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

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

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