Last Week To Sign Up

The next workshop is this Saturday so if you want to sign up please do today. This next workshop as we’ve said will be a small more focused class with Matt Monta.

More info about the workshop:

DESCRIPTION: Have you ever felt like you had more to say than your song would allow? Attend this workshop to begin using fewer but more powerful words to express your big stories and ideas. In this session you will learn and perform writing exercises to more effectively use your words.

OBJECTIVES: Attendees will receive a brief talk from the instructor and participate in a thought-condensing exercise in which they will be asked to write to a prompt for an extended time. The attendees will then begin re-writing their statement with less time. (ie. 60 second – 30 seconds – 15 seconds – 8 seconds). This exercise is a fun crash-course in demonstrating how a songwriter can more effectively use language to express larger concepts.

BIO: Matt Monta is a full-time songwriter and musician based in Columbus, Ohio with three albums to his name and numerous other songwriting credits. In April 2018 he released Restless Disposition, with his band the Haymakers. Monta performs in Columbus and tours throughout the Midwestern, Southern, and Eastern United States. Read lyrics and learn more about Matt at www.mattmonta.com

WHAT TO BRING: A notebook and pen to take notes and for interactive parts of workshop. No guitar necessary.

Register here for $15!

 

https://apm.activecommunities.com/columbusrecparks/Activity_Search/54946

Registration is up!

Registration is up for our new series we’re calling the “Breakout Sessions”. The first one will be with Matt Monta and it will be held at the Cultural Arts Center May 19th. You can register now and get details at their website at this link:

https://apm.activecommunities.com/columbusrecparks/Activity_Search/54946

 

Thanks!!

DRM_9397Thanks to all who came out to our workshop on March 24th. Here are some of our favorite photos. We are happy to announce a partnership with the Cultural Arts Center here in downtown Columbus and on May 19th we will celebrate with a new series we’re calling “Breakout Sessions”. These will be smaller focused workshops (with a smaller price tag!) typically concentrating on one subject. May 19th at 11am-12:30p will be a workshop with Matt Monta. Check out the event here and buy tickets on the Cultural Arts Center website very soon HERE.

 

Just a few weeks away!

In 2 Saturdays from now we will be hosting our next workshop. Please take this time if you have not already to Pre-Register to save yourself $5 from the day of price. Megan Palmer, Jared Mahone, Jon Elliot, Chris Shaw,  Andy Shaw, Jim Shaw, and Lisa Cave will all be presenting great classes from music and healing to licensing your music and other points in between. Thanks to all of our partners like WCBE and more specifically Johnny Diloretto for helping us out a bunch. Thanks to Six String Concerts, Songs At The Center, Columbus Reggae Alliance, Donatos Pizza, the Jazz Arts Group, and everyone else who has helped along the way. It looks like some people had problems signing up through PayPal, check again and please email c.topherjames(@)gmail(.)com if you have more problems I think we fixed the issue. There are other options on the Pre-Register page in case you do want to do that, and if you have problems you can always come day of and just mention it and we’ll give you the pre-registration price no problem. We look forward to having you any questions please don’t hesitate to email at that address above. Thanks again – Chris Shaw – founding member of CSW

New Instructor – Lisa Cave

Lisa has worked in the Columbus music industry for over 20 years as a booking agent, event producer, manager and sync licensing agent. She is currently the owner of Columbus Originals (a booking agency) and the Tangent Artist Group – a synch licensing agency that works to place Columbus music in TV, film, video games and commercials. We are super excited to have her and more class info will be added soon. Lisa Cave, owner and founder of Tanget Artist Group. © Meghan Ralston

New Instructor – Megan Palmer

We are happy to announce Megan Palmer as an instructor for the March 24th Columbus Songwriting Workshop. Megan Palmer’s music is born from finding her way. Starting in Ohio where she performed with local heroes The Spikedrivers, she explored New York City before venturing to Nashville, TN where she’s made a stunningly honest and adeptly produced album entitled What She’s Got To Give. Learn more about her here. Stay tuned for Megan’s class description.

New Instructor – Jared Mahone

We are excited to add Jared Mahone to the line up of instructors for the next Columbus Songwriting Workshop March 24th at the Jazz Academy. Jared brings a ton of experience and knowledge to the workshop including years of touring the college circuit, playing solo as a looper and with a full band. Jared jumps from R&B, rock, and folk into a mixture of what he calls “garage soul”. When he’s not recording or touring he holds it down with some of the very best musicians in the midwest with the Hoodoo Soul Band every Sunday at the Rumba Cafe in Columbus, Ohio. Stay tuned for Jared’s class description coming soon and in the meantime find him at JaredMahone.com10425420_10152609667673263_4943640569434871311_n

Don Nelson – Songwriting Tip (okay, it’s an essay!)

