Have you ever wanted to put your feelings and thoughts into a song? Well, I have. Being a musician and a songwriter for quite some time now I have had plenty practice in this department. But, even then I still have trouble from time to time getting it all to come together. I’m going to take you on my journey through the three steps that I have found help me put my thoughts into a song.
What do you write about?
Songs don’t always have to be about things that have actually happened to you or feelings that you are currently experiencing. Songs are basically story telling in a musical form. Whether that be a message that you want to send out to the world about a social issue, or a make believe adventure through never land. I often times find myself writing about the most cliché topic in the world, love.
Step One: Get down with the music!
For me coming up with the actual music is what comes easiest. I start by playing through some chord progressions. Often times it might be from a song that I’ve wrote before or covered. I find a way to make it my own. Guitar is my go to instrument when I’m songwriting. To spice up a chord progression I will go from different strumming patterns to finger picking style and then changing the tempo. You will find that by changing the guitar playing style, it can influence the mood of your song. When I am coming up with the structure of my song I will start an audio recording on my iPhone. You don’t need a high tech recording device for this. The reason that I do this is so that I can go back and reference a melody or riff that I may have come up with but don’t remember exactly how it went.
Step Two: Lyrics, get inspired!
After I come up with the musical composition for a song I go for the lyrics. Lyrics are the hardest part of songwriting for me. It is a recurring battle that I face. Before I actually go into writing words, I like to listen to songs that inspire me. I will listen to a couple of my favorite songs and focus on how they make me feel, what emotions they are triggering. After this I get the mood/topic for my song. Often times I find lyrics for my song by misunderstanding what the song I was listening to was actually saying. Weird, I know but it works out for me. A couple tips for writing lyrics are choosing a song form.
What are song forms?
If you don’t have any songwriting experience and have no idea what song forms are, have no fear. I found an awesome article that really nails it down and explains it in a way that doesn’t feel like rocket science.
Step Three: Name that tune!
Last but not least: The Title. Every great song needs a title. For some reason this is the last thing I come up with when writing songs. There are even times where I will finish a song and never name it. I try to find the theme for the song, or a line that really stands out from the lyrics. Think about how the song makes you feel and what message you are trying to have your audience receive. It can be long or short, there are really no rules for this, just try not to make it a novel.
Relax, don’t stress.
If you find yourself in a writing slump, don’t give up! Take a break. This happens to me all the time. It is as if I programed writers block into my brain. One of the things that really helps me get through a rough writing slump is going outside for a walk. Or, you could always just watch cat videos on youtube to help put your mind at ease. If you are a songwriter, what is your songwriting process? What are some ways that have helped you get through writers block? Leave a comment below and let’s taco-bout it!