Posted on November 22nd 2013
Workshop imparts songwriting wisdom
BERGEN — A photo of a broken-down truck in a field served as inspiration for a group of hopeful songwriters this weekend.
Led by professional musicians Adrianne Gonzalez and Natalia Zukerman, the group went from run-on ramblings and glimmers of a profound phrase here and there to a tune, verses and a chorus.
“Forty minutes ago you had nothing,” Zukerman said during the workshop Saturday at Gillam-Grant Center.
The dozen participants ranged from a 12-year-old to more seasoned performing musicians. Gonzalez and Zukerman live in Los Angeles and, thanks to a friendship with Gillam-Grant supporter Loren Penman, have been making more regular appearances in Genesee County. Their lessons were capped off by a concert later for the community at Byron-Bergen High School.
It all started with defining the parts of a song. There’s an introduction, first verse, chorus, followed by verse two and chorus and a bridge. While the chorus is a hook for the song’s story, the bridge can be a bit darker in tone with minor chords, Gonzalez said.
She picked up her guitar and demonstrated with a song she wrote with another L.A.-based musician. Her shock of bright red hair was offset by her strong yet sweet vocals. She and Zukerman also had a down-to-earth style that used humor with their experience to get participants to open up.
One by one, each one contributed comments about that broken down truck. Zukerman encouraged them not to listen to that oft-critical voice that can stymie creativity. She has sometimes written something and then thrown it right out. It was a painting teacher who instilled the idea that she’d know what she wanted to say in the right time.
She explained her own process for a song that began with two words: feather boa. She did some research and ended up writing about a can-can dancer. The title seemed so obvious, she said, as she questioned whether she could also use the can-can in the lyrics. Why not? There is no always or never for rules in songwriting, she said.
Gonzalez said that despite hearing that song many times, she just realized that it didn’t rhyme, not at all. And it worked. There were verses to explain the story about the dancer and her audience.
“As a songwriter that wants to share songs with the world you have a responsibility,” she said, to write songs that people can understand.
The group collaborated for the beginnings of its song, Slipping Away: “Leaving was the easy part, so many things to do. If it was in my heart, I never had a clue. Time is slipping by, you’re slipping by. Because sentimental things get left behind.”
Tom Maier and his son Dylan enjoyed the two-hour session. Dylan, a seventh-grader at Oakfield-Alabama, was there without his two other triplet siblings.
He unabashedly jumped into the process by singing the verses out loud. He and his father are active in music by playing instruments and singing.
“He always has songs coming out of him. I wanted to find a way of channeling them. I hope it will help him express himself as an individual,” dad said. “Music is a part of your life, and this shows you can take simple parts of your life and develop them into a song.”
Batavia musician Lisa Barrett has written and performed songs, but wanted to learn more, she said. She walked away with some new ideas.
“I was just in the restroom and was still humming the chorus,” she said. “That was so enjoyable. I liked that all the people in there were at different points in their songwriting.”
-by Joanne Beck
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Posted on October 31st 2013
Hello friends and happy halloween!
I just returned from Granada, Spain where I was studying Flamenco guitar at Carmen de las Cuevas for 2 weeks! Traveling and studying in southern spain at this school has been a dream of mine for 15 years and the reality was even richer, more vibrant and more inspiring than I ever could have imagined. A huge thanks to The Iguana Fund for helping to make this possible. I didn’t know that I needed to go back to school but what a gift! All I did was play guitar, walk, eat, soak in, gawk at beauty, play guitar, walk, eat, dance, cry at the overwhelming feats of humans, play guitar, play guitar, play guitar, repeat. I am a lucky chica, this I know! A giant GRACIAS to my amazing teacher Jorge El Pisao and all the beautiful people I met in Granada. I just barely scratc
hed the surface in two weeks but a beast has certainly been unleashed and a great passion unearthed. This music is so rich in tradition, history and OOF! in skill. My sore paws have never been happier. If you have a chance to go to this place in your lifetime, go go go! How it will weave into my own music I have yet to see but you’ll be the first to know!
And I’m back home just in time to catch the end of the leaves doing their gumdrop dance, to see all my friends’ kids dressed up for Halloween, and to paint a really fun mural for the Bazaarvoice office in NYC.
Then it’s shows show shows til the end of the year with some great friends and players including my beautiful Winterbloom family. We’re planning something a little different this year and I couldn’t be more excited. We’re calling the event Music To Table and it will be a 3-night stint at the beautiful home of some friends near Boston, MA. Only 25 people will fit each night (so get your tickets now!) but what a night it will be! We will all sit down to a beautiful home cooked meal together before the intimate house concert which will also be broadcast online so that you can watch and eat and be merry with us! We encourage people to watch the shows together in your communities and to share meals and menus with us! The 3 shows (December 6th, 7th and 8th) are partial benefits for a local women’s shelter. We couldn’t be happier to share in community, music, tradition, laughter and food with you again this year.
Be well, be healthy, be happy and I hope to see you soon!
With love and thanks,