Songwriting Retreat

Updated: Nov 26, 2021

I learned a lot yesterday and today. I'm posting as many notes on Songwriting as I have on here, including notes from the 2019 retreat. Clay Mills 3rd was the speaker then. His organization Songtown has great resources and free articles. He’s pals with Brett to boot!

Here's a list of all the songs and artists I can find in my notes that were recommended. Happy listening everyone!

Muse, Radiohead, Prince, church hymns, Introducing album by DJ Shadow, "The House that Built me" with Miranda Lambert, Erin Kinsey's viral TikTok song, Blurred lines (court case?), Relient K, Sigur Ros, Alan Shamblin, John Belion, Tim Lauer (?), She Album by Harry Conner Jr., Continuum, Blake Shelton, John Mayer, U2, Ingrid Andress, Roy Orbison "Crying", Jimmy Gnecco, "Rush of Blood" by Coldplay, "Sunday Morning" by Maroon 5, "Adorned" by Miguel (?), Cece Wynans who sang with i think Mariah. forgot the song recommended

Wrote a song with some inspiration from Amy and Sofia. We started co writing, but I had to go and made a different song

We got a loop to work with and a prompt and had to go from there.


Polishing my gun

Filling up the clip

These streets aren't safe

But my babies need a few things.

So i'm ready

Ready for you, Criminal.

I'm coming back home

Do what I have to

I'll blow you away

I'll blow you away

I'm going home



I'm hungry

Not enough in this rotten town

You're hungry

Want to take the little bit I have

But I'm ready

Ready for you, Criminal

I'll blow you away

I'll blow you away

I'll do what I have to

I'm going home.



This is the song I wrote at the other 2019 retreat with Michael Miller, Billy Duvall, Jun Kawano, Carrie ?, Hu ?, and Christa ? I really like it and want to do something with it!

Storms lash, armies clash Cold and hunger come Grab hands and lift them up Heading towards the sun.

Together we stand, together we stand Look up to the light!

Together we stand, together we stand Press on through the fight!

Together we stand, together we stand Together we shine bright!

--------------------- I had several ideas for other verses. The above is what we made together, but we ran out of time and that's where it ended. Below is what I did with it today.

2019 Songwriting Notes

I will share my notes on songwriting (as taught by Clay Mills 3rd) from the 2019 retreat here. Add your thoughts if you wish. My own addition from writing poetry: get a clear Picture of the song. A music video if you will. Who, what, when, where, and why

There is equal ultimacy in performance, voice, and songs. The best songs are songs regular people can sing along with. The song will live on after you're gone. Melody can make or break a song.

Keep the songs coming, but so-so songs make the audience doubt.

The line +3 system has been used in past and current songs of all genres that survived over time. Put colorful images, rhyme, and triple beat rhythm together. Variations are possible: 3+line reversal, Line +2, (message in the words of the last 2 beats), the rhyme tells a story.

Rhythmic hooks are a MUST. You can create them from the inner rhymes of the lyrics. Don't just sing what you're feeling - break it down by rhythm into mini patterns.

Write a song from a title, sometimes from a full melody. The worst thing is to try to fit the melody to the lyrics rather than the other way around. You must be versatile and able to work with any way you have to. These are all tools.

Don't repeat phrasing - contrast between sections of the song. New artists should keep their songs short for a better chance of exposure. Radio length songs are normally under 4 minutes long.

Writing has a flow - stay in and you'll find ideas everywhere. If you have writer's block don't be hard on yourself. Write the song that's in the room That Day, not the one you were Trying to write. Incredible songs will open doors for you. There is No substitute for a great song. If it's hard to Finish a song, you might want to change it. Be open to restarting. Don't let go of it until it's recorded. Danielle Peck's album was recommended.

It's all about flow - don't think, just start writing words and make sense of it. Cowriting can help this out. It's all about momentum- no criticism.

Songwriting is about freedom - don't overthink. Add and cut; make Decisions.

Cowriting can help your career because everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Results come faster with cowriting. For a long career you will probably write with many different people. Try to create magic and a positive environment in your peer group. Vibe killer- when another cowriter is negative. Let everyone in the room chase their ideas. The song has to be written right away. Write a good song every day. Keep your good ideas to yourself. If it's really good, don't share and send it to publishers. Study song writing. 1st Verse, Character, Context, and Setting

Rights in cowriting: each writer gets an equal share in Nashville. Other places might take all and offer 7%. You can only copyright the lyrics and melody. Can't copyright chord progressions or beats, though you can copyright the sound production (the actual recording). You can't sample from other people's recordings without permission. Get your name on the copyright for royalties. Who do you trust with your ideas? It's hard to work in a vacuum - join a group for feedback and networking, like Songtown.

You must understand and define your genre before writing. Check the top 30 from the genres - check their tempos, bridges, etc. Analyze the attributes, what's current, then try to be the next thing. Write with the best people and you'll find it. Edit while you're writing, so it's ready by the end of the session. It's hard to write with editing in the room Let the song dictate what it needs - go with your gut. Solidify your songs BEFORE recording!

Successful songs must sync well to pitch to TV and film, Spotify, Radio, and live) more than just fit for a brand. Types of artists that fit al like commercials and movies are Imagine Dragons.

Anthem songs are lighter moment songs that play well and cross over best - the songs that create magic moments.

Ingredients to a good Anthem song are: Simple lyrics, a repeated section (could have na na or oos etc), simple chord progressions, Singable by everyone, good beat, uplifting, primitive rallying cry, a call to Action, audience participation, and Alliteration. Lyrics matter - topic connection, audience has a connected/shared experience. People will crave the connection and seek out the song: "we're all in this together"

Try writing five song titles that would suit an anthem, then choose one and flesh it out. Don't make these too Personal. this is a rallying song for a group.

I highly recommend joining Songtown. Clay knows his stuff and has lots of recipes for different songs. The guy is a Master, and so nice. I have wanted to join for a while, but my time is very limited and I was working out how to use softwares to produce my songs before i had my second kiddo, which has sealed my fate for a while. I plan to join as soon as I'm clear and have a routine. I followed this recipe with a group to make Together We Stand.

Free articles at Songtown

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