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Mark Bacino

Guitar World Member For: 3 years 19 weeks
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Songcraft: A Harmony Primer — Creating and Recording Vocal Harmonies

A reader and fellow songwriter recently asked if I could offer some basic thoughts on the nuts and bolts of creating and recording vocal harmonies for a song (a source of frustration for said reader). Harmony is certainly a lengthy and complex topic to distill down to a few paragraphs, but here goes something...

Lesson: Tune Up Your Tempo

As songwriters, we think of tempo as the most basic of basics. Tempo, or the speed at which we perform a song, is sort of the quiet engine, the driving force behind all our tunes; yet, because we consider it so "Songwriting 101," tempo can sometimes become songcraft’s sadly neglected middle child.

Songcraft: Mike Viola Talks Songwriting Triage, Movie Music and Arcade Backlines

One night, mid-Nineties, after catching a great set by singer-songwriter (not yet children's music superstar) Dan Zanes at New York City's Fez, I stuck around to take in "a bit" of the next act on the bill, the still-unknown-to-me Candy Butchers. Thirty minutes later, much to my surprise and delight, I was still glued to my chair.

Songcraft: Singer-Songwriter David Poe Discusses His New Album, 'God & The Girl'

Every producer imparts special information; Emile Kelman encouraged minimalism. Brad Jones taught me about layering. Larry Klein has deep intuition. Rick Parker conjures a vibe. Pete Min is a master of process. John Alagia understands how tonality impacts songs. Steve Rosenthal knows history. Ed Ackerson rewrites it. Buddy Miller captures lightning in a bottle. They all do.

Lesson: Song Structure Basics

Song structure (or lack thereof) can definitely prove to be a source of considerable frustration, especially for new writers. You might have a great collection of hooks or parts, but how you string them together can really make or break a tune. While there are certainly no “rules” as to how a writer should structure their tunes, there are some tried-and-true classic structures (especially in the pop tradition) and variations on the like that just plain work, building excitement and keeping the listener’s attention. Why not look at these workhorse structures from songs past and incorporate them into our own work -- or at least use them as a springboard for our own variations on the theme?

Songcraft: A Songwriter’s Pocket Checklist

Though often reserved for the mundane realms of the shopping cart or office Post-It note scene, a good checklist can be a helpful tool in any situation — a collection of stripped-down, simple reminders that quickly focuses the mind toward the core of the matter.

Songcraft: A Guide to Structured Songwriting

In my musical travels, I’ve found there are generally two types of songwriters; those who create solely when inspiration calls and those who write via a structured work schedule. If, like me, you fall into the former, waiting-for-that-lightning-to-strike category of writers, this blog post is for you.

Songcraft: My Songwriting Process

For better or worse, over the years I’ve come to find that when writing music for myself (as opposed to other artists or projects), I’m not a disciplined, “Write something every morning” kind of writer. Instead, I generally find myself reaching for the guitar or sitting at the piano when I feel in the mood to play, if not necessarily in the mood to “write."

Songcraft: The Pros and Cons of Using Virtual Instruments

As more and more songwriters set up Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) at home to demo their ideas or make full-blown recordings of their work, they find themselves face to face with a myriad of tools, options and choices they may never have encountered before. Today I’d like to talk about one of those tools: the virtual instrument.

Songcraft: Eliminating Distractions from Our Writing

As the demands and distractions of our modern, ultra-connected existence attempt to claim every minute of our day, it’s often hard to find the time to do what we, as songwriters, want/need to do the most: write. Texts, email, phone, the web, etc. As important and as necessary as each may be, they can also sometimes act as mini-detours on the road to creative productivity.