Showing posts with label Hallam London. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hallam London. Show all posts


We singing the body eclectic

Hallam has released videos for three of our songs now, so I think it is past time for me to start curating a playlist of them...

In here we already have:

Walking to Alpha Centauri - in which our hero, having given up their humanity in the cause of an epic mission, begins to doubt...

On End Times Boulevard - being a rumination on the end of the Universe and the possibility of running into an old flame there...

Soap Bubble - a poem about climate change and other economic-style bubbles we have built our fragile civilisation on...


Am 19.08.2014 um 10:15 schrieb Ian Badcoe

Am 19.08.2014 um 10:15 schrieb Ian Badcoe

So runs the text near the top of the first reply I ever got from Hallam London.  Mail clients set to different languages were to become a standard part of our communication.

He'd left a message, asking for a poet collaborator, on a UK poetry forum.  As little as six months later somebody noticed, and I realised he wouldn't still be around.  So, being a heavyweight cybernetician, I googled him, found him, found his music, listened, found a contact email...

...and that was how it all began. He'd recorded electronic interpretations of Shakespearean sonnets, I'd just written a dystopian ten sonnet sequence and we started communicating and attempting to work out what could be done.

Our first conversation was about working practices, forms, and subjects.  For the former I created our secret little blog "Indwellers" (boring, don't ask).  For the second he said he really wanted to explore the classic pop song format: verse, chorus, verse, chorus and somewhere a break.  For the last we didn't really set any hard rules.  We knew that gender would come up (Hallam being gay) and me being me I knew that some subversion of genres would come into it.  We didn't then know we both liked SciFi, and at the time David Bowie was still alive and we hadn't realised how much he meant to both of us.

Other topics were discussed and others just developed.  Hallam has a great love of cities and always wants to visit and explore a new one.  I (don't ask why, I have no idea) am always writing about people transforming into various things.  Mental health is a strong topic in our work.  And, of course, from the very beginning we always intended to have a few love songs.

And that was that, over 2 - 3 years I wrote 40 or 50 lyrics, Hallam turned about 20 of them into songs, then earlier this year Hallam and Dave Sanderson narrowed that down to 10 (PLUS To the Sky which we had already had mixed and mastered by The EmU) and started serious work on an album.

The running order will go roughly (links are to older or demo versions where those exist...)

  1. Walking to Alpha Centauri
  2. Identity
  3. Anger Bob
  4. Underpass
  5. Methodology of Love
  6. Hey Changeling
  7. The Rain in Certain Car Parks
  8. On End Times Boulevard
  9. To the Sky
  10. End of Days
  11. Empty Streets

When will this be in the shops?  I hear you ask...  well we don't know.  The next thing Hallam needs is a manager (labels don't do much beyond putting stuff up for download these days, but a manager arranges gigs, publicity etc etc...) so we need this unreleased album for bait in that search...

...but what thee hell?  It's been four years already.  We can be patient.  Can you?  Well you'll have to be.  We may put some of the other, unused songs out as demos now and then.  Wish us well, it's long road...


Songs I wrote but Hallam wasn't inspired by (yet)

More workpieces from Hallam London and my factory floor. Completed lyrics waiting for musical inspiration this time.  There's about one of these for every piece that does have at least an idea for the music...
  • The Anithero - a man whose superpower is seeing other people's superpowers and who works quietly in the background to stop the wrong people from getting together and accidentally breaking the world...
  • Love/life - (probably in the American South, somewhere along the Mississippi) an old lady comes home after years away and meets the other old lady who she had a crush on when they were girls...
  • Health warning:

    I'm sure that in some former life
    you were a cigarette...

  • Close fiends

    ...and do I have to say that we're all monsters,
    for who amongst us has no darker needs?

  • Deeply flawed individuals - an attempt on my part to be somewhat 'darker' (after listening to Amanda Palmer all afternoon).  Not, I feel 100% successful, but possibly an area to come back to in other songs...
  • Persistent vegetative state - is it the patient or is it everybody else who won't wake up?
  • Quo vadis?

