Join us February 19-21, 2021 at the best virtual songwriting camp in Zoom… SYBERSONGS 2!
February 19-21, 2021
SyberSongs 2 classes will not be archived. Feel free to use your own recording devices to capture the classes you attend for your own private use. Please do not share or post on Social Media. Thank you.
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Teachers, Classes, and Bios ~ SyberSongs 2
The Not Quite Right Song
Working on songs that are almost finished but “not quite right” or “fair to middlin'” or need some fine tuning. Along the way, there has always been a song or two that I loved the notion of and might even have written in some form and recorded but something was missing? Sometimes the issue is overall structure, or melody, or just one word that could be better. And then sometimes it begets another song that you wouldn’t have written without the first “not quite right” effort. In this workshop we’ll be looking at tips to help those songs find their way.
Kate is a southern singer-songwriter who writes and sings memorable folk songs infused with undercurrents of delta blues, folk, pop, and country that originate from a musical landscape spanning the less-travelled back roads from Nashville to Muscle Shoals to Memphis. Over the course of 20+ years since her acclaimed debut album Songs from the Levee, she has resisted the temptation to follow musical trends but instead chooses to set the pace for her unique musical journey clearly palpable in her latest release Damn Sure Blue, a heart-felt collection of tunes that pays a respectful nod of admiration to the Man in Black and reverberates with the soulful sounds of award-winning Americana guitar whiz and producer Will Kimbrough.
Swimming in the River of Your Song
This is our time to create songs from a place of freedom, flow and fun. Let’s show up and allow ourselves to dip into the waters of creativity - we will listen, we will write, we will mine ideas and marry together music and words. Using games and prompts - we will practice being in and writing in "non-edit" mode and see where each of us are led. Through examples and discussion we will play with our ideas and open ourselves to inspiration. Jump on in...the water is fine.
Sloan Wainwright is a songwriter, singer, performer, teacher, mentor and collaborator. A unique hybrid of pop, folk, jazz and blues, Wainwright’s music is unified by her melodious tone and rich, powerful contralto. Over the course of a 30-year career in music, she has played the great concert halls, the most storied listening rooms and top music festivals while also teaching at the nation’s leading music retreats. She has inspired hundreds of students on their creative journeys and collaborated with dozens of musicians, writers, choreographers and performers.
SATURDAY ~ Point of View
In this seminar we will explore eight different perspectives to choose from when deciding how your characters can best tell their story. We will look into figuring out how to find the most powerful way to tell any given story. We’ll talk about 1st, 2nd, 3rd person and various combinations as well. We will then look into more complex ways to use perspective to bring out the most emotion in all your lyrics. We will take a look at several songs written in one point of view and then see if they’re made stronger by switching to another point of view. I believe this is one of the most important lessons on the road to writing great songs.
SUNDAY ~ Melody
In focusing on melody writing, I teach from a place of writing melodies for lyrics. Prosody is the marriage of music and lyric. We explore ways to determine if the overall vibe of the music feels right, and look at specific parts of songs in terms of choosing an appropriate melody that milks the emotion that the writer would like the listener to feel from the lyric. I also talk about phrasing and accents. There is an important word in every sentence. We look at choosing accent places that stress the right syllables and help drive home your point. Music can actually change the meaning of a lyric when used to its fullest potential. We also discuss rhythm and range and how to use them effectively in songs.
Steve Seskin is a successful songwriter who has written 7 number one songs, including Grammy-nominated “Grown Men Don’t Cry,” recorded by Tim McGraw, and “Don’t Laugh at Me,” winner of NSAI Song of the Year and Music Row Magazine Song of the Year in 1999 as recorded by Mark Wills. In 2014, Steve was nominated to the NSAI Hall of Fame, and his 20th album, Some Sunsets, was released in 2014, filled with inspiring, hopeful songs. “Don’t Laugh at Me” was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary and became the impetus for the project, a curriculum designed to teach tolerance in schools. This program has already been implemented in more than 20,000 schools across the country. Steve now enjoys performing at school assemblies in support of this program. The song is now available as a children’s book, Don’t Laugh At Me, which was featured on PBS’s Reading Rainbow in September 2002. Steve is also an active keynote speaker and songwriting teacher for the West Coast Songwriters Association, the Nashville Songwriters Association International, the Swannanoa Gathering, and the Song School at Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, and several NETN events. He has also been the director of the Kerrville Songwriter’s School since 2012.
