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Author Topic: The Pat Pattison method  (Read 32021 times)
Paul
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« on: January 05, 2008, 02:00:28 AM »

I recently have done a couple of seminars with Pat Pattison of Berklee Music College, which, to put it bluntly, made me wonder what I have been doing with my songwriting for the last 25 years!

Pat’s seminars showed me that there is a structure and form that can be applied to songwriting  in a recipe like way. Not to say each cake will be the same though!

During one session Pat said that after he’d written his first 15 songs the next one sounded just a little like #3 or the theme was the same as #9. In other words he was moving around in the same old circle- something I think I have done for way to many years.

One of the reasons for this is that we only have so many ‘conscious’ experiences we can choose from. But when we explore other ways of finding inspiration or ‘the muse’ some unexpected ideas are thrown up, and this is the great thing that Pat’s teaching has opened me too.

OBJECT WRITING

If you have a look through the object writing category, you might think I’m a bit crazy but…..what is it?

In his book Writing Better Lyrics Pat suggests the use of Object writing as a tool to loosen up the creative flow. In his words we need to become  divers seeking pearls at the bottom of the sea of our experience. Let’s look at it this way; If you were to lift a 5 kilogram weight one week then a 10 kilo weight the next then fiteeen and twenty, you could probably accomplish it with reasonable ease - you are exercising and toning your muscle.

If you were not used to lifting 20 Kilograms and someone said ‘do it’- you might not be able to do it, or do some sort of muscle damage in the process.

So, as songwriters, we should not just expect to sit down and be connected with our ‘now moment inspiration flow’ unless we have been exercising it! Object writing is the songwriters set of bar bells to get us in the zone, you might go on to run around the block or do fifty sit ups as a result (maybe that’s fifty good songs) . If you want to practice object writing go to ObjectWriting.com and try to write about the ‘word of the day’.

You approach Object Writing by picking a subject (usually a noun), I do this randomly from the dictionary to avoid bias. You set a timer and write for a specified period of time- 10 or 5 minutes.  It’s a case of following through where your unconscious takes you while staying as ’sense’ bound as possible. Then stop! Even if you’re in mid idea- if you do this as one of  your morning rituals and you were just chasing down a good idea- it will burble away in your unconscious and could turn into - heaven forbid- a SONG!

The Key is to make it as sensorial and kinesthetic as possible; That is, be in your senses as much as possible - how does it taste, touch, smell, sound, what is the subject like to touch. You also need to look inside- about how you are experiencing things in your body- are you clammy- is a rising burning heat flooding through your body etc.

Apply this to the subject ; for example here’s some lines from my object writing on ‘Coat’ ;

Shabby, hairy rough hewn fabric, smelling of excessive body odour, the vagabond passes by, hair is a garbage dump of knotted soldiers fighting for position.

Putting on the duffle coat, little squares all the same size in dull green sequenced together, small arms fight through tunnels seeking the light and gloves are procured at the end of the fight . Walking to school, the coat keeps out the biting cold, frosty puddles have glazed over with ice and you step on them to hear the crackling noise. Swirls of strange purple are found in some of them where petrol pollution has leaked from a car nearby.

Tipping the brush in the tin, just near the lip, then dipping it in again, “dip, dab, dab” he says. then the coat of paint is applied, sure strokes, back and forth, the paint in my nostrils is a raging garden of extreme smell, The whole house fills with its falsity. The chemical legacy of living this way.

You don’t have to stay ‘on subject’ just let it take you where you will. This all feeds back into your songwriting by allowing you to ‘go’ to a particular sensation or experience and describe it in a  way your listener will tune in too… making your song more interesting and accessible. A lot of the great writers use these techniques.

Rhyme- perfect and Imperfect

Another area to consider is rhyme. Most of us are  familiar with classics such as Mary had a little Lamb, or humpty dumpty. In fact I would suggest that unless you have had a good think about it we might be wrtiting in that sort of style unconsciously! Pats’ seminars opened a world of options for ‘near perfect’ rhymes through an examination of vowel sounds and there placements. and the use of what he calls ‘Plosives’ , ‘Fricatives’ and ‘Nasals’.

