Arts & Entertainment, Music

“Savior” Songwriting Demo: Finding the North Star

St. Vincent

Lesson time 07:19 min

Annie walks you through the chord progressions of “Savior” and explains what she means by “proof of concept.”

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Savior Chord Progressions · Proof of Concept


[00:00:00.00] [MUSIC - ST VINCENT, "SAVIOR"] [00:00:00.24] (SINGING) But then you say please. Then you say please. [00:00:08.98] - I originally started it, the doo, doo, doo, dih, dee, dee, duh, dih, dih, dih, dih, duh, was slow and dirgy. But then I started to think about the actual meaning of the song. And again, these, like, early '80s porn tropes, like, it should just feel more like slinky, and sexy, and almost a little like wha whan. So I moved off of that. But originally you can see I had this-- [00:00:37.39] [MUSIC - ST VINCENT, "SAVIOR"] [00:00:39.29] [00:00:47.65] Great take. Okay, so you can see here I was-- I was pretty much just trying to like make sure that the lyrics were singable. When you're first starting out singing the song and you have the words and everything, sing entire takes of the song. Sing it over and over again. Try different things. [00:01:06.89] It's not about perfection at all. It's like does it have vibe? Does it sound good? Is it evocative? Because if it's a little pitchy here, who cares? Like, that's-- that's what music sounds like. [00:01:20.67] When you're recording yourself at home, it's hard to switch between performer brain and, like, editor brain. And I've gotten better at it over the years, but I would always find, like, I was in the flow. And then it wasn't exactly the thing that I was hoping it would be. I played it a little wrong or I wanted to change an arrangement thing. And so then I'd go over here. And I was not-- I would just do-- and then all of a sudden, it's a right-brain, left-brain situation. And I'm interrupted from the-- any vibe or flow that I was in creatively and now I'm just like looking at a screen and going and counting measures. So I don't have any real advice on how to toggle between those things successfully except to just say just get as good as you can at both. [00:02:11.55] [MUSIC - ST VINCENT, "SAVIOR"] [00:02:11.85] (SINGING) You dressed me in a nun's black outfit. [00:02:18.24] The versus of "Savior" are centered around D, and D major, or D mixolydian, which means a Flat VII, a C rather than a C sharp. And then for the pre choruses-- (SINGING) But I keep you on your best behavior. I go to the relative minor of D. I go to B minor. So a center the tonality differently. (SINGING) But I keep you on your best behavior. Honey, I can't be your savior. Do this walking down motion and end up on a G, which is nice because that resolves nicely to D. [00:03:05.36] So sometimes it becomes a little bit of like-- a little trick of, like, math of, like, where you want-- where you want to end up. Like, I'm centered around this note for this time period. And then I'm going to center around this note so that when I go back to this note, it feels fresh. [00:03:27.60] I think about how I want sections to feel new every time you come back to them. And I used to do that a whole lot with melodies or reharmonizing a particular part. But currently, I'm just really into, like, the mechanics ...

About the Instructor

Under the stage name St. Vincent, Annie Clark has won Grammys while remaining fiercely innovative and true to herself. Now Annie is opening the door to her process to teach you how to explore your creativity. Learn how to record music, write songs, improve your guitar skills, and embrace your vulnerability. Let Annie guide you through the ups and downs of creating art so you can share what’s in your heart with the world.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

St. Vincent

Explore your creative process and embrace vulnerability with St. Vincent, the Grammy-winning, genre-defying artist and performer.

Explore the Class
Sign Up