Treasures Handed Down
On Saturday we will explore the beauty of open G tuning in all the colors that that tuning brings with the express intension of using it in a song.
Bring to class a family memory, an antique, some china, a picture, a piece of jewelry, a tool, a pair of work boots, something that evokes a strong memory. Before you come to class, write a letter to yourself from the one who passed the treasure down to you. This will be the essence of your song. Be prepared to share something. I will call on a few participants. On Sunday, we'll start with a few compressions exercises, including one with your treasured letter and then each write a song about that treasure in open G tuning. It can be as simple or complex as you feel it should be or that time allows.
Tret Fure has released 17 critically acclaimed albums in her 50 year career. Besides being a prolific songwriter, she has also produced and engineered countless recordings for many artists including herself. Tret has also being teaching guitar for 50 years and songwriting for 35 years. She is a well respected instructor and many of her students have gone o to make recordings and have performed regionally. She is a hands on instructor who takes great joy in the process of creation.
From one of her long time students: “Tret has a way of treating each student with kindness, respect and encouragement that propel us to safely dig into the inner reaches of our creativity in order to open and release the music and poetry which yearned to be heard. I could go on and on about Tret but I encourage you instead to listen to her music and discover her for yourself.”
Grain of Salt
Stuck somewhere in the middle? Here’s an interactive and participatory mid-day hour for any songs or parts thereof that you might wish to have some input on. We’ll hopefully hear four or so songs-in-progress each day and become a collective think-tank about what’s working so far and what might be improved upon. It’s also an opportunity to hone your listening and feedback-giving skills and an opportunity to ponder the many elements – lyric, melody, rhythm, chord progression, key, arrangement, etc. – that make a song click. And importantly, take everything with a great big you-know-what.
David Roth is a singer, songwriter, recording artist, and enthusiastic instructor who has taken his songs, experience, and expertise to a wide variety of venues in this and other countries full-time for three decades. His work has found its way to Carnegie Hall, the United Nations, several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, the Kennedy Center, Peter, Paul, & Mary and Kingston Trio CDs, the Kerrville and Falcon Ridge Folk Festivals (top honors at both “Emerging Artist” competitions), NASA’s Goddard Space Center (his song “Rocket Science” sailed on the space shuttle Atlantis in 2009), the Rise Up Singing and Rise Again (sequel) songbooks, and 15 CDs on the Wind River and Stockfisch (Germany) labels. David is also creator of the Cape Cod Songwriters Retreat and organizer/host of the Cape’s Full Moon Open Mic which since 2005 has provided a forum for musicians to connect and be heard while at the same time collecting donations (cumulatively nearing $16,000 to date) for local non-profits to help neighbors in need.
SATURDAY ~ The Devil's In The Details
….and so is a great song! How often are you stuck with lyrics that feel “generic” and uninteresting? Join me as we explore ways to generate sense-bound imagery for your songs! I’ll start the class by showing you some in-class writing techniques to get you thinking about ways to “show not tell” your story. Some of the writing prompts we’ll learn about are focused writing, object writing, and writing through the power of metaphor and how it can transform any song into magic. You’ll get a chance to try these techniques in class and share some of your wonderful ideas in the Chat on Zoom. Bring your journals or whatever you write on and come prepared to write!
SUNDAY ~ Happily Ever After: The Marriage of Music and Meaning
Sometimes, a song is a perfect union of words, melody and chords. We can't quite put our finger on why it all works so well. We just feel it. When that happens, chances are, prosody is in the process! Sunday's class will be devoted to exploring and working with this invaluable songwriting concept. We will listen to songs and look at lyrics that have great prosody built into them and then I’ll have you try creating some sections of your own. Using Zoom’s breakout rooms, I’ll assign groups and you’ll be given a chance to try a mini virtual co- writing session with some of your classmates. Then, we’ll come out of the rooms and as time allows we’ll hear some of the results.
Susan Cattaneo is one of Boston’s most respected songwriters. A powerful singer and sophisticated writer, Susan blends rock, folk and blues with a healthy dose of country. Call it New England Americana with a twang. She is a three time nominee for Best Americana Artist at the Boston Music Awards. Her latest album The Hammer and The Heart charted #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and yielded a #1 song on folk radio and a top 10 album of 2017. She is a three-time Kerrville Folk Finalist, a Falcon Ridge Emerging artist, and a winner or finalist in The Independent Music Awards, the Philadelphia Songwriters Project and the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest. Susan has been teaching Songwriting at the Berklee College of Music for over 15 years. She has opened for or shared the stage with Bill Kirchen, Mark Erelli, Jon Cleary, David Wilcox, Rose Cousins, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Ellis Paul, Paula Cole, Huey Lewis and The News, Amy Grant, Melissa Ferrick, and The Pousette-Dart Band.
