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The deadline for entries to the Darebin Music Feast’s Songwriters’ Award has closed and judges Peter Farnan, Charles Jenkins and Evelyn Morris are busy sifting through them to find the ten best. The Darebin Music Feast’s Songwriters’ Award  is focused firmly on encouraging local songwriters to hone their craft, in addition to promoting and recognising local talent.

Punters can see the 10 Darebin Music Feast Songwriters’ Award finalists on October 31st as they battle it out for the trophy and an amazing prize package, including $2000 cash thanks to APRA, studio time at Head Gap and heaps more. With past winners including Jordie Lane, Sal Kimber, Ben Mason, Dan Flynn and Maddie Duke, they’ll be in good company. Hosted by writer, musician and man about town Ben Birchall and featuring special guest performances from past winners Charm of Finches and Dan Dinnen, this is an evening of the great songwriting talent that has made Darebin the heart of Melbourne’s music scene. This is a free event.

Darebin Music Feast Songwriters’ Award Grand Final
Monday 31 October @ 7pm
Northcote Town Hall, Studio 1 – 189 High Street, Northcote

Taking place from Thursday October 27 to Sunday November 6, the Darebin Music Feast will span over 40 venues, featuring more than 600 artists over 11 days.

Ahead of the Darebin Music Feast’s Songwriters’ Award final, chief judge and local singer-songwriter guiding light Charles Jenkins kindly offered to debunk 3 myths about songwriting that many assume to be set in stone.

There are lots of step by step guides to writing songs out there, so just Google them and have a read of those. What I would like to ponder is what I consider to be 3 of the myths regarding the song writing process.

1. Songs are meant to sound a certain way
It seems that people feel the need to wear a particular songwriting hat – one that predetermines how their song should sound, regardless of what it is they are trying to say or do. The story you told me was all yours – and it was moving, arresting, entertaining, idiosyncratic and captivating and yet in the process of putting it into a song you leant on melodies and chords and lyrics that turned it into a very common piece of writing. Why not take off your songwriting hat and get yourself into the song? Listen to music from all eras and all genres and then you will realize that everything and anything can and should happen in a song.

2. I can’t write unless I’m inspired.
“Inspiration is for amateurs…” American painter Chuck Close said that, Cole Porter said “All the inspiration I ever needed was a phone call from a producer”. The time to start is now, don’t wait for Tuesday, or until you’re high or drunk or sober, start now. The more you write the better you get. The more you read, listen, practice and engage the more interesting your song. Ideas lead to ideas. The harder you work the greater the artistic rewards. The more you know of all other art forms the more you will understand your own. As the potter Michael Cardew once wrote about his art form: “The road to a more subjective expression comes from getting on top of your craft, not short-cutting it”

3. What comes first the music or the lyrics?
Why do we have to start with this notion? Can’t it be an idea, or a rhythm, or an elephant’s call, the tone of a particular instrument, a break neck tempo, a slow crawl, a riff turned backwards, a melody turned upside down. Why should we limit ourselves? Everything that goes into a song is itself a way to start a song. There are no rules, and if there are feel free to break them, all of them. Why can’t we start with structural ideas? Let’s write a song with 42 verses, or perhaps a song that goes for 23 seconds? Parameters are always good, as they will lead to ideas. The break neck tempo may well imply a particularly thrilling tale. A riff turned backwards could inspire a story told in reverse. Trust your instincts; go wherever you feel you should with the song.

So get yourself into your song, roll up your sleeves and do whatever it takes to get songs started. Listen to everything you can, investigate all other art forms, have fun, play a lot, and get started, today.

Charles Jenkins

For more info on the Darebin Music Feast Songwriting Award night click here

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