Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Practicing the Art of Popular Song Writing

An old article about Irving Berlin. From The Writer's Digest:
Irving Berlin began with more than his share of handicaps. His family was bitterly poor, his formal education was extremely “sketchy,” and his knowledge of music was absolutely nil. In addition, he has never been especially robust physically. He has overcome poverty and, to some extent, lack of education but he still pounds out his melodies on the piano with one finger. He can play the piano passably, by ear, in just one key—F sharp. He can neither read music nor transcribe it, yet he gave birth to the intricate and brilliant melody of “Everybody Step,” which musical critics have hailed as a masterpiece of musical art.

“Oh, Mr. Berlin,” someone said to him one day, “I guess there’s no one who has written as many song hits as you have.”

“I know there’s no one who has written so many failures,” he replied with a smile.

There you have a least one of the factors in his success. It is a factor which inevitably shows itself in the story of every successful man—that of perseverance and refusal to become discouraged. He has written a lot of failures, yes. But look at the hits he has also turned out. In his sparring with Life, or Destiny, or whatever it is we mortals battle, he has received many a black eye but, as the Irishman in his story said, “You ought to see the other fellow.”

During his earlier years as a song writer, he was a prolific producer. He poured out songs so fast at one time that many were published under a nom de plume. These songs did not just bubble out of him; rather, they were exploded out of him. A chance spark from the anvil of Life, an inward explosion—and another song was born. (Read more.)

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