Those chord changes in that Sting song are wild! I'll be listening to that over and over tomorrow to wrap my head around it.
I need to learn more about chord changes etc as I tend to fall back on the same old thing when trying to write songs. (My brother says I could branch out in terms of "harmonic rhythm").
As for paying attention to melodies, it probably comes from years of playing melody instruments (clarinet, tin whistle) as well as singing. I've spent a lot of time learning intricate folk music by ear on these instruments, and have tried some improvisation, so I've really honed that "listening for melodies" ability. I went through a Middle Eastern music phase too, which uses scales which have microtones, so my ear had to become really good at picking that up.
I've also done a few lyric writing workshops with a teacher named Pat Pattison from Berklee in the US. He come to Australia annually and runs workshops (his wife's Australian). He gets into great detail about how some notes in the scale will sound more uncertain than others, and how to place lyrics within that scale to convey the meaning that you want to.
Today I've been singing Tea in the Sahara just around the house. I think I have the lyrics memorised now! Sometimes I just hear a song and need to wrap my head around it.
Anyway, it's really interesting what Sting does with the melody. He makes subtle changes in the verse melody as it goes along that I think really gives it character. So you think it's going to be one way, then the next verse will have one note that's a bit different to the previous verse, etc. Great stuff!
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