free songwriting tips blog
The Songwriting School of Los Angeles is honored to feature the blog of Paul Zollo LINKS IN A CHAIN.  Paul is a songwriter, photographer, and author of the revered collection of interviews with the icons Songwriters on Songwriting, featuring Paul's insightful conversations with legends like Dylan, Simon, Newman, Petty, Cohen, and more.  Paul's photographs of the icons as well as a monthly lecture series by the same name, Songwriters on Songwriting, all can be enjoyed at The Songwriting School.
The Songwriting School of Los Angeles is honored to have respected author, photographer, & songwriter Paul Zollo as a regular contributor in this blog, LINKS in a CHAIN. “All songwriters are links in a chain.” – Pete Seeger ON THE MEANING OF MEANINGFUL MUSIC“They just don’t write songs like they used to.” How many times have you heard that one? When I was a kid, people from my parents’ generation would often say this, referring to the great songs of Tin Pan Alley they grew up with as rendered by great vocalists like Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, and comparing them…
LINKS: The Paul Zollo Blog. “All songwriters are links in a chain.” – Pete Seeger   The Songwriting School of Los Angeles is honored to announce that respected author, photographer, & songwriter Paul Zollo will be penning a regular blog.  This first entry celebrates the courage of songwriters for the important work we all do.    
Monday, 18 March 2013 17:53

New Year's Resolutions & Tensions

Part 1.  With the start of each New Year, many of us make resolutions in the hopes of becoming the people we hope to become, of living the lives we hope to live. Of resembling a version of ourselves we might pin on Pinterest.  A thinner waist, a thicker wallet; more songs, less tv; smaller blind spots, bigger hearts, whatever. And there is plenty of chatter and text about the folly of such resolutions, stats on how many people fail. Perhaps your song a day (a week? a month? a…) has fallen by the wayside? Despair not.
Friday, 07 December 2012 03:40

Random Acts of Art: A Thanksgiving

When an anonymous street artist gifts you with something original and inspiring, sometimes the only way to respond to art is with art. *  *  *
Thursday, 06 September 2012 13:15

What Interests You Will Lead You to Your Truth.

"What interests you will lead you to your truth." This is one of the fundamental principles of THE ROOTS, the foundational course for song study at The Songwriting School of Los Angeles.  When your sound, your message, and your style come together, the audience experiences your truth.  Accessing and expressing that truth, memorably and powerfully, is the daily work we engage in here. As we gear up for a fresh season and another School year, it can be useful to reconnect with why it is we need to write songs in the first place.  The following little multi-media nugget is…
Tuesday, 21 February 2012 16:04

CO-WRITING: "YES, AND..."

The principle that drives successful co-writing relationships comes to us from the world of improvisational comedy.  “Yes, And…” In Improv, “Yes, And…” means that you accept a suggestion positively (Yes!), and you contribute something of your own to the exchange (And).  No matter how crazy the suggestion.  Because we can’t know where this all will lead, we accept and add to each idea in the faith that it will all lead to something we might truly love.  This kind of positivity makes great things possible.  May it make for great songs and great collaborative relationships in your lives.
  Jerry Seinfeld’s secret to being creative:  write every day.  And every day he writes, he marks an “X” through that date on the calendar.  He calls this “The Chain.”  He maintains one simple rule.  The rule is not “be great” or “be funny” or “write something amazing.”  His one simple rule:  don’t break the chain. Just write.     Print this document & build your own chain. If you break it, make the next day the beginning of a longer, stronger chain.   Here’s to all the mighty things you will accomplish in 2013 and beyond.      View and…
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 02:53

The Nuts & Bolts of the Business of Songwriting

At the ASCAP Expo 2010, noted Billboard author and Berklee instructor Eric Beall delivered a presentation entitled The Nuts and Bolts of the Music Business.  What follows are notes from that session in which he spells out five critical steps to success as a songwriter in the Music Industry.    
Saturday, 13 August 2011 13:21

Collective Wisdom From Our Students

One of the powerful resources of community is the shared learning that comes from the work we do.  One person's success can make another's possible.  One person's example can light the way for another in dark times.  We feel this powerful resource at The Songwriting School of Los Angeles growing, daily. At the December 2010 Forum event, the monthly free event at The Songwriting School, a number of our students performed original songs and shared a significant lesson they had learned on the front lines of writing songs.  Below is a brief clip from that event. To attend the next…
Wednesday, 06 July 2011 17:53

Sample Collaborator Agreement

Below is a sample Collaborator's Agreement. In it, in addition to the typical "split sheet" designations, there is language which the co-writers use to address in advance uses, costs, and other concerns related to the collaboration. This sample is provided for educational purposes only. Please fashion the language appropriate to your collaborative relationships and, if appropriate, consult an attorney. We advocate thoughtful, open, respectful communication in all aspects and phases of the collaboration to promote healthy, enduring writing relationships. Want to learn more about Co-Writing and write with other songwriters in a variety of genres? The Songwriting School of Los…
Wednesday, 06 July 2011 17:20

