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Saturday 19 November 2011

I Wrote a Song in My First Song Writing Class

 I Wrote a Complete Song in My First Songwriting Class

I never knew I had it in me, until I wrote a poem years ago about the Fire at Alexandra Palace. It had a chorus, and was very repetative, and people at my poetry group said it had the makings of a good song, and I ought to get it set to music. Of course I never did, and it languished as an unrecognized lyric.

However, a few days ago a friend asked me if I would like to go to a free songwriting class at our local library, and, ever-curious, I went.

First we were asked to do some physical loosening up exercises as a prelude to singing a song.  I was a bit disconcerted, as I consider myself as being useless at singing - one of the reasons I never bothered to continue guitar lessons was because it didn't seem much good if I couldn't sing along to my own strumming.
Anyway, I did the arms above head and down to the ground, wriggle around, blow through your lips like a sperm whale and so forth.

Then we were given an explanation writing a simple song using AAA format. This is, basically, three similar verses or stanzas, no chorus, no complications.

We were shown a song by Bette Midler, "The Rose", which was in this AAA form. Then we sang it, reading the words from the song sheet.  A bit tricky for me really, as I didn't know the tune. However it was pretty easy to pick up, and, although I merely droned without proper singing, I didn't disgrace myself more than averagely.

Then we talked a bit about travelling and were asked to write something ourselves, in class, something personal, maybe about a journey, using some rhymes.

The man next to me (whose name shall not be revealed here) is already a seasoned musician and song writer, but he said he couldn't possibly write something there and then, and preferred to write something at night.  That left five of us, including our teacher, ready to get writing. 

I had something down on paper quick as a flash. I'm used to doing this in poetry group (which I no longer attend) and at home - you get something down in writing, anything, and then you can always go back and polish it up - indeed revision is an essential part of writing poetry.

The man who wasn't writing was chattering away, and said something about throwing a line. This got incorporated into my poem. I was only marginally bothered by this diversion, but my friend, who is also in the poetry group, was well put off, and asked him to desist, as she couldn't concentrate.

I wrote quickly, and finished quarter of an hour before everyone else. Surprisingly, I was the only person to write a complete poem, the others having varying success. Inspiration just came without much head-scratching.  One man could only think of  two lines, another wrote a lot of very existential philosophical stuff, which was clearly going to be the best one of all once he found the words to finish it off, and my friend and the teacher wrote competently but needed to take their pieces home and do work on them.

So that was a good experience.  I managed to find suitable rhymes, and although one or two of the rhymes were rubbish and had to be revised at home, I was reasonably happy with the result. This is what I wrote:
                Travelling to Dover

      As I travelled on the train one rainy morning
      Tired and wet, I couldn’t stop my yawning
      Looked up and saw what surely was a warning
      Hooded eyes that set my heart a-warming

      I turned away and stared into the mist
      But all the while I held a secret wish
      That I’d put out a line and catch this fish
      And he’d be mine forever on a dish

      He moved to sit by me and I moved over
      I sensed that one day soon he’d be my lover
      And give me hell because he was a rover.
           I caught him as the train pulled in to Dover

© Diana Grant                       16th November 2011

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