Thursday, April 2, 2015

Accent the Positive: Key words in every line!

I have talked about prosody before in a blog, that is the perfect marriage between lyrics and melody. Wanted to talk that a little further and talk about locating key words in every line of the song and make sure that the melody and sound of that word helps the singer accent those important words. Let's look at a song that I've written to illustrate this point:

Several years ago my song "The Old Coal Mine" I was honored to have this song recorded by Larry Sparks on his "Last Suit You Wear" album as a duet with Del McCoury. Let me lay out the first verse and chorus and make tear it down.

"The Old Coal Mine"
Copyright Mark Brinkman Songs - BMI

I make my living...digging coal
I got black dust...down in my soul
The way they treat a crime
Down in the old coal mine.

I'm the old coal mine
Hammers ringin'...beatin' time
Long for the sun...just to see it shine
Down in the old coal mine.

I have co-written with the incredible songwriter Louisa Branscomb and she uses the underlining technique to show the singer where she puts the accent with the melody. Here is my recording of "The Old Coal Mine" from my CD "On the Brink of a Dream" so you can listen to the accents:

Once you highlight where the musical accent should be it can really help with your melody so it allows the singer to accent the correct words in the line. Another thing you want to be conscious of is to make sure you give the singer a word with a "long vowel" sound if you expect them to "hold" the note out for any length of time. This verse and chorus lets the singer use the "o" vowel with "coal" and "soul" and the "i" vowel with "mine" and "time". These are easy words to "hold the note". Ending a line with a hard consonant with a short vowel sound will force the singer to cut off the vocal.

So when you are fitting your lyric to the melody it is a good idea to highlight the important words in every line. The point is this: if the listener ONLY hears those highlighted words they will get the meaning of the line and their mind with almost fill in the other words naturally. So, make this step part of your "tweaking" process when you are working with your songs. Of course your mileage may vary as usual :)

Remember: Write more...whine less!

Write on!!!


No comments:

Post a Comment