    You say to meet at seven in room eight
    but I am late and you have taken

    the numbers down from every single door.

  • Barbarella Aleph One - you go to see your ex, but she's locked up in an isolation hospital, having accidentally upgraded herself into something transcendental:
a mind
gone rich and strange and spinning fast enough
to take a careless hand right off

(I hadn't even seen Luc Besson's Lucy when I wrote this...)


Rock and Roll memories...

Hallam London playing along to our song "Hey Changeling!" in Dave Sanderson's home studio earlier today.


Ten lyrics I failed to write

(or did not succeed with yet...)

This is the first of what are going to be a few posts trying to give some insight into how the collaboration works, mainly for no reason except that it is a marvellous thing to do and I encourage everyone to keep their eye open at all times for any similar opportunity.  When it comes, go for it!

Hallam and I work in a shared online space where we store, edit and comment on songs in various degrees of completion—think of it as a big echoey, badly-lit space with the occasional flash of sparks and welding flicker in the distance.  Let me show you around...

Here at this end we start with the raw ideas and as we walk along beside the conveyor we're moving first towards completing the words, and then over here we see the music music getting bolted into place (although both remain subject to fine adjustments right up to the end.)  Only one song, To the Sky, was done in the reverse direction because Hallam had a fragment of music he did not know what to do with.  I had to wheel that one the whole length of the factory on a trolley...

So... scattered around you can see workpieces in several broad states of completion:
  1. fragments and ideas for lyrics
  2. completed lyrics without music
  3. lyrics with a musical idea
  4. songs, finished, apart from that awkward problem in the second chorus
  5. musical masterpieces
—and Hallam and I wonder around with welding torches, plectrums and a thesaurus, occasionally stopping to walloping one or other half finished song with a big hammer...

So here are some example snippets from items of type 1 - the fragments: in this list underlining is the title, italics is a fragment from the words, and (parenthesis) marks my ironical asides:

If I knew what you were thinking
(I'd totally write a song about it...)

At least one driver update failed...
All my letters are junk mail.

I shall build cloud castles,
a fortress on the storm-front.

(rhymes "tweet me" with "never need to meet me"...)

Only weep
Please do not point that thing at me

it's for protection I believe

why must I dress the children in ballistic mesh?

The uncrossed stars,
the untwisted plot
a comprehensive listing
of the many things you're not...

Don't make me do this the hard way
(although actually it is...)

This dream...
it seemed to have no ending...

(unlike the lyrics which so far failed to start.)

Trust issues
(which I can't bring myself to share with you.)

Silence, amnesia and doubt...
(I'd say more, but I'm not sure I remember where I was going with this...)



Hallam London (slightly dated photo...
I'll try to take some new ones)
Very excited and probably should have mentioned this earlier but time, time, time...

Today Hallam London arrives in Sheffield and tomorrow he starts work with Dave Sanderson on an album of the songs we've been writing for the last 3 and a half years.

Hallam is a German Alternative Rock Musician who posted a message on a UK poetry forum about 4 years ago.  Nobody noticed.  Then after six months, the message was found and I hunted him down online, studied his previous work, found an address, mailed him, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Hallam's previous music/poetry project was to set some of Shakespeare's sonnets to music.  This one seems the most suitable to mention and I loved those and still have them in my playlist to this day.

Dave is a Sheffield-based music producer.  You can see people he's worked with via the link above, Reverend and the Makers and 65 Days of Static were the two I had immediately recognised.

And I am me, and over the next ten days or so we (OK, mostly they, my day job gets in the way) are going to record/mix/produce some of the songs into an actual album.  It is entirely possible you'll see me selling it before too long.

Exciting days, I know nearly four years ago I said to watch this space, but... this space.  In the meantime, here are some demo tracks:


Walking to Alpha Centauri

Walking to Alpha Centauri

This is not exactly a Christmas track, but Hallam and I have not released anything for a while.  We just finished this and we were each struck with the idea of making it a demo track.

This features not only the usual combination of my words with Hallam's wonderful voice and music, but also my own voice, speaking the part of the interstellar traveller.

