Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #8

Metaphors. They are a comparison between two ideas that don’t really belong together. “Figure of speeches,” as one may call them.

Today, we will be discussing one type of metaphor that can be used in your lyrics to create symbolic imagery and descriptive expression.

An expressed identity metaphor is a metaphor that asserts an identity between two nouns. Below are some typical outlines on how to for them (using variables “x” and “y” as the two different nouns of your choice):

  • (x) is/are (y)
  • the (y) of (x)
  • (x)’s (y)

Here is a way on how to use them! Instead of saying a work like “rain,” you can alternatively use a metaphor like “the cloud’s blood” to give a darker shade to the word while expressing the same meaning.

Play around as you are writing lyrics. But word of caution – try sticking to one metaphoric idea when writing a song. This is so you don’t clutter with an overabundance of imagery… or maybe that is your goal.


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Teach Yourself Music Theory – 11.) Counting Rests and Pickups

By first glace, how would you count the rhythm of the piece below?

It may seem tricky, but there is an easy way to figure this out!

First, let’s talk about the rests. As you know from before, a rest has its own value similar to that of a note. The difference is that with a rest, you don’t make any counting sound for that symbol. One way to practice counting a rest in to count in your head, instead of out-loud. Other ways are to quietly say “rest” or “shh” in a whisper tone.

Now let’s talk about that incomplete measure, also known as a pickup or anacrusis.

Simply, count it as the final beats of what would have been a complete measure. So, in this case of a simple quadruple meter type, this anacrusis would be counted just as 4 because it is the last beat of this particular incomplete measure.

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How To Compose – a Corrente/Courante

This post will discuss approaches to writing a corrente/courante.

First of all, the corrente/courante is a dance commonly found in the Baroque era suite.  The origin of the dance is French, but difference being is that the corrante is the Italian take on the dance with a more lively tempo at 3/4 or 3/8, while the courante is the original French version that is not as lively at a 3/2 meter. Dancers would be fast with their partners; jumping, running, and hopping between the steps while sliding to a new position. These factors should be considered for when witting an appropriate melody for the dance.

Here are some critical features that are characteristic of the dances:

  • Meter: 3/8, 3/4, 3/2, 6/4, 6/8
  • Tempo: lively
  • Binary form of AB, with the B section usually longer than the A section
  • If A section begins in a major key, it cadences in the dominant where the B section will start and return back to the home major key
  • If the A section begins in a minor key, it cadences in the dominant/relative major where the B section will start and return back to the home minor key
  • B section often begins with the transposition of the main theme
  • Begins with an upbeat of an eighth/sixteenth-note
  • Flowing eighth/sixteenth notes supported by a steady bass
  • Can be divided into triplets if desired
  • Homophonic texture
  • Typically features a “hop” in the rhythmic motive or melody
  • Hemiola before cadence
  • Composed based on these rhythms for dance purposes:

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the style before attempting to compose one!  Look into pieces of your favorite composers for inspiration and understanding or direction on how to approach a new work.


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Tip #97 – Understanding the Ganamurti Scale

The Carnatic music of South India has 72 scales (melakartas) comprised of seven different notes in either an ascending (arohana) or descending (avarohana) fashion. These scales are used in a kind of India music called rāga and are extremely beautiful. In addition these scales are grouped into different chakras, based on certain similarities.

Today’s melakarta is the Ganamurti (meaning “icon of music”) scale, the third scale from the first chakra.

Below is a representation of the scale as if it was put into Western notation:

Both the first (SA) and fifth (PA) scale degrees are in a placement normal to most scales found in Western music. However, the other scale degrees are lowered as well as clustered in chromatic runs. In addition, the seventh scale degree (NI) is raised, which creates a tendency to resolve upwards. While this may sound dissonant or exotic, this scale gives a great amount of opportunity to play with tension and chromatic passing tones.

Try playing around with the scale, possible harmonies, and progressions!


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Tip #96- Last-Minute Chorus Key Change

You might have already heard this in a song on the radio or on your playlist today. Nonetheless, it is a cool topic to cover.

Even with an awesome chorus in your song or exciting exposition in your composition, you might want to spice it up.

Take this mock-chorus below:

One thing that we can do is repeat the chorus, but transpose the section up an entire interval – creating a key change last minute to surprise the audience. The most commonly used intervals are the minor second (m2):

Major second (M2):

And minor third (m3):

Experiment with all three, or try a rarely used interval!

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Tip #95 – Click When Scoring

When you are scoring a scene, you are writing music to enhance the story, the vision of the director, to move the audience, and give new life to the emotions of the characters portrayed on screen. It sounds like a demanding task, but it can be done!

To make the music seem natural to the scene, it is wise to consider a click-track.

A click-track is basically a metronome that can be used for compositional purposes when writing the score, or for conducting purposes when recording the score. Either or both ways, it is a necessary part to make sure that the music is in time with the events going on – and with each other, too! And it is easy to create, too, as most DAWs have a way to create and format one to your score.

But one has to question, “how do you know what to set the tempo of the click-track at?”

Some good rule of thumbs is to hear it in your head, with imagination, as you are watching the scene without music in it. Tap out the tempo in your head and mark down the BPM (beats per minute).

Another way is the synch your BPM to the movements of the characters. To how fast/slow they walk, talk, make subtle body gestures. Or, try matching it to how frequently the camera angles/point-of-views change.

That being said, sometimes not matching the pace of the characters can have an interesting effect. Take a scenario where the character is walking slowly… but the music is increasing in tempo, faster and faster. This opposite polarity and juxtaposition can create an effect as if something is about to happen, or that the mind of the slow-moving character might be ruminating on something.

Regardless, the tempo music be a purposeful consideration.

One last note – the tempo does not need to remain the same all the time. So, as you are making a click-track, do not forget to add gradual (or sudden changes) in the BPM to best fit what you are going after is your musical storytelling.

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Thinking Out Loud – A Reminder for College Education

Some of you readers might be able to call this playground jeer and rhyme:

“Girls go to college to get more knowledge; Boys goes to Jupiter to get more stupider”

I only bring this up to remind us that in our society, we have the early disposition to believing that college is the place to get more knowledge. And rightfully so, as that college educations should aim to teach a student information that they are lacking in in order to develop themselves in better of finding the career of their dreams.

That being said, college should not be the place for the know-it-all and talented.

If you are gifted in music, know as much as you need to know, can perform well, and are contempt with it all – don’t go to college for music. Because there, you are just wasting money to get the self-affirming pat on the back for people (and a piece of paper) to tell you that you have skill.

Leave your acceptance opening spot for someone who lacks the same skill/knowledge as you, but can match you in the passion for music. They obviously need college more than you do.

Just thinking out loud.

Bryan Waring
Bryan Waring