Some Tunes

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Songwriting Critique Balance

This post really feeds off of a number of earlier ones, but I thought it would be appropriate to jot down my thoughts on receiving critiques and criticisms. I'd been working on about 5 songs at the same time (new and a bit overwhelming for me), but one emerged for me as having some strong potential. So what I did after an initial write was to submit it to a song critique for some feedback through SongU.

Allan Roy Scott did the review and gave me some direction to pull it out of what he thought was an 80's feel in the chorus (and I agreed with that eval). The rewrite took a lot of repetitiveness out of the chorus, changed some lyrics and melody line in spots. I then took it to a songwriting workshop in Eugene. The feedback there was that it wasn't repetitive enough in the chorus (and, of course, I agreed with that too). I found some middle ground that I really liked - best version so far, I felt.

My next step was to take the new "improved" version to a feedback class at SongU with Helen Darling. Her feedback was mostly very positive, but she said the lyrics confused her a bit. I struggled with that one. I spent some time trying to figure out why she felt that way as she had a hard time pinpointing the issue. I discovered what I felt the reason was and opted to not make any changes, especially since that was the only time I got that feedback (and this time I didn't agree).

One last run through, with no changes, I took it to another feedback class, this time with Allan again, but in class this time instead of a written critique. He loved the changes and basically told me he thought it was ready to demo and then pitch. I had no choice but to agree - good news is sometimes hard to come by. Now, some others in the class had change ideas, but I'm confident in the current version.

Here's the rub on this process. I think you have to listen to all the feedback. It doesn't mean that you make changes unless it makes sense to you as the writer to do so. I've heard back from industry experts as well as want-to-be professionals (I'm in that category) and have gotten way different opinions and observations. Some worked for me and some didn't. I think that no matter who the person listening is, they view a work from their current perspective. They can hear something one day and have a different opinion on a different day depending on what's going on in their lives. As a songwriter/artist, you have to be able to filter, but understand what the opinions are in the process. Other than craft being askew, there really is not wrong or right, but there is works and doesn't.

By the way, I really felt good about all the reviews and that in itself is a tremendous move forward for me. I'm going to shop a few studios and get this puppy done by some professional studio musicians and see what develops from there. It has been an eye opening positive journey on this one. The title is "Convince Myself" and I'll have it available to listen to once I get a demo completed - soon I hope. On to round 56B . . .

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on this! I love it that your'e blogging the process and I can't wait to hear it. I'm glad the critique process good feelings held in there. Sometimes I can do that and sometimes I can't. Just a note on lyrics making sense. I think you're more into that than I am, but some of my favorite songs really fall apart when you look at the lyrics. I don't like them any less, because what I take away from most songs anyway is the feel of the song and the sound, and that includes "brain bytes" of images rather than a story in many cases.