Song-A-Week Songwriting Challenge – Jan. Review

Whew. I did it. I wrote – and recorded – 4 songs this month.  When I called this a songwriting challenge, I wasn’t kidding. It felt more than a bit like bootcamp getting them all recorded in time for today. And like bootcamp, the first month was pretty rough. I hadn’t factored in the time it would take to record them, and it was significant. I am using Logic on my laptop and am not very experienced. But one of the main points of this exercise is to get faster, and indeed I am already gaining proficiency in Logic, which is a bonus skill I hadn’t even considered.

What I’ve learned this month –

1) A week is not long enough to write a song. Not for me. At least not yet.

2) “Bacon” is a very user-friendly word in terms of rhyming.

3) Mandolins are metal!  \m/\m/

Okay! Without further ado, let’s set a few ground rules and get started.

I am asking for your feedback in the comments. When you give it, keep in mind, these are very rough sketches, not all fleshed out with arrangements and other instruments.  So when critiquing, please limit comments to melody, lyrics, and song structure. Of course, ideas for instrumentation will be welcomed, but telling me the arrangement needs work will yield a “duh” response. :+)

I have not posted the lyrics, as I was concerned they would take up too much space. I am hoping you’ll be able to hear them in the songs, but if you find it would be helpful to have them in written form let me know, and I’ll work out a way to post them online.

Lastly – please don’t snag the songs from this site and let them get out into the world. I do plan to use the best of these on albums and I don’t want to lose the element of newness. (If you really want one, just ask, and I’ll send it to you with the caveat that you don’t post it on the internet. This is the only  place I want them online until they are ready for release to the greater community. Thanks!)

Here’s what I came up with:

Week 1
Song for a Savior
This is a song about being our own heros. It’s the one that started this whole thing. (I.e. the one that Winter criticized  ;+) ).  I reworked it some based on Winter’s suggestions. It’s still got some swords and kings in it but I felt that the nature of the song couldn’t do without them. Heros need swords after all.   Song for a Savior.

Week 2
Engines of Doom
As the title suggests, this is a metal song, for Pandemonaeon. It’s part of a 4-song epic tale we will be telling based on an idea of Paul’s, about a great battle that seemingly cannot be won, and the despair that ensues, yet also with a quest that yields strengths we didn’t know we had. Sounds pretty cool eh? So where’s the mp3?  Well…here’s the thing. Paul and Winter don’t want to give this away beforehand, but have it be unveiled in it’s full glory at a live show. (Preserving the element of newness and all).  So they’ve forbidden it’s inclusion here. :+( .  I see their point really. But. Pout. Also – they threw it back. They said my part wasn’t “metal” enough. So back to the drawing board on that one. I think rewrites are going to have to be allowed  in this songwriting process! For now you’ll just have to take my word that I did complete a first draft of this song.

Week 3
It’s the Bacon
I wasn’t going to write a song about bacon. I really wasn’t. But one of you suggested it when I first put out the call for ideas, and it just kind of trickled into my head.  So I figured I’d polish it up and put it out there. Sometimes writing about something completely outside your usual fare really cracks open the idea flow, and that is what happened with this. I’ve been getting lots of ideas since I wrote this. (NOTE: I recorded this last night at midnight after a guest appearance in a friend’s show, so I was not at my most refreshed. Nor did I add any of the fun”oohs”, “ahhs” and vocal percussion I was hoping to add. I haven’t done this justice, but I simply ran out of time. Also – I just noticed, it doesn’t start until 15 seconds into the mp3). It’s The Bacon

Week 4
I am the Sand and Sea
Okay! This one is truly the belle of the ball as far as I’m concerned. This song represents the first real songwriting breakthrough I’ve had in a while, and I am very excited about it. It’s my first attempt at demonstrating that “Mandolins are Metal”. I hope you like where Im going with this, as I’ll be following this thread qite a lot more over the next year.  I-am-the-Sand-and-Sea

Okay! There you have it! Please leave your comments here and let me know your favorites, and why, which ones you’d like to see developed further, any ideas for instrumentation, what could be made better, etc.

Also please leave any ideas for next month’s songwriting endeavors here in the comments.

And THANK YOU for playing along!

 

2012 – The Year You and I Write Songs Together

Celtic spirit, metal attitude!

Happy New Year everybody!

