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#643580 - 02/22/21 10:56 PM [Songwriting] Writing lyrics
Registered: 02/22/21
Posts: 1
markhamil94 Offline
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Registered: 02/22/21
Posts: 1
Okay, so I’ve been writing songs and poems on and off since I was just a little kid. I think I wrote my first proper song when I was 7 years old. Of course it was really bad, but it was a song none the less, so here is my advice on writing lyrics. I wouldn’t plan out what you’re writing about because that puts pressure on you, and you never want forced lyrics. The beauty of music is that it is a great expression form, so whatever needs to come out of you will seep into your music. Just let it flow. If you’re having trouble then brainstorming can help. If you write about whatever you’re feeling, then you can potentially turn that into music. I’m not that great at producing, but if you have good lyrics then people will listen and I can guarantee you that. So good luck songwriters! If you need any help, let me know smile https://shareit.onl/


Edited by markhamil94 (02/25/21 08:24 AM)

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#643589 - 02/23/21 01:36 AM [Songwriting] Re: Writing lyrics [Re: markhamil94]
Registered: 04/24/17
Posts: 425
Loc: Sillie Con Valley, California
Mike Halloran Offline
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Posts: 425
Loc: Sillie Con Valley, California
Quote:
I wouldn’t plan out what you’re writing about…
…and no one is forcing you.

You are certainly entitled to your opinion but some of us have written hundreds of songs by planning the form first, then writing to it. The discipline of knowing what has to go where gives us the freedom to express ourselves.
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#643660 - 02/23/21 10:20 AM [Songwriting] Re: Writing lyrics [Re: Mike Halloran]
Registered: 04/26/20
Posts: 148
Henry Clarke Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Mike Halloran
Quote:
I wouldn’t plan out what you’re writing about…
…and no one is forcing you.

You are certainly entitled to your opinion but some of us have written hundreds of songs by planning the form first, then writing to it. The discipline of knowing what has to go where gives us the freedom to express ourselves.


I couldn't agree more with Mike Halloran on this one. Writing to song form does indeed give you discipline and forces you to be more succinct with your lyrics. It also forces you to focus on writing a "good" hook. I see so many lyrics where they are just rambling and have no connection to an actual melody. Writing music to poetry. The "worst" is when someone wants you to put music to their lyrics. They tend to write way too much, the lyrics are too wordy and can never be sung by an actual singer, they use a lot of simple rhymes at the end of their versus (cat hat, bat, etc....) versus words that can be sung with a rhyming tone (ex: ya telling your girl on the phone; that Marvin says let's get it on; your mama says lord help me please; cause I ain't home yet and it's quarter to three). This snippet written doesn't sound close to rhyming but sung it comes across totally different. Also I differ that if you have good lyrics people will listen. I can only tell you how many songs people sing along with but ONLY KNOW THE HOOK !! Most of them have no idea what the underlying lyrics are saying. Especially dance music. Good lyrics against a crappy melody will not resonate.

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#643666 - 02/23/21 11:22 AM [Songwriting] Re: Writing lyrics [Re: markhamil94]
Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 7424
Guitarhacker Offline
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Posts: 7424
Well, this just goes to show that there are as many ways to write as there are writers.

I totally get the let if flow and don't force it train of thought.

On the flip side, there is also the pick a topic and write about it side of things. If you are going to be serious about being a writer, you have to work on things even when they are not flowing and not coming naturally. I have a number of what I think are good songs that were written that very way. Someone gave me a title, someone gave me a story line to write too, or for some reason, the muse just wasn't in the right cosmic position that day but I pushed through it, forcing it if you would, and was determined to write something that day and I did.

In fact, if I sit around waiting for the muse to strike and inspiration to fall from the stars..... I'd never write anything. For me, it mostly doesn't work that way. I have to sit down with the intention to write something. It's at that point that the muse does kick in and I start to write. Sometimes it's decent enough to keep, and other times it's not.

As Ringo said... It don't come easy.


Here's a good example that I recall.... https://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11198785

The story is.... I got a tip that a song was needed for a film ending. They gave the story line of the movie and the job was write and record something that would sum up the movie as the leading character stood staring out the window into the rain while his son was playing on the floor behind him as it faded to black.....
Oh.... and the finished song has to be submitted in less than 3 days from now. This is the song I did based on that listing and well within the deadline. The song screener commented that there's no way this was already written since it was way to close to the listing description and that I had to have written it specifically for the listing. Bingo!

Rest of the story.... leading character was working at a pharma company on a drug that can selectively remove certain memories that are traumatic, to help soldiers returning from the war with PTSD. It has some side effects in that it doesn't always work correctly. His wife and oldest son are killed in an auto accident and he decides to use this untested drug...... he's left with the feeling that there's something else.... something that he's missing but it's right on the edge of his memory but he can't seem to shake that feeling....