Consider it our gift to you...


Releasing a single!

Or rather Hallam London, my musical collaborator, is releasing our song To the Sky, which we dedicate to David Bowie because, as often the case, we didn't realise quite what we had until it was gone.

As usual Hallam wrote the music and I provided the lyrics.  He also got other friends and professionals to contribute, see the bandcamp page for full credits...

This is the song I wrote about last week, explaining its creation story (no radioactive animals were involved, somebody may have fallen to Earth) and also see here for the lyrics.

Anyway, please enjoy the song and if you feel inspired to contribute a small sum to this enterprise, please buy it (for as little as 1€; for American friends 1€ is roughly $1.15 at today's prices...)

Please also share this song promiscuously.  You remember how Andy Warhol promised everybody 15 minutes of fame in the future?  Well it's been the future for over 15 years now and my fame still hasn't arrived...


To the sky - artwork update

I have to start with a small version of the image, because that is what Facebook and other semantic content scrapers will pick up.  So that's the one on the left...  but I'll include a full sized version as well.

This is the cover which Julia Eichhorn has drawn to accompany Hallam's forthcoming single: To the sky

We now have a firm release date of "next week, as early as we can manage."

While I have your attention, let me leak a preview of the lyrics (below.)

To the sky

(Lyrics by Ian Badcoe, Music by Hallam London)

Those were our days
we would space-walk in the park
I made you laugh
we kicked the grass
I didn't float home until the dark.

And you never grew cold
but you grew distant, never told me why.
I was a clown
said I'd be around
I was a fool to let you fly.

Got my space suit on...
I've got dotted arrows drawn upon the night
as the countdown runs
all the systems hum
I can follow arrows to the sky.

When the engines run...
I've got green lights right across the board
I locked everyone out,
but I do not doubt
and now it really seems
as if a man can touch the sky.

I lost those days
and how the vacuum's more complete
you are not there
not anywhere
that I can reach on aching feet.

I will not let it end
I've watched the wall clock since you're gone.
My head tilts back
to view the black
and you're a pale star in the dawn.

Got my space suit on...
I've got dotted arrows drawn upon the night
as the countdown runs
all the systems hum
I can follow arrows to the sky.

When the engines run...
I've got green lights right across the board
I locked everyone out,
but I do not doubt
but now...

Houston, I have a problem
it has to be there's love in outer space
but there is too much junk beyond the place
where all the blue turns black
and how can one man in his tiny can
have ever hoped....

I had a space suit on...

(This is "Rock Music Description Language" again, verses on the left, choruses in the middle, break on the right...)


To the Sky...

You haven't heard much from me about my on-going collaboration with German Rock Musician Hallam London.  Partly this has been because we had a bit of a slow period (as documented here) and partly it has been because I've been busy changing my job, delivering the kid to/from University, saving the World from killer rhubarb (don't ask) etc etc.

Also another reason is I've been busy with the songs themselves.  Hallam and I just had an amazing six week burst of creativity during which we finished five songs.  (For a given value of finished, music production goes through many, many stages such as arrangement, performance, production, mixing etc etc...)

However, it is not of these songs that I wish to speak.

In January this year, David Bowie died.  Hallam and I were just starting a new song when we heard the news.  We had some cause for introspection.  We'd never discussed Bowie, but as you can imagine he was a formative influence for us both.  We thought about doing some sort of song as a tribute, and then we had to wrestle with the question of how hubristic that was.  After some soul searching, we realised that all of our music comes from a very Bowie place anyway: it's all about gender and sanity and slices of everyday or unusual lives; we're also frequently a bit SciFi; often trying to push some envelope or other; and as every song is very different, I think we're reinventing ourselves even faster than he did!

So anyway, we got on with the song.  Unusually we reversed of our usual way of working.  Hallam recorded the musical idea first, and I analysed the metrical structure of his "na naaa nah" place-holder lyrics.  Then I wrote a prototype chorus.