I hope your festivities over the weekend have helped set the tone you’d like to see in 2012 (i.e. no puking), and that you are well on your way to any new beginnings you mean to invoke.

I rarely make New Year’s resolutions, as I prefer the idea of living intentionally every day.  My New Year’s celebrations always include some version of setting my intentions for the year and toasting them with friends.  However, I did make one resolution-type commitment this year that I am pretty jazzed about.

It began with writer’s block. There I sat, staring at the blank page with the bleak emptiness of a soul who has nothing to say.  But not to worry, I know the cure. Write anyway. So I do. Except that everything I write is shite. Or so I tell myself.

“You’re saying the same things over and over” says the Critic, brandishing his cane and pursing his shriveled lips in disapproval. “That’s stupid!” “Nobody says that!” “That doesn’t even rhyme.”

But onward I go, stalwart and steadfast. “Get back ye great prune! What have you ever done? All you do is tear down, so hush.”

Thus vanquished, my critic pipes down and I manage to churn out a song. It was a pretty song. Quite pleased with myself, was I.

And then came Winter. “Your songs are always about castles, kings, towers, serpents, pirates, and phoenixes. Write about something else”.

AUGGH!!

Apparently my efforts to blast through writer’s block are still not yielding breakthrough results. Clearly I need help. But from whom?

Why, you, of course! 

Yep, 2012 is going to be the Song-A-Week Songwriting Challenge, and I want you to help me.

Here’s how it’s going to go down:
I will write one song a week, every week, for the entire year of 2012. On the first Monday of each month, I will put out a call for ideas, right here on this blog,  and you guys are welcome to suggest ideas you’d like to hear me write about, in the comments section. If an idea really grabs me, or I see a common theme developing from several suggestions,  I will write a song based on your idea. On the last Monday of each month, I will post a recording of songs written that month and ask for your feedback and to vote for your favorites. If I’ve written something based on your idea I will give you a copy of the recording. Over time, the favorites will be developed into fully arranged songs for release on a formal album.

In this way you all can help me craft my next album in accordance with what you would like me to write about. A truly collaborative effort!

I think this will be fun, and it will really help me to have you guys part of the process. Aside from providing valuable feedback, you guys will really help to hold me accountable! Getting a new song written and recorded every week is going to be quite the trick with all the other irons I’ve got in the fire this year –  a new chant CD with Thorn, my summer touring schedule, and developing music meditations and workshops for Sonic Alchemy (because songs change the world, yo!) to name just a few!

So please hold me to my word – I’ll be a better woman for it, and also a better songwriter!

And, lo and behold – it’s the first Monday of the month! No time like the present to get started.  Got an idea for a Sharon Knight or a Pandemonaeon song? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks in advance for your help, I really do appreciate it. Let the ideas commence!
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(Want to get a free improvisational composition from Sharon in your inbox each month? Sign the mailing list and we’ll send ’em out. They’re called mermaid kisses. And btw – we never ever ever share your email with anyone else and we keep our own mailings to once or twice a month. In case you were wondering.)

Latest Info for Second Leg of Tour

Hi friends –

Okay my website is working again – YAY – so most updated info for final tour dates is there. Here’s the link: http://www.sharonknight.net/live.html.

June 30th 7-10 pm THIS SHOW HAS BEEN CANCELLED.
Center for Symbolic Studies
475 River Road Ext
New Paltz, NY 12561-3076
http://symbolicstudies.org
Get directions here: http://symbolicstudies.org/site/center/location/#Direction
$12 in advance here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/182369
$15 at the door

July 1st
Musical Mistresses of Myth and Magick
Triple Goddess Concert
with Kellianna and Wendy Rule
The Lily Pad
1353 Cambridge St (Inman Sq)
Cambridge MA
8pm sharp
tix $20
http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/170910
http://www.lily-pad.net/

July 2nd
Musical Mistresses of Myth and Magick
Triple Goddess Concert
with Kellianna and Wendy Rule
Montague Grange Hall
34 Main Street
Montague, MA 01351
cover $20 Pre-order tickets at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/174226

July 3rd
Musical Mistresses of Myth and Magick
Triple Goddess Concert
with Kellianna and Wendy Rule
Sacred World Interdependence Day
Earthlands
39 Glasheen Rd
Petersham, MA 01366
http://www.heartbeatcollective.org/swid

