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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
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
the Book (Market Analysis)
Versus the Competition: I've read or scanned most
of the competition. This book is different in a number of
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
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
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,
readable.. You will actually be writing songs before you finish
imagine Gary, with the trademark twinkle in his eye, designing
wanting you to succeed at this mystery called songwriting,
yourself while you learn. Nice work, Gary!
PS. I would also recommend this for the home schooled high
- 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
engaging and well thought out exercises take the student through
process of writing a completed song. From a personal perspective,
I find the
exercises thought provoking and helpful in approaching my
different angles. It's a great tool in my arsenal and one
I refer to often."
- Aileen Strain
Contents and Excerpts
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
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
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)
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
26. Refining and Editing
27. Writer's Block?
28. Writing Songs for Specific Applications
29. Business and Marketing
30. Recording and Performance Tips
A. Reference Charts - transposition, notes, chords, etc.
B. Lists - favorite songs, writers, musicals
C. More Free Ideas!
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
he has written dozens of instructional and class workbooks,
"Songwriting Magic & Sweat" is his first
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.
Magic & Sweat"
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