(5 Easy Exercises for Using Songwriting Articulation)
Verbally, your articulation can infer a lot of meaning. If you delivered a sentence in crisp, Queen's English, others would form an idea of you that would be vastly different than if you did it in a thick, southern drawl. Your articulation when songwriting can do the same thing.
To not articulate as a singer songwriter is the verbal equivalent of a transatlantic accent. It is neither here nor there, not one place or another. Below, we give 5 easy ways to incorporate articulation into your songwriting.
He Ain't Heavy
For this one, we need to add a little bit of role-play and drama to the proceedings. Imagine any limb or appendage you use for playing has a weight attached. This can be a weight on your whole arm, or one on each individual finger.
The imagined weight level can be entirely up to you, from light to unbearably heavy. Now try picking, playing, or strumming a few notes as if that weight were bearing down. You should get a slow, strained articulation that hammers down heavy on your strings or keys.
For this one, imagine your fingers are covered in butter, oil, or another slippery substance. This can be on either or both of your hands. Now try playing as if your fingers were sliding off your instrument.
If you are on piano, imagine them dropping slowly off the edges of the keys. For string players, think about them slipping around the fretboard or off the strings.
The next one employs an element of staccato which means to play quickly and sharply. Imagine your instrument is coated in some horrible, gooey, sticky substance you really do not want to touch.
Every time your play a note or chord, release it sharply, as if you can not wait to get your hand away from the instrument.
Easy Does It
For this one, we are going to take it much easier and aim for a legato playing style. Legato means to play smoothly, and you must ensure the transition between each note or chord is flawless without any gaps or sudden changes.
Playing as if your fingers are flowing water, running, and trickling along the keys or strings.
Some people may do this from sheer nervous energy when playing, and it can cause a myriad of problems. For more experienced players and writers, using stiff, rigid movements when articulating a rhythm can add edge and danger.
The tight, jarring guitars of punk band 'Gang of Four' are a perfect example of angry pop music. You can stiffen up your hand and fingers for a staccato feel when playing. If you are a guitarist, work from the elbow delivering blunt strums to your instrument.
Applying Articulation to Songwriting
Once you have tried a few of these techniques out, go back through your back catalogue. Pick out a few songs where articulation would have a marked impact on the mood of the piece.
Practice them with articulation for your next performance, training yourself to stick with the playing technique throughout the whole song (it can be easy to slip back to normal).
Playing with articulation will add a level of musicianship you could only have dreamed about before. We hope that we have helped to make an impact on your performance and the reaction of your fans!
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Updated: March 12, 2021
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