Challenge 2013 – Week 1 – Building the Foundation for a Song

by Debra Alexander

songwritingThe S.A.C. Songwriting and Blogging Challenge 2013 is underway, and a dedicated group of songwriters from all across Canada is taking part in the Coursera Songwriting Class with Pat Pattison over the next six weeks. Every week our blog will be full of  posts  recounting experiences with the weekly songwriting lesson. Songwriters at various stages of development from beginner to veteran have already spoken in their first blogs about their passion for the craft of songwriting, the desire to improve their craft, and the importance of developing community as they answered questions about their relationship to songwriting and what they hope to gain from the class.

Throughout six instructional videos in Lesson One, Berklee College of Music professor and world-renowned songwriting teacher Pat Pattison demonstrates why top songwriters like John Mayer and Gillian Welch have expressed their appreciation for his instruction. Pat uses everyday situations and parables that are amusing and easy to understand in order to illustrate the basic songwriting concepts of Point of View, Song Development, and Song Form. He relates everything in an entertaining, conversational style so the amount of material he’s covering won’t seem overwhelming or difficult, yet he covers all the bases needed to get a song off the ground in Lesson One.

For our first assignment, we’ve been asked to use the concept of ‘boxes’ to demonstrate how we would develop a song title. Boxes are the equivalent of Storyboards in the movie business: they outline plot. It’s also helpful to think of the classic graph used in teaching the short story, otherwise known as the dramatic arc, which basically consists of a beginning, middle, and an end, along with a rising action and a falling action. A songwriter needs to be aware of pacing, in order to maintain a listener’s constant interest. Pat points out that there should be a parallel between a producer’s build of a mix and a songwriter’s build of a lyric. Time to think inside, outside, and everywhere around the box as we plot the development of our songs.

Participants, please post the following:

1.  Which song title you chose to develop, and why.
2.  The URL to your Week 1 blog. (NOTE:  please post the exact URL to the entry and not just the general URL to your blog)


24 thoughts on “Challenge 2013 – Week 1 – Building the Foundation for a Song

  1. I chose “The Good Old Days” because it tied in with a song idea I had written down in my hook book, that had no framework: “Harley’s, Horses and Hard Times”. I had no WHY for the story before, but thanks to this lesson, I believe I that I do! Looking forward to writing this song.


  2. Hi my blog URL is I hope I got this right , I’ve been
    working all day putting up website for my studio only to find out I could not get my blog page to work from there.. Technology can really tie me in knots sometimes. Mostly knot getting things done because of it. lol
    I chose ” Raise Up Your Glass” as my song title for Lesson One” Journey of a song”.
    I grew up in Nova Scotia Canada and spent the majority of my life living and working in Atlantic Canada.
    I found myself forced to move to Edmonton Alberta for economic reasons.
    I was very nervous and somewhat resistant to this huge change in my life.
    Being 40 years old, I had never been in Western Canada prior to this and I knew little about it.
    All of my family and friends remained in Atlantic Canada.
    My wife and children followed me out here 8 months later.
    For a short time I was leaving everyone and everything I knew for the unknown.
    I now love Alberta and the people here, however It will never really be home.


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