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Monday 29th January

Collaboration between Chris Annetts, Maureen Malcolm-Gourley and Cat Train

Collaborative Task: Create a powerful and emotionally resonant song that addresses a relevant contemporary social issue.

Cat had an idea for a song and wanted it initially to be about the conflict in Gaza, however, we discussed the issues around this in terms of the wanting to talk about all conflict in the world, and decided to make the song more macro about humanity in general.

Cat's initial idea (Track 1)

'From the stars we emerge

And to them we'll return

All we need's a place to call home

We are just stardust with human names'

In order for us to relax and get to know each other we talked a bit about our experience in co-writing and writing songs. As Chris and I already knew each other from Radical Songwriting Academy it was good to find out more about Cat and her experience. Cat said she had worked as a musician but hadn't written many of her own songs. As I knew how that felt going in to a co-write with less experience I felt my role was to support Cat as much as possible to develop the idea she brought to the table as she was feeling quite nervous.

We discussed reference tracks and listened to a few suggestions, I suggested 'Falling Free' by EIVØR to capture the storytelling and emotion.

Our next steps were to talk about what techniques we use when writing songs. Chris talked about starting with melody and then lyrics, I talked about my process which usually starts with free writing.

We took Cat's initial words as inspiration for a 5 minute free writing exercise.

Free Writing - Stardust

When all I want is a place to feel safe the home is only in me where can I go away from fear and now I can return to the sea where can I go and return to me the fight never ends when you reflect the fear out please let me know I don't want to shout where can i go wehre i feel safe let myself know its inside your face where can i go when i allow love to grow love can't grow in the face of fear the dust and the stars energise this space help me see when I return to this place if the land that you say is yours belongs to the bigger fates than yourshelp me see that all why can't i see whats right in front of my fave please let me know what i can yet see star dust returns to the depths of the sea the suit you wear is not who you are but i can see you through the eyes of a star please let me know when you can see me look in my eyes and you'll see that there is only only love not fear in your eyes the stars will say that you realise please help me let the fear drop down and the starts will return and hold the crown if you can sense me from 3ft away then how can you hurst me in this way what about hte dust that we return to let this move beyond me and you help me let go fo the fear you sell hte only perception I can change from this hell is the one you try to peddle in my heart but stars are only teh start what if the dust let teh fear all go and shone the torch on us stars below mabye we woudl see that the starts all the same and put down the words the wounds and the blame all we are is stars with a name doesn't matter because we are all the same if all we are are stars and love fear can't come in to our shame

Stardust development

As a collaborative team I think we worked really well together, we supported each others ideas, we tried different chord progression building on Cat's initial idea and we all contributed. From the work we did we agreed on a structure for the performance and Chris played piano, I supported Cat with some vocals and Cat sang the lead vocal. We were conscious of creating an atmosphere that told the story of how disconnected we have become from the land. We worked through the chords (see track 2) The structure of the song was BABACB and it was in the key of D.

Stardust lyrics


From the stars we emerge

and to them we'll return

all we need's a place to call home

we are just stardust with human names

Verse 1

See the threads that tie us all 

the fabric holds us fast

unravelling the knots

entangled in our past


From the stars we emerge

and to them we'll return

all we need's a place to call home

we are just stardust with human names

Verse 2

See the threads of who we are

are built by our own hands

underneath the stars

connected to this land


Why can't I see

why can't I see

what's right in front of me

cause stardust returns to the sea


From the stars we emerge

and to them we'll return

all we need's a place to call home

we are just stardust with human names

Day 1 summary

Initially I struggled with self-confidence as my strengths aren't playing piano or guitar so I did feel very self-critical, however, I did realise that I had gained immense confidence in my songwriting skills and my experience as a facilitator helped on the day. I also acknowledged that in the past I would have been unable to accept my playing skills, however, it was great to realise that its okay not to be great at everything, this is a massive shift for me and noted in my morning pages the next morning:

'I know that my playing is holding me back but I did acknowledge to myself that my strengths at the moment are in lyrics and melody and it was a nice change to move on from the negative self talk.'

