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Songwriter’s Challenge: Write a Standard Form Song

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Beginners Guide To Song Form Part 2

After receiving such great feedback from you guys, we’ve decided to continue the songwriting form series. Last time we touched on the AABA format using Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years” as an example, and today I want to focus on the most popular song structure-ABABCB.

Understanding Song Structure Basics: ABABCB Song Form

The ABABCB Song Form:

The most common song form is the ABABCB form, which is a verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus song. The “A” section is the verse, where the story is told. The “B” section is the chorus, which is the hook and the highlight of the song. A standard verse chorus can often become tiresome, so adding a “C” section, also known as the bridge, adds variation. The bridge is a musical departure from the expected-often summing up the song-thus supplying new momentum to the final chorus. Some popular examples for ABABCB songs are “What’s Love Got To Do With it” by Tina Turner, “Girl” by The Beatles, and “Hot N Cold” by Katy Perry. (more…)

Featured Artist: Andrea Iorio

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Italian artist Andrea Iorio incorporated Studio Pros into his writing process from thousands of miles away.

Andrea Iorio’s curiosity was piqued when he read an article about Studio Pros in Sound on Sound magazine. Living in Tuscany, Italy, he thought Studio Pros’ Los Angeles-based session players might be the best option for his songs. In fact, Iorio saw living in a different country from the musicians who would be recording his tracks as an advantage for his music. As an artist, he has always preferred letting musicians come up with their own take on his work instead of giving specific direction to achieve strictly his own vision. Working from a remote location made that process even simpler for him. “I like to hear a completely different vision from what I’m doing,” Iorio explains. “I try to give as little instruction as possible for my projects so as not to influence the performer. With Studio Pros it’s fantastic, because it can be different for sure.”

Growing up in Siena, Iorio was turned on to music at the tender age of 9 when a friend showed him Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. A few years later, it was a fusion band expanded his musical horizons even more. “At 13 I was astonished by the bass part of Weather Report’s ‘Teen Town,’” he remembers. “That started my musical education.”

Iorio studied jazz bass in Siena for a decade while also dabbling in piano and guitar. He began learning about the production and recording process and put together his own small studio. “The studies I’ve done gave me a 360-degree interest in music,” he says, “from jazz to rock to metal.” As a result, his music covers wide ground stylistically, having distinct jazz roots with a straightforward rock edge. Now he lists some of his favorite artists as Miles Davis, Steely Dan and King Crimson. He recently developed a strong interest in experimental electronic music as well.

Listen to Studio Pros musicians and vocalists playing on Andrea Iorio’s songs:

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Featured Artist: Manx

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Juggling his music and a busy personal life, Manx found Studio Pros to be the perfect way to get professional recordings without having to leave his best friend’s side.

Studio Pros customer Manx calls his music “blue-eyed reggae,” although he plays much more than that. “I do a little bit of everything,” he says. “I have one country song and some pop/rock songs, I have a rock song, I even have kids’ songs.”

Manx has been playing music for most of his life. “Growing up, my father wouldn’t let me leave the dinner table unless I sang to Johnny Cash and Nat King Cole and played a little plastic guitar,” he remembers. But it wasn’t until he moved to California to treat his mentor and best friend Leigh for cancer that he finally decided to make some professional recordings of his songs. “I got a chance to follow through on my dream,” he says. “Leigh wanted to make sure I could follow through with the whole music thing.”

After not having much success in having his songs forwarded by TAXI, Manx signed up for Studio Pros after seeing a magazine advertisement. Without a band of his own, and knowing he would need to spend a lot of time with Leigh instead of spending days in the studio, he called the decision to go with Studio Pros a “no-brainer.” His choice was justified when a former bass player for Bob Marley heard his song “Give a Little Love” and wanted to work with Manx (hear the song below).

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Featured Artist: Reign Lee

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Working from halfway across the world, Reign Lee used Studio Pros to record with world-class LA studio musicians from the the comfort of her own home.

Playing across continents is hard work, but recording an album with musicians that are halfway across the globe is even harder. Unless you do what Hong Kong musician Reign Lee did: record with Studio Pros. Lee has no trouble finding musicians to back her up in the many countries where she gigs, but when it came time to record her songs, she came up short. “I’m a solo artist, so when I tour I play with different players in different parts of the world,” she explains. “I don’t have a set band that I can just head into the studio with and start working on a record.”

For her latest EP, Angels in the Dirt, Lee decided she would use Studio Pros to record with top Los Angeles session musicians while staying in Asia. “About a year and a half ago I came across an ad for Studio Pros on Reverbnation,” she says. “I’d also read an article in Sound on Sound magazine and was very intrigued by the whole process. I knew that with this record I wanted to have a different experience than what I’ve had in the past and I really wanted to kick it up a few levels. That was why Studio Pros really appealed to me.”