Simple Song Split Agreement

Below is a sample Song Split Agreement. This sample is provided for educational purposes only. Please fashion the language appropriate to your collaborative relationships and, if appropriate, consult an attorney. We advocate thoughtful, open, respectful communication in all aspects and phases of the collaboration to promote healthy, enduring writing relationships. Want to learn more about Co-Writing and write with other songwriters in a variety of genres? The Songwriting School of Los Angeles is proud to offer Co-Writing Songs: The Art & Business of Collaboration. Click on the link for dates, info, and registration for the course.  Thanks to Patricia Bahia for…
Wednesday, 06 July 2011 17:19

Licensing Songs to TV & Film

For independent artists and songwriters in the past few years, television has become "the new radio": an environment rich with opportunities to expose the world to your music. As part of the free monthly series at The Songwriting School of Los Angeles called The Forum, Lone Wolf Music Supervision head Lindsay Wolfington fields questions about placing your songs in shows like ones she supervises: One Tree Hill and (the erstwhile) Ghost Whisperer. To attend this month's Forum event -- for FREE -- please call 818-848-7664 / 818-848-SONG. Looking for class opportunities to learn more about writing for film & television?…
Notes & Quotes for Songwriters from ASCAP Expo 2011 The ASCAP I Create Music Expo 2011 April 28-30 in Hollywood assembled some of the great minds and hearts from all sides of the music industry for a three-day summit on songs and songwriting.  The Songwriting School was honored to attend again, this year as guests of ASCAP, with thanks to Sue Devine in the New York office.  Our own Rob Seals took copious notes.  Below are some soundbites that we hope will provide some healthy food for thought for your creative and professional beast. ON CREATING OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOURSELF "Collaboration…
A SONG DOCTOR'S CHECKLIST FOR EVALUATING & REVISING SONGS In THE ROOTS songwriting class we explore the roles of the right- and left-brain: the “Artist” and the “Critic,” and train them to work together like a great co-writing team.  More Lennon & McCartney, less Curly & Moe. The more the Artist can be freed to generate ideas and the Critic can be charged with finding what interests us (and not with poking us in the eyes for what does not interest us...), the more powerfully and freely we might express our truth.The time to edit is not when we are…
This marks the sixth installment in this series of assignments to keep your pen moving to create or revise songs.  The previous five chapters are available here.  We welcome and sincerely appreciate your ideas for such assignments.  One of the ambitions of The Songwriting School is to centralize and utilize the collective wisdom of the tribe.  Thank you in advance for the brain wattage. For Creating One of the things that makes The Olympics fun to watch is all the human drama surrounding the games.  Take last year's Winter Olympics for instance.  You may not be a knowledgeable fan of…
  For Revising:     The first time you heard Jay-Z and Rihanna sing "Umbrella," what did you find yourself singing for hours (and days) afterwards?  I'm betting it wasn't "Now that it's raining more than ever / Know that we'll still have each other," the thrust of the chorus sentiment.  No, I'm gonna bet we would have heard you days later in your car or in the shower, on a loop like a parrot:  "-ella, -ella, ay ay...."   Guilty as charged. Welcome to the sugary world of the non-lyrical (or in this case, semi-lyrical) melodic hook. Need more examples? …
For Revising:     In THE ROOTS songwriting classes we often note that "sometimes we revise with the pen, and sometimes we revise with the scissors."  In other words, sometimes we strengthen a first draft by creating anew and sometimes we do so by cutting things away.  Most often we revise by using both these tools of removing and replacing. This week, take a song you're not entirely satisfied with and take something away. What you remove might be as small as a word, a line in the chorus, a chord change, or a cycle of your introduction. It might…
For Revising:    In the first week we paid close attention to pronouns, the cast members in the movies in our songs. This week, I would like to encourage us to pay attention to verb tense: the setting and time of our songs. How does a song change when you set it all in the past tense? All in the present? The future, even? What happens if the chorus suggests one tense and the verses another? Be aware of the ways in which the present tense can sound, at times, like the statement of a truth or the assertion of…
For Revising:    Take an existing song you're currently revising or one that you're not satisfied with yet and consider chord voicings in relation to your melody. What happens when you voice accented notes of your vocal melody in your chords...- as you sing the notes- a beat or more ahead of when you sing the notes, ideally in quarter or half-note moves (as a call)- a beat or more behind (as a response)What happens if you create a two-part harmony in a section between your vocal melody and individually voiced notes in the chords? - Don't do this for…
inspiring great songwriters and songwriting
songwriting-mail-list  Find out about new classes, get discounts & free tips by email      

PH: 818.848.7664    |    4001 W. Magnolia Blvd.  Burbank, CA 91505  |  map  |  email  

All content © The Songwriting School of Los Angeles | Site Map