Prosody: Aristotle’s Gift to Songwriters

For week 2 of the Pat Pattison songwriting course through Coursera, we have been learning about prosody, or the elements that create unity in a song. Specifically, we have been learning how line length and the number of lines both affect prosody and what effects they have on the song in general.

I was really hoping my songwriting brain would be in a higher gear by now, but I think that the time change last weekend, combined with the effort my brain is putting into several other creative projects at the moment, (not to mention schooling my children and finishing my books so I can do taxes), are all sapping my creative energy to the extent that all I have left for songwriting is the dregs of my brain's teacup. Even still, I have managed to scribble a few lines, even if they are still not achieving the quality that I would prefer to see in my work.

The peer review assignment this week actually required us to write a verse and a chorus, within the parameters that the verse must be unstable (not meet expectations) and the chorus must be stable, using line lengths and number of lines. I wrote an entire song, actually, based on James 2:14-17, which are key verses in the Bible study my lady's group just finished up doing. "What good is it, brothers, if someone has faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother is without clothes or daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go in peace; keep warm and well-fed,' but does nothing for his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead." (NIV)

What Good Is It?

Words and music by Talena Winters

5th and Main just yesterday
Saw a sign that read, “Haven’t eaten today”
Fought the urge I felt not to meet his eye
So much easier to simply pass him by
But couldn’t live a lie

‘Cause if my faith talks, but it don’t walk
Then, brothers, what good is it?
Oh, if my faith talks, but it don’t walk
Then, brothers, what good is it?

Don’t you know somebody’s watching you
Seeing if what you say matches what you do?
When you see the need that comes into your way
Will you lend a hand or simply walk away?
Will you live your faith?

‘Cause if your faith talks, but it don’t walk
Then, brothers, what good is it?
Oh, if your faith talks, but it don’t walk
Then, brothers, what good is it?

And yes, we are free, free indeed
But those who would know God, take heed
True religion helps those in need
So do you walk the talk?

(Instrumental)

‘Cause if my faith talks, but it don’t walk
Then, brothers, what good is it?
Oh, if my faith talks, but it don’t walk
Then, brothers, what good is it?

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Right now, I'm hearing kind of a reggae/funk feel (think Jason Mraz), but I think it is primarily the melody I have for it that is not thrilling me at the moment. The lyrics may not win any awards, but they're not that bad, really.

I am glad I am taking the course, but if I could have chosen the time frame, it would have started at a different time of year. Oh, well... for now, I'm making the best of it, and hoping I absorb enough wisdom that when I have more time for songwriting (come summer, usually), it will raise the calibre of my output several levels.

I am really enjoying getting to know some other Canadian songwriters a little bit through the SAC Songwriting Challenge, also. It's really great to hear others' experiences, and know that I AM NOT ALONE!! :-)