The Song Writing Course th for 4 year Philippine high school Students By Ryan Cayabyab32 weeks, 64 meetings (2x a week class) using the Workshop and Discoveryapproach instead of classroom lecture style with lots of exercises and take homeassignments, hours of listening, analyzing and experimentation with recordingsoftware.It is expected that the student has some knowledge or hasexperience in music, either as a singer (a member of a choir orgroup) or as a music enthusiast who knows basic piano or guitar.Classroom scenario: piano or keyboard, guitar, cd player, computer,sound recording software and set up, amps, microphones, speakers,etc. First Semester:Discovering Music and Words: How songs are made.I. Introductory Aural exercises:Using Philippine pop music (but not limited to) as examples, listenand describe the songs in the language or dialect that they arecomfortable in. Coax them to express themselves (personalexpression is important) verbally. There is no need to tell them if theyare right or wrong, they will discover it themselves because it isimportant for them to develop a higher degree of sensitivity.General Descriptions of songs that they will hear:Happy - MasayaSad - MalungkotUplifting, inspiring - Nakaka- inspireThought provoking – Napapaisip kaFunny – NakakatawaHeavy – mabigat sa damdaminOthers: Nakakakilig, nakakatuwa, nakaka-in-love, nakaka-inis,Nakapagpapaindak,Prepare forms for analyses, if possible.A. MelodiesDescribe the melodies you hear.Where is the melody going (direction)?Raise right hand when melody moves up; bring hand down whenmelody moves down. (Mimic the direction with your hands)Do the notes move fast, moderately fast, moderate, moderately slow?Mention too if notes reiterate or repeat the same note.Easy to follow: notes move by step.
Moderately easy to follow: notes move by step and skips.Hard to follow: notes move in by leaps or jumps, in disjunct motion.Difficult to describe the direction.Other comments and observations.Some general notes on tonalities (What is the key of the song?) andbasic harmony.Major tonalities are normally used for happy, uplifting, funny,danceable tunes.Minor tonalities usually depict sadness, also deeper, thoughtprovoking themes.B. RhythmDescribe the rhythm you hear.Does the overall sound move fast or slow? Does the melody movefast or slow?Is the rhythm steady or does the beat change?Does the rhythm feel flowing, light, moderate, heavy?What is the speed of the song? Introduce metronome and beats perminute.Other comments and observations.Some general notes on rhythm and tonalities:Medium to fast rhythms and major tonalities denote happiness.Slower rhythms in minor tonalities denote deeper emotions, sadness,weariness, angst.Fast rhythms with minor tonalities create excitement or anxiety.C. DynamicsIs the music piece, or song always loud, always soft, medium soft orloud, or a combination of? Does it start loud, does it start soft, does itchange somewhere in the middle?Loudness is used to stress or highlight a feeling, whether it be happy,sad, anger, or in protestation.Softness is used to highlight intimacy or closenessUsing both hands, depict loudness with open palms, softness withupturned palms while listening to songs.Other comments and observationsD. TextureWhat are the components of the song? Do you hear a Singer, a band,
guitar, piano, keyboard, etc.? How many singers do you hear? Isthere a solo singer with back up? Is it a singing group singing?Describe the vocals – is the quality of the solo voice velvety, croakyor raspy, deep, nasal, etc?Do you hear other instruments? Describe. Western instruments?Orchestra instruments? Indigenous? Listen to soaring strings, tobrassy accents, to plaintive woodwinds (like solo flutes and oboes)and other instruments (no need to delve deeply into this for thiscourse.)Other comments and observationsMore general notes on tonalities, rhythm, dynamics, and texture:Emotions such as Anger can be depicted in minor tonalities and canuse fast or slow rhythms, it could be soft, but definitely more intensethan usual.Feelings of peacefulness use major tonalities but slower rhythms,dynamics of this type are usually soft, with lesser instruments, orinstruments playing softer.Protest songs and songs of anger are usually in minor tonalities andutilize slow or fast rhythms, they can be loud or soft but intense tohighlight the emotionsLove songs take on any tonality based on the kind of love, the type oflove, the situation of love that the song is describing.Using a keyboard, play various music to guide the student for:Exercises in major tonalities and chordsExercises in minor tonalities and chordsExercises n fast and slow rhythmsExercises n loud and soft passagesExercises in intensityTake home- name songs and interpreters that are described as thus(use the music in your ipod, mp3 players):Easy melody to sing. Steady fast rhythm. Slow rhythm with a strongbeat. Soaring melody. Loud, intense singing. Soft flowing melody.Etc. (teacher to add more combinations)II. The Magic of WordsWords. Why words matter. Ideas. Why contribute to the noise? Makea statement. Express what the community wants, needs. Words thatmake people take action. Words that make everyday, every wakingday a joy to welcome. Words that make us alive. Words that makeour lives meaningful to others. Words to help us realize that we areone, and that if we take care of each other, we in turn are cared for bythe rest.