I would suggest you check out his book Writing Better Lyricsfor an in depth study.

For example you could look at something like

behave

 your perect rhymes would be

brave, cave, concave, crave, dave, deprave, engrave, enslave, forgave, gave, grave, knave, pave,  rave, save, shave, shortwave, slave, stave, they’ve, waive, wave

but we could expand our list of useful rhymnes to

chafe,  safe, strafe, unsafe, waif because the vvvv sound and the ffffff sound are similar

- more;

amaze,  ballet’s,bay’s, bays,, betrays, , blaize,  blaze, bombay’s, bouquets, bouquets,, cabernets, caches, cafes, , chevrolet’s,chevrolets, , cliches, communiques, , craze,   days,  daze, decays, delays, , glaze, , maze, , phrase, plays, prays, , repays, rephrase, replays, , ways, weighs

 so we could start to contruct something out of all that…hmmmmm

you sure dance a safe ballet, when you drive your chevrolet
listening to your new shortwave, I don’t like how you behave

Yeah , I know it’s  brilliant! -not- but just as an example of using these related terms and building a word base for your song it’s fantastic.

In the process of my research I came across an astounding FREE program called the McGill English Dictionary of rhyme with Verse-Perfect . It has  a fabulous rhyming dictionary and thesaurus built in., giving you plenty of options for expanding you lyric ideas
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« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2008, 08:52:42 PM »

Hi Paul,
Where did you find the McGill dictionary? And have you seen rhymesaurus - it has a 30 day free trial.
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paulchurchfield
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« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2010, 01:45:26 PM »

Hi Paul,

I've been reading "writing better lyrics" and that is what brought me to your site.
Thanks for your efforts here, BTW, much appreciated.
I am slightly confused by your post here though.
Are you a proponent of the pat pattison method, or not?
You seem to be speaking in favor of it and then you flip-flop and seem to be questioning it...
Just curious...
I am finding Pat's book to be very engrossing, yet rather difficult to understand at times.
The samples of objectwriting that he gives make me feel rather inadequate.
I have to assume that the writers have done this before.
I plan on attempting the daily objectwriting.
Not sure when I'll be ready to share but hopefully soon.
Myself, I am a musician (many instruments, styles and experiences for over 30 years) but most of my experience has been in playing covers. I am ready to move on to the next phase and write my own music.  I am also a member of jpfolks.com and have actually collaborated a bit with a lyricist there.  I contributed 2 arrangements for a lyric and plan on continuing in that direction.
I am struggling with writing lyrics though and would appreciate any help that you or any other experienced writers can give.

Thanks again for sharing you site!

-Paul
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Paul
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« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2010, 08:07:08 AM »

Definitley a proponent of Mr pattisons methods- not quite sure where I am oscillating- but the thing to bear in mind is- no ONE person is a guru on these matters- even they will say that- read a bunch of stuff on songwriting and you'll find some common threads.

Re Object writing- I felt rather stupid when I first started doing it- but it's one of those the more you do it the better/easier it gets. I also got plenty of feedback doing the lyric tools/strategies course through Berklee music college- where Object writing was a daily exercise.

I started doing this just over three years ago, so there's a bit of weight behind what I'm now doing and it has now taken me on a journey so I write this to you from Nahsville Tenessee where I am about to do a four day series of songwriting workshops with N.S.A.I. [Nashvillle songwriters association international].
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JenBabe82
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« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2011, 11:39:49 AM »

The book has led me to this site as well. It has really dusted off my brain, and polished me up. I only hope to continue to better myself. Dedication is key.
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Nic
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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2013, 05:38:19 AM »

Thank you for explaining object writing. I'm also going through the first pages of Writing Better Lyrics and have been object writing every morning for about a week. I've found it difficult to stay within my senses and find myself journaling a lot as well. However, I'm noticing an ever so slight improvement in my writing and I'm becoming more focused.

