An Invocation

Last night as I did my familiar ritual, out of nowhere/no-thought, came my voice, saying: “I call on the power of my heart.” And I felt my heart open more widely and strongly than ever before. I had never felt so tangibly that my heart is infinitely, indefinably powerful and that its energy connected to more than just my surroundings, though I have worked on my heart. I have built up the energy of love and peace and other emotions inside it for many many hours, over the course of years. But for some reason I hadn’t considered the reality that perhaps it could be more powerful than I can imagine. I felt it to be so. That’s not a thing that you can think, without feeling it and knowing it to be true first, because your ego will just go rampant on the idea – either that or you’ll dismiss it offhand as too big-headed. (Ironic.)

So, if you call on the power of YOUR heart – know this: all you have to do is allow yourself to be as big as you are. We are indescribably powerful beings. I need to remember this for when I feel small and alone and idiotic. We are huge. We are expansive. Our work in this human life transcends what we can understand of time and space.

If you would like to participate in the invocation I am making, please read the next paragraph out loud, or just think it really loud, as if you were telling an angel, or your most beloved.

I call on the power of our hearts. I call on the power of our hearts. I call on the power of our hearts… to inhabit this more beautiful world. To inhale it and exhale it, even in our sleep. I call on the power of our hearts to involve us deeply in the reality of creating beauty in the world, according to our greatest strengths, known and unknown. I call on the power of our hearts that we all remember to call on the power of our hearts as a primary force for living well. I call on the power of our hearts. I call on the power of our hearts. I call on the power of our hearts. In service to all the beauty of being alive.

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Nuance And The Choice To Love In Entirety

I think for me, as I’ve aged, nuance gets easier to understand. The brain likes simple shapes: compassion/not-compassion, Fair/unfair etc. But the brain isn’t the master here. It’s an excellent tool, but it is only a tool.

The heart is the master. The heart understands nuance more deeply than the brain. The brain cuts complex, evolving things into simple shapes, which it can fit together as though these ideas were nouns, or fixed, or unchanging. It cuts the nuances off the corners and rounds out all the jagged, confusing edges because it likes the safe feeling of knowing what’s what. The heart doesn’t do this. It’s not a tool – the heart is the centre of ones being, the seat of the soul.

The heart isn’t afraid of having too many feelings all at once, it just sits with what is.

The brain tries to rationalise the complexities away, conform things to the realms of the known; tidy up. This is extremely useful and completely essential for life at this time, but let’s not mistake it for the most important aspect of all creation.

Paradoxically, the heart in all its complexity has one simple shape; to be loving. Whatever form that takes, that’s the heart doing its thing. Problem is, when the brain narrows the field to “be loving to people only if they conform to certain expectations” – and then that’s not allowing the heart to do all of its job, and can also lead to dehumanisation and societally this then turns into scapegoating and totalitarianism.

The way to allow the heart to do its loving thing without our unconscious prejudices/victimhood mentalities messing it all up… is 1) to put a question mark over every single belief we hold dear, and 2) to give everyone… and I mean EVERYONE(!) the benefit of the doubt.

If I’d been brought up as Trump, or Boris Johnson, for example, I’d probably think exactly what they think and do exactly as they have done. I assume that in their world, they are doing the best they can with the choices they have. I assume nobody is actively trying to be evil – though perhaps this is a prime example of my own brain trying to cut chunks of nuance off reality again, who knows!

But wouldn’t you rather live in a world where everyone is trying their best to be loving (within their own parameters, priorities and expectations) than where people can clearly see how objectively awful and inexcusable they have become, and choose to be yet more awful? I know which reality/world I prefer. Maybe it is a mental construct I’ve made for myself to try to process such vast swathes of unprocessable nuance, conflict, and data, but if we CAN choose our realities (and my experience to date has shown me that this is entirely possible, to a certain extent at least) then I choose the reality with the maximum amount of respect, love and gratitude for being alive and sharing this planet with such amazing, caring, nuanced complexity.

I can put up with the blurry edges, because that’s where the magic is.

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Social Identity (Coat Of Many Colours.) *Long naval-gazing self discovery post…

Before I realised that the identity and entire personality is a (completely necessary) construct, I believed in myself.

