Sunday, March 15, 2009

Different Strokes

There are ample opportunities to enter songs in competitions and/or get evaluations of them. But everyone is looking for different things. While songwriting competitions want to focus on a "great song," there is some discrepancy in what that means from judge to judge. There is almost always an unspoken and unacknowledged bias towards what the judge would find commercial. Everyone tries to avoid this, but evaluations almost always come with some judgement on whether someone would buy the song or not.

And that's probably fair Most of the people who enter competitions are in some measure looking for "success." Many are hobbyists, amateurs, but they are hobbyists with a dream.

But it's still interesting to see what comments come back, from those competitions that offer evaluations. There are two sets of comments, from two different contests, on the same unusual song.

"Vancouver" is not a commercial song, at least it wasn't meant to be. It was an interesting, circuitous series of thoughts and images, an exercise in collage writing, creating an emotional world without spelling out or definitively stating What It Was About. I enjoyed writing the lyric, and "Wolf" gave it an indie setting.

One judge wrote the following:

I like that you tried to use major and minor chords in mix during your verse -- but the changes don't really reflect your lyric.
Some parts really likeable, other parts contain changes of melody and support chords that could be stronger. Some of the changes stop the flow of the song and interfere with our getting in a consistent "groove." Again, as with the melody, you start us in one direction, but expect us to jump to too many things, thereby losing the flow of the story and emotion. Some of your lyrics are wonderful pictures and feelings; some are more forced and need work. The last line of V-1 is an example of this (the secrets really don't have to do with any of the preceeding verses). There are too many mixes of pronouns and images with no base for them locked. You sometimes use "you" for a visitor to Vancouver, then other times, it seems you are using "you" to mean Vancouver. More clarity is needed here.

In another contest, this is what we got:

Extremely cool changes … don’t know why, but we heard this in a 20-
something soundtrack. Very REM-like, but updated and less obtuse, if you know what we
mean. EXCELLENT bridge. Commercial as heck, hope you’re pitching it. Good job!!

(Along with many "8" (out of 10) scores for various questions)

See what you think

No comments: