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Finding the Zone in Song Writing – Song Trails in Tully


Michelle Walker and Bob Elliston, Singing a Song they wrote after meeting in Last years Song Trails – June Perkins

This year Tully Song Trails gathered the musical experience of nineteen people from the ages of fifteen to seventy-eight years.

All ages worked together and came from the genres of bubble gum punk, folk, country, rhythm and blues, and rock. We had harp, saxophones, bass, flutes, guitar, trumpet and voices – high and low – all of us were motivated to do what we all love- make music.

Peter Farnan was again one of the tutors, this time joined by Morganics a hip hop artist from Sydney. Both had considerable talent in producing songs, which was important on the last day of the workshop when two songs were recorded.

The Song Trails Weekend reminded me of what most of us like in songs and what composers and writers search for to make a memorable song.

1- A groove in the music.

2- A contrasting chorus and verse – with a stable chorus and unstable verse (reverse this for an unusual effect).

3- Writing with a sense of the history of the genre you are writing in whether it is Blues, Hip, Hop or Jazz.

4- A texture of instruments and voices that fits the groove of the song.

5- Music is collaborative.

6- Instrumental solos can build of be scattered through a song for great emotion and can have a certain feel to them coloured by the song.

7- Writing songs means tapping into creativity through many means, from drawing on the subconscious, the feeling our piece of music gives to us (ie you can begin with the music and then add the words that fit that piece).

8- It’s important to search for the unpredictable rhyme.

9- Having a hook in a song makes it extremely memorable.

10- It is possible to write a song in just over an hour, but it might take more time for it to settle.

DSC_0926_fun (2)

Songtrailers posing hip hop style -taken by Giuliana Bonel

As for the new format of Song Trails, it’s a ripper, from a participant’s point of view you learn a lot more about song making than the original three-hour workshop. You have a great chance to form connections with other artists, and you see much more of the song producing process if you have never witnessed this before. We learnt concert protocol and added to our performance experience.

The concert at the end of the three days featured local talent who had participated in the workshops extensively, with Peter and Morganics supporting on instruments and doing just a few of their own works. The feedback I’ve received from people who headed to the Tully concert was that is was great quality. They audience were amazed by the newly composed songs and impressed by the local artists – they also enjoyed what Morganics and Peter shared. Especially Morganics rap/ode to Tully.

The three day workshop format is a ripper, the only challenge I can forsee is that if you have over twenty participants you’re going to need another tutor, to assist in mentoring the groups and recording songs. Another singer, musician might come in handy throughout the weekend just to have another genre, person with different life experience there. Although a lot of this can come from participants as well. It really depends on who turns up to the workshop.

I was delighted QMF employed me to photo document song trails this year. It might be possible with more of a budget to regularly make a montage photo video as part of the three-day workshop. Yes, I know I’m shamlessly plugging for another documentary gig and an extension of this role to possible music video maker, what can I say – I absolutely loved documenting Song Trails as a participant and it was energising wearing the two hats. I threw a photo montage together on the spur of the moment on the Sunday morning, and Morganics did some rhythmic editing to time it to the music. Hence a small music video was possible! I went home after the workshop and mixed a montage for another song as well. Loved doing that but wasn’t really part of my original time budget for the project, just felt moved to do it for participants.

Those attending the concert enjoyed the behind the scenes photographs, especially the family and close friends of the participants. The parents of the youth participants said their kids came home every day raving about what they had learnt, who they had met, and other local youth are rearing up to do it next year on the recommendation of their mates. Morganics was a hit with them!

Importantly this workshop worked as everyone was deliberately mixed by the tutors and collaborated with people they did not know, all ages and genres mixed. This was extremely good for ensuring everyone learnt something new. So a big thankyou to Peter Farnan and Morganics, you both did a great job.

In breaks many people were trying out playing the harp of one of the participants, and so many youth want to work with the harpist next time. I think she felt like quite a celebrity. Peter was extremely delighted to record a live harp, which he said he had never done before. So perhaps people will be lining up for the facilitator’s experience at Song Trails remixed and have an experience like Peter’s, although everybody would love to see Peter again as he has such a subtle way of helping you improve a song.

Another highlight for me was extremely talented songwriters turning up to support emerging songwriters by attending the workshops. Their willingness to attend the workshop really made it for the other less experienced participants, I refer especially to Michelle Walker, Sue Day and Shirley Lyn, who added to the positive dynamic of the weekend. More experienced song writers and singers should not discount participating in Song Trails, for the opportunity to meet up and coming artists and form collaborations and friendships. Who knows maybe some more song trailers will present co-written songs, just like Michelle and Bob did on the first evening.

A big thankyou to Queensland Music Festival, APRA, Cassowary Coast Regional Council, Queensland Government, and Kareeya Hydro for bringing this workshop to Tully and making it so accessible, as the workshop was free. The support crew of Song Trails were great as well, thankyou so much for all you did whilst in Tully.


Taking a Bow at the Final Concert – David Perkins

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This entry was posted on March 30, 2013 by in Music, Photography and tagged , , , , , .
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