It is no secret that music has tremendous power. It can heal emotional wounds, boost moods, decrease pain, and improve brain interaction. In short, music, as a universal language, has the power to influence and change lives, therefore changing the world. Singer/songwriter Jena Douglas has been using songwriting as a tool to gain emotional strength and guidance for years. In her step-bystep guide, Douglas compiles more than twenty-five years of music knowledge and tips on writing hit songs, the music business, and the extoled benefits of songwriting as therapy.
Songwriting is more than just strumming a guitar and singing a tune. Douglas relies on her diverse experiences in the music industry to help others discover their natural voice, style and strengths. Aspiring songwriters will also learn how to create original lyrics, form basic chords, and learn beginning music theory. With Douglas's guidance, songwriters will discover how to look within first, before creating a song - a process that ultimately encourages songwriters to evolve emotionally through the music they want to share with the world.
This book, Change The World-Write Your Song! can teach anyone to create their song and their vision of the world.
Related collections and offers
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.22(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Change the World—Write Your Song!Fundamentals and Beyond for the Aspiring Singer/Songwriter-Book I
By Jena Douglas
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Jena Douglas
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWhat do you want?—"We want the world and we want it ... now!"
What makes a person go from writing songs about themselves to writing world-class songs? You have to know what you want and then ask for it. Jim Morrison of the band, The Doors, sang in his song, "When The Music's Over," the words, "We want the world and we want it ... now!" Regardless of whom he was talking about, making that statement attracted the world to them (The Doors). What do you want out of songwriting? Whatever you want to do with your songwriting is OK because everyone has a song and should write it! For every song you write you are refining your feelings, which will help you in whatever your life's quest is. But even as you may just want to write songs as a hobby, you could make some money, too.
What this book can do for you is to help you discover your song or your voice. There is a purpose for you to write your song and distribute it out into the airwaves regardless of what magnitude the waveform is. If you sing it to yourself or share it with the world this book will help you discover your inner songwriter. Through music you will discover that you are the master of your universe (so be easy on yourself). According to the "law of attraction," what you are thinking and feeling will multiply. So, in music what you are listening, writing, feeling, thinking, and add the physical part of singing and playing an instrument, will effect what you attract. You can literally attract what you want from the universe through song!
Whether you do this for money, therapy or fun, songwriting takes time and some amount of tenacity to wander your way through the art of songwriting and then to promote, submit and network your way to where you want to be as a songwriter. It doesn't matter how long it takes for you to get to where you want to go, because in songwriting, it's all about the process of writing your song. If you write one song, I hope your true passion and purpose find their voice.
Write for Yourself:
At first you should write for yourself. Write what you know, because then it will come across as being organic; the feelings will be real (I'm really good at this). Use your fundamental feelings as a foundation for your music. Songwriting can be very therapeutic by releasing your hurt, your anger at something you might not want others to hear, but let it out anyway. You may feel very vulnerable at first, but just keep writing. Start using metaphors (a word or phrase that is applied to an action or object that it is not usually known for), allusions (an indirect or passing reference) and personas (a different character) to take you out of the story. So, for your first couple of songs you may not want others to hear.
I love to write personal songs like my idols, Joni Mitchell and Pete Townshend, but even they consciously tried to write songs for the masses. Joni Mitchell wrote, "You Turn Me On (I'm A Radio)" specifically for "repositioning herself onto the Top Forty playlist." Pete Townshend wrote, "Pinball Wizard" for the rock opera Tommy to please "influential UK rock critic Nik Cohn (who) was coming to review the project." Although I like the "hit" songs, I love the personal songs; at least the ones I can relate to.
When writing personal songs, be careful not to get too personal. To quote Joni Mitchell again, her songs "are honest and personal based on the truth, but I exercise a writer's choice to change details." To change what really happens is a good way for you to give yourself some distance from the story. Sometimes when a song is too close and personal it makes it hard to perform the song and it also could make your listeners uncomfortable. Not everyone will know that the story you're telling is not the truth. That happened to me. I take liberties with my stories and so a friend of mine thought I was talking about them. This was not good because they got angry at me, but I told them it was only partly true. You'll never know where a song will take you. Sometimes you just have to go there!
At a songwriting expo, I heard one of the panel professionals say, "Most people don't like it when the songwriter is the victim." I partially agree. The current (8-9-11) top 2 on billboard are: Party Rock Anthem and Last Friday Night hmmm! Looking at the top 100 hits on Billboard, there are some sad songs, but not hopeless, "feel sorry for me," victim songs (in popular music). If you want to write a hit song, there needs to be a sense of self-worth for the one who's telling the story. The song "Easy To Be Hard" from the musical "Hair" was a hit, but most of the lyrics talk from the third person format through most of the song.
