Back in 2004, 4 friends decided to see if they could write 14 songs during the month of February. The challenge, inspired by the National Novel Writing Month challenge, was intended to overcome the tendency many people have of being over-critical of their own work by forcing themselves to push out new music. The next year, they opened up the challenge to other people online, and 25 people participated. Last year, over 1000 people from around the world wrote over 10,000 songs as part of the February is Album Writing Month challenge.
If you’ve been thinking you’d like to write some songs, FAWM is a great opportunity to do it together with a supportive global community at your side. Some people focus on lyrics, some record and share fully-developed demo recordings, and many do something in between. There are experienced and extremely talented musicians, and there are people who are putting their first lyrics to paper who have never picked up an instrument before. Some people don’t write or record any music at all; they just listen to the cool free music and provide encouragement. All are welcome.
If you’re new to songwriting, a book like Songwriting for Dummies by Jim Peterik might be a good starting point. If you’ve written a song or two before, books like Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison or Melody in songwriting by Jack Perricone might help you improve your skills and give you a few more ideas for your next tune. Or maybe some of these titles will suit you. Don’t forget to grab a rhyming dictionary too!
You can view videos about songwriting and music theory through the lyndaLibrary service, available through our website – especially helpful if you’re more of a visual learner, and it’s great to be able to hear the results immediately.
One of my favourite parts of the FAWM challenge is listening to the new songs posted by participants. If you’d like to do this, but recording yourself singing or playing an instrument seems daunting, there is help to be had! The Library is offering a Basic Home Recording workshop on Saturday, January 23rd at the Millennium Library. The program has just filled up as of this writing, but you can call 204-986-6450 to get on the waiting list in case there are any cancellations.
There are plenty of books on home recording available at the library too, but Guerrilla Home Recording by Karl Coryat stands out as an excellent example with great practical advice for those of us recording on a budget. If you want to take your finished audio recording to the next level, then check out Mastering Audio by Bob Katz; it’s widely regarded as possibly the best book available on the subject.
lyndaLibrary has resources for recording and music production, too. There’s a course called Audio Recording Techniques, a great introduction to the free recording program Audacity, videos covering mixing and mastering, and more.
There are still a couple of weeks to prepare for this year’s challenge, so if you’re inclined, sharpen those pencils, tune those guitars, and get those creative gears turning. I’ll be there, and I hope to see you there too!