Tuesday 30th January

Day 2 of songwriting intensives we had the choice of four briefs. Today's idea was based around how helpful restriction can be in our songwriting practice and from this restriction we were tasked to write an authentic and meaningful song.

Brief 1: Less is more - Using less than 40 words write a song

Brief 2: Subconscious Algorithm - Bring 5 pieces of your writing that you haven't yet used in a song

Brief 3: Hooks - Choose an instrumental or melodic vocal hook formulate lyrics based on the hook

Brief 4: Letters of note - Go to the website Letters of note and choose 'surprise me' and write from the point of view of communication over time, relationships, reflections, cultures, the character or the context. I chose not to pursue this option.

I chose to explore Briefs 1, 2 & 3 and then developed 1 and 3 further.

Brief 1: Less is more

Using less than 40 words write a song and using Haiku as a starting point I wrote:

'I might be fifty three

I'm loving this new side of me

sound and song is free

you've come further than you think'

'Old days are gone now

you've come further than you think

let your soul fly on'

'The other half of me

gives permission to be funny

we laughed all the way'

Brief 2: Subconscious Algorithm

I chose to do some free writing around the idea of 'the truth'.

Putting all of them in a box in a line to see what's there can I pull them together from under the stairs shut in for so long with no hope of light always thinking they are out of sight held with a beautiful ribbon and bow now finally showing what's been hidden below the boxes align creation begins a new way of thinking rising up from the skin the boxes all need light and shown the way to finally see the sun in this bright new day the way that i can sit in the uncomfortable space and be fully myself full of grace let my light shine brighter be a lighthouse for you to show myself the way being my own lighthouse.

Brief 3: Melodic Hooks

Developing this I chose three melodic hook ideas:

Descending melody

Melody 1 was developed due to my frustration and fear around being back in UWS and having emotional flashbacks of not being good enough and wondering if I would be able to write on my own, I also found it difficult to find a space after giving someone else the room I was meant to be working in. This again left me in a fragile place initially as I felt I was putting other people's needs before mine.

Inspiring melody

Melody 2 I already had a fragment of a melody written in a session with a young woman with complex needs that I work with on a Tuesday.

We had a fragment of a lyric 'It's a new Tuesday'

Playful melody

Melody 3 was developed as I had recently been away on a retreat with a charity called Rainbow Valley which supports people in their cancer journey and although it has been six years since I was diagnosed with cancer this was the first time I had really given myself time to stop and reflect. The question that the charity asked in all the sessions was 'What made you smile today' so I wanted to develop a playful melody and have these lyrics into the song.

'What made you smile today

what gave it away

what made you smile today'

These melodic hooks were again a great way (developing on from Monday) to practice self compassion and kindness and after some free writing to help with my frustration this gave me ideas for the lyrics.

Free Writing - It's a new Tuesday

It's a new Tuesday you've come much farther than you thought it's a new Tuesday when did soil shift when did the seed say today is the day how did i find that sand has shifter the time has come the gift you have allows everyone the only way to allow is to grow beyond now to be fully be here and grateful for the fear grateful for the love grateful for the safety grateful for the love grateful for the darkness that gave me a shove centred in the the space that my words and thoughts have a place please let me know that this is the way i can go let the words flow the love grow the seed wasn't in the earth it was right inside of me the perfect time to be free and the joy that you bring when you fully sing thank you for the gift that allows thank you for showing me how until your planted even deeper you never know that you are a keeper.

It's a new Tuesday development

After yesterday's slide into being frustrated at my lack of guitar skills I decided to use four chords that I can play easily and comfortably as part of today's overall idea was using restriction and embracing that. I used a G shape and C shape and Em and Am. The structure was BAABCBAB. The intro and outro to the song is guitar and humming as this is a technique which I use as a sound therapist to help calm the vagus nerve, especially as I intended to sing and play guitar without stopping, getting frustrated or crying.

