Okay, the SAC Challenge kicked off today with what looks like 110 or so songwriters on the Facebook site. Six weeks of focussed writing. It should be interesting. Matt Dusk has opened the challenge with a pitch request. He’s a crooner by trade but wants to expand things for his new record. He says he likes a lot groove based things and “to get the excitement of the band and the audience all together.” The stuff that really works for him includes Rock Mafia’s “The Big Bang“, “Pumped up Kicks” by Foster the People, the cool groove of “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. OR, we can take it down tempo, like “All of Me” by John Legend or Lana Del Rey. Not only is that quite a wide range to work with, it could encompass quite different approaches to writing itself. Jason Blume writes about some of these differences, noting that
In pop, urban, hip-hop, and dance music, a musical backing track is typically created first. This track (sometimes called the musical bed) consists of the accompaniment—the chord progressions and all instrumentation, such as the keyboard, bass, guitar, and percussion parts—but it does not include a melody or lyric for the vocalist to sing. The melody and lyric that is sung “on top” of the music track is referred to as the topline. … In many cases, the musical track is sent to a topliner who writes the melody and lyric long-distance.
Contrast that with folk or roots music where, according to Blume,
… songs typically evolve organically as writers strum guitars or play keyboards while composing melodies and lyrics. In Nashville, the majority of successful songs are the result of collaborations, but unlike some other genres, cowriters are typically in the same room, with all writers contributing to both the melody and the lyric.
Perhaps the medium is the method? In any case, I don’t think the next step in the process has been set out for us yet. It’s just been Matt’s pitch request. But perhaps writing method is one of the considerations as we go forward with the Challenge. Try experimenting with both techniques and see what happens. I’m more of the organic type of songwriter but it would be interesting to try my hand as a topliner.
Actually, I’ve done it a couple times for fun, like this song “Bumpercars” I wrote for my young son a few years ago. It’s a canned Garageband track but I added the topline to it. Ha! I never thought I’d rap a song, but hey I’ll do almost anything for my kid 🙂
Anyone have a music bed to share? Want to try a collaboration?