An introduction to the architecture of song
As Carole King said, 'the song form is limitless'. After all anything can happen when you pair notes with silence. And yet, most *popular songs of the last 130 years have riffed off of four main song forms - the underlying architecture of song. (*Popular is loosely defined and ranges from blues, folk, dance, reggae, indie, ambient, show tunes, singer-songwriter, rock, arthouse, no-wave, prog rock, post-rock - you get the idea.)
Each of these four forms plays with the tension between the human desire for familiarity (repetition of segments of the song) and novelty (the addition of new musical or lyrical content).
And in case you're feeling a bit antsy thinking that there are only four song forms, never fear, the fourth form is called "Formless"; in which anything can - and does - happen!
Who is this for?
Novice songwriters, music aficionados, and accomplished songwriters who wish to experience a deepening of their awareness of form & their personal songwriting habits, and experience a kind and engaged online songwriting community.
If you can hum a tune, OR write some lyrics, you will be well able for this class. We'll mostly be looking at the big picture - the pattern of verses and choruses - though I will reference certain aspects of music theory, which will be happily explained as needed. All classes are LGBTQI+ and BIPOC affirming.
immerse yourself in song
Listen to examples of each song form.
Discuss the unique superpower of each song form, the potential challenges, and the many ways to resolve them.
Write your own
Respond to prompts to familiarize yourself with the song forms and their component parts.
What can you expect?
Each week we will:
look at one of 4 song forms - Strophic, AABA, AB, and Formless,
learn a bit of its history,
listen a few songs in that form,
discuss the variations of the given song form,
its superpower and intherent challenges,
begin to define the varying roles that the component parts can play,
respond to a prompt to internalize the form, and
share what we've written.
Additionally, you will be invited to:
respond aesthetically to each song form, as you define or
redefine your own songwriter's voice,
be asked to go beyond your habits into new songwriting territory,
work on additional writing prompts between sessions,
and receive craft feedback on the prompts or songs you share (as desired)
You will take away:
Partial or whole new songs
An intro to the history of popular songwriting
Familiarity with four song forms and the ability to identify them
Awareness of the main components of song and the ability to identify them
A pdf from each slideshow with a list of songs each form
Songwriting prompts to continue to play with
Your Facilitator Béthany
I was first requested to offer a "Mindful Songwriting" workshop by graduate songwriting students at Bath Spa University; after all the only thing I talked about more than music was meditation. The two came together in my thesis which researched meditation as a pedagogical tool for music students.
My current workshops all include a period of meditation, a measure of mindfulness, and compassionate workshopping that focusses on craft tools. Any feedback I offer refers to the multiplicity of options for any creative choice, suggesting potential choices and the effects each one would have on the overall experience of the song - and leaving all decisions in the hands of the songwriter.
My style is influenced by 20+ years meditation practice, 12 years training in creative writing workshops, experience as a yoga teacher, meditation facilitator, and an underlying certainly that all beings are creative by nature.