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Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting: 126 Proven Techniques for Writing Songs That Sell Paperback – October 1, 2008
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"For people serious about writing great songs, it's got it all!"
~ Kara DioGuardi, BMI "Songwriter of the Year"
"Concrete tools to kickstart your songwriting or take it to the next level. Should be in every songwriter's arsenal."
~Jason Blume, author, hit songwriter
"An excellent road map for writers at all levels. This is the songwriter's GPS!"
~ Ralph Murphy, former V.P. ASCAP, Nashville
"This is a superbly written and organized Swiss Army knife of a songwriting manual with 126 sharp tools, tips, exercises, and insights for every stage of creating your songs. Whether you want to write hits or just the most powerful expressions of your concepts, feelings, and stories, you'll find this toolbox an easy-to-read, fun, and indispensable teacher. "
~ John Braheny, author, song coach
About the Author
Robin has written and produced more than 500 songs for television, records, theater, and audio products. She is a former Director of A&R for Rhino Records and executive producer of over 60 albums. She is also the author of five top-selling songwriting books, including Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting and Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV.
Robin has shared her knowledge of songwriting with millions around the world through her highly-rated songwriting websites and her Songwriting 101 video series on YouTube. She is known for her easy-to-understand, real world style of communication having successfully mentored dozens of top music industry veterans, helping them communicate their knowledge to aspiring songwriters and recording artists.
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The main cheese factor is right there in the title: the focus is on hit songs, and the idea that the reason you have the book is that you want to write a radio hit. Well, I have the book because I am interested in how songs - not necessarily hits, just good songs - work, and I like to collect any ideas along these lines. I know almost none of the songs mentioned in the book since I don't listen to Billboard-style music. But I have to say that even if you like to write avante-garde songs, or even instrumentals with a song-like feel, you will find a lot of tips for making your pieces interesting and keeping them at a high level of professionalism and art.
As I said, I don't know really know the pop music that is referenced in the book, so I've thought of going through the songs I love and seeing which ones might serve as examples for each of the "126 Proven Techniques."
By the way, for aspiring songwriters out there, one of the best tips in the book is to listen to a favorite song and write your own lyrics. This is a great exercise that lets you just work on the daunting task of lyrics but also lets you easily see how music supports the lyrics. Okay, you can't sell your finished song but it lets you gently build up a songwriting habit without having to constantly start from scratch (and you might actually come up with some lyrics you can use with music of your own).
This book will tell you how to be adaptive to the modern era. If you want to write your own way and just make (scratch?)a living then go ahead, but that's a very, very hard life. I am happy to bend some of my creations to the modern age, and it won't change you too much. I thought it would commercialize me too much and change "my creations" (how egotistical of me), to adapt myself to times as they change. The times have already a-changed Those songs you sing that you grew up with? They were hits back then and still would be now if written for the modern age.
Now after reading this book and ignoring and mentally being aghast by her A&R reviewers for years, I think I have finally figured out that the songs written now are just as good as the songs written in the past, they're just built differently - kinda-sorta. The question that's left - I hope - is can I adapt? And am I good enough to make the bar? I still don't know but I'm still trying because I think I might actually be getting better, albeit very, very slowly - and the slow part is mostly me unlearning what I know to replace it with something new.
People like David Bowie adapted and stayed on top. So did Phil Collins. And if you read this book and "get it", you'll even recognize differences between the songs of people like Rob Thomas in the 90's and his songs in more recent years. Carlos Santana said he worked with people like Rob Thomas and Michelle Branch because he wanted to be on the radio again. I want to be on the radio - what a freakin' buzz that would be. In the modern world, it's just a different way of doing things. And genres really are defined by really simple things like which chords you use and now I think it might be all about lyrics and there are no gaps for guitarists anymore, and it's much more difficult to sing because there isn't anywhere to breath and you don't have regular pauses to remember which words come next. And the bass is more prominent so good for bass players. Guitar lead has faded away in many ways, and sadly I might say, because for me there's nothing like the dual leads of Wishbone Ash, and of course many others :)
I can honestly say that no other books in the genre (and I have a few) come close to the usefulness of these 2 books. The shortcuts are specific, clearly written, incredibly relevant, and easy to put into action. My lyric writing and my ability to 'arrange' my husband's music has been 100% influenced by them, and I would attribute any success I have in the future to the advice in these 2 books of Robins, and to the help and advice of my friends at Taxi.
Incredible value for money.
Thank you Robin.
There are practical and straightforward examples of how to get your creative juices flowing. For any of you folks out there (like me) who have tried time and again to write a great song and have come up short, this book will help you. It will aid you in getting unstuck and help you develop your melodic and lyrical ideas by providing examples and exercises that will make immediate sense to you.
One great idea I will mention right off the bat is basing your new song on an existing "ghost" song. This can be used as an exercise or even producing a final product. Take a great song you love and base the structure of your new song on it, replacing the melody and lyrics of course. By the time you are done it will be unrecognizable but having the foundation to begin with is a great help.
There are tons of useful tips like this. The book is a quick read and it is meant to motivate you. Before you are halfway through you will already be excited about putting these shortcuts to work. Highly recommended!