That is to say, I believed in what I perceived as myself, but in fact I believed in my personality.
I had no self-belief though, which I would categorise as something utterly different these days. I still don’t know about self belief actually. Maybe it’s something to brainwash myself with in meditation, or maybe it will never happen. Maybe, to believe in the ego self, the personality construct, is to believe inherently in separation from source, the whole: to believe in “otherness” as opposed to duality. Maybe though, self belief comes when one lets go of the idea of otherness entirely, something I’m trying to do but still finding difficult because I’ve only got other people’s word for it, essentially. Maybe I need to take some drugs and sort that shit out. First hand, as they say. Or maybe I could meditate and somehow get there without any assistance. I don’t really like the drug plan though, in honesty. It feels like I need to get there first on my own, and then the rest is playtime, drugs or not. I’m not big on narcotics apart from chocolate.
Somehow, somewhere along the road, I decided to ditch an idea that I’d had floating around in my subconscious mind that I was responsible for the contact in all of my friendships, and that if I wasn’t the one to make contact, I would lose these people entirely. In essence, a neediness in regards to social identity. Unfortunately perhaps, in letting go of that layer of my internal-personality-onion, it meant I had to also shrug off the idea of being nice by default and the idea of being liked. This has meant that, for the last year or so whilst this has been playing out in my varying degrees of consciousness or lack thereof, I have been utterly without the protection and safety of what I would call “a social identity.” Basically the social side of my personality just up and left me, (or maybe I left it?) and the rest wasn’t enough to keep me afloat in potentially awkward situations.
Now, for those of you who have known me over the last 12 years or so, you might find that quite difficult to believe… I used to give the impression I was somewhat unflappable and I used to pride myself on being able to defuse awkward/potentially awkward situations with ease, so much so that I would play with it and seem shameless. It was genuinely funny and was always done with a loving attitude, but nevertheless it was a compensation for the neediness aspect that I kept hidden as best I could.
Now though – NO idea how to do that. No idea how to behave unless I put a social mask on. Occasionally the mask will either slip (oh god oh god I’ve got to say something here what is expected of me right this moment what would be polite oh my god what would a normal person say what would I used to have said what would someone funny have said I once said something similar here shall I say it again would that be appropriate in this situation oh god the moment has passed and now there’s a weird halting gap in the conversation and the timing is off have they noticed maybe not probably they have oh god) OR the old mask will very briefly take over, let me say something WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE and then FUCK THE FUCK OFF, leaving my paddle-less self half way up shit-creek.
Thanks brain.
So that explains why I’ve been freaking out so badly before and after gigs. (Dread, tears, but weirdly not nerves. It’s actually fine when I get on stage because I have confidence as a musician.) It explains why I’ll fully intend to go out and see people and then bottle out just before I leave. It explains why basically I haven’t left my house unless I really had to.
The fact I left my social identity also explains why, on a few occasions I have met up with people… It’s like I’ve forgotten how to speak… I’m just listening, enjoying their company in the moment, vibing with them, but not having any output myself other than on an energetic level unless I make myself say things, and even then, those things are different to what past versions of myself would have said.
So. I’ve been hiding. Snake without skin. Observer.
The realisation came in piece by piece that my personality was not the enemy. The part of my personality that is nice by default is a really useful piece of me. I just don’t need the part that needs to be liked all the time! Nice by default is good, actually, but I don’t Have To Be Nice if it’s not sitting right with me in those circumstances.
But now, my friends have contacted me… as I feared they would not. I have shed the part of me that fears their loss. It’s more like I know they will come and go now, and that’s good. I know their lives will change and move and so will mine, and that is as it should be.
Gradually, not all at once or steadily, the personality self is coming back to me. Patchwork now. I can choose the design this time. Each piece a choice. Washed clean by attention.

But bear with me, all my loves, because it is a patchwork in progress and some of the pieces are in shadow.

Dolly Parton. Coat of many colors. Title song for the Coat of many colors album. Shown on the programme Country at the BBC, but originally from BBC Parkinson…

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Remembrance – History Repeating

