Adventures in Songwriting

So I’ve been writing a song.

A couple of years ago, I started this running joke with my husband that something I often say to him would make a great country music song. Last year, I decided to write that song. So I wrote out the little poem. I didn’t have any intentions of writing the music, because I’ve never done that sort of thing before. But just last month, I came up with this little tune.

I am a mediocre musician. I mean that. I can play some intermediate pieces (Fur Elise–including the hard parts), but it takes a LOT of practice and even then, I rarely give a flawless performance.

BUT, I know some music theory. I probably should learn more, but right now, I know what I know. I know what intervals are, about the Circle of Fifths, tonic, dominants, subdominants; majors and minors, and various (but not all) chord types. Is that enough? I’m sure it isn’t.

I also know what I like the sound of, and getting it onto the musical staff can be a challenge. Learning more music theory would probably help. For now, I don’t attempt to compose until I have the tune firmly in my head. I’m pretty good at transferring a tune from my head to the piano, but I’m not so good about getting the timing right on the staff. It’s getting easier.

I’ve also been looking into the songwriting scene. As in, where the heck do I start? Since I’m a writer, I know about the pitfalls of the publishing scene; about scam agents and unsavory vanity publishers. I didn’t have a clue about this with songwriting. Google “songwriting” and you get a lot of dubious sales pitches.

So, drawing on my knowledge of the publishing industry, I looked for a songwriter’s association. After all, SFWA has lots of information about getting started in publishing (God bless SFWA!), so I knew a songwriting association would have something similar. And I found the Nashville Songwriters Association International. There, I learned about things called PROs. Apparently, you are supposed to join a PRO as a serious first step. Publishing has nothing like this. PRO stands for Performance Rights Organization, and there are two open to beginners, BMI and ASCAP. I have not joined either one yet, I figured I’d better finish my song, first.

And right now, its not high on my priority list. This little tunes in my head will just have to stay there until I can scrawl them out on a hand-drawn staff, or sit at the computer with Finale Songwriter. The joy of writing music is I can do it with my daughter right beside me, who sits there and sings my song as I tweak it. I can’t do that with writing prose.

Speaking of prose, I’ve also been packaging my free prequel, which is finished. I am determined to post it this weekend, which will be our first free weekend in a while.

Does anyone know any songwriters, or anyone in the music industry? I know John Anealio, who knows I dabble in music, and I’ll probably hit him up for a critique.

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