If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

April Interview Schedule:
4/3 Connie Berry
4/10 Malice Domestic Anthology 14 Authors
4/17 David Burnsworth
3/24 Grace Topping

Saturday Guest Bloggers: 4/6 Edith Maxwell, 4/13 Ellen Butler

WWK Satuday Bloggers: 4/20 Margaret S. Hamilton, 4/27 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files

Congratulations to Shari Randall for her nomination for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Her book, Curses, Boiled Again was published by St. Martin's last year. Read the interviewabout the book here. Yay, Shari!

The Malice Domestic conference participants have nominated Annette Dashofy for an Agatha Award for her Zoe Chambers mystery Cry Wolf, published in 2018 by Henery Press. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Annette about Cry Wolf here. Will four nominations be the charm?

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: http://a.co/d/jdSBKdM

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder, which will be released April 30, is available for pre-order.

KM Rockwood's new short story, "Map to Oblivion," has been included the anthology Shhhh...Murder! edited by Andrew MacRae and published by Darkhouse Books. It was released on Sept. 12.

Warren Bull also has a story in Shhh...Murder! Look for "Elsinore Noir," Warren's short story, in this anthology.

Shari Randall's third Lobster Shack Mystery, Drawn and Buttered, was published February 26, 2019. Available for sale.


Friday, January 4, 2019

Plotting a Song by Warren Bull

Plotting a Song by Warren Bull

Image by Benjamin Wagner on Upsplash

In addition to writing, I enjoy expressing myself by singing. As I see it, both are ways to tell a story. The songs I enjoy most are songs with strong plots. The singers I like to listen to most have the ability to communicate what the song is about. Willie Nelson has a nasal tone. Art Garfunkel sings “breathy” high notes. Both of them are wonderful musicians who present moving and vibrant songs.
 When I want to connect to the audience I find that I need to understand the storyline of songs. That influences which words in a lyrical phrase I want to emphasize and where I want to pause long enough to take a breath.  Sometimes in the rhythm of a song emphasis falls naturally on words like “the” or “and,” which do not convey meaning.  So, as a singer, I have to finesse that beat. I have to balance music, lyrics and acting during a performance.

I also need to decide what the singer is telling the audience and why. For example, when writing, it is important to decide on point of view. Is the story told as this happened to me, which is personal or is the narrator detached and observing — this happened. Is the time frame this happened in the undefined past or the immediate — do the events unfold right now.

I wanted to sing Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, a jazz standard with music by Duke Ellington and lyrics by Bob Russell. It is a great song “covered,” i.e. sung, by many artists. It is a musically upbeat tale of heartbreak and loss after being discarded by a lover. It has a bouncy tempo that contrasts with the lyrics about staying home and not enjoying formerly favorite activities. Most singers use a quick jazzy approach to the song.
When I thought about how to perform Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, my voice teacher suggested I identify an emotion suggested by the song and consider how I could express the emotion in the way would sing the song.
I found the history of the song interesting, The tune was originally called Never No Lament and was recorded as a big-band instrumental. Ellington apparently conceived of the tune as reflecting an attitude of: “You hurt me, but I will go on without you…just not yet.”  

I wondered how it might be presented as a lament. What if the singer, was still in the early stages of mourning the end of the relationship.  Most singers start with the punchy lyrics, “Missed the Saturday dance.” However, Bob Russell actually wrote an introductory phrase about the singer staying isolated at home, which is rarely performed. I tried starting with the usual opening at a slow tempo.  I also tried singing the introduction. In the end, I decided to ask the pianist to play the lyricist’s introduction to set the mood and then to come in where expected but at a slow tempo. 
After listening to Ella Fitzgerald “scat,” i.e. sing sounds that are not words, during jazz performances, I decided to imitate a trumpet in Ellington’s orchestra when I came in on the second verse.  I changed the last three notes so, “a-ny-more” rose in pitch.
The audience seemed to like my personal interpretation of a jazz classic.


Paula Gail Benson said...

Warren, thanks for sharing your fascinating process. I write music and lyrics for Christmas plays performed at my church. Like you, I find developing a story through music to be a wonderfully creative excercise. May you continue to enjoy and share with others your joy in singing!

E. B. Davis said...

Awesome, Warren. You must be good. I won't even try Karaoke.

Margaret Turkevich said...

Fascinating. When we attend an opera or musical, I usually focus on the singer's body language and expression (which I can apply to my own writing). I'll think about your interpretation during the next performance.

KM Rockwood said...

What wonderful way to express yourself! You have a truly creative spirit, and it shows in both your writing and your music.

Grace Topping said...

Wish you could have attached a recording of your song. It sounded wonderful.

Paul D. Marks said...

Interesting way to look at it, Warren. Good stuff.

Kait said...

A fascinating look at your process and at the history of this great song. Thank you for sharing.