Caution: Extensive political mumblings, anti media, scientific and societal adjust-mental gibberings.
I still don’t know how to feel about the whole remembrance poppy thing. I know it’s personal choice and completely subjective, and I understand that a lot of people choose to wear them for a great deal of very valid reasons, but when I see the politicians wearing them… The very politicians who send young men and women out still, to kill and be killed, I can never respect those politicians. I can never think that they wear those red poppies with compassion and true remembrance, if they still grease the wheels of the systematic destruction of human life as profit. That ugly tank is still trundling blithely on. Except now it’s not on our doorstep so we can forget it. Except that it fucking IS on our doorstep, in less obvious guises, (in our skies, in our food and water, and under our feet… Oh and in our toothpaste!) – but we’re too worried about Bake-Off and Strictly-Go-Fuck-Yourself to really pay any attention. Bread and circuses – Nothing changed with the political M.O. since Roman times. Is it an accident? I don’t think so. Read up on it for days like me, if you disagree, and then let me know.
Having said this, I do believe there is a great deal of hope for humanity. The humanity in the people I know, the real people, people not taught abject parental rejection (and therefore learning that empathy and emotion is weakness) in public boarding schools, the ones perhaps not then being bribed and bought by leviathan corporations (directly) into making incredibly unethical decisions in the name of Good Business. Mind you, I can’t fucking talk. I have a car, I eat meat (although I’m trying not to) I have gadgets I use and I’m not a campaigning activist. In fact the only thing I really do for the planet, for our species, is rant, on the internet. Oh and occasionally do benefit gigs, I suppose. I have also been subverting youths for a decade… Where I found out for sure that there is a zeitgeist of disempowerment running through the veins of my generation and younger, once we look out and see the world. And I just don’t know what to do about it!
– But I know what NOT to do. I know not to poison myself with mainstream media, specifically the news. It is a neurotoxin. If you don’t believe me, try not engaging with it for a fortnight and tell me your life didn’t dramatically improve. If it made no difference to you, good for you, I guess, you must have a very thick skin. You must be the new breed of human, fantastically adapted to living in a world where your senses and emotions are attacked by everything terrible that ever happens in the world – before breakfast and before bed – and you don’t blink an eyelid or worry about anything at all because you’re absolutely excellent at dealing with stuff. No alarm bells are going off in your head that something is terribly, awfully broken with the human world. No sense you urgently need to act, somehow. There must be people to deal with this sort of thing but it doesn’t affect you because you’re alright. Nice one. You must be very clever and well adjusted. Because knowing all these things actually Doesn’t Affect You. You’re not going to do anything about the shit going on elsewhere, are you? No? There’s too much. People can’t care about everyone, right? Well then it doesn’t fucking matter if you hear about it or not on the news. The only thing that really matters is your family and your mental health, and if that’s constantly being battered by news of horror and disempowerment, your fear brain is totally active.
Science alert: You go into a state of fear, and your amygdala becomes active and takes all the blood out of the frontal cortex, getting your whole system ready for fight or flight. (Frontal Cortex is where your higher thought is formed, so no more social function, social memory, problem solving, judgement, initiation or impulse control. History is forgotten in an instant.) The hippocampus also shuts off, which stops thoughts linked with love and compassion. (Hippocampus is thought to be the emotional processor in the brain.) The amygdala literally hijacks your brain into a state of fear (because the blood can’t go anywhere else) and you can’t do anything about it unless you stop being so fearful. How do you do that? Stop the input. You’ve already stopped consciously responding to the input, if you can still watch the news. (You will have forced your reactions into your subconscious, btw.) Try quitting the news, and then watch it again after a week or two and notice how your body responds. You might be surprised. I did it and my body got really tense really quick.
The thing we can do, then, is choose not to be afraid on the media’s terms.
The average human can only really be properly socially involved with about 120 other people at a time. Any more than that and we start forgetting names and losing closeness. This is changing because of the internet. The contact is more brief, the chats are not often face to face. Community is not happening in the same way, however, feelings still run every bit as deeply. So… How do we become unafraid, and regain a proper sense of closeness in the real, new, no-longer-nationally inhibited world? Our real concerns are within the reach of our hands. It has always been this way. The difference now, is that we have the rest of the world to hope for too. The reach of our fingertips is instantaneous, beyond seas, bouncing from satellites. How do we adjust to this new, strangely isolating, yet paradoxically all-inclusive social paradigm that has become our virtu-real lives on the internet? We are now, for the first time in history, collectively realising that we are one species, one family of humanity, on one very beautiful, freakishly hospitable, very ancient and very dirtied planet. Poor old love, sitting in her own excrement. We are conscious dust hurtling through space, following one of billions of stars in a spiral wake, in one of billions of spiralling eddies of possibility. If we get this humanity thing wrong, it is just that we get it wrong. It doesn’t actually make any difference to anything. Maybe history will learn from us, as we have been so unable to learn from history. Maybe we will create A.I. that sorts everything out. Maybe aliens with better ideas will tell us we are wasting our time and get rid of us for the planet. But until then, I guess we can wear our poppies with pride. Or not. Or judge people terribly and get our collective knickers in a twist either way. (Collective knickers?! Eeew. Sounds a bit too communal to me.)
I can hear my cat snoring, which has helped me a lot with everything. Life really can be a wonderfully adorable place…

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How Do You Not Do? Ten suggestions to end your songwriting rut-fuckery.


