Tag Archives: performing arts

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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5 Tips On Converting Your YouTube ‘Likes’ To Tallenge Votes (and Dollars)!

Once you’ve uploaded your entry on Tallenge, it’s time to get the votes it deserves. Here’s 5 quick actions that can work on converting your abundant YouTube views and likes into votes for your Tallenge entry (and, ultimately to a chunk of the prize money!)

Tip #1. Description please

Paste your Tallenge entry’s URL into the description of your video in YouTube with a request asking viewers to vote for you on Tallenge.

Tip #2. Look the viewer in the eye and ask!

Add a 10-second clip – as a video annotation – at the end of your YouTube video requesting the viewer to vote for your entry on Tallenge.

Tip #3. Broadcast to your subscribers

Put out a quick request for votes to your subscribers with the URL of your Tallenge entry using the broadcast feature on YouTube.

Tip #4. Embed your entry

Embed the URL to your entry in the YouTube video itself, in the form of a smart blurb or a creative pop up in a corner, using YouTube’s Annotations feature.

Tip #5. Comment on comments

Reply to the appreciative and positive comments viewers leave on your video on YouTube asking them to go to Tallenge and vote for you. Many of them will!

These tips are simple to action and besides getting votes, also help you engage with your YouTube audience. Start your campaign now and swing by later to check out more tips and tricks that I will be providing in my subsequent blogs.

-Ayesha
Tiny Tallenger

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Let A Million Talents Bloom

Talents are as myriad as individuals around the globe. I have seen people with amazing skills, which if cultivated, would fulfil their life’s purpose. The misfortune being most of them fail to achieve their potential because they don’t know where to begin and don’t get encouragement that help in shaping and grooming their talent.

 Going deeper one finds a correlation between the opportunities for a particular skill and the number of people who pursue that skill. For example, if I see a future in the talent that I possess and which the external world values and thereby allows me to gain some recognition or compensation, I will pursue it. Performing arts – singing, music and dancing are very good examples of such skills. There are a number of platforms and opportunities and people end up pursuing these talents aggressively.

 In comparison to performing arts, visual arts, literature and many other amazing skills lack scope to inspire individuals to pursue them. The future sometimes appears bleak for these talents making one wonder if we will end up becoming a planet of dancers. The reason for the explosion in performing arts is obvious. Reality shows like America’s Got Talent, American Idol and other pop cultural phenomenon offer big time opportunities for talented dancers and singers. Kelly ClarksonSusan Boyle and Jean Martyn are shining examples who achieved fame through these platforms. On the other hand, people becoming famous for other talents are a rarity. There are only a few success stories and platforms that fuel these opportunities and I will discuss some of them in my next post.

 It’s time we give all types of talents their due.

 -Prerna
(Tenacious Tallenger)

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