I looked on and learned how to create chord sheets for playing.

It's a new Tuesday lyrics

Intro humming chorus melody

Verse 1

I used to think that these roots were too old to grow

I used to hide my roots and keep them far below

in despair, I compare, it's not fair, I say a prayer

I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm scared I'm scared

Verse 2

I used to think that these cells were to ill to care

I used to hide away and pretend I wasn't there

in despair, I compare, it's not fair

but now I'm aware, I'm aware, I'm aware


It's a new Tuesday

you've come much farther than you think

it's a new Tuesday

you've come much farther than you think


What made you smile today

what gave it away

what made you smile today

can we go and play

what made you smile today


It's a new Tuesday

you've come much farther than you know

you feel you show you tell you say

Don't hide away

Verse 3

I used to think that these roots were too old to grow

but I've let those old roots go

Outro humming chorus melody

Day 2 summary

I was really proud of myself today as I performed the song and managed to not mess it up or cry. I got incredible feedback from the group and from Becci saying it was the most structured piece she had ever heard me write. I wasn't able to look anyone in the eye whilst getting feedback as I knew I would cry.  The next stage for my confidence is being able to look people in the eye and accept compliments. I also feel I fulfilled the brief as I created melodic and instrumental hooks, and the meaning of the song was to remind me that I am not stuck in a dark place, that I have grown and developed since I completed my Masters in 2020.

Wednesday 31st January

Day 3 of songwriting intensives we had to develop further one of the songs we had written in preparation for choosing a single to release.

Due to my intense frustration around feeling like everyone is always looking for a piece of and my constant people pleasing I decided to vent that frustration by writing a new song as I felt my song from yesterday was developed enough in terms of the writing. So I say down at the piano I just wanted to tell everyone to fuck off and I find that difficult, even the concept of swearing in a song as I am always seen to be the good girl.

The song frustrated me as much as the process and Eve sat in the same room as me so that definitely helped me. As I was working through to Dr. Jo Collinson Scott came over and helped me get clear on what I was trying to do in the song, I didn't want the fuck off part to come until the very end of the song, and in explaining how I was feeling Jo helped me navigate less of telling and do more showing in the song.

I also wanted to change up the expectations by keeping the swearing til the end as people wouldn't be expecting it as I was concentrating on a gentle kind delivery of swearing.

I chose to write this song on the piano so that I could continue to push myself out my comfort zone.

I've had enough lyrics

Verse 1

                 C#m                                 D

This is the hundreth think that you've asked of me

                  F#          E

When the third was enough

           C#m                   D

Then I realise that I just can't breathe

           F#            E

So I'll carry your stuff


And I'll just give up, give up, give up

Verse 2

      C#m                               D

The voices in my head won't let me be

            F#            E

and I'm not good enough

           C#m             D

Then I realise that I need to breathe

       F#          E

So I say with love


Just....shut up, shut up, shut up

Verse 2

      C#m                               D

The message that I sent I now can see

            F#            E

That I've had enough

           C#m             D

Then I realised I've no boundaries

                       F#          E

And I can now say with clarity


Just....fuck off, fuck off, fuck off

Day 3 summary

I loved writing this song and although it is not finished as I am still unsure of whether I want to add a chorus and / or a bridge. I felt very empowered and having recognised my intitial fears of whether I would be able to still write songs, it confirmed that I work best under pressure to tight timescales.

Songwriting intensive summary

It was a rollercoaster of fear, determination and progress, I knew that by doing this short course it would make me release a song, develop my craft further and be able to do that in the safety of UWS. It was an exhausting and emotional process as the week before I had been on the Rainbow Valley retreat, went straight to pack up our caravan after six years all weekend and then straight into the songwriting week. This was an emotional process but absolutely necessary for my growth as an artist and it felt like letting go and the end of a seven-year cycle. 

In terms of the song I wanted to take forward for release I chose It's a new Tuesday. 



Maumamo Records |



Dot and Del |, 0141 354 1661

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