So far so good, but we had to decide what the song was about, and we kept cycling back to Bowie-like (Bowiesque?  Bowiesian?) ideas.  In the end we were drawn strongly to the ideas in Major Tom and Space Oddity—and who doesn't want a space launch in the middle their song?and a love story, obviously...

And now it's finished.  It's partly a Bowie tribute, but obviously also has to stand as a song on its own.  Hallam has gone beyond the mere "teaser" quality of our previous releases with this one.  He's hired a great drummer, and an engineer to do the mixing and production.  He's currently finalising the artwork.

It's called To the Sky, and next week Hallam will release it as a single!

Yes, you do have to wait until then...  but in the meantime here's the play-list with our previous two teasers Anger Bob and Identity...

And BONUS! a recording of The rain in certain car parks (yes I did call a song that).  This live recording isn't polished as Hallam's studio recordings, but it does have a live band and audience...



The Rain in Certain Car Parks (live performance video)

Here's a video of yet another song from my collaboration with Hallam London and one that's going into the pot for consideration for the album we're steadily grinding our way towards.

This was one of the earliest lyrics I wrote for Hallam.  It was the 4th that I completed, but the 3rd that Hallam completed the composition for—we have asynchronous parallel processing.  I am including the lyrics below, so you may be able to detect our style evolving (I can't, I'm too close to it...)

So, anyway, let me transport you to a secluded corner of an inner-city car park, where it is a dark and stormy night...

The Rain in Certain Car-Parks 

I'm standing in some car-park with a case
that I can't open.  I've no plan, it's dark,
and raining and my shoes are leaking slowly
and I know the man I'm meeting: he's a shark.
The clever fish keep clear.  I'll do the deal,
but watch the larger shadows as they flow
between the BMWs.  I'm numb
but there is so much that I owe.

If I can just survive...
if I can just survive...
if I can only live...
through these next moments,
I swear it all will change...

Car-parks, darkness, rain and cases,
silent men with folded faces,
eyes that swivel in their sockets,
metal objects clutched in pockets,
I do this for the wad of green,
the wish that I can fall out clean.

What was it years ago, decisions made,
that brought me to this day without a choice?
But I at least can try a better deal,
a wilder card, a last throw of the dice;
and surely it's my life to gamble with?
I shouldn't meet this man without a soul
around to witness what goes down.  He's here
and nothing now seems under my control...

If I can just survive...
if I can just survive...
if I can only live...
through these next moments,
I swear it all will change...

It's always dark and always raining,
it helps me hide, I'm not complaining.
It's heartbreaking, but it's my trade:
the way my little money's made,
so do the deal and walk away;
I'll live to deal another day.


Anger Bob

Anger Bob marooned in morning traffic...

Here he is, Anger Bob!

Please listen, love it, and then share the link with no sense of self-control or decorum...


Anger Bob - Creativity unleashed

"Anger bob, beats fists against the glass."

Collaboration, how's it been working out?

With Hallam and I plunging headlong towards the release of our next teaser-track: Anger Bob, it seems like a good moment to look back over the last nine or ten months and talk about how it has gone.

Excellently—we've barely had a moment of creative differences and this has worked, I think, a lot by us each trusting the other to do their job.

However this doesn't mean keeping quiet and refusing to give any feedback.  Hallam, when I give him a new lyric, doesn't always take all of it.  Quite often he'll think, for example, that the first half of the chorus is stronger than the second; and he'll say so, and he may not even record the weaker part (although this is usually more to do with having enough words to fit his musical phrasing rather than refusing to touch the weaker words.)

Similarly, when I hear the first version of the words set to music, there will sometimes be a part where I feel the musical treatment hasn't meshed with the words as well as it might.  For example in Anger Bob, in the chorus, Hallam originally had some words held for several beats in the middle of the phrases.  Musically that was perfectly fine and very interesting, but for the words to me it felt wrong that these quite bureaucratic phrases should be broken like that.  Bureaucrats do like to run off their standard phrases at some speed.

The creative process, earlier today
Collaboratively—so when this happens, we talk.  In the case of Anger Bob we had 32 exchanges of comments on our little private blog where we post our notes and progress, and a few emails as well.

