Songwriting to Tell a Story

This was the first class I ever taught SCA, starting with Pennsic 2013. I knew that teaching was a vital part of what we do in the Society, and I pondered what topic I felt I knew well enough to presume to offer a class on it.

When all is said and done, the skill I bring that I believe contributes most to the SCA, and my enjoyment of it, is songwriting. Well-crafted songs are some of my purest joys, and this is the creative form that rewards me like no other. I put some thought into what I felt I knew about writing lyrics (along with the first principles Steven Sondheim extols in Finishing the Hat, which had been published the previous year), and took a stab at it. I have heard several incredibly talented bards tell me over the years that the toolkit I laid out has been of value to them, and I’m beyond grateful to know that.

Class description: Principles and guidelines for constructing tight, compelling, original, SCA-appropriate songs that capture (and hold) an audience. The focus is on lyrics, song and story structure. How is writing a good lyric different from writing a good poem? Create a singable story that is entertaining, engaging, and will hold the attention of a SCAdian audience, who enjoy period material, but still prefer a song that runs 5 minutes or under.