- Jackie Marx
WRITING IS A CRAFT
Updated: May 9
Singing my original songs in Sydney, Australia
As I refresh my skills for songwriting, I will share them here so, if you are interested, you can learn what it takes to write a song.
A song needs strong bones. Heavy instrumentation and sleek production elements will mask the true bones of a song. Like a body, a song is only as sound as its bones. The structure must stand on its own.
People love to hear the completed song with all the bells and whistles, but I think the purity of a vocal and one instrument performance is essential to hear the potential in a song. The production elements may be impactful in a finished product (the overall feel and sound) but the core elements of a song must be there.
A song needs a solid foundation and construction, like a building, in order to stand strong through the test of time.
Definition of PROSODY: When all elements of the song work together to support the CENTRAL MESSAGE, an appropriate relationship between the elements. Prosody is extremely important and not easy to accomplish. Publishers look for prosody; song contest judges look for prosody; listeners become repeat listeners when a song has prosody, and don't when prosody is missing. My song entries in contests have been given 5s and 6s in prosody, which is not good enough. I am working on developing this aspect of the songs I write.
Writing a good song is not an easy task. There are no shortcuts. Oh, I know, some songs just flow from you onto the page. The songs for my musical drama, Rocket City! (The American Dream...Interrupted) were like that. I had a message I was passionate about, and I think the songs were channeled from Source because of that passion.
I remember entering a song in The Great American Song Contest. I thought for sure it would do well and get a 7-10 rating across the board. I waited months to find out. The advice I was given was to go back to the drawing board. I had a tendency to write the story in the wrong order. I began the song with the positive ending idea, instead of beginning in chronological order so listeners could understand the song.
Originally, I began "That's When You Touched Me" with:
In the glory of the morn, the sun has risen
on this day as it is born, on this chance that I've been given
I'm feeling like a kid waking up on Christmas morning
I never knew I'd get this second chance...it never dawned upon me
And That's When You Touched Me
The darkness stole the light, I'm trapped inside my memories
Trapped within my loneliness, searching for a sweet dream
Searching for that dream that would never come to stay
Deep down I knew it would always slip away
and That's When You Touched Me
I reversed the order; it works so much better and actually tells a story. I entered the new version the following year and it did better but not as good as I thought it would. The judge said that that title/hook is used so much that the song would have to be outstanding lyrically to stand out. I guess this one isn't...yet. I will find another title/hook, a more obscure one. I do like this song and the melody I have.