When people gather to listen to music they want songs to lighten their moods. They would take a jolly sing along song or dance tune over a despondently sad song every time, but melancholy songs have their place too. A lot of the songs picked up for film/TV are really sad like "You Lose" by Pete Yorn featured in the TV show House. TV is great for introducing new music and using music that is melancholy.
Exercise 1: Find artists that inspire you. If you have access to the Internet, join a music online service like, Reverbnation or last.fm. These sites and most networking sites like Facebook and MySpace will give you access to new music. Your assignment is to listen to one new song a day.
Certain personal songs are like a massive valve oozing feelings of drama and tragedy. I wrote a song I never play live because I feel that it doesn't empower me. It's a beautiful song called, "I Am Powerless." But writing this song did several things for me:
1. It got what I was feeling out.
2. It helped me to pinpoint what I was feeling (also making the video did that too).
3. Once I pinpointed what I was feeling I could then change it.
4. Now instead of having the feeling of powerlessness nagging away at me it's in a song.
So, if you have a hard luck story write a song because writing about it will help you define it. Defining what you don't want will help you define what you do want. So, perhaps when you write a hard luck story, back it up with a good luck story! Or begin with the hard luck story that resolves into a good luck story (maybe this will balance out the scale for the "law of attraction")!
Exercise 2: Use your notebook: Get a dictionary or thesaurus and find words to describe your feelings and write them down in your notebook. Define what is troubling or challenging you with words and then on the opposite page you will write the opposite feelings in words. That's it! Just write the words. You can fill a whole page of words if you like.
If you have little experience in the music side of songwriting but you have a good sense of writing lyrics, then find someone to write with, but finding the right someone is not easy. You need to find a partner that will complement you. The creative process can get personal. So, find someone you feel comfortable with. However, sometimes it is good to have someone to set limitations on your personal story. Above all, you will need to find someone who is looking for a lyricist (most songwriters do both words and music).
The easiest way to find someone to write with is to get on the Internet and hook up with someone via Facebook, MySpace, American SongSpace and Craig's List. You can also advertise at your local city college, adult education or music store by posting a flyer with your name and phone number. Also, attend music conferences put on by songwriting organizations (look at some of the websites I have listed at the end of this book). In addition to learning from this book, you could also take a course in songwriting at your local city college or adult education. These are ways to find other songwriters.
You can even partner with someone who is not from your town, state or country, but this can only be done (easily) via the Internet. Internet sites like Soundcloud, make it easy to send large files of music to another person or some people use zip files that condense the files when sending large files. There are other ways to send and share music but you can discover them on your own.
There are songwriters who partner all the time. Steve Key, a singer/ songwriter friend of mine, told me that in Nashville it is very common for songwriters to get together to write songs. And so you hear, "let's get together and write a song sometime." It's like getting together for lunch or a drink. This is true, because I attended Durango's Songwriter's Expo in Santa Ynez California and met a bunch of songwriters from Nashville and they asked me if I wanted to get together and write a song with them! Ha! It's true!
Touring with another band:
If you're a good musician you can find a touring band to play with. A lot of time they'll be looking for singers or extra players. My nephew plays horn for two bands, Mad Caddies and King City. He met his first band in college and the other through musician friends and his reputation for being an awesome horn player (http://www.jenadouglas.com/music.html listen to "Walk On By" and "Again Someday"). So, usually you'll need to know the band personally. This is also a great way to see if touring is something you'd like to do for your own music.
It is doable but you have to truly believe! And you have to really want it. Think about it, Paparazzi eww! However, you don't have to be rich and famous to make a good living from music.
Write Jingles for local TV and radio:
As long as you're up for the challenge, writing jingles and songs for commercials is a great way to get your style of music heard. From there, you can build your reputation, which for a jingle writer, is very important. Your reputation functions somewhat like a resume. "I wrote a jingle for this company, you may have heard it on the radio/TV." Usually, if you've got one song on a commercial and it does well you'll get regular work.
Write songs for famous singers:
To write music for famous singers is difficult because you not only will have to write in their style, but you also have to have a good singer to sing it. If you want to go this route and if you don't have a lot of money, my advice is to hire a good singer, or get some singing lessons. In Book II, I will go over some vocal techniques that I have learned through the years. This will help with learning to sing on key and how to strengthen your voice and broaden your range. Working on your voice will not only make you a better singer, but also make you a better interpreter of an interesting melody because your vocal range and pitch will then be better. Of course, there are singer/songwriters who have a small range and do very well.
