Play lots and lots of cover versions. Learn the songs from your favourite bands and solo artist. Playing songs teaches you the language and the vocabulary of songwriting. You will learn musical tension and resolution, chords and chord structures, common chord patterns and common song structures. Use the Udemy coupon below to get over 90% […]
Songwriting – certainly at the start of the process – is not a technical exercise; songs are not mathematics; not a puzzle that requires brain power to solve. Songs are not an Ikea cabinet you are trying to put together. Just get your brain out of the way; the song wants to be written – […]
Hum tunes or make up nonsense words while playing along with chords or find melodies by picking out notes from the chords you are playing. ‘Can you hum?‘ was what Lionel Richie was told after asking the in-house songwriters how to write songs..
In the same way a drug addict needs another hit a songwriter needs another song. If I am not working on a song or if it’s been a while since I’ve written one, I start to feel anxious; something is missing; something is not right; for me songwriting is not just a habit, it’s an […]
Inspiration generates new ideas for songs, but craft is needed to finish them. Get yourself a copy of ‘Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting’ by Jimmy Web, the writer of ‘Wichita Lineman’ and many more hits. It’s a dense, technical book and not necessarily the easiest read; but it’s got everything in it you need […]
When you have a song idea, write down absolutely everything related to it. In fact go further – actually research the topic as if you are writing a dissertation; worry no more about a shortage of ideas for verses and choruses. “A young songwriter named Woody Guthrie taught him that he could still collect facts […]
Recognise that most songs are made up of repeated chord blocks. 2 chords repeated, 3 chords repeated, 4 chords repeated. Analyse songs to note the number of chord changes they have before repeating or before going to a chorus. Experiment with less or more chords in each block. Further study: The Constantly Repeating Chord Progression […]
Learn your instrument – play different styles, different keys, different tunings, different chord inversions. I’m not a virtuoso guitarist but my friend Graham Mackintosh is. If I ever need to know where my weaknesses are or what I need to work on – I just visit Graham for a jam.
Review your song until it’s right: get rid of cliches, get rid of verses that say the same thing. Get rid of words that don’t sound good when you sing them. Listen to how the song develops; does it stay interesting all the way through – does it develop lyrically and is there a dynamic […]
Overcome the fear of people not liking your songs; just get over yourself and play them. You will get a sense of whether they are good, or not. I can be working on a song for weeks but the first time I play it in front of people I hear it differently; I become aware […]
Songwriting tip: A song is not words; not music; not words and music. A song is all of those and magic. If there is no magic in the song, throw it away. (Unless you are a beginner – in which case – write as many shit songs as possible).
You will need to write those bad songs to get to the good ones. The more songs you write the quicker you will recognise the good and the bad. The more you write, the more you will write. No one sits down to write a hit song, they just write lots of songs and it […]
If you are struggling to find chords for the bridge of your songs – try taking the chords from the verse or chorus and swapping them around. What’s the bridge for? The purpose of the bridge is to provide respite from what has gone before – a contrast. That could mean a change of energy, […]
Don’t be afraid to throw away verses, change the order of verses, change the structure; experiment. You don’t need a complex recording studio – you just need a phone that can record audio.
Lyrics are not poetry they are not designed to be read from a page or a computer screen; lyrics are for singing. Sing to come up with better lyrics. Every word has a certain shape in your mouth; like a pebble – some words just don’t fit – they feel awkward in your mouth – […]
Get in the habit of recording new song ideas on your phone – or jotting down inspirational phrases in your note pad.
Use songwriting as therapy; a way to work out the issues in your life. There is plenty of research that says creating music can lower anxiety and help you feel happier. It certainly helps me; I couldn’t live without it. “I write first for myself as a therapeutic process, to get stuff out and to […]
Learn the chords of a song you like and then throw the original words away. Now write your own words and tune. “I used to write extra verses to other people’s songs that I liked. That led to writing my own songs.” Jackson Browne “The teenage Muriel Spark did not just just seek out the […]
Create a better world in your songs. In your songs, everybody can love you, you can be witty, good looking, be rich and live in a mansion. Without thinking about it I often create a world in my songs that I’d like to live in – perhaps as an antidote to the one I do […]
Be available to catch songs when they arrive; maybe that means you always have an instrument to hand – or a notepad (or a recording device) in your pocket.