Words that fit the Tune

Rodgers and Hart, 1936
Rodgers and Hart, 1936

Songwriters have different approaches to writing songs--some start with the words, others with the music. Some specialize in one or the other, and work with a partner: Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, George and Ira Gerschwin, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, etc. For me it always starts with a riff or melody that I work up on guitar or mandolin. The music then serves as a scaffold onto which I arrange the words. But quite often the right words don't come, at least not right away. I have a back-catalog of wordless tunes, many of them unfortunately now forgotten.... Some folks have a talent for spontaneous rap, but I'm not one of them. I think maybe my left brain gets in the way of my right brain's muse... Anyway, here's what I came up with for my latest song.

Words that fit the Tune

Have you ever tried to write a song when you haven’t got a thing to say?

Just a melody that won’t let you go...

It gets stuck in your head, so you hum the day away

Trying to think of something that you know

To put into words that fit the tune.

It doesn’t have to be witty or profound,

Just something that rings true, like why you’re feeling blue,

Just so long as it doesn’t sound

Contrived or mundane, like more of the same:

It has to be done with style and taste—

Otherwise it’s a shame, because it’ll wind up sounding lame,

And a good melody is a terrible thing to waste.

 

Hmm hmm hmm hmm ....

 

And if the words don’t come, and all you can do is hum

That damn melody that’s been in your head all day;

You’d best just let it be, and wait for the day to come

When it dawns on you what it is that you want to say.

 

***

©2010 by JC

 

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Comments 5 comments

Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

The few times I ventured to compose a song,I revised both lyric and melody several times simultaniously...words seem to want to downplay the usualy etherial and somewhat dramatic melodies that I've come up with,to me lyrics are more of a challenge,while melody has a more defined set of rules and principals;)


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 6 years ago from Eden Author

I'm the same way Mentalist acer--when the words do come, they usually call for some revision of the melody, which then suggests better words. So it's a back and forth thing. But the lyrics are definitely more of a challenge than the music. For me tunes are a dime a dozen.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

I haven't ventured to compose music, though I "feel" music as I write poetry It has to have music for me to accept it as poetry, in fact. Interesting hub, Joyus. It's like a peek inside your inspiration -and perspiration too, I daresay!


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 6 years ago from Eden Author

Thank you Nellieanna. That's interesting that you feel music in your poetry. It fits with the idea that poetry has its roots in song...


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

That's a conincidence. We wrote a hub about writing songs at about the same time. Except mine is incredibly long-winded and wordy and yours more or less says it all in a couple of paragraphs. Hmmmm.

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