The power of words. The power of ideas. The power of ideasexpressed in a vision. The power of imagination expressed in words.Putting words together. Forming words that express your ideas invarious ways.LISTEN to various songs and check out what they are saying. Gostraight to popular Filipino songs. Describe the whole song first, thende-construct. Take the structure: verses, chorus, etc. Then the lines,then the words used. Prepare a listening list. Add your suggestions tothe following list:From the 70s – 90s 1. Anak (Freddie Aguilar) 2. Manila (Hotdog) 3. Ewan (Apo) Louie O/R. Arrieta 4. Ngayon at Kailanman (Basil) G. Canseco 5. Awitin mo at isasayaw ko (VST and Co) 6. Magexercise Tayo tuwing umaga (Yoyoy Villame) 7. Kahit Maputi na ang Buhok Ko (Rey Valera) 8. Sana’y Wala nang Wakas (Sharon) Willy Cruz 9. --- 10. ---- 11. ---- 12. ---- 13. ---- 14. (Add more to this list)Make sure that the words can be read. Prepare printed dole-outs orbetter yet, just use a projector to project the lyrics on the screen orwall.Describe the lyrics of the song: 1. First, recite the words without the melody, notice how easy (or hard) it flows. 2. Does it describe something that happened? Something that is happening? Do a summary. What is the whole lyric idea of the song? 3. Are the lyrics presented in the first, second, third person point of view? 4. What is the general mood of the lyrics (happy, sad, etc)? 5. Notice the rhymes – and underline its importance in the song. 6. What form or structure is used? (Binary? Stroph? Etc) Without Structure the song is shapeless with no perceived direction. The most common and popular is verse-hook (or verse-chorus) 7. Do the words 8. Other commentsIII Words and Music combined
After listening to songs, point out: 1. Which part connects to the listener most. This is a ‘hook’. 2. Which part keeps on repeating. This is also most probably a ‘hook’. 3. Which part of the song sticks most to the minds of the listener - the hypnotizing melody; a danceable, moving rhythm; words that cut deeply into the hearts of the listeners; repetitive lyrics; a pulsating bass line; a guitar solo riff in the instrumental part, etc 4. If the melody is easy to sing and remember. Or if the chord patterns used are predictable enough. Does the melody sound familiar yet infused with some twists and innovation? Is the rhythm easy to latch on to? 5. Where the part of the lyrics are most unique yet universal in theme. 6. Where the title figures out in the whole song.IV. Exercises in words, meter, melodies We shall use Bahay Kubo as the jump off verse for the writingexercises. The original is on the left. Other examples follow, usingdifferent ideas, different visuals or pictures.A B BAHAY KUBO 4 SA BAYAN KO KAHIT MUNTI 4 MERONG GINTO ANG HALAMAN DOON 6 ITO’Y NASA PUSO AY SARI SARI 4 NG BAWA’T TAOC D ANG BOYPREN KO NOONG PASKO KAHIT POGI ANG NINONG KO MAYRO-ONG SIKRETO _ _ _ _ _ _ SIYA’Y DEHIN GOLI _ _ _ _ _E F MAHAL KITA BATA, BATA O NANAY KO _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ KAHIT MERONG MUTA _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Try the same exercise with the following verses (Use the same meter, write new ideas and words):G LERON LERON SINTA 6 BUKO NG PAPAYA 6 DALA DALA’Y BUSLO 6 SISIDLAN NG BUNGA 6
H DAHIL SA IYO 4 NAIS KONG MABUHAY 6 DAHIL SA IYO 4 HANGGANG MAMATAY 5I IBON MANG MAY LAYANG LUMIPAD 9 KULUNGIN MO AT UMIIYAK 9 BAYAN PA KAYANG SAKDAL DILAG 9 ANG DI MAGNASANG MAKAALPAS 9J KAY GANDA NG ATING MUSIKA 9 KAY GANDA NG ATING MUSIKA 9 ITO AY ATIN 5 SARILING ATIN 5 (AT) SA HABANG BUHAY (5)6 AWITIN NATIN 5K KULANG ANG MAGPAKAILAN PA MAN 9 UPANG BAWAT SANDALI AY 8 UPANG MULI’T MULI AY 7 ANG MAKAPILING AY 6 IKAW 2L NAWAWALA, 4 BUMABALIK, 4 ETO NA NAMAN 5 BIGLA NA LANG 4 DUMADATING 4 ETO NA NAMAN 5M ILANG ISAW PA BA ANG KAKAININ, 11 O GILIW KO? 4 ILANG TANZAN PA BA ANG IIPUNIN, 11 O GILIW KO? 4 GAGAWIN KO ANG LAHAT 7 PATI ANG THESIS MO 6 WAG MO LANG IPAGKAIT 7 ANG HINAHANAP KO 6N ANG AWIT NG KABATAAN 8 ANG AWIT NG PANAHON 7 HANGGANG SA KINABUKASAN 8 AWITIN NATIN NGAYON 7
