Monthly Songwriting Assignments

Each month, we unleash chaos theory and cook up a songwriting assignment for the next  month’s meeting. The assignment could be anything from a general theme or a definite song title to a challenge to write, for example, ten new songs in ten days. Members are free to work on the assignment or follow the path of personal inspiration instead. Some of our best songs have come from assignments.

2017

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July: Wizard of Oz. Write a song inspired by the Wizard of Oz.

Optional: bring us a song from your own personal songwriter inspiration.

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June: Video Exchange Revisited. Submit a short video, get one back submitted by another participant. Write a song inspired by the video you receive.

Optional: bring us a song from your own personal songwriter inspiration.

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May: Write a song that has something to do with Science Fiction. You get a high-five for a  new song about sci-fi that you can later share over wi-fi in hi-fi.

Optional: bring us a song from your own songwriter personal inspiration.

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April:
Video Exchange. Submit a short video, get one back submitted by another participant. Write a song inspired by the video you receive.

Optional #1: Write a song with a singalong component. Teach us the singalong part when you present the song.

Optional #2: Bring us a new song from your own songwriter personal inspiration.

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March:
Write a song that has something to do with a PRODUCT. Maybe it’s the iPhone, maybe it’s your favourite brand of evaporated milk. Maybe it’s an imaginary product. Maybe you hate something about a particular product.
We’ll send our finished songs to the manufacturers and all make thousands of dollars, or be taken to court, as the case may be. May the muse be with you.

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February:
Write a song that has something to do with “no emotion.” Maybe your song could actually be called, “No Emotion,” or maybe it could be related to that feeling —  whatever tickles your fancy. It could be the opposite of traditional Valentine’s Day ideas.

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January:
Write a song inspired by Leonard Cohen.

2016
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November:
Write a song for Remembrance Day. Our meeting falls on November 11, Remembrance Day. So write a song called “Remembrance Day” or a song that has something to do with Remembrance Day.

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October:
Write a song with lyrics based on the viewpoint of a gender other than your own. This could be fairly broadly defined and could include any creature of the animal kingdom, trans-gendered giraffes being a definite possibility.

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September:
Lyric Exchange. Write lyrics to the title “The Lift” — submit these lyrics by next Friday August 19. We will then send your lyrics to another TSA member who will write a song based on those lyrics. Try to complete 2 verses and a chorus (a complete song is ideal but submit as much as you can).

This is an opportunity to whip off a set of lyrics in 10 or 20 minutes!! You won’t have to work with them!

To participate, contact us via the contact page for further information.

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August
Write a song about a cause. Any cause will do, but maybe one that you are passionate about. Below are some possible causes to get your creative juices flowing, but you would probably want to get more specific:

• Advocacy & Human Rights
• Emergency & Safety
• LGBT
• Animals
• Employment
• Media & Broadcasting
• Arts & Culture
• Environment
• People with Disabilities
• Board Development
• Faith-Based
• Politics
• Children & Youth
• Health & Medicine
• Race & Ethnicity
• Community
• Homeless & Housing
• Seniors
• Computers & Technology
• Hunger
• Sports & Recreation
• Crisis Support
I• mmigrants & Refugees
• Veterans & Military Families
• Disaster Relief
• International
• Women
• Education & Literacy
• Justice & Legal
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July: 
Write a song about a mythical creature or fictional character.

Optional sub-assignment:
Include a “riff” that reflects your mythical creature or fictional character.

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June:
Write a song that has some talking, speaking, or rapping in it. A tiny bit or a lot — it doesn’t matter.
One example of a song that has a LOT of speaking in it is Somewhere Down the Crazy River (Robbie Robertson) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KP9PNSUME4

Optional sub-assignment:
Write a song that has a time signature that is not 4/4.

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May:
Write a song with a one-word chorus. Or two words if you absolutely need two, but you get the idea. One word can paint a thousand pictures.
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April:

1. Choose a song that was written specifically about another person (E.g. Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” Elton John’s “Daniel,” Jefferson Starship’s “Sara.”). The name doesn’t necessarily have to be mentioned in the title of the existing song, but that might make it easier and fun to do.
2. Write your own song from the perspective of the person who was mentioned in that song.
Have fun!
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March:
Write a song based on a favourite song. Take a favourite song of yours — famous or not — but somebody else’s song that you think is great. Then rewrite the lyrics so your lyrics exactly match the meter/structure of the song you’ve chosen. In other words, you could take your lyrics and completely replace the original lyrics. Then, rewrite the music using your new lyrics.

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February:
Write a song based on James Bond. Really, it’s about anything related to James Bond. Shake it and stir it any way you want.

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January:
Write a song based on a phone number. Here are some options:

  1. Use the digits in the number to suggest a chord progression. For example, if the first 4 digits of your phone are 4213. In the key of C that suggests the chord sequence F, Dm, C, Em or, if you want something jazzy, FM7, Dm7, CM7 and Em7.
  2. Use the digits to represent notes in the scale. 1 thru 8 give you do, re, mi … If you get 0 or 9 you could decide they are wild cards or a rest.
  3. Write about something the number suggests. 967-11-11 could be food related for example. 911 might prompt a cautionary tale. What is the first phone number you memorized? What does that bring to mind?
  4. If you’d rather use another number, PIN, SIN, serial, address, etc. Go for it.

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2015

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November:
December. Write a song about December — whatever that suggests to you.

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October
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Work of art. Write a song based on a work of art — preferably a painting but not necessarily. Yes, we’ve done it before, but it was voted top choice, made topical by the Rheostatics reunion shows at the AGO last weekend. They recorded a whole album of songs inspired by the group of seven.

Close-runner-up assignment: Write a song based on or inspired by a dream — preferably one of your own. Apparently ingesting vitamin B is supposed to aid in dream recall.