I Don’t know why I used this image, but I really liked the weird little metal nipples… Anyway, on with the blog post!


How not to be stuck in a rut? If your songs are suffering because you keep repeating old formulaic devices you always use, how the heck are you gonna get interesting again, damn you?!

I’ll suggest a few things now that will hopefully blow your crazy little song-wig.

  • Just play. That is absolutely essential for music to have the freedom it needs to breathe. Kids are SO creative when they play, because they don’t impose any boundaries on themselves, and there are no such things as mistakes – everything is learning. So if you make a “Mistake” whilst going through your song, try and remember what you did, and make “Playing Music” be music at play, not some super-serious rehearsal. Dick around more. Do more stupid shit that might not work. Don’t worry because everything’s gonna work out fine, even if you don’t get anything ‘Productive’ done for that session. You’ve been building your skills that whole time, and there is no such thing as wasted time when it comes to creativity, as long as you’re playing.
  • If you usually do one thing to start writing a song ~ do another thing! If you usually write chords first, try making up a riff. If you riff first, start with a bare acapella melody, or lyrics. I find when I’ve just got home from work and nobody is in ~ I have a little sing to myself in my kitchen while I’m making myself a cuppa, and sometimes it turns into an actual song! (Mostly it just makes me think about key changes though.)
  • Don’t spend all your time polishing a frankly exhausted turd, go do something else! The turd will go fertilise some roses you can show off at a later date. Flogging a dead horse is a really good way to become covered in rotting viscera. (You may quote me.)
  • If you play guitar, mess with the tunings. DADGAD is great, so is open D Major – (DADF#AD) DADF#GD is pretty fun too but not for the faint-hearted! Also, get a spider capo or a 3 or 4 string capo… The possibilities are so limitless! Because you might not be used to those tunings, working by ear becomes the dominant way of doing things, and therefore chord progressions become more instinctive and less habitual or formulaic.
  • Don’t overthink.
  • Go for a walk, tidy your kitchen, have a nice relaxing poo, do some free-writing, go spruce yourself up a bit, or give your pet some smooch-time for ten minutes and get your brain out of expectation mode. If you’re anything like me, creativity comes out of freedom, not obligation. Do something that is different from your normal approach to writing.
  • Let the ideas cook. Don’t even try unless it’s ready, when you’re writing lyrics. Do riffs instead and work on instrumental skills. I have been finding more and more that unless I have something particular I want to say, it’s best not to say any old shit that springs immediately to mind. Having said that, for over 12 years of songwriting, I HAD to say any old shit that came to mind, because I tended to believe everything my brain threw (up) at me, and I didn’t know what I thought about XYZ unless I’d either said it to someone or written a song about it. (Duh. God life was so hard when I thought I had to believe all my thoughts! I guess that’s the difference between an external and internal emotional processor.)
  • Don’t let the Internal Critic have its say until you’ve got loads of ideas down ~ then you can cut your song down to size. There is no point in being precious about keeping a verse that just doesn’t quite work. Get rid of it. If it wants to be said (and it has to be in that particular song) you can always edit it into shape. What works best for me is getting quantity, rather than agonising over quality, and then making sure that the cream of the crop is used to show your song off in the best light. (Wow ~ overuse of sayings. Don’t over use sayings. Ha!)
  • One thing I did that really inspired me to write some of my best songs is just to write a really long list beforehand. I wrote down every single thing I could think of about a certain subject ~ The Elements ~ But starting with half a page of words for water, then moving onto everything I could come up with to do with air, then earth, then fire. By the end of it I’d managed to get my brain into puzzle-solving mode, and I came up with a couple of my best metaphors ever.
  • Along the same lines, either research a topic that catches your interest already, and just make a notes page in your notebook about it, or just use your notebook to doodle in, and write inside the doodle, incorporating it into the structure somehow. This is also sort of getting your brain into puzzle-solving / free creativity mode, and it works wonders to shut the internal critic’s shitty little face hole. If you rely on writing to happen, that’s a really good way of accidentally telling it to fuck right off. It’s like herding cats. But I do hope those are some nice ways you can get the songs to come to you, so let me know how you get on in the comments!

Hope that helps, song-buddies! Until next time.

Remember you are love.

