentioned in an earlier post where I wanted to make sure that I considered all 5 senses when writing. This is another thing to think about, another way of making a song specific, personal, real, and I think it’s equally important in musical theater and other styles.
The teacher says that when you’re writing a song, you should consider each question. Usually, when I start my writing process, I’m already pretty clear about the who and the what, but I definitely neglect the other questions sometimes. It’s important for the setting to be clear; he considers time of day (morning? evening?) and time of year. If it’s a song about loneliness, maybe it takes place during the summer, an upbeat song that creates ironic distance by being at odds with the emotions of the singer; if it takes place during the winter, maybe the weather is a metaphor for the singer’s feelings. And of course, the song should tell a story. It should weave together details that fill the character and her feelings with life. Specificity is what makes a character real and important. It’s difficult to identify with a character if he’s an archetype.
I feel like I should make a poster of questions I need to ask myself when I’m writing. I already have a bunch from the first few lessons, and I bet this is just the beginning. Something else to consider.