It seems to me that often those folks most motivated to write science songs are science teachers, who understand the need for such things. There is nothing wrong with this in theory, however, songwriting is both an art and a craft and it takes a bit of talent and much study and experience in order to be able to write them well. Science songs (or any kind of “teaching” songs) are particularly challenging to write well…. I’m not a snob about this, really – there is value in any creative effort. But, when I hear a beginner’s mistake in a song that somebody spent a lot of time and money to record and distribute, I always cringe. It seems to me that the songwriting often gets overlooked in the process, when it should be the first consideration.
Monty wasn’t saying that songwriting should always be left to the professionals; rather, teachers and other amateurs should be aware of their limitations and get help in addressing them. Informal “song circles” are often a good place to get such help, as I was reminded last night. I was at a neighborhood songwriters’ meeting, hoping to find someone to arrange and record a song I had written for the USA Science & Engineering Festival’s song contest, whose deadline of July 31 is approaching fast. But since this was a gathering of songwriters rather than producers, we mostly discussed the composition itself rather than recording options.
One old-timer spoke up about syllable counts and positions of accents. I thought I had hidden these irregularities fairly well in my singing, but he had noticed anyway. Perhaps most egregiously, I had accented the word “into” in two different ways within a single line.
In previous conversations with myself, I had brushed aside worries about different lines and verses having different numbers of syllables: “It’s just a pop song — nobody really pays attention to that stuff.” But some people DO pay attention, and I had been lazy in not imposing more regularity on my words.
I may not get the song recorded in time to enter it into the contest, but maybe that’s OK — maybe I could use some extra time to revise it.