Write songs and scores for film and television:
In "Change The World-Write Your Song! Book II," I will get more in depth on writing for this market. However, there are a lot of film and television shows out there that have singer/songwriter style music. A singer/ songwriter can be just voice and guitar/and or piano, but make sure you are in tune and it is the best recording you can get. You must sound professional (unless you know who you're submitting your demo to). The do's and don'ts in the studio will come in my next book.
So, what you want to do with your music is totally up to you but at least you will know some of the options you have as a songwriter. The most important thing is that you become comfortable, fluent and inspired. Why don't we start by writing your song and then go from there. You may surprise yourself. Who'd have thought that with a few encouraging words and lessons, you'd be the next Dave Matthews or Jewel? Speaking of Jewel, she is the host for the TV show, "Platinum Hits." It's a show that is a competition in writing hit songs. This will help if you are interested in learning what music professionals look for in writing hit songs (Tip: great lyrics!).
In the next chapter, Finding yourself—"To everything there is a season," I explain the perks of songwriting and ways to find your inner songwriter. You will have the opportunity to realize what kind of music inspires you and what you want to write like. This first step introduces you to yourself as a songwriter. Who are you as a songwriter? Now, you've got to start to thinking like a songwriter. You've got to immerse yourself into your local songwriting community. Don't hurry, just enjoy the ride!
What do you want—"We want the world and We want it ... now!"
Be yourself and play to your strengths.
Know what you want and write a song about it that will attract it to you.
Personal songs are great, just don't get too personal.
Negative songs will bring more negative things to you by "law of attraction."
But defining what you don't want will help you define what you do want.
Most people want to hear upbeat songs in public!
Film and TV are places to submit sad songs.
Find a songwriting partner that challenges you.
Better singing can produce better melodies, so take vocal lessons.
Watch the TV show "Platinum Hits" for tips on what music professionals look for in a song (tip: Great lyrics).
Finding yourself—"To everything, there is a season"
"To everything, turn turn turn, there is a season, turn turn turn" I grew up to those words (adapted by Pete Seeger from The Book of Ecclesiastes). Of course, I remember The Byrds version of this song the most but the meaning is the same. There is a time for everything. So, don't try to hurry. That is my suggestion to you in finding your inner songwriter. Don't be in a hurry. Enjoy the ride! You'll learn that some people are born with a real sense of purpose and they just go from one happy little checkpoint to the next, checking off all the things that they are meant to do towards achieving their purpose. And then there are people like myself. Who love to do everything and can't focus on any one thing! There are no checkpoints for a person with no direction. I just went with the flow. The only thing I knew for sure was that I love music and knew a lot about what I didn't want to do. I guess that was a start. So, where are you starting?
I don't know what level of songwriting you are at. You may have written a few songs and just want a little reinforcement or you're just at the stages of, "I think I want to write a song," but be warned, songwriting is addictive! With every song you write, you'll feel like you're on some perpetuating spiritual quest. Songwriting makes you want to keep trying to write that song, your song, with all the right words that will be good enough to make the world smile! Come on! The world needs a smile and a nice big hug (yep, I'm a tree hugger)! What you get as the songwriter is the satisfaction of writing it! You get the buzz (happy feeling)!
A part of the buzz you get from songwriting comes from the "tension and release" of the songs' emotional flow. What I mean by this is that tension is the feeling of conflict in the song or story and then the release is when that conflict is resolved. After finishing a song you will feel happier with all those little tensions gone! Just like that. All you have to do is to write the song! It is important to keep writing and examining your feelings because what you might have felt one minute may change by the time you finish the song. When I write a song because I am upset about something the feeling is usually resolved by the time I've finished the song. So, the song finishes on a positive. And that is songwriting therapy! So, where does a song idea come from?
Excerpted from Change the World—Write Your Song! by Jena Douglas Copyright © 2011 by Jena Douglas. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Contents1. Introduction—I Am Who I Am....................1
2. What do you want?—We want the world and we want it ... now!"....................6
3. Finding yourself—"To everything, there is a season"....................13
4. Writing lyrics—"From Your Fire"....................17
5. Songwriting methods—putting the Muse to work....................28
6. Learn an instrument—"I've got a Gibson without a case"....................34
7. A little theory can't hurt!—Ouch!....................41
8. Creating art for the world—Showing your best side....................50
9. "Smile for the Camera"—"I know they're gonna love it!"....................56
10. The "Biz"—I'm too sexy for my hats!....................62
11. Create world peace with a song!....................74
Books you will want to get....................78
Piano—Scales and chords....................79
Glossary—yep, there are big words here....................83