Category Archives: User Generated Content

How a poem becomes a song. Lessons from the master.

The collaboration between Leonard Cohen – possibly the greatest poet of the generation and Sharon Robinson  began 35 years ago. Cohen was looking for a backing singer and Robinson was seeking a life as a songwriter, but happy to audition.

Robinson shares the mechanics of collaborating with Cohen, how a poem becomes a song. There’s a pattern. “I go to his house, we sit in the kitchen and chat, and have something to drink or eat.” Work begins with a verse or two that Cohen presents her with, on paper. Robinson reads it, they talk about melodic possibilities. Rarely, if ever, do they talk about the meaning of the words. “We both feel that the song should be self-explanatory,” Robinson says. A single song can take a year or more to emerge. Robinson takes a poem home and studies it. “I try not to ask Leonard, ‘What does this mean? What’s this about?’ We don’t really go there.” Does she try to work out meanings for him, or for her? “Probably both, and hopefully those are the same, or somewhat the same.” It’s the multitude of meanings, we agree, that gives the songs their broad resonance.

Sharon firmly resists over-intellectualisation. Too much of that and you lose the connection to “emotion and soulfulness”. “When you start with a poem, you have to figure out how to turn it into a song.” Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it has to be reworked. If she can’t find it on her own, she’ll call Cohen and ask what he sees as the chorus. In some cases, the answer is relatively clear. For “Alexandra Leaving” the last line is repeated, at the end of every third verse, so the poem was “already beautifully structured for a melody”. Invited to elaborate, she says it’s hard to explain: “there are numerous ways to skin a cat when it comes to writing a song”. Yet the structure is closely related to the number of syllables in a line, which in turn dictates the set-up of the melody. In this sense, she works backwards, from a culminating idea towards the front of the song.

She offers ideas for the melody, maybe more than one. Then she records one. “At the time, Leonard had a little boom box in his kitchen, we’d listen to it there, on a cassette.” As he listens, she can tell straight away his reaction. “He’ll just listen quietly. I can tell if he likes it, but there’ll be issues, and changes. Other times he’ll start dancing around, or something like that. There are a range of reactions. In the end, I just wait, for 10 minutes.”

“She knows how to write the music that makes Leonard look bigger.” It is no wonder that In October 2001, when Cohen released Ten New Songs, his first album for several years, Robinson had a co-writing credit on every track.

Check out a phenomenal rendition of “Alexandra Leaving” from Cohen’s 2012 tour.

This blog is a distillation of an article by Philippe Sands.  I hope this post helps some of the poets on Tallenge, and others, visibility into the collaboration process. In my next blog, I hope to go further along this creative continuum.

Do share this blog with those who you feel will enjoy reading it, or will find it useful. Thanks!

-Sasha

 

 

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Kick your way to luck

What marks the difference between just another talented person and a superstar? Effort and just that tiny bit of luck that gives one the ‘kick’ to move ahead on to the fast track.

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That seems to be the story of the newest viral sensation Havard Rugland, who is now claiming his career with the NFL alongside the success of his Youtube video ‘Kickalicious’. With a very European football style, our man has gone a long way ow

ing to the success of his video which went viral after he posted in September 2012. The video has been receiving a great response from different team managers across the US since this December.

The 27 year old kicker is now on his way to the NFL tryouts for the Jets. The video was a result of a brainstorm after his home soccer club disbanded. With two of his brothers and a friend, the video was made in five days and hit 500,000 views in its first few weeks. His journey to New York provides a blueprint of sorts for anyone looking to turn a homemade video into a global hit.

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Homemade videos of this sort exhibiting ones talent have been a rage on youtube, proving to be a lucrative chance to build a career for a whole bunch of today’s superstars. ‘Amateur is the new pro’. Everyone’s on a hunt for fresh talent and fresher faces. It’s a vicious cycle of talent drives virality which drives talent in return. So where are we today?

In a space where you don’t need to know the ins and outs of everything regarding your field of interest but can squarely go ahead and dabble with the little you know. If you’re good with your talent and if you portray it the right way, you just might be the next big superstar moving on to the race to be a global phenomenon.

Our next blog will tell you how you can jazz up your entry to make it more noticeable and memorable. Till then, keep creating for the world is full of opportunities. Or well, atleast the internet is!Come up with creative videos or images of your talent. Write up a blizzard if you love to write. Create good content that is interesting and has a touch of unique quirk that screams out your personality. And you’re good to go. That’s what we offer you on Tallenge. A chance to be a winner, who’s on the way to Fame, Fortune and Glory.

– Ayesha

Tiny Tallenger

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Show off your short story

When asked what makes a short story so special, most authors would mention the simplicity and directness of plot. Joseph O’Connor sums it up well – “A good short story is almost always about a moment of profound realization. Or a hint of that. A quiet bomb.”

Over time I realized that a short story has to be a ‘packaged reading delight’. Small nuances make the difference; such as creating a comfortable ambiance on your page would make readers rate you higher. Pay attention to the backdrop, the font and the color combinations to ensure they’re easy on the eyes. Also maintain a frequency of writing; it increases and retains readers. Try putting up an image of yourself (the author) on your blog/page which suits the general voice of your stories. It makes your readers think of you as someone they would bond with over coffee.

You can try using tools to market and make sure that your page/blog stays in line with what readers want. CreateSpace provides an excellent platform where you can upload your work and get feedback on it, customize publishing and eBook distribution and market it as per your convenience.  You can use Duotroupe as well, to keep updated about the markets, preferences, deadlines and events revolving around short stories.

Short stories form a very competitive field of literature. Most short story competitions are easy to participate in, the contests are handled online entirely and the prize is quite bountiful. Listings for all contests can be found on BookTrust, which also provides you with its own upload library as well as feedback from recognized authors.

If you want to be the next Miroslav Penkov (2012 BBCISSA winner), get started writing and posting. It’s ‘East meets West’ today, but soon it could be your short story that walks away with the grand prize.

Tweet me your comments @tallenge

– Ayesha
Tiny Tallenger

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