We put out a monthly songwriting tip to all of our mailing list. I hope you will sing up for it (just go to the “sign up” link on this page). Sometimes we get lengthy ones that are too good to cut down. Here is a recent lengthy one:

I’m pretty sure I met Don Nelson at a songwriting group called “Fertilizers”. I was invited by my friend Rob Maccabee who I’ve known for years from New Basics Brass Band, All Right Now, and hearing him play his amazing songs out everywhere. So I run into Don here and now and he always has amazing insight on songwriting. In fact, I think this guy was BORN to write songs. I haven’t had long conversations about it with him but I think it’s safe to say he loves to read and absolutely loves words. Without further adieu here is Don:

Songwriting Tips – Back Story

So…. this is such vast a subject – the “what”, the “why” and the “how” of writing a song. But for right now let’s set aside huge swaths of that territory and just talk about songs that tell a story or contain some kind of a narrative. Certainly there are millions of perfectly good (great!) and legitimate songs that do NOT really have any kind of narrative arc whatsoever – but let’s stick to ones that DO for now.

So… Once upon a time I saw a painting done in what I think is referred to as “Primitive” folk style. It was a painting of the earth from space – from low orbit – painted in thick rich oils – maybe applied with a putty knife instead of a brush. The earth was heavy and swollen with great slabs of deep blues and plums and greens; with sheets of copper and saffron deserts and mountains; and with creamy bands of scud clouds streaking across it.

The orb of the earth itself filled up most of the canvas but, (in sort of a quintessential folk primitive touch) in the upper left hand area of the picture; (off-world in deepest darkest space), the artist had painted these words in bright mustard yellow against the blackness: “Something wonderful happened here” I saw that painting literally 30 or more years ago but I still remember it fondly.

So… what the hell does this have to do with songwriting?

Well for me at least that’s sort of what I experience when writing a “story” or narrative type of song – at least a successful one. The melody (on a good day) provides slabs of deep blue and plum and green and ochre – the underpinnings of oceans and continents on which the story can rest – with clouds of rhythm stretched and skittering above and across it. The melody traces out some part of the world – my world – real or imagined. It doesn’t have to be a complicated melody – it just has to be solid enough (with the occasional tectonic shift of a bridge or key change) to allow the lyrics to stand without sinking into a cacophonic quicksand. And hovering above it all – and embedded firmly within it and sprouting upward– are the lyrics – that story that tells you: “Something happened here”.

Something wonderful… or terrible… or funny… or heart-breaking… or transcendent. But something! But the lyric doesn’t just tell you ABOUT the event – the lyrics shove you into the damn landing capsule in low orbit over the melody and then drop you into the thick of it. Right in the soup.

You get a quick look at things from above – maybe in the first verse where the dilemma is presented – and maybe that hovering perspective is re-visited during the bridge – but for the main body of the story you’ve got a machete and some flints and a canteen and are hacking your way through the trail of the narrative. Or you’re in a suave rented convertible – sunlit and windblown; cruising your way across melting pavement through the decadent scenery of the narrative. Or you’re in a leaky boat on a foggy night – crossing an ocean of circumstance to a perhaps unknown destination – maybe just some light in the distance. Maybe shoals of destruction. I guess it depends on the kind of story being told – but the main thing is – you are in the thick of it! You forget you are an audience. You forget you are you. (at least in the best circumstances – in the best stories).

So – what is it that happened? What is the story that IS happening? What is the story you want to tell? Let’s say it’s a story about lost love (always a popular theme) – some kind of a lament or a prayer or even a rueful laugh about missed opportunities. The narrative’s introduction – the geometry of the story – hovers in space – where it says in brilliant yellow letters: “Something happened here”.

What happened? “I lost this lover”.

Why? How?

Who was she (or he or whatever) that you have now lost?

Who are YOU?

Why should I care?

Why do YOU care?

So… for me at least – to help answer those kinds of questions and bring some life to the story – I almost always have some kind of a collection of found objects and artifacts  that create for me a Back Story. This is not necessarily a “hook” or any kind of a phrase I may actually use in the song. It’s the staging, the scenery, ambient lighting, and the player’s psychological report – that develops in my mind before and during the actual lyric writing process. The lyrics coalesce around that back-story. For me – the Back Story is the touchstone – that part I can go back to again and again to help navigate my way through the thickets of the narrative. It should be reliable – like the North Star. It should have its own integrity. It can change – but at least at the start it shouldn’t flicker around too much (unless perhaps THAT CONSTANT CHANGE – that flickering – is the point of the story – is at the root of the intention of the song.)

