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For more information, please see full course syllabus of Songwriting
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Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lyric Writing 0:13
    • Use 5 Senses As Descriptions
    • Example: Senses As Descriptions
    • Example 2: Senses As Descriptions
  • Melody Ideas 2:32
    • Ways to Develop Melody
    • Chord & Arpeggio
  • Rhythm Lesson 5:08
    • Dotted Note
    • Clap Out Example

Transcription: Imagery

OK, so, welcome back to and Introduction to Songwriting.0000

My name is Eliot, your songwriting teacher, and let's get right to today's exercises.0004

So, lyrically, we are going to talk about the idea of imagery, and what is imagery?0010

With your lyrics, you can use all five senses as a description. Your audience can see, smell, touch, taste.0014

And then, remember, something I heard in your song.0023

And let's look at a few examples of this. This first example is by an excellent band called Linkin Park, and this song is called the Shadow of the Day.0026

And the sun will set for you, the sun will set for you, and the shadow of the day will embrace the world in gray, and the sun will set for you.0034

This is such a beautiful lyric. The idea that the sun is going to set specifically for just one person, it is their way of saying, I think,0045

this is just my interpretation, that this person is that important to you, that you want the sun to set just for them.0053

It is just not only a beautiful lyric but just an amazing example of imagery.0059

And let's look at our second example, so this is a song by Beyoncé called Halo.0064

I found a way to let you in, but I never really had a doubt, standing in the light of your halo, I got my angel now.0070

Just a beautiful example, not just of imagery. This is just a stunning song, really.0079

What basically they are trying to say, again, just my interpretation is, there is a person who is very afraid to open their heart and meet somebody new.0086

And this person has become an angel to them, that they feel comfortable enough,0095

that they are standing in the light of their halo, that they have an angel beside them.0100

It is just a wonderful...I am sure you know the song, but if you do not, certainly go check it out.0103

Here is our final example. This is a song by Christina Perri, Jar of Hearts.0109

And who do you think you are running round leaving scars, collecting your jar of hearts and tearing love apart.0113

OK, sometimes, as a song writer, you hear a song, and you think "wow, I wish I wrote that".0121

The first time I heard this song, this concept alone was fascinating to me.0127

So, there is this person who breaks people hearts, and they collect them in a jar.0132

And they are just running around with their jar of hearts because it is not the first time that they have broken someone's heart.0136

How did she come up with that? I just think that it is an amazing, a beautiful song and a wonderful example of imagery.0141

And so, let's go on to the next exercise today, so, we are going to discuss a few more examples of how you can take your melodic ideas and develop them.0148

If you remember, this is our tried and true example. It is four quarter notes C-D-E and D.0160

And we are going to discuss quite a few different ways of how we can develop it.0166

The first one is repetition. Just repeat what you have.0170

If you remember from our example lyrically of Nicki Minaj boom-bo-doom-boom-boom-bo-doom-boom bass, he got that superbass,0172

when you repeat something, it completely alerts the listener that something exciting and new is going to happen here.0179

It is a wonderful way to setup a title.0188

And melodically, it is a wonderful way to have the listener start to remember what it is that melodically you are trying to say.0190

The next thing is called augmentation. Just a very fancy way of saying “lengthen the note value”.0197

Instead of four quarter notes, the first two are half notes and then, two more quarter notes.0203

As you can imagine, we are going to hear this in a moment, but it really slows down the music.0208

Retrograde: repeat the phrase backwards. Instead of C-D-E-D, now, we have D-E-D and then, C.0213

OK, and our last example is called diminution, which is a very fancy was of saying shorten the note values.0226

The faster rhythm picks up and grabs the listener's attention, so instead of four quarter notes, now, we have eight eighth notes.0233

So, let's hear these examples right now. [music playing]0240

And here comes repetition. [music playing]0251

This is augmentation. [music playing]0255

It really slows it down. Here is retrograde. [music playing]0261

And then, diminution. [music playing]0265

Yes, isn't it amazing, really fascinating how much slower this sounds with the augmentation?0271

And then, the diminution, I am going to introduce a new phrase here, an arpeggio. A chord is when you play three notes, C-E-G, at the same time.0278

And arpeggio is when you play them separately, and this almost sounds like an arpeggio. It sounds like a really pretty background to a melody.0288

And that almost does not sound as much of like a melody.0296

If you are going to use this as a melody though, it is really, as you can tell, going to pick things up quickly and grab the listener's attention.0298

So, let's go to our final exercise for today. This is our second exercise in developing your rhythms.0305

And again, rhythm is the fourth component besides melody, harmony and lyrics that can really help drive the listener's attention at certain parts of the song.0313

I am introducing two new concepts here. The first one is a dotted note.0322

So, when you see a quarter note with a dot, the dot increases the length of the note by half or 50%.0326

A quarter note, instead of one beat, when you have a dotted quarter note, it is 1 1/2 beats. Also, I am introducing this idea of a bar.0335

So, when you have a quarter note, and it is bar to an eighth note, this first note takes on the quality of both length values.0346

So, now, this is also, you have a bar, 1 1/2 beats.0358

OK, I am going to, as we did last time, count you in for a measure, and we are going to clap out our examples very slowly.0363

So, here is our first example. We are going to start right here.0371

OK, so, that is where I want to start. OK, so, I am going to count us in.0376

1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3 and 1 and 2, a 3 and 1 and 3 and 1, 4 and.0384

So, if you remember the and here, we did a dot on the half note, so this lasts for three beats.0405

Now, I am going to introduce one more new concept.0412

We have always been talking about the time signature of 4/4. That means the quarter note gets the beat, and each measure has four beats.0415

Now, we are going to do a 3/4. Still, the quarter note gets a beat, but there is only beats per measure.0422

This is really popular in waltzes, and it is also, kind of, popular in RnB music.0429

They do things like 3/4 and also 6/8, which we will talk about at a later time, but it is based on this where there is only three beats in a measure.0436

So, let's clap out this example. I am going to count us in for two measures because this is different.0443

So, it is 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1 and 2 and 3, 1 and 3 and 1 and 2, 3. Let's try that one more time, and this time, I am going to go slower.0447

So, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1 and 2 and 3, 1 and 3 and 1 and 2, 3.0464

Alright, so one more example to go for rhythms. Now, we are going to go back into the 4/4 time signature.0480

Let's scan this. We have some dotted notes, and we have some bars.0488

So, we are going to count this one really slowly, and we will do it two times.0492

So, I am going to count us in for one measure. 1, 2, 3, 4, 1 and 3 and 1, 3 and, and 1 and, and, and, and 1, 2, 3.0495

I wanted you to see what all these bar notes sounds like. They are really going against the beat.0515

Just to look at this example, this measure, 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and.0521

So, instead of 1, dot, dot, dot, dot, that you are hearing only the ands or the second half of each beat.0528

So, it sounds again like 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and. So, let's do this example all the way from the beginning again, and I will count us in for one measure.0535

1, 2, 3, 4, 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 1, 2, 3 and 4 and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 1, 2, 3.0544

Alright, so I hope you enjoyed that lesson on exercising rhythm.0560

Thank you for tuning in to, and I will see you at the next lesson.0565