NSAI Charlotte Presents – Craig Carothers

We’ve got another great songwriting workshop coming up on June 6 and 7. Craig Carothers is coming to Charlotte to lead a workshop on “Writing Humorous Songs”. I met Craig at the Swannanoa Gathering several years ago, where I took his class in writing humorous songs. I’ve never had more fun in a classroom!Craig is a hoot, and a great songwriting teacher. We all should have some humorous songs in our bag of songs, and Craig can help you create them. He’ll also be talking about other aspects of songwriting, whether humorous or serious. Craig’s website address is www.craigcarothers.com. (If you go to his website, make sure you check out John Prine’s quote about Craig in Craig’s bio.)

His workshop will be held on June 6th from 9:30 am til 4:00 pm, at our regular NSAI meeting place, The Well, in Pineville (directions at www.the-well.org).  The cost for the workshop is $40 for NSAI members, or $50 for non-members. We’ll provide pizza and soft drinks for lunch at no additional cost.

To sign up, either send an email to Steve Simpson (sisimpson@aol.com) and let him know you are going to mail him a check at:

Steve Simpson
1147 Thornsby Lane
Matthews, NC 28105

Please make checks out to “NSAI Charlotte“… or sign up using PayPal, just click the link below. If you choose the PayPal option, a PayPal fee of $2 will be added to the cost.

Click here to use PayPal

Craig will also be doing one-on-one song critique sessions the following day, Sunday, June 7th, from 12:30 pm til 5:00 pm, also at The Well, for $40 for a half-hour session, paid directly to Craig at the time of the session. If you are interested in signing up for a critique session, please send an email to Steve Simpson (sisimpson@aol.com) to indicate you are interested and note any preference on the time of your session. Also, you’re welcome to come and listen to Craig’s one-on-one sessions as an audience member. You will learn a whole lot by listening to him critique other people’s songs.

Lastly, we will be hosting a “house” concert for Craig at The Well on Friday night, June 5th, the night before his workshop. Craig is a great performer, you owe it to yourself to see him in concert. The concert is free for those attending the Saturday workshop, and $10 for others.

So, sign up now. The workshop may sell out, and you don’t want to be left out of this one!

Steve Simpson

Information from Craig on the funny-song topic:

What makes a song funny? Is it the lyric? Is it the music? Is it the lyric? What about the music? Is a humorous song like a joke? A series of jokes? Or more like an amusing short story? What about Puns? Satire? Parody? All of the above? Some of the above? How heavily does a funny song rely on delivery? In this course we will explore the many aspects the of the humorous song. We’ll do some exercises. We’ll take a few laps. We’ll try our hands at creating funny songs. And then maybe our feet.

Other things Craig may discuss, depending on time and interest:

I have been thinking a lot about the parts of the song writing process that are ephemeral. Elusive. Even magical. Most of the time in workshops we tend to dwell on craft. The discussion of craft is more tangible, and there are a tremendous number of techniques, methods, and exercises that can augment a person’s problem solving arsenal. But inspiration, divergence from old habits, fresh takes on familiar subjects are also very important to explore.

Often times a new experience stimulates creative output. A new romance. New surroundings. Or a new instrument. I have certainly had all these stimuli induce bursts of creativity. What do these things have in common? In my opinion, newness. And sometimes when we have a new experience it stimulates the flow of creativity. At these times it can seem seem effortless. The poetry flows. The melody comes freely. The journal entries fly off the pen. When a new instrument inspires us, it is a confluence of the new and the familiar. We bring a preexisting skill to bear in a new environment. Not completely new, just different enough to be intriguing. This is not unlike what we experience sometimes when we meet a new person. They are not completely unlike other people, five arms, flippers, and fly paper skin, no, they are more like other people than not, but in the best cases the differences can be stimulating.

I think that the exploration of what we each already know how to do, but with a twist can provide countless opportunities to approach the process in new ways. Ways to generate inspiration. Methods to create fresh perspective. Techniques to help break out of process and style habits.

I want to break down the song writing process with exercises that require everyone to approach any given writing assignment in a way that is different from the way in which they currently write. A new way. And it is my sincere belief that these experiments can set the ball in motion for songwriters to recognize ways in which they can summon their own creative force.

In addition we’ll…

• Examine with the various ways melody. words, chords, and grooves interact.

• Look at how the duration of notes in a melody affect the feel and mood so much, and explore the power of syncopation, and it’s role in catchiness and melody identity.

• Study the tremendous importance of the space between notes. Just like the negative space in visual art, the space between notes is critically important, some say even more important that the notes themselves.

• Discuss diction and phrasing. These disciplines, that are seemingly performance and maybe even singer specific, have tremendous power to shape melody and lyric.

• Play parts of songs and complete songs to demonstrate the left turns that a song can go through, and the problem solving and perspective changes that take place.

• Talk about demos. Listen to examples of a few demos, and compare multiple demos of the same song.

We will also analyze a few songs and discuss their merits and effectiveness. i.e. the degree to which they are moving, thrilling, memorable, catchy, beautiful, surprising, etc.

And time permitting a discussion of co-writing etiquette, writers block, the music business, and additional helpful songwriting devices.

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