So… almost unconsciously I find that I think about all the small incidentals that surround the protagonist in the story, that lead up to or away from the event itself (a breakup or whatever) and the incidentals that surround the narrator of the story too – the “me” in other words. Am I lamenting? Am I waiting to be hanged? Am I just tired? Am I stupid and obviously not understanding some salient point that the story is conveying to the listener – in other words is the “joke” on me? Have I moved on to a new love? Will I make the same mistakes again and again? Have I learned something? Does anyone learn anything? The back-story floats in the back of my mind and inflects how the actual lyrical story transpires.  Again, I may not incorporate much if any of these tidbits into the song’s actual lyrics – But that’s not really their purpose. For me their purpose is to keep me true to the story – to guide me so I don’t wander off somewhere in the telling of it. These little bits of information help add dimension in the telling of the story – they help but make it more real for me – and hopefully more real for you too. The back story may contain minutia like: The lost love’s name – or her pet name (“butterfly”)  – or particulars about her appearance – especially some slight flaw or imperfection – (for it’s our flaws that give our characters more dimension – that make them more real – more believable – perfection is kind of boring).

Incidentals like: what kind of car she drove (hatchback? Beater? Alpha Romeo?); what’s spilled on its upholstery; where did she leave her ratty old forest green wool coat with the hole in its left pocket that’s filled with flecks of tobacco? What about the smarting hopeful smell of fresh paint on the porch; the sad sepia-yellowed lampshades in the dim living room where you and she used to make love; the dishes in the sink… Maybe there’s something she wrote in the dust of the mirror in the hall – something happy or sad or something about goodbye…. the catch in her voice… the face of the calico cat who stares up at you while you read the lover’s farewell note… the ticking of a clock. Cars and traffic washing by in the street outside. Your own breath. You are building a moment – an event – unfolding an event of some kind. It should feel as if it is occurring for the very first time in that moment of telling it – in this moment – it should be real and immediate and whole for you – no matter where in time the actual story takes place – the past – the present – or some distant future.

In the telling of the story it is happening RIGHT NOW! It’s happening to YOU right now – right as you tell it – right as you sing it – it’s as big a surprise to you as it is to anyone else – and with a little bit of luck it is happening right now to your surprised listener as well. So… sometimes that’s the goal. You are creating (for three minutes or whatever) an entire world where something happened – where something IS happening. You are plunging, immersing yourself and your listener into the atmosphere and immediacy of a real world, no matter how fantastic a world it may be – submersing into that world’s weather – its terrain – its topography – its flora and fauna – its emotions – its uncertainty.

You and your listener are going on a journey. It may be into outer space. It may be around the block. It may be to your lover’s red hair or the back of her neck. The minutia of a coherent back story can really help you paint that picture – replete with its oceans and canyons and dry, dry deserts – that picture that says “Something Happened Here”.

© 2017 Don Nelson

check out Don Nelson’s SoundCloud page here.

Thank You!

23331277_1422661977851110_5395978313469090643_oFirst of all I’d like to say thanks to all the participants from the October Columbus Songwriting Workshop!

I recently was asked what the classes were about from someone that did not know much about our workshop. I want to work hard this next time around to make sure I really push out the classes that our great instructors are putting out there really just to educate everyone about what we are doing.

Here’s a small re-cap of what you missed if you did not attend.  Jon Elliott and Nick D’Andrea (aka Doc Robinson) lead a great workshop on Co-Writing and talked about how they came up with some of the songs on their record Deep End which is available on vinyl to purchase here. I liked the idea of, and I am paraphrasing here, “the song is the winner” in a co-write. In other words, take all ego out and allow the song to be the thing that prevails out of the session.

T.Wong led a multi faceted discussion on songwriting, producing, stage presence, and even went into some music business. The class was really well thought out and the take away for me was to know who you are, and know where you want to go, and that will take you far in this line of work. I also liked that he talked about allowing your energy to dictate how you are going to write. Don’t write a love song if you’re just not in that mood. Check out T.Wong’s latest project The Upside Down along with his many other projects here.

Bringing back a favorite class was Billy Zenn. The “Making the Best out of your Open Mic Experience” class went through all aspects of the open mic experience and even included a real PA, mic, and. monitor set up so people could get tips on the spot on how to dial in their sound. Check out Billy’s sounds at a show soon and on his website here.

I want to really ask people what they want to hear from us, because with out YOU we would have no us. What instructors (locally/nationally) would you like to see? What classes would you like to see? Be detailed in your responses we really want to hear from you. If you are not getting our mailers (including our monthly songwriting tip) please sign the mailing list here to stay with the community.

March 24th is the next workshop with featured instructor Megan Palmer. Right now we have a super super cheap early bird discount here. Also, we will be having an informal Song Sharing Circle not unlike the one we did at the recent workshop. This will be December 5th at Andy Shaw’s house and it’s completely free to attend. Please RSVP on our Facebook Event here.
Thanks again!
Chris – Columbus Songwriting Workshop founder

–Thanks also to Donatos, Six String Concert Series, Songs At The Center, Columbus Reggae Alliance, The Jazz Arts Group, and all of our partners!–