Songwriting collaboration and Patriots Gospel

Songwriting collaboration can be very helpful for both new and seasoned songwriters.

This is especially true if you are strong in one area, such as lyrics and not so strong on song construction or arranging or visa-versa.

This article discusses the creation of Patriots Gospel, a lyric and song idea based on current events.


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One + One = Three

The song Patriots Gospel is an example of what I mean by this mathematically incorrect statement 1+1=3.

In short, in the end of the equation, there exists two individual contributions as well as a third finished product as it were.

The whole in the case of songwriting collaboration is greater than the sum of its parts.

How it began.

I have always been open to working in partnership on musical creations. I learned early in my musical career that these partner ships can be both personally and professionally beneficial to both parties.

While playing music at a local Christian coffee house called Linger Longer Cafe, I was approached by Curt MacDonald, a local musician and worship leader.

Curt explained that he had been inspired with an idea for a song and was looking for help to get it from his head into a recorded finished song.

I was impressed with both the quality and "timeliness" of the lyric and also that he thought enough of my musicality to ask for the opportunity to get involved with songwriting collaboration.

The learning curve.

In the beginning, with every project and partnership, and in particular with songwriting collaboration, comes a period in which learning to communicate and define the goal takes place.

It was two years after our first meeting that this song developed into the version you hear in the video below.

Arranging the song on the keyboard.

Being presented with a finished lyric my job as a keyboardist/arranger was to compliment the lyric and let it shine.

There is no repeating chorus and the title of the song is nowhere to be found within the lyric.

I mention this as those two elements are generally found in a "HIT" song.

Curt did however come up with the repeating musical motif that happens between verses which in my mind serves as a rather interesting musical hook. The kind that will replay in my mind after hearing the song a few times.

The chord changes.

There are really only 4 chords in the whole song. Cmin, Bb, F7, and G7.

Again the intention there is to keep the music rather simple and let the lyric be heard.

All of the sounds were generated on a Techincs KN 5000 arranger keyboard that I have owned for at least ten years. (soon to be replaced by a Korg PA 2X Pro arranger keyboard.)

Build emotion from beginning to end.

If you listen closely to the music you will notice that my approach is to start simple and add musical parts each verse to gradually build the arrangement in terms of intensity.

Syncopated guitar parts are added in the second part of each of the first two verses and continue through until the end of the song.

After verse two you will notice a more complex drum part.

Rather than an instrumental solo we decided to place the spoken word Declaration in the middle of the song.

Finally the last verse uses an half step up modulation, horn parts and a more complex drum part as well as soft strings to build to a strong ending.

The song was recorded at home, (no expensive studio time) on less than 8 tracks. A Fostex MR 16 digital recorder was the only thing that was used to record the entire song.

Finished product?

In my mind, not until it is sold!. In the end we would like to see some Country Rock artist pick up the song.

It is however at least in a form that we can let people hear it and comment on it. It has been well received when performed at several local TEA party gathering where its message resonates with that particular group.

The next step in my mind would be to submit to music publishers to see if there is any interest.

Note that most music publishers I have contacted want the song to stand on its own with just guitar, or piano and vocal and we went further that we needed to to "sell the song."

Final thoughts.

Songwriting collaboration can keep you moving forward and provide learning experiences for both parties. Since then we have done several other songs that will be posted soon.

Let us hear from you!

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If you have any questions, suggestions, or ideas for future lessons feel free to Contact Me.

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4 Steps to Learning How to Play Any Song on the Piano

1. Determining the melody - Melodies determine what chords will be played. If you can use your ear to figure out what notes are being played in the melody, you are 1/4 on your way to learning a song! More resources on learning how to determine melodies

2.Harmonizing the melody - Once you have figured out the melody (using some of my techniques on the resource page), it is time to harmonize it. This is simply choosing various chords to accompany the melody. There are several techniques and tricks to doing this. More resources on learning how to harmonize melodies

3. Altering Chords - This is the best part! Now that you have strategically figured out the melody to a song and have harmonized it, altering your chords to produce certain sounds is the next step. If you were playing gospel music, you would alter your chords differently than if you were playing classical or country music. More resources on altering chords

4. Listening - After you have determined the melody, harmonized the melody, and altered some of your chords, there are various techniques you can use to make sure that your song sounds right. More resources on listening techniques

I personally recommend "The Secrets to Playing Piano By Ear" 300-pg Course and through my relationship with Jermaine (the author of this course), I've been able to get him to throw in a few bonus items (3 additional piano software programs). He has taught literally thousands of musicians how to play the piano by ear. If you understood just half of what he discussed above, you'll definitely benefit from his 300-pg course. Click here to learn the secrets to playing absolutely any song on the piano in virtually minutes! I highly recommend it.

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