O ANONG BALITA 5 SA RADYO AT TV 6 GANUN PARIN 4 KUMAKAPA SA DILIM 7 MINSAN NAISIP KO NANG 7 UMALIS NALANG DITO 7 KALIMUTAN ANG LAHAT, 7 LUMIPAD, LUMAYO, OH 7P HETO AKO, 4 BASANG-BASA SA ULAN 7 WALANG MASISILUNGAN, 7 WALANG MALALAPITAN 7 SANAY MAY LUHA PA, 6 AKONG MAILULUHA 7 AT NG MABAWASAN 6 ANG AKING KALUNGKUTAN 7Q Full song by Ogie AlcasidKAILANGAN KOY IKAW 6DITO SA PILING KO 6KAILANGAN KONG MADAMA 7ANG PAG-IBIG MO 5SA BAWAT ORAS NA 6DI KA NAKIKITA 7PARA BANG KAY BIGAT 7NG NADARAMA 5O GILIW NASAN KA 6BAKIT LUMISAN KA 6PAANO NANG 4PUSO KONG NAG-IISA 7KAILANGAN KO’Y IKAW 6DITO SA BUHAY KO 6PAANO NA 4ANG PUSO KONG 4NAG-IISA 4Note: When doing this exercise, ask the student to explain the lyricalidea of each song. What is it trying to say? Is it describing a feeling,an event, an action, a person? Etc. Read each example aloud. Notethe meter – the rise and fall of the syllables. Point out the rhymes.Students should try to write as many exercises as possible. After thenew words or lyrics are written down, experiment on various melodiesthrough the use of an instrument, or by singing the lines and theverses. Using the following tried and tested progressions, write
melodic sketches against the chord progressions, choosing the righttonalities to fit your lyrical ideas. For example, happy songs arenormally in major keys while sad songs are normally minor keys.Chord progressions: (to follow)V. Getting started. Writing your song. Which comes first? Lyrics or music? (For this course, we shall create the lyrical idea first.) A. Looking for ideas 1. Observing people and looking around for inspiration – describe the characters, their moods, their wants 2. Looking farther out: the school, the community, institutions, the country – what is needed, what can help the community or system. 3. Media is where you can find ideas B. Assume the role of the character you wish to write about. Act it out. The character might be you! C. A list of Universal Themes 1. Being in love, or being obsessed with someone 2. Feeling depressed, or a personal tragedy, or loneliness 3. Breaking up; uncertainty D. Choosing a Title E. Write your verses: simplicity is beauty. Depict a visual tapestry. Create dramatic details. Be lush with emotions. Use all your senses to describe a feeling, a detail, a storyline. F. Create simple melodies that are singable. Step motion (up or down) is the easiest to latch on to. Melodies should be easy to remember. Try writing melodies with simple chord patterns. (Chord substitutions can be done by professional arrangers.) G. Use the chord progressions introduced previously to assist you in writing your song. H. Choose the right tempo and rhythm that sits right with your lyrics (having created the lyrics first). I. Write in the pop genre that you are familiar with, or where you want your song’s direction headed. J. Write out verses first, then put the melody on the words. Write the hook (or chorus) then put the melody. It is possible that you leave some syllables blank with the melodies already done. You can always go back and forth. For this intro course, we will concentrate on the regular binary form: the verse-hook, or the verse-chorus form. For variations, we can add a bridge (the fly- off), or a tag (the coda).VII Finishing your song.
You may ask a collaborator to co-write the song with you.VIII Next stepsFinding an interpreter to sing your song and recording a demo of yoursong using the classroom studio. Second Semester: Vocal Performance Workshop1st DraftRyan CayabyabMay 9, 2011