Feb 24, 2010

Writing the Music by Susan Haller

Essentially, I am a songwriter, which means that I have to put all of the information of a novel into 2.5 minutes. Irving Berlin was a master at this and if you are hip to it, you will notice that he wrote songs in circular patterns. When you have finished with the moment, the emotion is complete and you are satisfied.

First, it’s the hook line which can come from anywhere. For example: My brother once sent me a letter about a job interview stating, “I put the coffee in the percolator, now I’m waiting for the water to boil,” which immediately became a snappy little jazz tune. Mostly it’s the cadence of the sentence which determines the style of song. The interesting part about this is, when composing longer pieces such as novels, scripts or plays the challenge is not to waste space with unnecessary words. Visual imagery creates an outcome that brings concise thoughts to the forefront of the story, hopefully dazzling the audience with your brilliance.

Songs come to me all at once. When the idea first pops into my head, I have to get as much down as I can to make sure the idea is solid. (This can be daunting if I am driving up the road at warp speed.) If it is a song, the words and the lyric line are there together, that way they fit into the pattern known as music. If there is trouble putting it together, I let it go for awhile and let my “back brain” work out the information and when I return to the poetry, it is usually there for me. Admittedly, I have songs that are unfinished from years ago that pop up occasionally for me to work on, sometimes they find themselves and sometimes they lie in the file of unfinished business forever.

While I write occasional fantasy pieces, most of my work is autobiographical. Why write about things I have never experienced when my own life is so interesting? It is much easier for me to draw from the well of real happenings, where the emotional investment is complete and my dedication to the piece is strong. When I apply the principles of songwriting to short stories and novels, then each paragraph stands out on it’s own as a piece of poetry. This makes the work fun to write, interesting to read and keeps me challenged to make it to the end without shutting myself down from project boredom.

As the writer of 200 songs and 4 stage musicals there are a lot of directions that I can go within the genre. Jazz, Blues, Country, Folk, Gospel, Broadway each have their own style of delivery that make the work rewarding. The best part is being able to perform this poetry and watch other singers take my music and move it into their own style. If a song can be sung a hundred different ways, or still wonderful several years later, I know I have a winner on my hands.


Susan Haller
Founder, Owner, and Chief Creative Officer of S.H.E.—Susan Haller Enterprises—

Susan Haller has over a decade of experience in fundraising and the development, marketing, and in-person sales of a wide range of creative products. Her successes have included entertainment, music, special event production, fashion, toys, fine art, and numerous advertising media including print, outdoor, on-line, and television.

Susan is a proven business manager with leadership, marketing, sales, and office operations experience in industries as diverse as retail, hospitality, live theater, travel, television production, gaming, and even high technology.

Susan has composed over two hundred original songs, four stage musicals, six children’s books, thirteen network TV commercials, and countless voiceover scripts, advertisements, and media releases. She is an accomplished performer, having starred in numerous children’s shows, live stage productions, and cabaret musical events, as well as in radio and TV commercials in the Seattle and Las Vegas media markets.

Life Choices


  1. Wonderful guest post! Thank you for posting it, JM!

  2. Susan Haller is a talented woman who really needs to be discovered. Her plays are funny and have great story lines. She is an incredible entertainer herself with a wonderful voice...unlike anyone else I have ever heard. She is one of the most creative people I have ever met.

  3. Susan is a true creative. Her delightful wit is evidenced in her writing. I, personally, enjoy her wit one on one. She is a gas.

  4. How wonderful a gift to have music flow through you as a way of life. It's so hard to imagine for someone whose brain doesn't work that way. But we can enjoy the fruits of your labor!