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February Album Writing Month

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Next month is album writing month, at least according to an intriguing website, fawm.org. This non-commercial site is designed as a dare for songwriters to write 14 songs in 28 days.

February Album Writing Month started as a blog in 2004 by four friends who wanted to challenge each other. The site has blossomed in popularity and content. There’s a community forum for getting feedback, finding collaborators, and posting songs. Most that I heard were definitely not ready for the top 10, but all had something interesting about them. There are also some useful online resources that give random prompts for creativity. With a few clicks, FAWM suggested I write a song called “Mr. Needle” in the third person, using the words “girlfriend” and “diamond” and a verse, verse, solo, verse structure.

The site has brought tangible outcomes: last year more than 10,000 songs were submitted, and there’s even an annual real-life meet-up called FawmStock. FAWM helped create another online composing provocation, the RPM Challenge, with a one-month goal of recording an entire 10-song album. There’s also the much more cutthroat competition at songfight.org; the weekly winner is chosen by popular vote.

Twenty-eight days is not a lot of time to write 14 songs; this year is a leap year, though, so the extra day makes this the perfect year to participate.

Mark Foley is principal double bass of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and professor of double bass and head of Jazz Studies at Wichita State University.