American Sentences….

IMAG0125I recently purchased a book called “Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within” by Kim Addonizio the title caught my eye and when I head read the blurb I found it was about the creative process and I thought it might be useful to use in this project.

Although the book focuses on poetry and not music I thought this might help me in writing lyrics as there are a lot of exercises laid out in the book that can help to inspire creativity.

One of these exercises caught my eye it’s in the chapter titled “Getting Started” the section I am specifically referring to is called “American Sentences”

The idea is credited to Allen Ginsberg and is “inspired by the traditional Japanese haiku” but instead of having syllables divided into lines (a Haiku is three lines of five, seven then another five) an American Sentence is “one sentence of seventeen syllables”

Referring back to Tunesmith by Jimmy Webb, syllables are also mentioned but Webb describes creating patterns of syllables as “Music without the notes, a kind of drumbeat” If Webb describes this process as “Music without the notes” surely all I would need to do is fill in the notes in order to craft a melody around the rhythm?

An idea I’ve had is to start writing lyrics and melodies by arranging verses in these American Sentence type paragraphs. Obviously this idea requires some tinkering but this will be explored in a subsequent entry.


I’ve been struggling to write lyrics for this project so far so in an effort to create a guide for myself I’ve constructed a plan, that details potential subject matter for this project.

Here’s the small presentation I made:

At the moment it’s just rough notes but from reading Jimmy Webb’s book I’ve noticed that most of my songs all fall into the first three categories that he mentions (People, places or events that affect us at different times) really I’ll be reflecting on something that affected me in the past, something that is currently affecting me and something that will affect me in the future.

Since I’m hoping to have 3 or 4 songs I’m happy with at the end of this project perhaps that is something I should integrate into the project.

The contents of the plan are just rough notes about previous homes and what they areas they were like. I’m hoping that this will help to get some of my ideas down on paper however simple they may be at this stage.

Webb also mentions in chapter 2 that it’s important to take notes for in regards to lyrics and melodies that could serve as further inspiration so I will also be doing that and uploading photo’s onto this blog so that all notes on my process are kept together.

Getting back into it

Well it’s been a while since I’ve made any posts or done anything of value with this project dissertation has taken up most of my time and admittedly I’ve been letting this module slip.

However that’s something I plan to rectify starting now. In the feedback for the presentation I gave it was suggested that instead of focusing on the outcome of writing these songs I focus on the songwriting process itself.

Now I’ve had plenty of time to think about it that makes far more sense as I’m unlikely to produce great works with my first attempts at writing.

So I’m planning to start writing songs with the intention of documenting my though process on here as I go. I’ve been learning a lot of theory recently as well so hopefully I can give more insight into why I have chosen certain chords other than just they sound good when paired together. Another valuable addition that this documentation process will give is that people will easily be able to see my process and then recommend other options that I can try which will be valuable if I intend to take this project further than the end of this year.

The only thing I can see holding me back at this point is my lack of singing ability, it’s something I’ve never really done seriously until the start of this year. Even since I have started it’s only been by taking baby steps such as singing backing vocals in the band I’m a part of (It’s a punk band though so backing vocals don’t need to be particularly impressive) and by trying to sing along to songs while listening to the notes instead of just assuming I’m doing it right.

Hopefully this is something I can learn to overcome throughout this process though, and if it doesn’t turn out how I plan I could even attempt to overlay other instrumental melodies over the work and try to convince others to sing over it at a later date.

Anyway at least that’s a bit of an explanation as to where I’m at with this project and what I’m intending to do over the next few weeks with it.