Let the Song Find You
So you don’t know what you want to write a song about? That’s perfect. Stand still. Let the song find you. Maybe it is searching for someone who is available. Let’s look at writing a song from that creative place where we don’t know what will happen, or where it might go. I think we all want to be surprised by a thought we didn’t know was inside us. In this workshop we will look at one of the tools I use to write a song when I am in that know-nothing available-to-anything space. “A craftsman knows in advance what the finished result will be, while the artist knows only what it will be when he has finished it.” - W.H. Auden
Cosy Sheridan has been called one of the era’s finest and most thoughtful songwriters. Her song “My Fence and My Neighbor” went to #4 on the folk radio chart in 2018. Sing Out Magazine listed her CD “Pretty Bird” in their Great CDs of 2014. She plays a percussive bluesy guitar style backed by the strong rhythms and harmonies of her bass player Charlie Koch. She was a voice student at Berklee College of Music and a guitar student of legendary fingerstyle players Eric Schoenberg and Guy Van Duser. Cosy first appeared on the national folk scene in 1992 when she won the songwriting contests at The Kerrville Folk Festival and The Telluride Bluegrass Festival. She has been on the road ever since, playing clubs, concert halls and coffeehouses across the country. “You can't make it into double digits, and continue touring for twenty or so years, unless you know what you're doing, and do it well,” said The Chicago Examiner. She has played at Carnegie Hall, The Cowgirl Hall of Fame and the Jerry Lewis Telethon. Her songs have appeared in Robert Fulghum’s books and on The Dr Demento Show. She teaches songwriting, performance and guitar at workshops and music camps across the country. She is the founder of Moab Folk Camp in Moab, Utah.
Harnessing Poetry for Songwriting
Song lyrics are (most of the time) much closer to poetry than prose, using many of the same devices as poetry. In writing songs, we’re exercising both musical and poetic skill. In this class we’ll explore techniques and exercises for using poetry to increase word awareness and explore sound, melody, rhythm, rhyme, metaphor, and image - all as launching points for writing songs that take you to new places.
Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Pat Wictor makes his home in many worlds. An American citizen born in Venezuela, an expatriate through his teens, he is used to mixing unusual combinations of ideas and experiences into a seamless whole. Grounded in rural blues and gospel traditions, Wictor’s lean, poetic songs and expressive guitar playing are seasoned with jazz, pop, improvisational surprise, philosophy and social commentary. He first gained attention as an innovative lap slide guitarist, making him a sought-after collaborator and session musician. For seven years he toured internationally as one third of Brother Sun, the powerful harmonizing trio with Joe Jencks and Greg Greenway. Wictor’s newest CD release is titled Counterpoise, a duo collaboration with jazz vocalist Deborah Latz. The two first sang together at a vocal improvisation workshop led by Bobby McFerrin. His latest solo CD, This is Absolutely Real: Visions and Versions of Phil Ochs, reached #2 on the Folk-DJ charts and was nominated for Best Tribute Album by the Independent Music Awards.
Sunday Morning Singalong w/ Lea Morris
Let's rise, shine, and celebrate another day in song. Drawing from Spirituals to Folk classic to originals, we'll sing ourselves warm and greet the morning in proper fashion.
While Lea Morris often draws comparisons to artists like Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell and Ani DiFranco, her sound seamlessly blends gospel, jazz, country and R&B into her own style - SoulFolk. Born in Baltimore to a father who toured the world playing trumpet in the funk band Black Heat and a mother who dreamed of opera while performing with her siblings in the Jones Family Gospel Singers, Lea was singing on the pulpit of the Baptist church where she grew up as soon she could speak. Having shared the stage with luminaries including Odetta, Mavis Staples, Dar Williams and Anthony Hamilton, Lea performs at a far-ranging array of venues, including arts centers, universities, festivals, and places of worship. She is a graduate of the prestigious Artist-in-Residence program at The Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, MD and a beloved children's music performer among DC families. Her latest recording, the crowd-funded “Let You In,” is a collection of songs the artist hopes will cultivate greater compassion for femininity. https://www.thisislea.com