Songwriting bootcamp

August 19, 2013

 Just returned from one of the most exciting weeks of my life – the UK Songwriting Festival! While staying in an old manor in Scotland, the task set for me and the 23 other songwriters was simple, but challenging: write a song a day for five days!


Fortunately, we didn’t have to go at it alone – we worked together under the wings of seasoned songwriters – my group’s tutor was none other than Jez Ashurst, whose tunes are sung by the likes of Melanie C and Boyzone. On top of that, he is also a sweet guy with a great sense of humor!


So, what songs did I write this week?


Old Soviet Hotel 

We had to write a song starting from a title. My fellow songwriters were a bit afraid for me – this is not your run-of-the-mill topic – but I did manage to pull it off. The hotel is sleazy, with a flashback to past grandeur. I will play it to you some time!


Colour in A Grey World 

An assignment: I wrote a lyric, which was set to music by Sibeth Hoff, who is a Norwegian artist (I love Norwegians!), and Jez himself. By now, Sibeth has already registered it with TONO, the Norwegian equivalent of PRS, and will definitely perform it. How cool is that!


The Time Is Now

I put lyrics written by Sibeth to music. A challenging task, but starting with the chorus I did find a nice hook.


Mary Waits 

We were asked to write a three-chord song with no more than five melody notes and 30 words. I wrote about a little girl I had once met at a Romanian railway station. The task helped me to get to the core of what I wanted to say and to be economical. Less is more. I cheated.


Half A World Away

I threw next day’s assignment out the window and teamed up with the lovely Robert Maitland, a Scottish songwriter and guitarist who loves old jazz even more than I do (if that’s possible)! We wrote a AABA-structured song like they did in the old days. We have high hopes for this one and we will get together in the future to write more such songs!


On Thursday and Friday night, we performed our new songs at Bladnoch Distillery with the professional house band from Bath Spa University. After that, we returned to Shennanton House, where we drank wine and sang songs well into the wee small hours.


Alas! All good things come to an end. On Saturday morning we said our goodbyes. But I left much richer than I came – with many wonderful new friends, new songs and new insights into the art of songwriting. I am so happy!

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