Monday, July 15, 2013

Music guest blog: songwriting with a legend

Guest blog by Deborah Lynch, Patel Conservatory music faculty. As the coordinator of our Rock School program, Lynch attended the Rock and Roll Forever Summer Teachers' Institute in New York City.

The Rock and Roll Forever Summer Teachers' Institute was an energizing experience.

I got to work with some notable figures in the music business through the discussion groups and workshops. Some topics discussed included:

Music faculty Deborah Lynch, right, with Warren Zane
of the HBO Documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom.

"Popular Music as Visual Culture", led by Warren Zane. Zane is a music  historian and the Executive Director who also appears in the HBO documentary Twenty Feet From Stardom. He reviewed how artists use visuals/images to define their work and/or interest others in their work.

Music journalist Michael Azerrad talked about his background as a writer, and writing about the music business. In “Rock and Roll and the Common Core,” Steven Armstrong discussed integrating Rock and Roll History into standard curriculum lesson plans.

And, in “Songwriting for the Non-Music Teacher,” NYU professor Phil Galdston did a workshop on the basics of songwriting. Galdston is a songwriter/producer who is one of the few in the field to score hits on virtually every major chart. His songs and productions have appeared on nearly 80 million records by artists ranging from Celine Dion to Sheryl Crow.

In his workshop, Galdston came up with a simple melody with lyrics for the first line. He asked the group to think about next lines. I heard the song as a duet, and proposed a counter-melody to which I wrote lyrics. He sang the melody line and I juxtaposed my verse, which was the female's perspective to the story he was creating. Someone from the group commented, "You just wrote a song with Phil Galdston." Definitely a highlight of the week!

Later that evening, we saw a live interview with Hugo Burnham, former drummer of the English post-punk group Gang of Four.

More details about the conference to come!

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