Lee cites two primary factors in helping her decision to record with Studio Pros: “From a practical point of view, there was no better way that I could budget my money to get anything better than what they were offering. The other factor was scheduling.” She found the convenience of Studio Pros’ 48-hour turnaround very appealing. “I’ve never, ever had anybody’s parts completed in that amount of time.”

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Featured Artist: Jeremy Bright

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Without a band of his own, Jeremy Bright turned to online musical collaborations to breathe new life into his songwriting.

“I’ll never be one of those people who lives for my job,” says Jeremy Bright. “I live for my off hours and my passions and my hobbies.” Bright’s passions, of course, include his music. A piano player since he was six, the Alabama-born songwriter’s love of music may have been set in motion generations before he was even around. “A lot of my family was into music, so it’s kind of in my genes,” he says. Now in Phoenix, AZ, Bright recalls his early musical influences being the soul music of his home state and the music of churches he grew up in.

And while he enjoys his day job as a software engineer, he doesn’t get his biggest fulfillment from his nine-to-five hours. Bright has been working on his latest album for three years, and he’s made collaborating with musicians online a regular occurrence. “I was in a band, but that kind of fell apart,” Bright says when explaining why he turned to the Internet to find musicians for his album. His search brought him to Studio Pros, where he explored the website and listened to demos to get a feel for whether the service would be a good fit for him. “What I heard was quality. So I gave it a shot, used Studio Pros on one of my songs. The tracks that I got back sounded good and I just kinda went from there.”

Bright used several Studio Pros services to supplement tracks he had recorded himself, choosing different Studio Pros musicians depending on what his songs needed. “I used the drummer to replace some of my drums, and on one song I used their guitar player to replace some bad tracks,” he says. “On ‘Angels Watch Over’ I used Studio Pros for the majority of the instrumentation on there.”

Listen to a clip of “Angels Watch Over” here:

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You Use the Internet For Everything – Why Not For Recording an Album?

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

Do you check your email first thing in the morning?

Do you get up to date with the news online over an early cup of coffee?

Do you use the web to check your bank account balance?

These days we use the Internet for just about everything: communication with old friends via Facebook; updating our financial portfolios and checking stocks; even buying movie tickets for the 8:30 show. If you’re anything like me, the net is your go-to resource for just about everything. Sometimes I roll out of bed and land at my desk, checking my messages before I even brush my teeth. Now with smart phones providing Internet access just about anywhere, pretty much everything is tied to the online world. Even grocery shopping has moved from a notepad to an iPhone app for many people.

I use the web for music stuff, too. I like discovering new music, reading news about my favorite bands, even listening to streaming music online is simple now. But the net is not just a great resource for hearing other artists’ music; it’s also a great resource for your own music career.

Sure, there are sites that have articles about making it in the music industry today… So many in fact that it can be a bit overwhelming to read all the advice that’s available to you. But while many musicians turn to the Internet for tips on how to take their career to the next level, most don’t realize the Internet can actually be used to take their career to the next level.

I’m not talking about making a Facebook music page, although that’s certainly a good thing to do. I’m talking about using the web to record an amazing album.

That concept may even sound a little crazy to you. But ten years ago, the idea of being able to instantly watch millions of hours of video probably sounded a little crazy. And here we are, all regular users of YouTube without even thinking about that simple fact.

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Featured Artist: Chord Slinger N Lola

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Chord Slinger N Lola used Studio Pros as the glue that held together their long-distance musical collaboration.

When Chord Slinger N Lola instrumentalist Don Wallingford first heard Lola sing, he immediately imagined how her voice would sound over his music. “I said, ‘My God, that would be so good for my music,’” he remembers. The only problem was that they were living in two different parts of the country: Lola sang in a metal band in New York City, while Wallingford was based in Cincinnati. “I sent her an email and asked if she’d be interested in a collaboration,” he says. “My music was very different, it was more ambient stuff. But her voice just sounded like a perfect match.”

Lola is originally from Greece, but came to America to pursue a master’s degree in psychology. Some of her influences include the Cranberries, Fiona Apple, and The Gathering; Wallingford’s inspirations skew a little more toward classic rock artists such as Simon & Garfunkel and The Who, but he also loves some modern bands such as Green Day. The two of them started putting music on websites such as Thesixtyone.com where they enjoyed some success on the charts. As they moved on to bigger sites, the duo realized they might need to start getting a little more serious about their recordings.

“We were on Reverbnation about six weeks and we were number one in the region and doing pretty well globally,” Wallingford says. “We thought, you know what, we probably need to take this to a higher level.” Inspired by all the positive feedback they were getting, they decided it was time to record in an actual studio–but there was still the problem of being in remote locations. “We had another problem because I play all these different instruments on the synthesizer, but when I use drum loops it doesn’t sound the same as a real set of drums,” says Wallingford. “I’m also not the best bass player in the world. I can’t get that professional sound because bass isn’t really my thing. When one person’s doing all of the instruments, it’s impossible to get really good quality.”

