Skip to content


“Preserving the Natural Shape of the Language” (A song in progress for Pat Pattison’s songwriting course).

So many excellent concepts introduced in the last two weeks of video lectures that I feel the need to summarize them. My head is spinning so here is my attempt at “spotlighting” what I have learned…

During week 3 Pat Pattison talked about using different rhyme schemes to “colour the journey through the song.” The end rhymes create a road map for the ear that we, as songwriters, use to enhance the meaning/emotion/journey through the song we are writing. By setting up “sonic expectations” for the listener, we hopefully engage them from the opening note through to the very end.

This week we added yet another layer in our songs’ journey-preserving the natural shape of the language. By organizing our lines in rhythm (stressed words with strong beats) we “marry the meaning of the language to the emotion of the music.”

Now for the assignment at hand…..taking the verse and chorus from last week and 1.indicating stressed and unstressed syllables 2.recording it matching the syllabic rhythm as perfectly as possible to the melodic rhythm.

I must admit that I found part 1 difficult. My melodic rhythm kept overriding the natural rhythm of the spoken line. I finally had to work from the bottom up, taking the lines completely out of context so they no linger fell into a sing-song rhythm.

Also, the song kept pulling me back into a 3/4 time signature when all the examples Pat had used during the week were 4/4.

This “journey through a song” is taking some interesting sidetrips…… is “When You Were Still MIne”


Week 3 of Pat Pattison’s Songwriting Course and SAC Blogging Challenge

Treble Clef


This week I have taken Pat Pattison’s motto “no rules, only tools” to heart and mixed things up a bit. I have “altered” the assignment slightly to suit my song.

The verse and chorus I started in the assignment last week had begun to take on a life of it’s own and I wasn’t ready to give up on this song’s journey for the sake of an exercise so…….instead of writing a stable verse leading into an unstable chorus, I have continued developing the stable chorus of last week’s song into an unstable bridge.

In this week’s video lessons Pat talked about how the end line rhymes create a road map for the ear-a road map of what is coming next. I wanted my new and unstable bridge to propel the song back into the stable chorus and a repeat of the main theme.

Here is a quick analysis of the rhyme schemes and rhyme categories we learned about this week and how I applied them to my (as yet untitled) song.

My chorus with equal line lengths, a balanced rhyme scheme and words (time and mine) living in the family rhyme category, create a “stable statement.”

Then comes the bridge with it’s unequal line lengths, a rhyme scheme that starts aa with perfect rhyme but then falls apart. The last two lines don’t even fall into the least stable rhyme categories of assonant and consonant. Therefore it sounds unstable and propels the singer back into a repeat of the chorus and a stable resolution.

Here goes……..

It’s too close to morning  I can’t stop the time. I wish I could wake up  And you were still mine.

Night after night as I lie here in bed / I know it was nothing I did or I said. Still I just wonder what happened to us / How did it all go so wrong?

Week 2 of Pat Pattison’s Songwriting Course and SAC Blogging Challenge

The adventure in songwriting continues as we build on the foundational tools Pat Pattison set in place last week.

A great song starts with a story that the songwriter feels need to be told. Last week Pat walked us through the tools necessary to develop our story.

So….now we have a story……how do we turn it into a great song??


“How everything fits together to support the central message of the song.”

This week’s video lessons introduced us to STABLE AND UNSTABLE – our friends that determine number of lines and length of lines in our verse/chorus that affect the feeling of the song.

I took a look at some of the songs I had written in the past and sure enough, there they were! Unstable verses pressing the song towards the chorus for completion as well as stable choruses completing the intent of the song.  It’s great to know this is actually a technique I can now call upon to help me in what I want to say! Or as Pat says “this tool of balanced/unbalanced gives the songwriter a say in where the song is going.”

So (finally) to this week’s blogging assignment-The idea I chose for an unstable verse that moves into a stable chorus.