July 6th 7pm
Sonic Alchemy Healing Circle at the Magickal Mill!
Sharon will share the philosophy behind Acutonics, Sonic Alchemy, and the use of musical vibration in healing.
Then we will give treatments to each other
East Berlin, PA
Please RSVP for directions

July 7th 6-11pm
Bubes Brewery!
102 North Market Street
Mount Joy, PA 17552
$15 for show, food and drink available
Phone: (717) 653-2056
http://www.bubesbrewery.com/

July 9th 7pm
House Concert
St. Louis MO
$10 – $15
RSVP for directions to julee5@mac.com

July 10th 3pm
Pagan Music Festival
The Focal Point
2720 Sutton Blvd
Maplewood, MO 63143 (St. Louis area)
$10-$15
http://www.thefocalpoint.org/

July 13th
Sonic Alchemy Healing Circle
Elements of Wellness
9715 Olive Blvd
Olivette MO
314-432-1778
Facebook event info: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=239122322767408

July 14th 7pm
MoKaBe’s
3606 Arsenal St
St Louis, MO 63116-4801
(314) 865-2009
$7 – $15 suggested donation
http://www.mokabes.com

July 14 – 17th (We play 16th)
Wolvenwold’s Music Heals the Earth Festival
18629 Rocky Top Rd, Elk Creek, MO 65464
$50 for entire festival
http://www.wolvenwold.com/

July 21st 7pm
The Blue Eagle
2422 Juan Tabo Blvd NE
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87112
(505) 298-3682
$15
http://www.blueeaglemetaphysical.com/

July 22nd 5:00pm
Mercury Cafe
2199 California Street
Denver CO
$11 buy tix here
http://www.mercurycafe.com

July 23rd
Sonic Alchemy Workshop
Private Home
Brighton, CO (address given upon registration)
$55 or $60 for workshop and concert
Details here: http://cotw.us/

July 29th Time TBA
Sharon Knight Trio – yep with Caith Threefires
Fitzpatrick Winery – Pizza Night
Woodfire pizza, wine, gorgeous scenery, and music!
7740 Fair Play Rd.
Fair Play CA 95684
Phone: 530-620-3248 / 800-245-9166
http://www.fitzpatrickwinery.com/main.html

September 2nd Time TBA
Sharon Knight Trio – yep with Caith Threefires
Fitzpatrick Winery – Pizza Night
Woodfire pizza, wine, gorgeous scenery, and music!
7740 Fair Play Rd.
Fair Play CA 95684
Phone: 530-620-3248 / 800-245-9166
http://www.fitzpatrickwinery.com/main.html

Neofolk Romantique – New Music!

We have new music, which was just unveiled last night at our show with Wendy Rule at Serpent’s Kiss in Santa Cruz.  Just in time for our cross-country tour. Yay!! This is a collection of traditionals and new originals that have yet to find their way onto a “formal” album. It also introduces our self-proclaimed musical genre, Neofolk Romantique. After years of  listening to the staunch Celtic traditionalists proclaim that my music is “Not Celtic”  I have decided to create my own genre. Neofolk Romantique is what I like to think of as an innovative and fresh interpretation of folk music; it contains a goodly dose of stark melancholy and reverence for ancestral tradition that one thinks of when one hears the term Neofolk, but also has a romantic and fanciful spin. Romantique, in fact, for our love of antiquity and old world charm. Rather more flattering than “Not Celtic”, wouldn’t you say?

Neofolk Romantique gives me far more flexibility to reflect my own world without getting bogged down in annoying trivialities such as facts. Facts have very little place in art, as far as I am concerned. Give me Steampunk over Reconstructionism any day.

So – reinventions having been thus proclaimed, let me tell you about this album.

It is indeed romantic and fanciful. All acoustic and very sparsely instrumented. A highlight for me is a song I wrote for a storm, who’s beauty swept me away completely. It’s called Mistress of Maclyr, and the vocal performance is one of the most emotional I have ever given. It isn’t technically perfect, but that is part of the charm of this album, and left this way intentionally. Enchanting performances by Winter and Tim Rayborn are also featured.

It also includes Saucy Sailor, a feisty English traditional about a carefree sailor lad. I have always loved the spirit of this song. Then there is an A Capella poem by William Butler Yeats, and a fun little tune I wrote called The Captain’s Flask. And of course we had to include Henry Martin, one of our best loved songs when we play live.  We also recorded an acoustic version of Pandemonaeon’s Queen of Shadows which came out surprisingly well. The album contains 10 songs in all.

