Canadian Musician - September/October 2017 - Page 58

WRITING James Linderman teaches guitar and piano and coaches songwriting to students and songwriters all over the world. He is also an academic ambassador to the Berklee School of Music. For more information, contact him at or visit By James Linderman The Function of Form & Fiction of Freedom F or many songwriters, the idea of writing a song with a pre-existing form seems restrictive, stifling, and boring. It plays to their greatest fear that if they do not write freely and organically, then their songs will become formulaic and patterned. They adhere to the notion that freedom starts with a blank page. Those songwriters are then quite surprised to learn that the opposite is actually true. By writing from their instincts and intuition alone, and in an effort to find their true writer’s voice, they find themselves either sounding remark- ably like a previous version of themselves, or like one of their influences since they are writing from the familiar and comfortable only, and not from a position of challenge. Instead of sounding like a fresh new version of themselves, they actually sound like an old version or, worse, a lesser version of the artist they admire most. Function of Form Writing from a song form provides two very positive advantages to artists in every discipline, and in every style. First, it provides a framework for the song to be written within, eradicating writer’s block. Since the songwriter already has a song form, they also then already have the start to a song. The second advantage is that it provides a challenge, and within that challenge the artist finds a place to grow their skills and vision – a process that does not come from creating out of the familiar or out of a vacuum, either. Many writers fight against this challenge feeling like this is yet another ploy to get them to be something different, to make them change. This is, however, not the case at all. Although it is true that it is not valuable to 58 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N make art that does not reflect who you are, and to let forces from the outside change you, this is not change, but growth that is being leveraged. Classical composers like Bach and Mozart wrote fugues and minuets that were pre- made forms for those composers to pour their creativity into, and the rules, restrictions, and limitations provided opportunities for inge- nuity and innovation within the use of those forms. The innovation gives the artist what they want: to make art that is uniquely their own, display their perspective, and share their emotional experiences. Proper form is then the element that serves the listener; it gives them a reliable framework to help identify and consume music withi ^[[ۙ]H\H\Yۙ\YHH[HX]H[Z[X\[H[ݘ]]HX]\\[HܙX]]H\˂H\YۙYHܚY[[KPH\H[ݘ][ۜ[YHY][ۈوBY\YH]XY8']HHx'H[HB[\ۈH۝ H[ݘ][ۜ\B]H\][[]Yۜ[Y\[B۝\][ۘ[ۙH[HH[\YX[]ۜ[Y\[]HZ]܈H[\\ۈ[HH܈[Nš[[ܘ]YX][ۈ\KXܛHY][ۋB[[[Y[[\]\\]]\œ[H\[[YH؈وY\[˜\ XH]H[Z[[X]\B[]x&\H\\[[Y[[BY][ۘ[[H[ݘ][ۈ\]Z]HX[YYۚYX[ \\H\ۈH[ZH[\ۙܚ][XZH\\[\$\[[و\[\8$Y[ZH^H\B[HYXK\[[HY]\X˜HHY\\ [H][H\B[\܈][H]\\[ۈو\[\܂][\[H[[HوY\][ۋ[[ܛ\‘[[[XXHۙܛ\]]HY[XXY ܈]ۈ] وH\^]BوHۙ\\\[[Y[B[[K]\HH[H\ LYX\\X\[[\[[ݙ\ L [\]ۙ[YXY\HBL \ۙܛ\]\H[[^B]ۙܛ\܈ۙܚ]\˂H[Z\HوH\]Hܙ›وHۙXX]HH[[ۋ܈H؈™ˈ]؈\ܙX]H܈[[ݙH[[ۂ][H۝^وHܙܙ\[ۋ]^H\\\^H\H[[ۂ[Y\[XHوHܙ\[[KB]\ˈۙܚ]\[\Y]ܙ][[ۈH[YH^K[H[\]Bܛ\[]H[YHYX\H\BۙXY]]Z\ۈX\ܙX][HH][[HH]œۙˈZ[[ۜوۙ[HXYB\H L ܛ\[ۙK[YH\X\\H\H KB][ۘ[YXKZHX\[\[\YX\[H[[\ۘ\[[H^H]\H][ݘ][ۋ[]\B\Hܛ\HۙH\[YB[H\H[ܚ][۝[\ܘ\Hܚ™H[KZH^[[ۙ]x&\\]\HX[[ݘ][ۈZ[HH]ܛHقY][ۘ[\H[]\[ٛܛZ[Hܚ›وۙܚ]\˂\[[\[\YH[Y\[\X[&\˜XZ[YYۙ‘ܛ\܈ۙܚ]\˂܈[ܙH[ܛX][ۂ܈\\K\]]\XЛ\˘K