Tips For Writing A Song
Transmitting Emotion Into Sound
If you're a song writer, you've experienced the trial of transmitting emotions or a story into song. Sometimes you just can't seem to find the right lyric or the proper chord progression.
There are few things that express emotion for me better than music. I love listening to and playing music. I really enjoy writing new songs and putting it all together but sometimes it seems like the best song has a dead end about half way through. Here are a few suggestions to get you past those sticky spots during the song writing process.
Start With The Music
Sometimes all you need is a beat and the lyrics will come. I once wrote an entire song called He Sees You Now in one short evening. I put a capo on the third fret of my guitar and strummed a gentle G chord. Suddenly within minutes I had an entire verse, I wasn't even sure where the song was headed until I had completed that verse then the images and emotions started coming together and I wrote a very cool song.
My personal thought on this is that some of us have a much easier time connecting to the sound of music than plain lyrics. Therefore, it helps to have a rhythm, beat or harmony to help your mind and emotion join in song. It allows you to find creative ways to phrase certain emotions, that sound good with the music. Rather than trying to make music fit some stale words.
If you've got a partial song but have run into one of those brick walls that relentlessly holds you back. Sometimes all you need is a change in the tune. I'm not suggesting you change the piece you've already composed, but sometimes it's appropriate to find a new chord progression within your key and play with it. You may end up turning your verse in to the chorus or finding a cool bridge or some other flair that kicks you off into a new piece.
Start With The Lyrics
Most songs I write start with some cool lyric that I've randomly come up with during my daily routine. I'll hear or see something that triggers a thought/song in my head and on the way home from work I'll play with it vocally. Sometimes over the next couple minutes or next few days I'll build on that one line until I've got a verse or chorus that seems good enough to build on.
Sometimes I'll get out the rhyming dictionary and start writing down random lines that fit with my original verse. It doesn't have to make sense yet, it's just brain storming and stimulating new ideas. Sometimes rhyming can be overdone and corny, but it can also help bring new words, ideas and directions into the song even if you don't use the rhyme.
Read poetry and discover the clever ways poets and song writer use words. Sometimes they leave a line hanging letting the listener or reader imagine what comes next. Sometimes it is so detailed you feel like there is no room for imagination. Sometime it seams like one line has nothing to do with the lines before and after.
If it's a story your singing. Come at it from different time periods or perspectives. Let the listener be a part of the song. Show the different characters involved, from each of their perspectives or from the perspective of one. The options for lyrics are endless and there are dozens of tools to help you create them. Sometimes it's easier to make the music fit the lyric than to make the lyric fit the music.
Fill Your Mind With Pictures
Sometimes I'll imagine a place that is fitting for the story I want to tell. For example I wrote a song called Facing The Past. In that story I pictured what the house might look like of the family I was writing about.The song starts "It's old and rusty with cracks in the sidewalk, I open the front door and see the last dusty foot steps, I sit down on the staircase and try to stomach the past, my eyes cry tears to the dust on these old broken floor boards" later in that song I imagined this individual who is doing better but not free from his struggles in an older car early in the morning emotionally struggling. The song continues "but she's out of town and I'm caught in a struggle wrestling inside of myself, there's frost on the windshield I'm sitting here freezing, emotionally broken I'm begging and pleading, it's times like these my mind takes me back, to think on it all leaves my soul feeling black."
One way to fill your mind with images and settings for song writing is to find pictures that represent your story and draw from the emotion and imagery. Turn that into lyric and beat. Describe the images or situations. Sometimes you just have to write the story down and then turn it into musical lyrics later.
I once heard an artist say he'll fill the entire room with images that represent the song he wants to write, pictures posters, poems etc... until he's got enough material around him to write a song with powerful imagery and emotion.
There I thousands of materials and methods to help write songs. I hope these tips have presented something new to help you past a few of your song writing obstacles. Let me hear your feedback. I would love to hear your song writing methods as well as your songs.
Below are the two songs I used as examples in the article.
He Sees You Now
Facing The Past
Bronson Wilks Webpage
This is my music stop where I post the songs I've written, covered and recorded.
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- Bronson Wilks
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