I chose the story of heartache (a breakup not of one’s choosing). A subject that is uneasy and uncomfortable told within a 3 lined (unbalanced and unstable) verse. This unbalanced verse edges towards the stable (balanced) chorus that completes the thought-or-a balanced statement of fact.

So here goes!

piano pic476kbAt peace in my slumber I lie here in bed – Forgetting the heartache and morning I dread – When I will wake up alone.

It’s too close to morning – I can’t stop the time. I wish I could wake up – And you were still mine.


You and Me-final version??

You and Me-final version??

Not only have I been immersed in the songwriting challenge that SAC is offering, I also went to a “Date with a Demo” they were offering that featured songwriters Suzie McNeil and Colin MacDonald (the Trews). Both Suzie and Colin suggested I make some changes with my chorus and play around with the lead vocal.

It’s great to get feedback from such amazing songwriters. I have been singing this song one way for a couple of years and they opened up my ears to another way of hearing it.

Here it is…..enjoy!

SAC Songwriting Course and Blogging Challenge – Week 2

What a week! My head is spinning with all the new ideas I am learning.

C scale notation over musical staff

C scale notation over musical staff (Photo credit: Horia Varlan)

Pat Pattison is an amazing teacher. Watching his video lectures I have learned so much and have also enjoyed the way he engages his audience with his sense of humour.

I hate to admit that I had never thought of the technical aspects of songwriting-which surprises me because as a classically trained singer it’s all about technique. In just one week I have learned about Point of View; The Development Engine (story board); My 6 best friends-who, what, where, when, why, how; and started looking at Song Form.

In this week’s blog I am to talk about which song title I chose to develop and why. An interesting assignment-not actually writing a song but putting together the foundation of a song. Makes sense….no one would think of building a house without a set of blueprints and first pouring the foundation.  Not sure why I thought in songwriting the melody or chorus I hear in my head would magically unravel the rest of the song. Occasionally this does happen, but for the other 80% of the time…….

I feel I am now developing the tools to revisit the folder of half-written songs that have been sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike! But first things first. “Which song would I choose to develop and why”

I chose “The Other Side of Goodbye”…….it intrigued me…….so here goes……….


SAC Songwriting Challenge:pre-course blog

I’m reposting my pre-course blog because I started this songwriting/blogging challenge before I had a blog set up and wrote it in Facebook notes. Thought I should re-post on my “official” blog to give some insight into why I have undertaken this challenge……


Here goes:

Please excuse the format of my first blog- I don’t have my own blog up and running yet.

This is actually a perfect example for answering the 2nd question in our challenge-What am I hoping to gain by participating? I am looking for a structured timeline in which to complete many of the tasks that my good intentions along have been unable to do! Blogging……..engaging with other songwriters.

I have followed Pat Pattison on Hypbot and MusicThinkTank for about a year now so when I saw this opportunity run by SAC, I couldn’t pass it up.

As for where I am in my songwriting journey- For the past 7 years I have been writing in a style I call “classical with a celtic twist.” I feel it is time for more.Whether more is different, a stylistic change or input from co-writing….I don’t know…..but I’m looking forward to the adventure!!

Welcome to my first blog!

Greetings! and welcome to my first blog.

Last year at this time I signed up for the Songwriter’s Association of Canada’s Blogging Challenge but changed my mind before the course began. I may have backed out of my first opportunity to delve into the world of blogging, but I knew at some point my own blog would make it’s way to the top of my “to do” list.

I then had a fantastic opportunity-once again through SAC-to have a one-on-one mentorship session with Brian Thompson. He is the author of the DIY Daily and an “Idea Development Engineer”. During our meeting, he talked about the importance of blogging.

So….finally a few weeks ago I got an email inviting me to join the Pat Pattison Songwriting Course and Blogging Challenge. I jumped at the opportunity to study with Pat and well….here I am with my first blog.

Welcome to my journey! I hope you enjoy what I have to say.