Edited by Guitarhacker (02/23/21 11:33 AM)
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#643670 - 02/23/21 12:17 PM [Songwriting] Re: Writing lyrics [Re: markhamil94]
Registered: 10/09/16
Posts: 1129
Loc: Central Ohio
edshaw Offline
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Successful artists tend to narrow down their options, which is another way of saying pick a style, pick a genre, know the intended audience, get familiar with what has been done before. Commercial success doesn't necessarily equate with artistic value. Neither does wide distribution. IMHO
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#643671 - 02/23/21 12:38 PM [Songwriting] Re: Writing lyrics [Re: Guitarhacker]
Registered: 04/26/20
Posts: 148
Henry Clarke Online   content
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Registered: 04/26/20
Posts: 148
[quote=Guitarhacker]

"In fact, if I sit around waiting for the muse to strike and inspiration to fall from the stars..... I'd never write anything. For me, it mostly doesn't work that way. I have to sit down with the intention to write something. It's at that point that the muse does kick in and I start to write. Sometimes it's decent enough to keep, and other times it's not"

Good one Herb Hartley :-)

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#643674 - 02/23/21 01:10 PM [Songwriting] Re: Writing lyrics [Re: markhamil94]
Registered: 07/08/19
Posts: 181
Loc: TN
Roger Brown Online   content
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While both methods can work, I fall firmly into the "writing with a plan & purpose" category. Inspiration is a fickle thing, and I can't afford to wait around for it to strike.

In my career I've approached songwriting the same way I would if I were writing a daily column for a newspaper. You aren't always inspired, you don't always have a great idea to write, but you write something anyway. Interestingly enough, and this is my experience only, I've found that the more often I make myself write, the more often that fickle inspiration thing does actually happen. I get more, and better, ideas from working through and around ideas that aren't as strong. Waiting for that great monumental idea has always been a recipe for writer's block in my experience.

The great thing about songwriting is, there isn't a one-size-fits-all model for it. Everyone has to follow their own path.

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#643695 - 02/23/21 04:17 PM [Songwriting] Re: Writing lyrics [Re: markhamil94]
Registered: 04/01/08
Posts: 52
Peter K. Hewer Offline
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Registered: 04/01/08
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Another approach which I use is to make a song by sound/chord experimentation/hacking around on keys or guitar. I come up with or make what is to me an interesting chord progression or musical piece and then the mood of the music helps me to inspire you with words appropriate to the music.

The two basic song writing methods are lyrics first then add music to match the lyrics the other is music first and add words to match the music. Both methods are valid and I am sure some songriters use both methods or even blend the methods.

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#643698 - 02/23/21 04:36 PM [Songwriting] Re: Writing lyrics [Re: Peter K. Hewer]
Registered: 08/21/18
Posts: 1210
Tangmo Offline
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Registered: 08/21/18
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Originally Posted By: Peter K. Hewer
Another approach which I use is to make a song by sound/chord experimentation/hacking around on keys or guitar. I come up with or make what is to me an interesting chord progression or musical piece and then the mood of the music helps me to inspire you with words appropriate to the music.

The two basic song writing methods are lyrics first then add music to match the lyrics the other is music first and add words to match the music. Both methods are valid and I am sure some songriters use both methods or even blend the methods.


That's my experience on all counts. I'd only add that there is a third major method, and that's to write the lyric as a musical component. When it all (except maybe the arrangement) happens at once, it's the most golden.

The vocals and the lyrics they carry is the most important part of the music in a song. They carry the primary melody as well as being an integral part of the rhythm section. Where/when they are sung is even more important than the notes they hit. Just as the mood of the music may help inspire a lyric, the rhythm of the piece helps give a framework for how the lyrics can be written to fit. Conversely, the rhythm of the words can give a framework for how the music can be made to fit. And it's not just about time signature. It's about the groove itself.


Edited by Tangmo (02/23/21 04:38 PM)
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#643844 - 02/24/21 04:16 PM [Songwriting] Re: Writing lyrics [Re: markhamil94]
Registered: 10/09/16
Posts: 1129
Loc: Central Ohio
edshaw Offline
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I found out by accident that I don't need a completed song to start playing it -- rough lyrics, a BIAB backing track, and a stab at a melody (NCH Crescendo is good for this - even free version) is enough for a lead sheet. I say "by accident" because I was wasting time trying to fit the melody to the chord changes. Without being enough of a theorist to know how that is done, I was finding my efforts "needed work," to put it politely. I started laying out the staffs in Crescendo, placing the chord letter above the treble staff, cramming the lyrics in between the two staffs, and entering landing notes. You'd be surprised how close you can nail the melody with the landing notes in place -- I mean, a one, three, four, five, or six minor. If I have any talent at all, it is in the area of improv, so this method works for me. This is probably old hat for many of you. The words and melodies kind of come to you.
To clarify, I mean that I now lay in the melody by following the BIAB track and picking out the notes on the guitar, writing them down on the staff as we go. Sounds old fashioned, doesn't it.