By the way, in the book there is a quick reference to Destination Writing (by Andrea Stolpe). Can someone explain the difference between journaling and destination writing? Is there perhaps a Pat Pattison dictionary somewhere?  Smiley
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Paul
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« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2013, 02:21:56 AM »

in her own words:

http://www.musesmuse.com/col-andreastolpe-lyricwriting.html
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« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2013, 01:48:55 PM »

Hi Paul,

I've been reading "writing better lyrics" and that is what brought me to your site.
Thanks for your efforts here, BTW, much appreciated.
I am slightly confused by your post here though.
Are you a proponent of the pat pattison method, or not?
You seem to be speaking in favor of it and then you flip-flop and seem to be questioning it...
Just curious...
I am finding Pat's book to be very engrossing, yet rather difficult to understand at times.
The samples of objectwriting that he gives make me feel rather inadequate.
I have to assume that the writers have done this before.
I plan on attempting the daily objectwriting.
Not sure when I'll be ready to share but hopefully soon.
Myself, I am a musician (many instruments, styles and experiences for over 30 years) but most of my experience has been in playing covers. I am ready to move on to the next phase and write my own music.  I am also a member of jpfolks.com and have actually collaborated a bit with a lyricist there.  I contributed 2 arrangements for a lyric and plan on continuing in that direction.
I am struggling with writing lyrics though and would appreciate any help that you or any other experienced writers can give.

Thanks again for sharing you site!

-Paul

Hi Paul - we share some things in common. I'm also a musician of 30+ years, played a lot of different styles, mostly covers. I've been writing my own music ever since I started but mostly instrumentals. Lyrics and melodies have never come easy for me. I've written and recorded a few of my songs but I certainly haven't put in my 10,000 hours as a songwriter. My guitar playing skills are light years ahead of my songwriting skills, and in order to catch up I've decided to focus on songwriting with the same intensity that I put into my guitar playing.

I am interested in attending Berkley College of Music, and the courses that interest me the most are songwriting, and specifically Pat Pattison's online courses on lyric writing. In preparation, I went ahead and bought "Writing Better Lyrics" by Pat Pattison and the chapter on object writing also led me here to this web site.

My songwriting problems have been numerous: I'm too self-critical, slow to make decisions, I'm stuck in a rut, my ideas are stale, don't feel fresh and out of 3 or 4 albums worth of songs I've written there are none that I would submit to any songwriting contest.

I used to think that it was enough just to write, and that if I wrote 100 bad songs, maybe 1 good song would come out of it. But I have songwriter friends who have written 100 songs and none of their songs grab me, and so I think a lot of valuable time can be wasted by not being focused and not making progress. But at the same time you can't expect to get better at something unless you put in the time.

So having a guide to follow, like Pat Pattison's book, and having some very specific goals about what I want to achieve and then being disciplined enough to stick with it for the next few years to see what happens, that's my plan. One thing in "Writing Better Lyrics" rang especially true for me. Everybody is unique, has their own story, their own experiences, their own truths about the world.

The other thing that really lights my creative fire is that songs are magic, and one song really can change the world, and who is to say it couldn't be written by you or me, and not just the Gillian Welch's or John Mayer's?
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Nigel W
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« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2013, 11:28:32 PM »

I was fortunate to attend a weekend seminar on Prosody with Pat recently, and I just completed the 12-week Berklee course he devised "Lyric Writing-Tools And Strategies" taught by Andrea Stolpe, who is a prime educator and author too.

Pat has a knack of getting to what's important, teaching you ways into the way words operate, especially in a lyric. Some of what he deals with is high-level stuff (especially regarding rhyming) - he is a professor, after all! But he knows how to make it understandable - and, he makes it huge fun!

Andrea is incredibly focussed and she brings -I'd say- a powerful intuition, you might call it a female perspective perhaps, to the work and the business of writing. She really understands what's working or not, and why, when she looks at a lyric.

There will be other people and methods- of course. But if it's about the writing, Pat P and Andrea Stolpe are dealing with the real thing.

Nigel

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