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Bruce Springsteen once described his acoustic song writing as “fumblings that hover between disaster and opportunity” and I have some understanding of that technique. I never set out to write songs. They just “happen” usually when I’m fumbling around trying to play something else.

Usually by accident I will find the dynamic and then just follow the formula. That formula of “tension and release” was invented by one J S Bach and which can be found in most good songs written since his time. Puccini, Verdi, Keith Richards (until 1974) or any great songwriter you care to name all used this formula The use of minors, 7ths etc to create tension then the resolution. The use of suspended chords to introduce one chord to the next.

I’ve travelled fairly extensively and I was astonished to hear in Rajasthan in Northern India traditional music in a form you can hear in most western Music. The use of the “ Circle of 5ths”. I understand this basic pattern was invented by the Greeks thousand of years ago and taken with them wherever they went and one certain Alexander the Great did a tour of Northern India though he wasn’t there to give concerts.

So this thread now runs through most good modern music except perhaps Jazz. By its structure Hip hop, garage or anything else you want to call it is not technically music. It’s basically doggerel set to a tedious undynamic rhythm.

I’m particularly pleased with the way “Man Overboard” turned out. For years Schubert’s Um das wasser zu Singen ( to be sung on the water) and Offenbach’s “Tales of Hoffman” have been buzzing around in my subconscious and one Sunday night the guitar just seemed to play it itself. I don’t recall any conscience effort at all. Man Over board is a Barcarolle, a form of tradition music invented by gondoliers in Venice in the 17th century and Offenbach merely took it up.

So that’s it, my technique for song writing. The style I write in depends on what instrument I’m playing so for instance when I’m on the piano I find I’m writing Northern Soul numbers and I always use a little trick Armand Thompson showed me. Reverse the sequence.
Cheers Armand.

However if you really want to know about song writing, a certain Howard Goodall is the daddy …………………



Listen to my new tracks
Free download:

"Hold Me"

"Good Times Louisiana"

"Man Overboard"

"Deutshe Wiegnlied"

"On our way"

Listen to Kym's BBC radio interview: Click here


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