Book review: The Frustrated Songwriter’s Handbook

I’m a frustrated songwriter. I never managed to write that many songs, and a friend told me about this book. I actually read it before I started a master’s degree in songwriting.

Content and opinions

The first chapter sets up the mood, and explains why a frustrated songwriter is and why he can’t get past his blocks. The chapter ends with a long story of the birth of the method presented in the book (Immersion Music Method).

The second chapter presents the main principle of the method: generating ideas. 20 songs to write in twelve hours (yes, you need to be ready for such a session!). They have to be new, but they don’t have to be finished in such a short timeframe. As usual, you will need time after to polish the songs (and then you may be stuck again, but at least you have materials!).

The next chapter polishes the rules about this game. It tries to answer all the questions you can have to try to avoid the 12 hours deadline. It helps you set up also that (long) day so that you can focus on writing.

The last chapter before the a long chapter with ideas tackles what they call lodges. The lodges are a community with several people playing the game at the same time and sharing their results at the end of the day. It helps building momentum, but of course, you need to recruit other frustrated songwriters!

Chapter 5 is a 3 parts list with additional tools to use during the session. The first one is about generating raw material. For instance how to start writing a new song, what to do when you are stuck. The second part specifies a theme for the session, and the last one more or less links several sessions together. In some way, the first part tackles everything below the level of a session, the second one the level of a session and the last one the level above sessions.

The final chapter wraps everything together with ideas on polishing the raw songs that were generated from the sessions. Quite obvious, but still relevant.

Conclusion

The process described in the book, this way of writing, may not be the ideal for everyone. It aims at removing blocks by lowering your expectations. It’s not that you won’t write good songs this way, it’s all about getting back in the game again. As such, if you have time on your hand, this process is interesting. And the stories told in all chapters are quite nice as well 😉

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