I've been collecting articles to inspire me to write a column (or three). Since I am concentrating on songwriting, I'll put some songwriting tips here, from various sources. All lines are direct quotes from the sources, but are not the complete source. Warning: Some of these suggestions may not work for your chosen genre (eg. current country songs)
Five Beatles Songwriting Tricks by Matt Blick
- Mutate Your Chorus
As well as starting songs with the chorus, some of The Beatles’ greatest hits open with a chorus hybrid that previews the title and hooks.
- Bluesify Your Melody
We expect to hear blue notes like the b3, b5 and b7th in rockers like Back In The USSR but the Beatles often added these notes into more melodic material too.
- Delay The Root Chord
Starting a song on the tonic chord is a rut the Beatles managed to avoid a surprising number of times.
- Utilise The Outside Chord
Many of us employ ‘out of key’ chords (whether we realise it or not!). But out of 186 Beatles compositions only 22 remain in key!
- Restate Your Lyrics
The Beatles didn’t make their lyrics memorable just by repeating sections wholesale. They also repeated and adapted words, phrases and sentence structures.
4 Dos and Don’ts When Writing Songs by Cliff Goldmacher (shared by BMI, originally posted in MusicWorld, June 19, 2013
- Writing based on a title idea/lyrical hook
Do remember to make sure that everything in your lyric points to and supports your lyrical hook.
Don't forget to give the song real emotional content.
- Writing based on a general idea/lyrical concept
Do capture the feeling and emotion of your concept.
Don't be too vague. Because you haven’t started with an actual lyrical hook, you’ll need to remember to bring your overall concept to a very sharp point by summarizing it with a phrase or hook line.
- Writing from a melodic idea
Do honor your melody and build your song around it.
Don't let the melody box you into awkward words or watered-down phrases.
- Writing from a chord progression/groove
Do dig in and develop the groove and feel.
Don't rely on a chord progression or groove at the expense of your melody and lyric.
10 Foolproof Ways to Critique Your Own Songs by Cliff Goldmacher (shared by BMI, originally posted in Songwriter101 - Articles, April 16, 2013)
- Do you have a strong opening line?
- Are you using concrete imagery?
- Are your lyrics singable?
- How effective is your hook?
- Does your chorus have a strong last line?
- Does the overall idea of your song work?
- Is your verse melody interesting?
- Does your chorus melody differ from your verse melody?
- Does your bridge add to the song?
- Does your melody flow naturally throughout the song?
Thoughts on Writer’s Block From One Songwriter to Another by Cheryl B. Engelhardt (shared by Disc Makers)
- Don’t procrastinate.
- You can generate inspiration at any time.
- Make your writing area comfortable.
- Develop a routine you can count on.
- Share with someone. ... Ask them to hold you accountable to what you say you want to accomplish.
- Don’t judge yourself.
- Re-write something.
- Don’t listen to your feelings. “I don’t feel like it” and “I don’t have the energy” are great cop-outs.
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