Written by Shira Katz
Listen to “The Cave” an original song written (music & lyrics) by Shira Katz.
Here is how I approached this week’s challenge, to write a
song to pitch for a new series on Lifetime that stars Christina Ricci.
“The series can be best described as a 19th Century “Dexter”, a series that centres around a female anti-hero, lots of emotions: Love, Lust, Hate, Danger.
Musically looking for songs in the vain of: Black Keys, Bon Iver, Band of Skulls, Carolina Chocolate Drops, James Vincent McMorrow. For one episode, looking for a replacement for Hozier’s “To Be Alone.” As long as the song is in a similar wheelhouse and is lyrically similar, that is what is most important.”
-Jordan Howard, Creative Director, CCS Rights Management
(More details below)
My approach (in list format below) to creating “The Cave”, my original song, followed by more of my comments and observations (in paragraph format) on some of the details and challenges that I faced in facing this week’s challenge. These are followed by details on this week's challenge and the lyrics:
- Research the music & the tv series & Christina Ricci & 19th Century music & Dexter.
- Listen to Hozier’s “To Be Alone” and study the song.
- Listen to songs by Black Keys, Bon Iver, Band of Skulls, Carolina Chocolate Drops, James Vincent McMorrow, and Hozier.
- Deconstruct Hozier’s “To Be Alone” song…study the lyrics, the song structure, the melody and the chords and consider using that as a starting template or blueprint to create a new song.
- Play some keyboard chords to accompany some of the songs listed while listening to the songs at the same time, to get ideas for the tone.
- Create a new melody using guitar, using minor chords
- Embellish the melody by redoing it with keyboard instrumentation
- Look at images and brainstorm ideas for the song
- Start humming a melody to go with my keyboard song creation while looking at images and write words and ideas that come to mind
- Write the lyrics down and improve them after checking rhyming dictionary
- Keep revising.
My comments and some notes below on the process of creating the songs and lyrics for my original song, “The Cave” by Shira Katz:
Firstly, Christina Chocolate Drops, where have you been all my life! I have never heard of this band before but I fell in love with the music right away! The song “Country Girl” totally inspired me to come up with some chord progressions for the song I created. What a beautiful song!
Bon Iver – “I can’t make you love me” – I know this song & love it, I tried to incorporate some of this soft voice idea before getting into deep high-pitched emotions in my own song.
I listened to Hosier’s song “To Be Alone” many times, studied the song structure and chords. I found a helpful video on youtube on how to play some of the song on guitar, and knowing that there is a bass note looped throughout the song with the same beat was a big help for setting the tone. James Linderman also mentioned this “pedal” that is looped throughout the song, and suggested using such a technique to get a similar tone. I incorporated that idea, which also gives a feeling of danger and being chased.
I listened to Christina Chocolate Drops “Country Girl” and played the keyboards while listening, to get ideas. I did the same thing with Hosier’s “To Be Alone” and Bon Iver’s songs.
I decided to stay in the tonal centre of D minor, although Hosier uses E minor, but just to change things up a bit. From my study of music I know that horror music can use very high tones and very low tones, very atonal music. However, the music of Hozier also has a constant beat, which is in the pedal or bass note being repeated throughout the song very rhythmically, and the blue grass style is great for my high-pitched voice.
I noticed a lot of minor chords, with sixth and seventh intervals from the tonal centre in the melodies of most of those songs, so I tried to incorporate those ideas as well in the melody of my song.
I noticed that the Bon Iver song “I can’t make you love me” ends with one note (I think it’s an F?) in the farthest octave in the bass (piano) and a note that’s in the highest octave in the soprano voice (F on the keyboard?).
Bon Iver – Halocene – very repetitive chord structure, then the rhythm throws in an extra chord dip every so often on the downbeat. Drums/other instruments come in later, like a cannon.
Some of the suggested songs sometimes modulate to major in the chorus.
Ballads, a lot of emotion, my favorite type of music to do!
