4/11: Reading and assignment

READING: The Blues and the Veil  (recordings to accompany the article: Ruby Smith “Fruit Cakin’ Mama” ; Muddy Waters “Hoochie Coochie Man”)

The 12-Bar Blues

Extras: How to form chords on a piano / How to form chords on a guitar


ASSIGNMENT:  Write a short song using only I, IV, and V chords played in any order. It can be a blues song, a rock song, a ballad, or any other genre. Print out the provided staff paper and give the time signature and key signature, label the chords for each measure above the staff, and write the vocal melody on the staff with the lyrics below (or give the lyrics on a separate sheet of paper–especially if the music repeats with several different stanzas). Finally, title the song and give some indication what genre /musical style(s) would best fit the music you have written.

The song can be as short as 12 bars with multiple stanzas (see 12-bar blues above) or as long as your like.


Here is a good resources for creating and hearing I-IV-V chord patterns (you can use the G, C, and D). Registration is free:  JamStudio.com

Play your melody to the chords here: Virtual Keyboard


Suggestions for lyrics (taken from Lisa Aschmann’s 1000 Songwriting Ideas):

1) Write a song based on an old saying, platitude, homily, of aphorism, e.g., his bark was worse than his bite. There are more fish in the sea. An once of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

2) Write a call-and-response song, where a line is sung and then answered by a group. These are community-based songs, especially prevalent in religious music and African musical traditions. They’re also powerful in establishing solidarity.

3) Console someone who just got rejected by their high school sweetheart, or got bad news from their school principal, mechanic, doctor, banker, lawyer, or neighbor.

4) Ask questions from unlikely viewpoints such as: What do ants think about? What does the man in the moon see? Why does the pot call the kettle black?

5) Write a song a cynic, a misanthrope, a hypochondriac, or a curmudgeon would be proud of if he/she weren’t feeling so poorly.

6) Or, finally, if you really have trouble writing original lyrics, you may borrow a text from another source and set it to a melody.


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