Xx Ryn

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Ryn’s Musicians’ Support Group ~ #11 ~ Confidence


Confidence, like grammar, is the difference between

knowing your shit

and knowing you’re shit.

As someone who doesn’t necessarily find confidence easy to come by, as a musician or in general, I often find that when I am actually confident, I fear that I’m coming across as overtly narcissistic and rubbish as a human. This week however, I’m struggling with the opposite end of that particularly slippery spectrum… I notice that my confidence crumbles if I don’t perform enough, and unfortunately, through chance and circumstances beyond my control, my last 3 gigs have been cancelled.

I realised a while ago that in order to be confident, I need to make sure I have given myself the best opportunities possible to actually be good at stuff. This means, as I said in my last post, practise as much as I need to. This also means put myself in places emotionally that make me feel good about my music. I recommend going to open mic nights for this, if you don’t have much of a chance to do regular gigs. I notice personally that if I haven’t performed for a week or two, suddenly I forget that actually I feel natural on stage now, and I revert to my default state of ‘self-conscious-and-rather-chubby-stuttering-paranoid-15-year-old.’ If you’ve never been one of these, I really recommend that you don’t try it any time soon. When I was said painful adolescent, however, I was lucky enough to receive the very best advice about manufacturing confident behaviour that I think I’ve ever had:

“Fake it until it’s real.” 

This is actually backed up scientifically by an amazing Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy: ‘Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,’ which I sincerely recommend for anyone who might get nervous about anything ever in the world.

Also, I’ve been super confident at some stages of my life, and at those times I’ve thought to myself: “Yasssss!! I’ve finally managed to be confident! I’m going to be like this for EVER!!”


And gone around in some variety of glowing chutzpah haze until the next time I don’t perform for a while (or indeed until maybe I look at a picture  of one sad kitten too many on the internet, and find myself quivering in paroxysms of self-doubt for seemingly very little reason.) The thing is, mentally I haven’t done much differently than when I’m a radiant picture of self trust and certainty.

Cultivating a mental attitude of confidence is always going to be a work in progress.

The same very wise and dear man who gave me the wonderful advice on confidence when I was a teenager had something more to tell me in my early twenties. He said that even he (as a successful musician and composer for many years) constantly has to monitor and encourage his own confidence. He said it is a lifelong thing. ~ This newsflash, coming from someone whose work I really value and respect, (who has a collection of rather bodaciously shiny gold disks on his wall) and who I really see as a musical success, works as the ultimate validation for me in times of anxiety.

So actually, the first picture I posted was a big fat lie. Everything isn’t necessarily going to be okay… Confidence will be a constant struggle for some people, and may be a piece of piss for others. There is one thing we can do though ~ we can make it okay in our own minds, by accepting that it will always be a challenge, and that this is normal even for very successful people. So in that respect, everything is going to be okay.

Remember, you are love.

Xx Ryn

(If anyone has anything to add to this, or has any questions, please don’t hesitate to comment!)


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Ryn’s Musicians’ Support Group ~#10 ~ Performing


To celebrate my first double figured blog post, here are my thoughts about how to perform like you have just become a marvellous and transcendent unicorn.

I’m writing this as if I’m writing it to myself ten years ago, so I apologise if some of this is basic…

Firstly ~ and blindingly obviously ~ you practise like a fiend. You practise like an absolute fucker. If you don’t practise enough, you will have not given yourself enough of an opportunity to be as awesome as the transcendent unicorn you know in your heart you are capable of becoming. This could ultimately affect you psychologically, probably more so than the lack of actual practise.

You practise until your facial and vocal muscles know the songs better than your actual memory. Then you practise more than that.

You make sure you have newish strings on your guitar or you will keep going out of tune on stage, and that is always a bugger. Remember to stretch your strings a few times and then tune back up until they stay tuned. Always have a spare tuner on stage. That goes for capos and plectrums and strings.

You make sure that you have sung for at least 45 minutes the day before, and for at least 45 minutes earlier in the day before the gig. Then somehow magically your voice is still a bit warm from the day before, and it is much easier to control. If it is a big gig, practise more. Don’t strain your voice though. Try not to smoke, you penis-breath!

Remember that when you are on stage you will never be faultless. You are human and that is great. Your songs are also relatively unknown, so if you fuck them up, generally only you will have a clue, which leads me to my next point.

I’m so glad I got good at looking like nothing has gone wrong when everything has gone wrong!