Experimentally—we also experiment.  I'm a very fast writer (when I have something to write) so when Hallam questions part of a lyric, I can usually produce a few ideas for alternatives almost immediately (literally immediately, if I am on-line).  Hallam takes a little longer, he has to go to the studio for a start, and he cannot get there everyday, but he has been known to do a "couch recording" of a new idea and mail it to me right there and then.  As this process iterates between the two of us the song is, of course:

Evolving—for me, the lyric has certain poetic qualities as I write it, but it isn't a song.  At most I'll have an idea that a section could go "LA la lala, la LA lar" (forgive me getting technical).  So the first time I hear it set to music is (in a literal and non-bombastic sense) a revelation.  The words at that moment become something that they weren't before.  Emphasis changes.  Often it is only at this point that the song "locks down" to focusing on a single subject (previously it will have been in the area of the subject, but not necessarily focused.)

At that point, bits we were considering dropping become easier decisions.  If they are part of the core message, then they have to stay; if not then it's the bit-bucket for them, I'm afraid.

Tuning—and then it's just a matter of tuning.  I'll have known how I would read the words, but Hallam's is a different voice and necessarily things come across a little changed.  Let's remove the "only" but add an "and" at the start of the line—I might say.  Or Hallam might say—Line two in verse two feels longer than in verse one The point of both of these being to fit more exactly to the music, and also to the emphasis that Hallam is giving the line.

Sometimes I will have been worried about having far more syllables between two lines that go to the same music (being in the same relative position in the verse/chorus; obviously I'll have the same number of feet, I'm not an idiot).  However often this will slide into the performance entirely unnoticed and instead some other part, which to my mind scanned perfectly, will develop a slight wobble and need a slight rephrasing.

And finally, Fun - it's been great fun.  Hallam's word is exciting and I won't argue with that as a description either.  I can't see how it would have worked if it wasn't great fun and exciting.

I asked Hallam whether he had anything to add to this, but said—Honestly, I can’t add anything. But feel free to take this statement of mine and use it in your post—so I have.

Which only leaves me to remind you: Anger Bob, he's coming.

Anger Bob, in three days time.


Watch this Space, Anger Bob is coming...

Anger Bob is coming!

In about a week Hallam London will be ready to release the next teaser track from his Sheffield Album (working title) for which I have been writing lyrics for about the last ten months.

This is our ninth song and hot off the press.  Add that to the two songs Hallam had already written and this means we are now past halfway to our target of eighteen.  Having that many available will mean there's a plenty of choice when it comes time to pick the final selection to go into the album.

Will this one be on the album?  This is a question about the future.  The future is unknowable: you should know that.  However at the moment this is definitely one of our favourites.

As a free sample and pre-publicity for the release, you will find below both the lyrics (these are the final version lyrics, exactly as sung) and also a link to me reading them (slightly shortened at the end, because twelve repeats are hard to get away with if you don't have musical support).

This is once again, Rock Music Description Language, so it's verses to the left, chorus in the middle, break on the right.  Anger Bob is nothing like our previous teaser release Identity, and I'd be prepared to wager a small sum that it's nothing like you'll imagine from just the words.

If you can only hear the music, that makes all the difference.

Anger Bob

Anger Bob marooned in morning traffic.
Anger Bob shouts something at the cars.
Anger Bob perched high on night-time rooftops
shouts irate manifestos at the stars.

Anger Bob eats angrily from paper bags.
Anger Bob beats fists against the glass.
Anger Bob's a fixture in the city
as permanent as dead and dusty grass.

Did you wish to leave a message?
In your own words, please describe your early days
—please take a seat.
Complete all forms in Biro please;
list every item that you need.
Do not expect to ever leave the maze...
Anger Bob distrusts his own reflection.
Anger Bob slides nervously past shops.
Anger bob means something to commuters,
but this is not to say they'd like to swap.

Did you wish to leave a message?
In your own words, please describe your early days
—please take a seat.
Complete all forms in Biro please;
list every item that you need.
Do not expect to ever leave the maze...