We consider this a pre-release, which means this:

These particular versions of the songs will only be available for a limited time.

Some of these songs – particularly the traditionals – will only be released on this album and not on the formal release. Therefore they will only be available for the duration that this pre-release is available.

These songs represent a sparse, paired down interpretation of our music that is much more akin to our live shows than our full-production albums. They contain the flaws, vulnerabilities, and intimacy of a live show and as such give a different feeling than our lushly crafted studio albums.

You can listen to the album in it’s entirety – and if you like, purchase it – on our bandcamp page. Folks who purchase this album will get $5 off our formal studio release, due out within the year, simply by mentioning they bought the Neofolk Romantique pre-release. We beleive in the honor system because we believe you are honorable.

Enjoy!

Tour Schedule

May 6th 7-9pm and May 7th 10-am-4pm w/ breaks
Sonic Alchemy and the Sovereignty of True Will – Workshop
Georgetown DE
Hosted by Bell, Book and Candle.
Note: this will be held at Seelie Court near Georgetown, DE – Not at the store – Directions will be given to registrants.
Tickets: $150
full details and registration here:
http://www.bellbookandcandle.biz/
Harmonic Bodywork Therapy sessions will be offered throughout the week. Signups taked via the store at the link above. To learn more about these sessions visithttp://www.sharonknight.net/acutonics.html
To learn more about this work in general and this workshop visit:http://www.sharonknight.net/sonic-alchemy

May 13 – 15th
Blue Ridge Beltane
Stoney Creek Resort
277 Lake Drive
Greenville, VA 24440
http://www.blueridgebeltane.org
http://www.stoneycreekresort.net

June 11th
House Concert @ Cerulia House
Seattle, WA (check back for details)

June 15th
Sacred Paths Center
777 Raymond Ave
St Paul, MN 55114
$15
http://sacredpathscenter.com/

June 16th
House Concert
Ann Arbor, MI
7-10pm
$7 – $15 sliding scale
RSVP for directions to coirbidh_99@yahoo.com

June 18th
TempleFest
New Hampshire (check back for details)

June 24th
Wisteria Summer Solstice
39835 State Route 684
Pomeroy, Ohio 45769
http://www.wisteria.org/wisteria-summer-solstice.htm

June 25th
Northern Exposure Music Festival
A Sacred Place
970 NH Route 118
Canaan, NH
http://aspcanaan.org/northernexposure

July 1st
Musical Mistresses of Myth and Magick
Triple Goddess Concert
with Kellianna and Wendy Rule
The Lily Pad
1353 Cambridge St (Inman Sq)
Cambridge MA
8pm sharp
tix $20
http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/170910
http://www.lily-pad.net/

July 2nd
Musical Mistresses of Myth and Magick
Triple Goddess Concert
with Kellianna and Wendy Rule
House Concert
Western MA (check back for details)
cover $20

July 3rd
Musical Mistresses of Myth and Magick
Triple Goddess Concert
with Kellianna and Wendy Rule
Sacred World Interdependence Day
Earthlands
39 Glasheen Rd
Petersham, MA
01366
http://www.heartbeatcollective.org/swid

July 7th 6-11pm
Pirate Feast at Bubes Brewery!
102 North Market Street
Mount Joy, PA 17552
$50 includes feast and show
Reservations requested:
Phone: (717) 653-2056
http://www.bubesbrewery.com/

July 14 – 17th
Wolvenwold Sumer Solstice
St. Louis MO (check back for details)

July 23rd
Denver CO (check back for details)

July 29th Time TBA
Sharon Knight Trio – yep with Caith Threefires
Fitzpatrick Winery – Pizza Night
Woodfire pizza, wine, gorgeous scenery, and music!
7740 Fair Play Rd.
Fair Play CA 95684
Phone: 530-620-3248 / 800-245-9166
http://www.fitzpatrickwinery.com/main.html

September 2nd Time TBA
Sharon Knight Trio – yep with Caith Threefires
Fitzpatrick Winery – Pizza Night
Woodfire pizza, wine, gorgeous scenery, and music!
7740 Fair Play Rd.
Fair Play CA 95684
Phone: 530-620-3248 / 800-245-9166
http://www.fitzpatrickwinery.com/main.html