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The Case of the Blocked Singer-Songwriter

Probe with Rachel Bennett
Leah was under pressure to write whilst in a development deal with a reputable company and had ‘hit a wall’ – no new ideas were arriving.

She was using mind maps, newspaper articles, all the usual routes into her material but she was getting nowhere – fast!

She asked me to do a session that could help her release the lyrical flow, so I had to think for a moment about how I could be involved.

Once a singer songwriter has signed a contract, it can be precarious to assist with their writing, simply because of copyright issues or ownership of work; if a shared writing experience suddenly becomes a hit, anyone involved ought to be entitled to a share of the income generated.

However, there are ways to help out without getting into ‘forbidden territory’ – I just had to decide on the best one for this situation.

Leah’s music was bluesy and her lyrical style was a little conversational so I felt that a particular exercise would be of help.

We sat down in a quiet room and turned on the tape recorder.

We sat down in a quiet room and turned on the tape recorder.

Then we simply talked about life in general, what her latest news was, a little about her dreams and some chat around her history, including her childhood.

Our chat lasted half an hour and the recording was full to the brim with phrases and meaningful snippets.

I also encouraged Leah to record people on the bus or in supermarket queues – impersonal and open spaces.

She could have taken this further and asked her housemates if she could record random conversations in the shared spaces of the house such as the kitchen or lounge.

Within a week Leah had penned some wonderful new material and she commented that the most inane parts of the conversations – not the deep and meaningful parts – were often the parts that had inspired her best choruses!

– Raie

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