Edited by edshaw (02/25/21 12:49 PM)
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#644018 - Yesterday at 04:33 AM [Songwriting] Re: Writing lyrics [Re: markhamil94]
Registered: 04/07/13
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Loc: South Carolina
Charlie Fogle Offline
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Songs come to me in many ways. In older songs I've written, normally songs that were inspired from music are in the keys of E, D or a minor key, Am Em or Dm. Songs that began lyrically are almost always in A. But it's my belief and I've learned that songs are deftly hidden like puzzles all around me in plain site. Church signs, billboards, Tv guides and commercials, bulletins, brochures, flyers, book titles and lists all have provided songwriters inspiration for song ideas or lyrics. John Lennon wrote songs from circus posters and newspaper articles. The Bee Gees in a documentary stated they normally wrote a song as if it were meant to be recorded by a specific famous artist.

I wrote a song from a list of song titles on a Forum members web page. I wrote a song from a girl telling me her close friends said she had "sweet eyes" and she wanted me to write a song verse on the spot based on sweet eyes, which I was able to come up with a verse and chorus in that moment. I've written songs as if a specific celebrity artist were intending to record it.

The most successful song of my songwriting career was the incentive of another of my most successful originals. I had just written "I saw her cry", a sad ballad, and was auditioning it to a few friends. One, girl, Linda, who had recently broken up with her boyfriend, commented this new song and the others I had played that day were good songs but they were all sad, heartbroken songs. She asked "Why don't you write a happy song for me?" "Linda" was the result and lyrically, the first verse began with "I tried to write a happy song for you Linda... and the verse ended with " But you spoiled it all, with your broken heart"...

Because of the way our brains uses association to create mental images, pairing three random nouns will always create a vivid mental image that were one to write down that mental image on paper, they can easily write 3/4 or more of a page and also quickly develop a song storyline. It's easily demonstrated - picture in your mind- tree, river, girl -or- book, tree, dress -- somewhat similar but also quite different images appear in your mind. Write a song about the story behind that image in your mind.
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#644026 - Yesterday at 05:14 AM [Songwriting] Re: Writing lyrics [Re: markhamil94]
Registered: 10/09/16
Posts: 1129
Loc: Central Ohio
edshaw Offline
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Charlie:
When you talk about picking up ideas from billboards, TV spots, posters, etc., you are making reference to some advertising principles that quickly become quite deep;
especially in areas of big ticket sales and political persuasion. Why should composers be left out?
It is one thing to complain about the barrage of images, media and otherwise, such as robo-calls, as nearly all of us do, and another thing to take the analytical approach based on the idea that the public perception of reality is molded by what we see and hear every day. Trying to think of a bold example, such as, if we are at war with a country, you wouldn't want to write a song about what a beautiful place it is.
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#644029 - Yesterday at 05:57 AM [Songwriting] Re: Writing lyrics [Re: markhamil94]
Registered: 12/05/11
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Janice & Bud Offline
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It would be hard to conjure up a more contextual discussion IMO; i.e, what is your objective? Are you writing on demand? Do you have to produce a song within a given time frame? I would suggest that if so then all of the discipline approaches here would assuredly facilitate those needs. And then there are folks like us who have no formal or informal music training and write for no reason other than fun. Caveat: I am not suggesting more disciplined approaches are not fun! I just grow weary of reading on some discussions here (not this one) that our lives are incomplete because we don’t know music theory smile

A lyric notion most often comes to me when hiking or biking or reading. The ideas go into Apple Notes and when relaxed and in the mood I try to work them into a lyric with a genre in mind. Once the rhymes and a semblance of meter are in place I pass it on to Janice. I’ll suggest the genre and often an artist to her. We share a love of multiple genres. She will then get her old Martin box and work up some ideas. She has melodies running through her head all the time. I will on occasion make some suggestions regarding the chord progression. And our admittedly basic progressions spring from our decades of playing bluegrass, trad country and some blues. Well, we are a bit beyond “three chords and the truth.” Most often I never have much of an idea where she’s taken it until recording time.

Pardon the ole guy ramble ... just wanted to mention our approach with zero suggestions that it is the best or the right way - just seems to work for us.