If I’m playing solo, and I cock up a chord sequence, I can just do that shit again and people will hopefully think I’ve done a segue into some avant-garde, hyper-intellectual jazz… Unless they know me, of course, or have read this ~ in which case they know I’ll be playing it twice because I’ve bolloxed it up.

I’m so glad that if it’s obvious to everyone that I’ve totally screwed up on stage, I can do a little cheeky smile, carry on, and people will remember how hard it is to be a live performer and hopefully not think that I’m massively shite generally as a person. If I personally start to think I’m massively shite generally as a person, it means I haven’t meditated enough and I’ve forgotten how to feel fantastic. I can say things like this with some authority as I have been slacking lately and it’s really obvious to me because of how shitty I feel.

Meditate. Come ON.

Chakras open before you get on stage.

Know yourself.

The on stage banter is planned, to some extent. You will work out anecdotes for your songs and deliver them fluently as if off-the-cuff. Quite a big difference between professionals and hobby performers is their comfortability talking to an audience.

Take no shit.

Remember to acknowledge people properly when they pay you a compliment. Their comment is more for them than for you. It is best that you nod and thank them gracefully, even if you felt awful about your standard of performance. The urge, I know, is to reflexively elbow them in the throat and screech: “Did you not even HEEEEAR me?! I was performing at the musical standard of an arid and dried up mud-flat in sub-Saharan wilderness! That wall over there is far more entertaining than me! I have had POCKET LINT with more stage presence!!” But it really is rather better for everyone if you refrain from active self-sabotage, look them in the eyes and thank them. Eventually this becomes genuine.

In order to really become the magical space-chicken you truly are, practise making the atmosphere. It may sound strange, but as the focus of the attention of the audience, you can be responsible for holding the space for them. You can focus on unfolding big angel wings and encompassing the space, or you can build the love and energy in the room by imagining that this shape (toroid)


is circulating the mood you want to create out of your heart. I’m sure that some people do this naturally. When I discovered this circulation system that the planet uses with the energy of its magnetic poles, it seemed logical at the time that people could also use this shape to circulate their own energy. This is also the shape of the magnetic field of your heart. I tried out imagining the shape when I was writing the song Strong, particularly the chorus, and it seems to help me perform it… When I remember to think of it!

Applause is best acknowledged for a few seconds as well. You can tell the difference in experience between a performer who ends their song abruptly without acknowledging applause, and someone who lets the audience show appreciation, and appreciates the audience back.

Remember, you are love.

Xx Ryn



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Ryn’s Songwriting Suggestions ~ #9 ~ Q&A Session

Source: Ryn’s Songwriting Suggestions ~ #9 ~ Q&A Session

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Ryn’s Songwriting Suggestions ~ #9 ~ Q&A Session


I was curious to see what my friends wanted to know about songwriting, so I asked them ~ Here’s what I found out! 

Bill BWhat part does mystery play in your writing? 

What a grand question to start off with! Mystery is always present in any art that grabs my attention. This counts for everything! TV shows I enjoy have to have a bit of intrigue otherwise I can feel my mind rotting as I watch them. I like to think that most of my work has a level of ambiguity to it that makes the subject(s) of the songs applicable to anyone who is willing to engage with the music. 