A patron saint for modern time,
I see his only states of mind
are anger, fury, irritation, rage.
Did you once live ordinary days?

Did you wish to leave a message?
In your own words, please describe your early days
—please take a seat.
Complete all forms in Biro please;
list every item that you need.
Do not expect to ever leave the maze...

Don't expect, don't expect, don't expect to ever...
Don't expect, don't expect, don't expect to ever...
Don't expect, don't expect, don't expect to ever...
Don't expect to ever leave the maze...

Don't expect, don't expect, don't expect to ever...
Don't expect, don't expect, don't expect to ever...
Don't expect, don't expect, don't expect to ever...


Identity — a demo song from Hallam London

Hallam London and I have been working on songs for his next album, working title: The Sheffield Album.

I'm excited to announce that he's now released one of these as a demo track!

This song is Identity.  It's about all the miscellaneous bits and bobs of different personalities that we carry around with us, and the problems we might have making our different selves get along with the other people in our lives.

Hallam currently has it on his front page, in the link above.  However he'll change that when even more exciting news comes along, so here is the SoundCloud page.


She's taken my imaginary friend
and I'm upset I think I think.
Things get more complex, it's a trend
I hope that I can grasp before I sink.
He's left me for my spirit guide
I now doubt things I know I know
are real.  Keep calm.  I won't hide
my disappointment, everybody goes...

How can he leave
with the boy who isn't here?
How can he love the girl who can't exist
in this or any other world?

He's run off with two characters I wrote
short stories for so long so long
ago.  I think one left me notes
in margins but I may be wrong
and never worked them out anyway.
My other other self has gone
a partial person ought to stay
forever--so I thought, turns out I'm wrong...

How can she leave
with the boy who isn't here?
How can she love the girl who can't exist
in this or any other world?

Where have they done?  Where am I now?
There is so little of me left to show
and once I would have fought
but these days I am caught...
There are more people here than you and me,
though none agree what's real is real.
There should be someone I can be
to keep the gang together.  Seal
all the doors and count my shadows.
There's more and more of them abscond.
I need to be the one who's quite
certain where his fragments are tonight...

What have they done?  What can I do?
They think that I'm imaginary too
and once I would have argued
but recently I'm not so sure...


Bright Girl

You can take the girl out of the reactor...
...but you can't take the reactor out of the girl.

This is the lyrics for the song "Bright Girl" that Hallam London and I wrote, and which he performed in the first round of Emergenza.  Luckily for you I won't try to sing it, I'm just reading.

See my previous post for things I have learned about writing lyrics.

What I am reading here is v2 of this lyric.

The general process goes:
  1. I write, erase, rearrange, scrap, edit. swear, laugh, cry etcetera until I get a first draught of something that is both coherent and rhythmical, this is v1.  I give it to Hallam.
  2. Hallam has a list of my v1 lyrics.  He looks them over until he gets inspired with a musical idea.  He records a small piece with a rough approach (his idea of rough is already impressive) and shares it with me.
  3. We discuss what's working and what's not.  This generally leads to a rearrangement of the lyric: stronger chorus, simpler break, one less verse etc etc.  This is v2.
  4. In the meanwhile Hallam has been recording longer segments and usually fits v2 to the music as soon as we have it.
  5. Then we discuss some more, and now we change smaller things like single phrases that don't work.  Another common adjustment at this stage is inserting more repeats of word phrases at points where the musical phrases require them.  This leads to v3.
So the main difference in this case is that v3 contains more repetition repetition.  That works beautifully for the music, but for just reading aloud the less lyricky and more poemy (technical terms) v2 is best.

So that's what you get.

Below the video I have pasted the lyrics expressed in RLDL (Rock Lyric Description Language).  I suspect I'm far from unique in this, but it goes: verses on the left, choruses in the middle, break on the right.

Bright Girl

Cherenkov reactor light shines blue
and pure and bright and deadly--seems she's home
behind the shutters in her attic room.
How might she spend her evening?  You don't know:
maybe splitting atoms with a finger nail,
or biting spiders into superheroes?

