Before the demo, comes the songwriting process. While good songs can certainly almost write themselves, effortlessly pouring out in no time almost finished, they’re the exception. And when you’re stuck it’s good to have some tools to keep the writing process in motion. With a good system and writing formula, you’ll never suffer from writer’s block.
Songwriter’s should get in the habit of recording potential song titles either in a notebook, iPad, cell phone, or whatever. If someone utters an interesting phrase, jot it down in your title list. If someone posts something clever on Facebook that might make an interesting song title, capture it.
In most cases the song’s title is your hook or a big part of it. When you’re stuck, simply go through your list and pick the potential title you feel most interested in working with.
Title selected, if you’re writing a verse/chorus type of song (not all songs have a chorus) the next step is to write a chorus around it. The title may appear in any of the chorus lines, set up a pattern you like and fill in the remaining lines. For example, if your hook/title appears in the first line and the last, write something for lines two and three. You can get some basic ideas for verses at this point, but finish up the chorus before getting very far on them. You want it to scream, “Here I am, the point to this song!”
Next write the verses. The verses usually benefit from differentiating them from the chorus. This can be done by altering the note values to double or half.
Two things to keep in mind when writing individual lyric lines:
1. Visual image words, that is, words that evoke an image in the listener’s mind, rule.
2. Cleverness and literary techniques can make your lyrics grab the listener;’s attention, especially seasoned music industry professionals. Their antennas are always up for writer’s who understand song crafting.
We went from one place to the next. Bland! Boring!
We walked along the granite path to Deadman’s Road. Interesting! Intriguing!
Why? Because walking a granite path evokes a visual image. Deadman’s Road sounds mysterious and brings up questions. Those questions need answered so they must listen intently to get them!
Use literary techniques like word echoes, alliteration, inner line rhyme, anaphora etc. when you can as they will hold a listener’s interest.
If you do it right your song looks like this:
You could add a bridge section which is a section that usually appears just once and is separated from the chorus and the verses. You could also take a few of the chorus chords, maybe 4 measures and create your introduction:
This would be a complete song but you could also add a pre-chorus before the chorus sections. Or you could add an instrumental solo.
There are other ways to write a song and other forms besides verse/chorus, but this is a winning formula that’s created hundreds, probably thousands, of hits. Instead of constantly trying to reinvent the wheel, why not take advantage of that fact and write your own? – b.e. watson