Buffi Blog – June 2011

I did my first Master Class series at the University of Pop Culture in Berlin. It was the first time I did my shizzle in a country where I didn’t speak the language fluently. For me, this was a huge step and I’m very happy to say that it went really well. We worked on lyrics, songwriting, grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. And had sushi breaks. What more could you ask for? Sunshine, maybe? We had that too!

But before I go, my latest blog…born out of my FRUSTRATION with (some) songwriters: Enjoy.

If you want to lose your egg, go throw it somewhere else. However, if you want to create an omelette, I’m listening.

Recently, some emerging artists asked me to give them feedback on their new songs. I love doing this; my ears are always hungry for something innovative and interesting, or a twist on tradition. However, one thing became clear to me as I listened to the songs: these people needed to learn the difference between vomit and lyrics.

This is a process; it takes time to learn. However, in the interest of life being way too short already, let me speed it the hell up.

Just because you got dumped does not automatically lead to good lyrics. If you’re depressed, get help. Don’t think that you can just scribble down all your anger and sadness and that it automatically becomes a song. Listeners who are moved by lyrics these days don’t need to hear vomit. We are interested in a story, preferably with a storyline. Take your anger and throw it in our face, but get yourself out of your songwriter’s bubble to see how it really comes across to your listeners. A good coach pokes a little hole in that writer’s bubble, and lets a little light and fresh air in. That’s what giving feedback means to me. When I sit with my students (I teach at 3 colleges a week and give Master Classes in Holland, Belgium and Germany) or emerging artists, it’s surprising to see how they react to their own lyrics. When I point out that they’ve written the same word 3 times in one verse, for example, I’m always surprised that for many, they only see it then for the first time.

A good songwriter is open to feedback, and thinks critically about their craft. They take all parts of their craft seriously, and realize that lyrics should not be an afterthought.  If you want to ‘lose your egg’, as you say in Dutch (in English we say ‘to get something off our chest’), then try to create an omelette with it. Choose all your ingredients selectively. Weigh them carefully. Mix them in the way you feel best, and stir with love and undivided attention. Then, when you’ve finally finished….take a deep breath and serve it up for someone else. They might think it needs more salt, or less cheese.  And it’s their absolute right to say so. Part of sharing your craft, whether it be creating in the kitchen or writing at the kitchen table, is being open to feedback from people you value; and having the confidence to tweak your favorite recipe. If you don’t, you might just end up with egg on your face.

x buffi

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