You suspect she is atomic,
they must have hushed her up.
She dazzles through your sunshades
and if this close isn't safe, it isn't close enough.

Leave other girls tattoos and piercings,
their slightly freaky needs;
this one has reactor shielding,
a double fail-safe coolant feed,
and if her heart is wrapped in graphite bricks
perhaps they're cracking now?

You believe she is atomic,
she outshines the very day
a blast-wave ripping through your life
that blows your burning heart away.

You've just got to appreciate
the way that girl can radiate.
She's really glowing!

Does she really need that shielding?
Do you really need your hazmat suit?
If you dare to knock upon her steel-wedge door
and stammer somehow that she's cute,
drink a glass of something blue and glowing.
You need to make your move, she is on fire...

...because you know she is atomic,
the armed guard shows that you were right
her lips melt through your visor
and you feel you are alight.

You know she is atomic,
she outshines the very day
a blast-wave through your bedroom
that blows the ashes of your heart away.


Waxing lyrical

Another essay.  Later in the week I'm going to post the lyrics I wrote for one of Hallam London's songs and this moved me to think about what I have learned in the process.

Learning to write lyrics has been interesting, it is a slightly different activity from poetry without music, but the difference is a little hard to describe.

What may seem most obvious, but which took a couple of songs for me to get my head around, is that rhythm plays a different role.  In poetry the rhythm is flexible and variable and you use it to carry the words.  There's all sorts of techniques for how the rhythm can enhance the words: long lines, short lines, sections that run faster or slower, smoother or more-brokenly, changes in rhythm etcetera etcetera...

In a song the music does all that, and what the rhythm of the words has to do is repeat consistently so that each verse or chorus can be fitted to a similar musical phrase.  Then, when the music and words are together, you can consider tweaks to the words so that they and the music do even more together.

Another difference is a matter of targeting and this is where it gets hard to explain.  In a poem you have to set your sights high.  You have to convey emotion and you have to illustrate it rather than explain it.  You have to trust the reader to understand the things you aren't saying, and so not hammer them home with a mallet—you have to be subtle.  You have to deal with concrete things (doors, spoons, sunsets) and use them to illustrate abstract things (love, memory, political unrest).  You have to consider characters—even poems without explicit characters have a narrator, and even if the narrator is the poet, they are still a character (for example an idealised version of the real person).  And so on, and so on...

For a song, all this remains true, but the emphasis is very different.  You may have fewer words (exception: really short forms, like haiku :-)).  Even when a song is long it often repeats more than a poem would.

However, you've also got much more limited time.  This really isn't obvious, because a page of words doesn't look like a period of time, but it is; and it is different for poems and songs.

For example: reading a poem the first time often proceeds something like (i) start reading, (ii) get a bit lost, (iii) look forwards and back, (iv) realise some things, (v) begin again, (vi) find bit you like, (vii) read it twice—and so on...  Even when you do proceed straight to the end, only a minute has elapsed and you often then go back to review parts.

The slight time-travel required for that is possible because the words sit stationary on the page and the eyes can scan them in any order they wish.  With a song no time-travel is permitted.  The music runs forwards at a constant rate and carries the words with it.  More than that, the listener's attention is carried forward by the music, and more still, their emotions are also carried along; making it even harder, and less desirable, for them to break out of the moment and work out an interpretation of what they just heard.

So for a lyric the words have to be more direct, more immediate.  They have to work right there in the moment they are performed in.  They may be in one sense a little simpler, but they have to remain equally expressive with it.  Depth is possible, I am sure, but anything the listener only gets on the third play can't be anything that spoils the first two times with its absence.  (However if you are listened to three times that is *SUCCESS* !)

I'm only about 5 or 6 months into this journey.  Learning poetry took getting on for 20 years, so I'm sure if I was being taught by a mystical monk he'd still be telling me I have much to learn.  I'll keep you posted.



First public sighting -- early signs of success!

Hallam came second in the preliminary round of Emergenza that he was in last night, so they go through to the semi-finals!

I'd better start writing some more songs.  Maybe something about sexual chemistry... what rhymes with amphoteric zwitterion?