EBASS Blog: Songwriting Workshop & Open Stage
By Dan Martinelli | Gallery 263 | October 25, 2015
Last Sunday evening a group of local musicians gathered at Gallery 263 in
Cambridge for the EBASS Songwriting Workshop and Open Stage. This was the first
installment of a new monthly series that allows songwriters to seek feedback
and constructive criticism from their peers and help each other to develop and
refine their craft. Sitting in a circle, participants took turns sharing
everything from rough ideas to complete but untested songs.
Performing songwriters are accustomed to pouring their hearts out in front of
strangers, but sharing an unfinished work adds an extra level of vulnerability.
Taking that leap, however, provides a chance to gain valuable insights into
what elements of one's music and lyrics are connecting with listeners. The
attendees at this event were all very respectful and supportive, listening
attentively to each person and responding with helpful notes on their
reactions to each song. Facilitator Crispin Swank, an experienced workshop
leader, guided the conversation and helped to create a comfortable environment
for everyone to share both their work and their comments.
The assortment of artists in the room came from a variety of musical
backgrounds. Some were formally educated while others were self-taught.
Several different musical styles were represented. As a result, each
commentator was able to provide his or her own unique perspective. Some
artists had specific questions to pose to the group and received a variety of
thoughtful suggestions. Ideas discussed touched on everything from melodies
and chord choices to lyrical themes to song structures and dynamic changes.
Everyone in the room showed an enthusiastic interest in the finer elements of
songcraft, which made for fascinating discussion.
The second half of the night featured an open stage where several of the
workshop participants performed their original songs. The small space at
Gallery 263 provides a great acoustic environment for intimate performances,
and the audience listened intently to each performer. Having just obtained a
look into the unrefined ideas of each of these artists, the listeners were much
more invested in the performance of their completed works, and that was a big
part of what this event was all about--strengthening the sense of community
among local songwriters by encouraging them to participate with each other in
a part of the process that regular audiences don't get to share.
The plan is for this to be a monthly event, and if the first installment is any
indicator it should be a great contribution to the flourishing Boston area
music community. The next such event is scheduled for November 22nd and will
feature Heather Woods as guest facilitator.