Bud




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#644032 - Yesterday at 06:36 AM [Songwriting] Re: Writing lyrics [Re: markhamil94]
Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 6133
Loc: South Carolina
Charlie Fogle Offline
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<< When you talk about picking up ideas from billboards, TV spots, posters, etc., you are making reference to some advertising principles that quickly become quite deep;
especially in areas of big ticket sales and political persuasion. Why should composers be left out? >>

The principles behind a billboard or poster or other media I referenced may or may not influence a song or lyrical idea of a songwriter. I'm not sure what you mean by composers being "left out" because in the example you give that "if we are at war with a country, you wouldn't want to write a song about what a beautiful place it is.", were I perhaps a left leaning anti war activist songwriter, I may actually would use the beauty of that country as a platform for anti war protest in a song...
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#644038 - Yesterday at 07:33 AM [Songwriting] Re: Writing lyrics [Re: Charlie Fogle]
Registered: 10/09/16
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Loc: Central Ohio
edshaw Offline
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<< Caveat: I am not suggesting more disciplined approaches are not fun! I just grow weary of reading on some discussions here (not this one) that our lives are incomplete because we don’t know music theory smile >>

I spent the "requisite" 12 years studying theory and sight-reading. Once I got into the real world of traditional and public domain music, I found myself returning to where I was before that exercise started; namely, to the simplified approach. If the song is in GMaj, perfectly acceptable melodies and accompaniment lines can be played never
leaving the GMaj scale. After all, isn't this the basis of rock, blues, and country? Keith Richards is one of the "all time great" guitarists. Looking carefully and knowing he is tuned to open chord, note he rarely leaves the big three notes of the scale. He doesn't have to look at the neck, or a lead sheet. Finally, I give you the current
obsession with the minor pentatonic scale.

<<The principles behind a billboard or poster or other media I referenced may or may not influence a song or lyrical idea of a songwriter. I'm not sure what you mean by composers being "left out" because in the example you give that "if we are at war with a country, you wouldn't want to write
a song about what a beautiful place it is.", were I perhaps a left leaning anti war activist songwriter, I may actually would use the beauty of that country as a platform for anti war protest in a song. >>

As I say, it can get deep real quick. I pulled an example that I thought no one would refute smile OK, so my point is the population walks around in a state of belief that their thoughts and opinions are entirely of their own making. This has been demonstrated to be untrue, as most salesmen can
attest. My point is the commercial songwriter looking to his or her own heart for inspiration might also consider asking, "What is it they want, really want? By "left out," I mean, "Why should ad men and propagandists have all the fun?"
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#644152 - Today at 02:25 AM [Songwriting] Re: Writing lyrics [Re: markhamil94]
Registered: 04/13/16
Posts: 2774
Loc: Stanwell Park NSW Australia
rayc Offline
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Sadly, many folk aren't really interested in lyrics...much of popular music uses common/popular/fashionable sounds/words to carry a melody.
Some genres have narrative themes that are specific to them.
Personally I love lyrics and NEED to read them to feel I've found my way into a song.
I suspect songwriters like lyrics too - the ones in the User Showcase certainly like to have lyrics posted with a song.
The rule is that there there are no rules...well, not ones that should be followed by all writers all of the time at least.
Writing creatively is like brushing your teeth: some skills need to be learnt, applied and then a personal process develops over time...no two people brush the same, nor pass wind the same.
Just as grammar has a set of rules that are followed but ignored at need, (such as beginning a communication with "Okay, so..." which are, normally, used in a response or as a conjunction to an early part of a piece),so does any creative pursuit, craft, task or art.
Personally I would be disinclined to ask the O.P. for assistance until, at the very least, I had evidence of the O.P.'s proficiency and creativity at the task and had suspicions of click bait erased by time due to a developed online rapport with them.
FlyBys are a common thing around this site of late.



Edited by rayc (Today at 02:28 AM)
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#644165 - Today at 05:54 AM [Songwriting] Re: Writing lyrics [Re: rayc]
Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 15040
Loc: Hamlin NY
MarioD Online   content
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Registered: 12/27/03
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Originally Posted By: rayc
.............................................
FlyBys are a common thing around this site of late.



Especially one named Mark Hamil (maybe like Star Wars Mark Hamill) that includes a file sharing site URL!
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#644184 - Today at 08:54 AM [Songwriting] Re: Writing lyrics [Re: markhamil94]
Registered: 07/08/19
Posts: 181
Loc: TN
Roger Brown Online   content
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Registered: 07/08/19
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In my experience, people who say an unsolicited "if you need any help..." are trying to sell you something....but then again, I'm a natural born cynic.

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#644186 - Today at 08:58 AM [Songwriting] Re: Writing lyrics [Re: Janice & Bud]
Registered: 04/26/20
Posts: 148
Henry Clarke Online   content
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Registered: 04/26/20
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Originally Posted By: Janice & Bud
I just grow weary of reading on some discussions here (not this one) that our lives are incomplete because we don’t know music theory smile

Bud



Couldn't agree more !!!!!

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