As he was looking for options, Wallingford saw that Studio Pros had been selected by Sound on Sound magazine as the best online recording studio–which he realized was the exact type of service he needed. He soon became impressed with Studio Pros’ personnel. “I got to reading about how [Studio Pros] has all these Grammy award-winning people that really have their act together to play with you and make suggestions,” he says. “I talked to Lola and she said we should do it because we needed something studio-grade.”

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All You Need is a Chord Progression and a Melody

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Did you know that you probably already have enough music to record your album? Even if you just have the basic sketch of a song in your head, it’s probably enough to get started.  The Beatles once famously said that “all you need is love.”  I’m here to say that if you want to record your music, all you really need is a melody and a chord progression. (A little love doesn’t hurt, either!)

You don’t need every section of your song planned out note by note; you don’t need the intro melody or the solo section completely written. All you need is a “sketch.” The song sketch is a rough outline of your song… And when you get world-class, top-notch session musicians to play on your recordings, they help flesh out your creation with their professional expertise. The chord progression, melody and lyrics are the heart and soul of your creation–they are what the whole rest of the production is based off of.

But the production process involves getting down to every last little detail in the song, whether that’s a cool guitar lick in the bridge or a melodic hook in the background vocals. With Studio Pros, you get to be involved in every last step of the process, giving your approval for every instrument as its being recorded. But along with giving your feedback, you get to work with some of the best musicians in the business–musicians who have recorded on hundreds of albums and engineers who have been nominated for Grammy awards. Because of this, you end up collaborating with top professionals who know how to take your song to the next level and make you stand out among the throngs of musicians trying to get heard by record labels and music supervisors.

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Featured Artist: Kevin Tye

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Kevin Tye had never made a professional product with his music.  With the help of Studio Pros, he’s now taken his passion to the next level.

Kevin Tye has quite a bit of musical experience–he played in local bands for almost a quarter century. Eventually he moved on to writing his own material, taking advantage of the fact that he could set up a home studio very easily with today’s computer recording options. These days, he writes and records songs in his spare time when he’s not a this full-time job as a teacher. “I do it as a passion,” he says. “I just like to create things.” But until recently, he had never attempted to make a fully professional recording of his music.

Tye writes in multiple styles and genres, but as of late he has been focusing his creative efforts mainly on writing country songs. He saw an ad for Studio Pros in a magazine. “I decided I would give it a try,” he remembers, “to see what one of my songs would sound like through a professional studio.”

“I was a bit unsure exactly how it was all gonna play out,” he admits. But Tye’s confidence grew with each step of the recording process with Studio Pros; it started with a song sketch and built from there, while he gave his input on each of the tracks as he heard them. He was particularly interested in hearing the musical direction his songs would take by letting Studio Pros’ session musicians make their own decisions. “I wanted to see what the choices would be for people who are doing this thing day in and day out,” he explains. Then, giving more of his own feedback as the process went on, Tye struck a balance that he felt optimized his songs. “In the end I think it was a good mix of musical choices. For example, the singer did some slightly different things in the vocal than I had done, which I ended up liking quite a bit. So it was kind of that process where I was just feeling it out at first, then giving more input at the very end stages.”

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Featured Artist: Jeff Heiniger

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Jeff Heiniger knew the importance of a professional production–so he turned to Studio Pros when he didn’t want to settle for anything less.

Jeff Heiniger has known what goes into a professional production for a long time. In 1987, he won a national songwriting competition in the UK that was put together by Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman. The prize: a chance to record in the Stones’ state-of-the-art mobile recording studio with top producers Mick McKenna and Terry Taylor. “It was brilliant to work with actual professionals,” Heiniger remembers. “They turned our demo into something that was fantastic.”

Heiniger first started taking music lessons after getting a piano when he was 13.  He also started listening to all sorts of pop music, from Electric Light Orchestra to Depeche Mode, ABBA to The Beatles. Since winning the competition he has put together a Pro Tools-equipped home studio, but soon realized that without a professional producer behind the board he wasn’t going to achieve the same sort of radio-ready product he got with is winning song. “The problem is that I’m not an engineer, so I didn’t have anybody to record my stuff,” he explains. “What I found was really good about Studio Pros was that the production was sort of taken out of my hands in a way.”

When he found the Studio Pros website, Heiniger was actually looking for session vocalists on the web. “I couldn’t find anyone locally who was any good,” he says. “It’s quite laborious, taking your music to a recording studio and finding an engineer who will record a session singer who you may not like. It seemed quite a lengthy process, and one that may not yield results at the end of the day.” He found himself intrigued by the Studio Pros website. “The site itself looked very professional. Professionalism and price were important.”

With Studio Pros, Heiniger was able to focus on writing a song on piano, then letting our team of world-class studio musicians build the rest from the ground up. Along the way, he would provide input and feedback to make sure everything came together how he wanted it. In order to make it easier, Heiniger would provide reference tracks with other music that matched the vibe he was going for with each song.

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