John H ~ There are lots of lovely American songs about places but hardly any British ones, why do you think this is? 
Because in America they have place names such as The Rocky Mountains, New York and Chicago. Apart from London, pretty much all of Britain consists of are places with names like Piddlehinton, Shitterton and Cockshoot. What I can’t understand is how come nobody has written a Dickleburgh Ditty or a Charity Bottom chorale for Christ’s sake! 
Chris G ~ If you had to take a particular facet of a song to a desert island, which part would it be? Roughly translated, what is the most important part of a song?
 I guess different people listen for different things. A lot of my friends listen for rhythm but I listen for harmony, and a lot of people mainly listen for lyrics. Some people listen for melody, and I certainly used to as well. Like I said in last week’s post though, if there is a weaker aspect of the song, it affects the overall product.
Sophie E ~How does it feel when your personal feelings and thoughts are out there for all to hear?
It’s okay because I think everyone experiences art differently, through their own ‘lenses’ or through their own filters of perception. Another way of explaining this is the philosophical idea that not everyone’s sense of colour is the same… So my red could be your brown or vice versa, but until you actually experience the colour through the other person’s eyes, you would never know that you were both talking about different colours when the words for that experience of ‘red’ are the same. So actually I don’t take credit for other people’s interpretations of my experiences, because they are mine for me ~ and theirs for them! They mean what they mean for me, and no one will see it the same, but they can come close. It’s nice to share though, and on that basis on a personal level I’m perhaps a little bit too honest generally, so it feels like just an extension of that openness to share the fevered produce of my innermost machinations with people! Also for years I was really worried about being too self-absorbed and hubristic, (is that a word? my computer says it isn’t a word. Fuck you computer. It is now officially a word.) that I accidentally became an egotistical fuckwit about music because I had such resistance to egotism in other  areas of my life. Then I embraced my inner egotistical fuckwittery and accepted that it’s just part of being a person with a personality, and now me and myself get along a whole lot better. It also made me better at writing, as a sort of by-product, so now I can do this sort of stuff without feeling secretly like a fraud or like I’m being too know-it-all. Gosh this is like a therapy session all up in here! Thanks for the rant-inspiring question Sophie! I didn’t think I’d go all ‘layers of perception’ today because I have a hangover and I’ve slept for like 3 hours.
Jayne L ~ Words or music first? I’m a riff writer but loved collaborating with lyric first people xxx
It usually starts with a riff but sometimes I’m a lyric or melody first kinda gal. But melody first is actually pretty rare these days. I used to always start with melody. Don’t really know why that changed. Maybe I’m better at guitar now? Haha.
Matt JDo you get inspiration from particular places in Devon? If so where?
Nope! Haha- I get inspired mainly by the incredible bunch of singer-songwriters I’m really glad to be friends with! Mostly if I’m not feeling inspired, I’m like “what would so-and-so say with this piece” and that helps me get the bones of the song. So mainly it’s connection with people I use for inspiration. Having said that… If I don’t spend enough time in nature I start to get a bit misanthropic, so in that way I do need nature in my life. I quite often just go round the back of a building in the middle of town where I work and spend some time watching the sycamores against the skyline. So place in particular isn’t really relevant to me, I just need time within some kind of quiet nature space to recharge the old batteries! (I just typoed ‘betteries’ then and thought that was kind of true!) 
Nat RDo songs just download into your brain or do you have to painstakingly piece together every word? I ask everyone this about writing 🙂
Totally both. I would say the first bit of all of my songs that I write is ‘downloaded’ (I like that term for it, it seems pretty spot on!) and then the rest of the song is worked on thoroughly. I wouldn’t say it is painstaking though, because I love that process too. That is when the craft starts to kick in, because inspiration has always come, however hesitantly. (Once I couldn’t write for a whole year.) Sometimes I’m like: 10 minutes! Blam! There you go! You don’t even need to edit that stuff. Love it when that happens!

Adrian B ~ What are your influences? 

Like I said earlier, the musiocians I know personally are my biggest influence, however I do totally have a big sloppy great song-crush on Ane Brun, who is just always going to be miles ahead of me with everything she does. It’s really amazing to discover that a songwriter (whose music I like) is on a similar path psychologically. Well. I say that… But how could I ever know, right? Because I’m just projecting my own stuff on her work. But yeah, it sounds quite similar, and very much helped me to realise a few epiphanies along the way. She gives me a goalpost to head for in terms of which place to write and live from. ❤ Other really great influences of mine are Imogen Heap, Sia, Ani DiFranco, Tom Lehrer, Kirsty McColl, Dolly Parton, Cole Porter, The Beatles, Agnes Obel, Portishead, Bob Marley, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Regina Spektor, Macy Gray, and my cats.

Ulrika ~ What would be your feelings about other people singing your songs? I recently had someone tell me (after the fact) that they had sung one of my songs in a folk club and I had this odd mixed feeling. Feeling flattered but at the same time “but it’s myyyyyyy babyyyyyy”. Kind of leads on to what emotions, memories, thoughts charge your songs. Would love to know your take on it 🙂 xx

I would be really interested to hear other people’s takes on my songs. I’ve had a couple of really great singers do my songs before, but I’m not sure they were doing it because they were emotionally invested in the music itself, so it’s hard to judge it. I would love it it someone did a really analysed and emotionally integrated version of my songs. There really would be no higher form of compliment. I’d be fascinated to see where they take it! If there’s anyone reading this who really wants to do a cover of one of mine, please do!

Anna K ~ What comes first – the lyric, the melody or something else? Does it matter?
This is very similar to a question I answered just now, sorry about that Anna! I don’t think it matters what comes first really, as long as the feeling is there then it’s all gravy! (Why did I just say that? I hate that expression! I just imagine someone dribbling loads of hot brown gravy down themselves from their mouth whenever I hear it. What’s wrong with me? I must be drunk still. God I need a cuppa.)

