…and what a wonderful time I had.

me and my song writing crew

Interesting thing, the fact that in our society we tend to think that song writing is something that only the ‘good and the great’ can attempt, but in the old days everyone had a song, and so much news was transferred by song.We also have ideas about what songs should be about.  They can be about mending your bicycle, not being able to get up the hill anymore cos your knees have gone, your wife’s downsizing, the bird in the garden…many  humble songwriters  are never recognised, and end up in anthologies as ANON, as they were passed from person to person by ear.  Many are just a name on a photocopy handed out at a workshop and then photocopied again and again, often the name disappears. Short songs are often not recognized in the great canon of white male composers. Many of the best hymn tunes, rounds, lullabies, ditties and short songs were written by unknown woman and men, and if women did not write most of the best lullabies, I would be most surprised! For me the strongest lyrics of the weekend were about a grandma who had to look after her grandkids as they could not afford nursery any more, had to work longer as they had held back her pension, so she made trifle!


We met in a wonderfully inspiring location in the Shropshore hills, nipping between the raindrops and the chickens, and with the help of  Gill McEvoy who is a marvellous poet  and wonderful company to boot,  give her blog  a look. She is also published by a fantastic independent publishers in Blaenau Festiniogg called Cinnamon Press. Gill put us through our paces with amazing excerices to start us off on lyric writing journies.

poem in a tree

I did run a workshop with quick fire ideas for starting a song, Sue Harris did lots of call and response ideas and Polly Bolton got us writing  a round  in threes and a  song in pairs, trying adventurous melody, using words from Gill’s poems we found in the garden.

I have been musing a bit about the short song and the popular songs that we sing in our community choirs, kids choirs, at workshops and how important it is to acknowledge our sources. Do we need to know who wrote it? Is not the song once wrote common property? Lots of people think it is. Is it too easy to make a song “anon” traditional”?

I went to a workshop recently and a lovely leader gave us all out photocopies of songs as resources. Two of the songs, I knew who wrote them. One was by Venice Mandley, a dear departed friend of mine, who was an inspirational singer, composer and workshop leader. I asked the leader if she knew who Venice was and she had no idea, someone had given her the song as a photocopy at another workshop.

I feel as much as possible we should have a little bit more of a nod to the little songwriters everywhere, a quick hallo, and a thank-you, an eye contact from the singer they are serving, anything else would be impolite, just like people who don’t look at the person who serves them coffee at the takeaway and continues to speak on their mobile phone.  We all serve our community in different ways and that should be acknowledged, what ever we do.

Ah enough of that, getting a bit worthy.

SONG OF THE DAY. –  We Got 20 Minutes  Kate Allan, Jules Olsen, and Gitika Partington -we wrote this Round, yesterday  in …you guessed it 20 minutes! And of course any singy people reading this who think …that might be nice to sing with my group…you just have to ask us and it will be yours.

So why not give it a try?.Make up a little ditty  that is about something you saw or something you felt or did today that stuck in your mind. Something that  you might not share with anyone….There…mad ….but why not….?