~ write an idea into a 8 bar folk song ~

~ adding in chords one by one ~

~ in one fell swoop, we strengthen up the essentials for making music; in time, form, pitches, chords, lyrics and our creative powers, all in one fell swoop :) ... while shaping our ideas into songs we play ~

In a nutshell. Paired with the study that 'makes any motivic idea into a 12 bar blues form and song, here we roll with just the eight bars of pure Americana, in any style and focused on chords and progressions. For as we'll see as we advance in our studies throughout of form and composing, that 'everything is four bars' doubles to eight bars which doubles to 16 bars, and 16 to 32 bars, at which point we've covered the form of most of the songs in the Americana book. Throw in the now ancient 'strophic' for the poetry of a story, and our composition options go kaboom. Actually, combining the above creates the 'BA' degree'd entry level of trained competence, knowledge and its vocabulary.

So to begin, do learn and with an eye to master these two songs; melody and chord progressions, as the range of melody lines theses changes can support probably know no bounds in style and genre. And the chord progression and its bass patterns are the foundation to our discussion here ... 'form up any riff, lick ditty motif' that you come up with, and write it into an eight bar semblance of a song, based on these fundamental chord changes and their patterns for creating tension, and its release, of storytelling.

'Three chords and the truth' These first changes are just pure fun to run. Learn them here if need be. And once up and running, write a song or two over this storyline. One / Four / Five thinking 'C' major. Ex 1.

'Three chords and the truth' Same idea as the last but now One / Four / Five thinking 'A' minor. Example 2.

"Key To The Highway." This three chord gem, written in 1940, has since been covered by our Americana bright stars, and since been covered by the many stars who have recorded and presented them in performance, are all super 8 bar gems that tell stories that reach out to all travelers on the Americana pathway, meeting its challenges on the quest to a shared freedom. Thankfully recorded over the decades now in a range of styles; blues, folk, gospel, pop and jazz, we theorists can 'come along after the art is made' and examine the song's chord progressions.

Thus empowered, we can then borrow a chord from one version to place in another, to jazz things up, until the tune's bass line and harmony maybe even begin to loose their identifiable character, then we'll know we're on the jazzy side of Americana style and have discovered some cool chordal 'options' along the way. We then might then use some of these 'options' to tell and jazz up our own tales of the highway of life. Example 3.

Cycle of 5th's / "Sweet Georgia Brown." This last entry here brings in the cycle of 5th's into our One Four Five chord progressions. For what a lot of what we do chord wise is to find chords that 'set up' the motion to the next chord, in a progression. Study up on this gem, get it under your fingers, and begin a pathway to 'all things dominant harmony.' Please click over for the chart. Here's the 12 letters on their clock. Example 4.

"Always think different from the next person. Don't ever do a song as you heard somebody else do it."

wiki ~ Otis Redding

Review. Learning these skills and putting them together; pitches, chords, form and time, create a sure pathway to strengthen our Americana musicality. After doing it a few times, and the process is in place, you'll always have this ability under your fingers; to create a 8 bar styled song to share whenever an idea comes along. With the clicks moving us through the form, something new each chorus seems to always shake loose. And because8 bars is at the true roots for creating the Americana songs we love, most times the 'rules' of form apply wherever our musics might go.

When practicing. This basic lesson, to take any idea that comes along and form it up into 8 bars, is a solid way to get results out of practice time that we might ever master. For even if we only get a few minutes each day to make music, using this 'one idea through the 8 bar form', gets us right to making music, and brings music's energizing, centering, creative and healing magics right now, as soon as we count if off. Just a great way to have fun and improve our skills playing music, when practice time is tight.

So, have a few licks under your fingers now ? Each of the ideas presented above create ways to play the form of a song; major and minor, and ways jazz it all up. Team any up with Franz, and let your strengthening begin yet further anew. For within musical time is where we can shape into songs for all of the above while strengthening our own storytelling mojo.

And 'to make some of your own songs ...' here's a few 'thought experiments' and a bit beyond too :)

References. References for this page's information comes from school of hard knocks, made way easier by the folks along the way.

References academia Alaska. And when you need university level answers to your questions and musings, and especially if you are considering a career in music and looking to continue your formal studies, begin to e-reach out to the Alaska University Music Campus communities and begin a dialogue with some of Alaska's own and finest resident maestros !