Sue A ~ where do you get your best ideas?

I pretend that I am someone who inspires me, and I write as if I am somebody who is a better writer than I think I am. 

Joe B ~ Not many songs are happy, why is this?

Not many people are happy when they write I guess. (Not many people are happy?) Most often for people songwriting is a cathartic way to express hidden messages from the subconscious, and the subconscious generally doesn’t wax lyrical about how marvellous it all is because it’s probably trying desperately to tell them that they are neglecting themselves in some way that needs some attention. Because happy songs are great, but they don’t necessarily inspire growth and change in the same way that a classic weepy does, whatever form that may take. I want to listen to, and write, music that expands the whole fucking universe inside me. 

Remember, you are love.

Ryn xx

If you also have a songwriting question you would like me to feature on the blog, either contact me by email or post in the comments and I’ll see what I can do! 

Thank you to everyone who asked me questions! I have had a really good time answering them!

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Ryn’s Songwriting Suggestions ~ #8 ~ What makes a good song


A good song is like an ecosystem. It supports growth.

Although obviously ecosystems are vastly complex, and have various symbiotic systems in place to keep equilibrium, they do what great songs do. Every element comes together to create the right environment for every other element, and the cycle of life perpetuates.

Do excuse me if I am overtly verbose this evening, I’ve had a few drinks.

There are rhythmic choices you can make which influence the meter of the lyrics, the meter then affects which kind of melody you can use, which affects the chord choices, thus pretty much affecting the whole songwriting process. And that’s without going into how changing the melody has an effect on the song’s meaning, and emphasis on certain syllables / words rhythmically can totally change the ‘grammar’ of how the song comes across, without changing a word of the lyrics.

Some say I think about this too much. And they would of course be right. But also, other people think about sport this much. Or taxidermy. So.

Anyway, about the thing.

What makes a mediocre song.

If there is too little in the way of melody, or if the melody is too repetitive, then I get bored easily. If the rhythm is lacking in drive, same thing, however this doesn’t always have to be the case. (With any so called ‘rule’ in songwriting, the opposite can often be just as true. It’s a personal preference thing really I guess, as it is with all art forms.) If the chords are too obvious, I tend to think I’m listening to Oasis and I start to want to stab pens into my eardrums, however, a two chord song is one of the hardest things you can pull off as a songwriter, and I thoroughly recommend that you try it! If the lyrics don’t quite catch my imagination, because they are not as visual or sensory as they could be, or they just repeat or bumble around a topic without any real insight or self discovery, I get bored. Basically, I get bored of songs really easily. What makes a GOOD song, then, is something quite rare.

~ On a side note, I just called my cat a “little Honklehooter.” Just thought that was a particularly good term for that reprehensible animal as he bit my sleeve. If you should need it, I give you my express permission to coin the term. ~


What makes a good song.

If the song supports growth in the listener, it has done what it is supposed to do. If it has connected the listener to a previously unacknowledged aspect of their emotional reality, and increased their insight just a little, however consciously acknowledged that may be, the song is working. If the song makes someone happy, it is doing a good job.

All of the elements of the song supporting each other, but still leaving enough space for it to breathe.      1064-claude-debussy-quote-music-is-the-silence-between-the-notes

But equally…


Unless of course you DO live more than once, but that’s not a good enough reason to cop out, so just get on with it already!


Balance is key.

Art reflects life innit.

More alcohol for me. My cat has shunned me. I think I got sweetcorn on him.

The Test Of Time.

If you can get to the stage where you can write from a place that is so true to you that you can engage emotionally with the song EVERY time, for years, then you have won at life. If you find your songs going in and out of relevance, that’s fine, as long as you can convincingly deliver them with consistent emotional presentation. If you find other people’s songs that resonate with you in a consistent way, then THEY have won at life and you need to try and figure out just how the shiny great fuck they did that! I guess my advice for figuring out how to write coherent and emotionally congruent songs would be: Get to know yourself better. Simply that. If you can meditate, do that as often as you think of it. If you can’t, don’t worry. You’re already doing what you need to do. Just write as much as you can. Be where you are in life and try to hold yourself in equal regard to your loved ones.

Remember, you are love.

My cat has fallen asleep on my feet.

Ryn xx

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Filed under Funny, Gay, Lesbian, LGBT, Observational, Pointless, Songwriting