Tuesday, March 14, 2017

SpinTunes 12 Finale (and an inside look at songwriting)

The final round of SpinTunes 12 is complete. The competitors were charged with this task:

Peter & The Wolf - Tell a story in song involving at least 3 people & have each person represented by a different instrument.  (2 minute minimum length) 

Here are their responses:

They did a great job, no?  Three of these songs were written by people who were on Jonathan Coulton's cruise and only had Sunday to produce their entries. I won't tell you which. You try to guess. I'm also not reviewing quite yet.

I didn't write a shadow entry this round... I didn't go on a cruise, but I did have a bunch of legit real-world impediments. But have thought about it, and here's the song I would have written for this round. Rather than wait to write and record it, I'm going to write it here on-line as I have time. So you're going to see a little of our process, which begins with the story...

The song would be called "Old MacDonald's Band". The town is holding an epic battle of the bands, so Farmer McDonald puts together an ensemble using his animals as musicians. The verses would be him recruiting the animals, each one represented by a different instrument. There would be only one chorus, at the end, and it would be their performance.

Simple, right? So we flesh it in a little:

The lyrics would describe it as an "a cappella band" even though the actual song would not be (since the instruments are their voices). The animals don't have lyrics... they respond to MacDonald's verbal requests with musical motifs. MacDonald himself doesn't sing until the performance, so the verses would be rhythmic spoken-word (not quite rap).

Now, to nail the challenge we're going to have to use some very distinct instruments, so brainstorming a few...
  • A lowing cow (a tuba)
  • A quacking duck (a harmonica)
  • Clucking chickens (a banjo)
  • A whinnying horse (electric guitar or trumpet)
That'll do for a start. So that's enough story to hang lyrics on, and enough framework to start thinking about music.

And just like that, the idea is scrapped, as a quick Google search reveals that it's been done before. See how that works?