Gary L. Gerdes   Songwriting Book

Songwriting: Magic and Sweat Songwriting: Magic and Sweat

 

Target The Book Contents/Excerpts About the Author Purchase

 

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Target Market


Education & Retail: During the writing of this book, one overall goal was to have the book function equally well as a textbook for a formal class and/or as a private study course sold at retail. I am presently seeking a literary agent and/or publisher with good distribution in both the education and retail markets.

All Levels of Experience: The book targets aspiring, beginning and intermediate songwriters. Although, I've had several advanced songwriters tell me that it was a good resource for them as well. It is not limited to songs in any specific musical styles.

No Experience Necessary: The book requires little if any previous music experience. It presents just enough music theory to get the beginner started. For those with more knowledge, they can wade deeper into some of the material.

Ages 15 and Up: As a textbook for a class, the book is targeted at high school juniors and seniors and upward. As such it could be used in high school, adult/continuing education, or 2 and 4 year colleges. It could be used to teach a course for either music majors or non-music majors. Already the book/course has been accredited by a local Community College for a 5-unit academic transfer, and will soon be taught at a Continuing-Ed class with the option of taking for college credit.

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About the Book (Market Analysis)

Versus the Competition: I've read or scanned most of the competition. This book is different in a number of ways:

  • It is almost entirely about the creative and technical processes of lyric and music writing, and does not deal extensively with the business and marketing side. As such, it is the most thorough, methodical, organized, and non-dogmatic book I've seen on actual songwriting. Almost all of the competition devotes 50% or more of the book to the marketing aspects of songwriting. The likeliest competitor is "Songwriting for Dummies" (if for their distribution alone). I found the songwriting part to be somewhat unorganized and a good 50% of the book is about the business side. There are many books available for the business and marketing side, so I chose to do a comprehensive focus on the actual craft.

  • This book contains several very specific exercises for most every chapter. These exercises were again tailored to work equally well in a class or in private study. There are no right or wrong answers. Each exercise is designed to get the reader to really zoom-in, focus, and think about one particular aspect of the process. In addition there is a "book-long" exercise that takes the reader through the creation of at least one song of their own.

  • It does not present "formulas" and rules for writing hit songs. As various techniques and topics are presented, it explains to the reader the choices that they have regarding more-commercial, less-commercial options.

  • The book includes hundreds of brand new free lyrics, melodies and chord progressions, that the reader can use freely with the author's stated permission.

  • It is quite a bit funnier and slightly thicker.

In the initial self-published version, it is approximately 300 pages (in 8 1/2"x11"). It includes 31 chapters and 4 appendices.

At a little extra expense, it is bound in a spiral ring-binder; so that the pages will stay open while the songwriter is working.

 

Reviews and Comments:

"Got the books fine, thanks for that. I gave one to a friend who as I suspected, loved it. He's been writing songs for years but is just eating up your material. ...........
I have a couple of other friends who were interested in the book as well"
- Ashley McCoy

"Having read a few books on the "how to" of music, and then closing them
a bit discouraged, I can say that this book is encouraging, practical and
readable.. You will actually be writing songs before you finish it! I
imagine Gary, with the trademark twinkle in his eye, designing his book,
wanting you to succeed at this mystery called songwriting, and enjoy
yourself while you learn. Nice work, Gary!
PS. I would also recommend this for the home schooled high schooler."

- Kim Case

"Many of the previous books on songwriting I've read left me disappointed
because they spent too little time on songwriting and too much time on the
music business and getting a record deal. That information is no doubt
valuable, but the SONG has to come first! "Songwriting: Magic and Sweat" is
different--the craft of songwriting is its true focus. The writing is
engaging and well thought out exercises take the student through the entire
process of writing a completed song. From a personal perspective, I find the
exercises thought provoking and helpful in approaching my writing from
different angles. It's a great tool in my arsenal and one I refer to often."
- Aileen Strain

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Contents and Excerpts

UP FRONT
0. Introduction (excerpt - pages 1-2 of 4)
1. Why Do You Want to Write Songs?
2. What's a Song?
3. Working Solo or Collaborating?

BEFORE YOU START
4. Tools of the Trade (excerpt - pages 1-4 of 12)
5. Songwriting Rules
6. Inspiration Strikes
CHECKPOINT #1

GETTING STARTED
7. Words or Music?
8. Starting with a Subject or Theme
9. Starting with a Lyrical Hook
10. Starting with a Longer Lyrical Idea
11. Starting with a Melodic hook
12. Starting with a Longer Melodic Idea (excerpt - pages 5-8 of 12)
13. Starting with a Chord Progression
14. Starting with a Riff
15. Starting with a Rhythmic Groove / Mood / Style (bottom up)
CHECKPOINT #2

BEFORE YOU "START TO FINISH"
16. Rhyming (excerpt - pages 7-10 of 10, including exercises)
17. Literary Devices
18. Vocabulary and Tone
19. Time Signatures and feels
20. Song Styles and Genres
21. Song Structures (excerpt - pages 1-3 of 12)
CHECKPOINT #3

FINISHING UP
22. Finishing the Lyrics
23. Matching Melody to Chords (and vice versa)
24. Finishing Chord Progressions (excerpt - pages 1-3 of 12)
25. Finishing Melodies
CHECKPOINT #4
26. Refining and Editing
27. Writer's Block?

ADDITIONAL ISSUES
28. Writing Songs for Specific Applications
29. Business and Marketing
30. Recording and Performance Tips
31. CODA

APPENDICES
A. Reference Charts - transposition, notes, chords, etc.
B. Lists - favorite songs, writers, musicals
C. More Free Ideas!
D. Glossary

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About the Author

 

Gary Gerdes has been an active songwriter for over 30 years. He has written nearly 400 songs in most of the popular music genres, and contributed songs to several musicals and revues. In addition, he has written over 150 instrumental pieces in a variety of styles (ranging from neo-classical, electronic/techno, and big band, to soundtracks and advertising jingles). He has performed his songs professionally for over 25 years and many have been recorded. Gary holds a BA in Music Composition and Theory.

garyAlthough he has written dozens of instructional and class workbooks, "Songwriting Magic & Sweat" is his first full-length book.

Gary lives with his family in Seattle, Washington, and when not involved in family or music; he enjoys cooking, gardening, woodworking, and expanding an elaborate Lego city/train layout with his son Ian. His wife Anne is a professional web designer and consultant with over 400 sites to her credit.

 

Literary Agents and Publishers: If you would like to see a full copy of the self-published edition - Please contact me.

 

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