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Songwriting Workshop with Brian Laidlaw

  • Missoula Public Library Boardroom 301 East Main Street Missoula, MT, 59802 United States (map)


Songwriting Workshop with Brian Laidlaw

Join poet, musician, and Grammy-Award-winning songwriting consultant Brian Laidlaw for a workshop on the fundamentals of song-lyric form. We'll cover the architecture and function of verses and choruses, address the basics of rhyme and metrical patterns, and then learn how to develop an initial song-concept into a finished composition, moving from the “little ideas” of concrete sensory observation to the “big ideas” of theme and motif. This program is appropriate for songwriters of all ability levels, from raw beginners to seasoned veterans; please note, also, that because we're focusing primarily on song text (rather than melody and harmonic structure) the ability to play a musical instrument is not required!

Brian Laidlaw is a poet, songwriter and educator from Northern California. He earned an undergraduate degree in Creative Writing from Stanford University, where he first began setting his poems to music; after graduating, he spent several years as a touring folksinger. He went on to earn an MFA in Poetry at the University of Minnesota, and then to join the Songwriting faculty at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, MN.

In recent years, Brian’s work has appeared widely in magazines including New American Writing, The Iowa Review, Handsome, jubilat, Field, Quarter After Eight, Agni and many others. He also had poems in The Arcadia Project anthology (Ahsahta Press), lyrics in American Songwriter Magazine, and credits as a Songwriting Consultant on multiple Grammy-Award-winning and Grammy-nominated albums, most recently Saddle Up by The Okee Dokee Brothers.

Brian’s releases include the vinyl-LP-plus-poetry-chapbook AMORATORIUM (Paper Darts Press), the book/album THE STUNTMAN (Milkweed Editions), the 7” vinyl single JEREMIAD (Hymie’s Vintage Records), and the new full-length collection THE MIRRORMAKER (Milkweed Editions, 2018). 

Brian has now joined the Creative Writing program at the University of Denver, where he is a PhD candidate in poetry; his work there focuses on the relationship between poem-forms, song-forms and landforms. He continues to tour nationally and internationally, both solo and with his band The Family Trade.