Lately, I (Jascha) have been obsessed with Paul Simon, a peerless American songwriter. Here’s what he says, in an interview from the early 1990s, about the delicate task of writing the first line of a song:
“How you begin a song is one of the hardest things. The first line of a song is very hard. You want a first line that has a lot of options, to get you going. Like a road opening out, not closing in. It’s good to start with something that’s true. Something simple and true, that has a lot of possibilities.”
If you go back and look at his songs, you can see that he takes his own advice. So this week, let’s make it easy on ourselves. Let’s use some of the most common sentences in the English language, randomly selected by the magic of the Internet, so spur us on into spontaneous song.
Your mission (should you choose to accept it):
1) Go to englishinuse.net, a list of common English sentences, randomly selected every time you visit.
2) Read the first sentence aloud. That is the first line of your song.
3) Sing your song, starting with the first line.
Have fun discovering where the song takes you. Don’t plan or think too much. Don’t feel locked in by your sentence. It is just there to get the wheels rolling. You may find that the heart of your song lies somewhere unexpected. A good song keeps on moving forward, going steadily into areas that are dark, weird, strange or beautiful.
You can sing solo, with a looper, or with an instrument. Here is a demo response from Jascha. The sentence was “I just want to talk with you a little while.”
The steps are as follows:
- Step 0: Sign up for a free SoundCloud account.
- Step 1: Record yourself singing to the prompt.
- Step 2: Upload to SoundCloud.
- Step 3: Listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow singers.
Deadline: Your tracks should be uploaded by midnight wherever you are on Monday, August 22, 2016.
Length: The length of your finished work should be about the time it takes to sing your song.
Title/Tag: When uploading to SoundCloud, put “[sss-sentence]” in the title of your track. Also include the term “sss-sentence” as a tag. This will help us find it.
Linking: You are welcome to include this info in your description:
This track is a reply to “SSS Prompt 80: Sing from a common sentence.” More on the Society for Spontaneous Singing at http://singthis.org .
Thank you, sweet singers!
Jascha & Amado