Hozier To Be Alone https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bH9mRs3sW7A
For song ideas, I looked up words related to darkness and danger and looked at images, and they reminded me of a cave, so I went with the idea of the cave. It brought to mind some of my own photography work, a series of artistic photos that I created of snow mixed with slush, with some of them appearing as cave-like photos that could be used for an original image for my song.
I also thought about a lecture I recently went to where a writer was talking about her husband’s “man cave” and how she needed a “woman cave”. I thought it would be great to incorporate that idea of the cave inside the body, the cave that a person goes to for some alone time, but it can also be perceived as dark, lonely and dangerous, the cave of one’s heart, etc. So much potential for a song to carry all of the emotions!
I started to brainstorm words related to a cave and “danger”, such as “boulder”, and I even came up with “bullet hole” for the opening of the cave. Then I thought of the emotion of anger and that a hole could be related to a volcano spewing from the top of the cave, at the same time this is a dangerous situation, and then I inserted the words “volcano heart” to incorporate the love/lust idea, then using the rhyming dictionary I found the word “mold” to rhyme with “volcano” and then I made the line “bullet mold” and I thought of a “charge” but when I sang it, it sounded better and went better with the music to create a sense of danger to change it to “bullet molds charging”. I also found tons of words to go with the feeling of “rage” but tried to make as much imagery as possible, instead of just stating the emotion, using action words like “chains, maze”! I stuck with melancholy-sounding minor chords, but I thought that the cave needs a lust aspect, then I found the word “dominate” and I thought that it’s perfect because I can relate the idea of lust such with the dominatrix idea. I also wanted to create one aspect of the cave where the person loves the cave, which is why the irony would be to love or embrace the cave, crave the cave, which throws in that opposing element of intrigue to my song. To incorporate more ideas of danger, I used my voice and also came up with the idea of “lava sparks” like a spark of hatred or danger but it could also be a spark of lust or love. Going with the dominatrix/lust theme, I found the word “kinky” and had words such as “guarded” to match the word “heart” and “traced” to go with “cave”, then I came up with the line “Guarded kinks in every trace”.
I want to thank SAC, Lily Cheng and Jordan Howard for issuing the challenge, and special thank you’s to James Linderman & Debra Alexander for being amazing mentors, for their guidance and support for this week’s challenge, giving tips and suggestions on how to create a song that meets this week’s challenge.
S.A.C. Challenge – Week 5 – Issued by Jordan Howard – Write for a pitch for a new TV Series
March 9, 2015
Jordan Howard is Creative Director at CCS Rights Management. The company provides Music IP Management Publishing. Their roster of services includes sync licensing. Here is his challenge:
Challenge: I am looking for songs to pitch for a new series on Lifetime that stars Christina Ricci. The series can be best described as a 19th Century “Dexter.” Series centers around a female anti-hero, lots of emotions. Love, Lust, Hate, Danger. Musically I am looking for songs in the vain of: Black Keys, Bon Iver, Band of Skulls, Carolina Chocolate Drops, James Vincent McMorrow. For one episode, I am looking for a replacement for Hozier’s “To Be Alone.” As long as the song is in a similar wheelhouse and is lyrically similar, that is what is most important.
The Cave ©March 13, 2015 Music and Lyrics by Shira Katz
(Written for a TV series starring Christina Ricci)
Intro: ==Whistle ===
Miles away, fires awake
Inside my cave.
Mistress chased, bonded in chains
Crave the cave.
Cave is dark,
Bonded and charged
Bullet molds charging,
Dominate the cave!
Dispose your shame,
Body of a maze.
Fight your game/or embrace
Cave you crave,
You crave my domain.
I’ll make sure you’ll embrace
Bullets charging in the molds of my cave
Guarded kinks in every trace
Parts contained, body shakes,
Inside my cave,
It’s a maze.
Fight your game, or embrace
Fight your game, or embrace
Fight your game, or embrace
I’ll dominate the cave!