Want some songwriting tips to help you write songs like Gershwin, Brian Wilson or Neko Case? You can; and we have 7 secrets of the real pros in songwriting, to help you to begin a fun and exciting career as a songwriter.
Tip #1 – Don’t just write, rewrite. Would a movie maker always use the first take? No, they do it over and over till they get it to an art form. If it sounds funky to you, it will to the listener. So rewrite — both words and music — till it passes your critical sense, and your gut feeling that it could be great if you just tweaked it some different way.
Tip # 2 – Be a songwriter every day. If you work full time, take ½ to 2 hours before or after work and DO IT. As a craft. Work on the song where you left of yesterday, or begin a new song. EVERY DAY. You will be amazed how much better you’ll get, even if you don’t use all the other songwriting tips.
Tip # 3 – Read all the songwriting method material you can. You never know when one tidbit you find in a book at the library or on a songwriting website can make that missing thing click into place, or break through a period of doldrums or writers block.
Tip #4 – Create a hooking beginning from the first words of your song. The first impression can really grab the listener to want to hear more. Just a few words of “blah” will loose them. This may be as easy as juggling what you already have so the best part comes up front rather than in the first chorus or 2nd verse. Some great first lines are the Sam Cooke song, Change is Gonna Come: “I was born by the river, in a little shack”. So simple and yet it paints a vivid picture of the extreme poverty he wants to portray.
Tip # 5 – Keep at hand a recording device and notebook. You have probably heard of dozens of hit songs scribbled down in an elevator or while waiting for the bus, or sitting in class at a boring lecture. It is true that ideas come on their own. You can’t control when they arrive. So get them down. Those are the core of your genius coming out in its own way. Honor the inner genius. It is more than you are.
Tip #6 – Say it in a catchy, current and brief way.
Case in point, the song by Bob Dylan, “how does it feel, to be on your own, like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone.”
Suppose he had said, “you won’t feel so great when you are all by yourself, and no one even knows your name, you have lost all your fame.”
The lyric by Dylan is great is because 1) He used a current phrase, “rolling stone”. That was the name of a top band at the time, and a hip magazine.
2) He asked a question, which made you think, rather than telling you what he thought. And he economized on words, using everyday words that all could easily understand.
Tip # 7 Use effective phrasing
Using the example again from the Dylan song, he has the phrases:
How does it feel
To be on your own
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone.
Notice how short and simple each phrase is, how each builds on the last, and how each phrase is very similar to the last.
You can find 100s of great songs to study, but never copy. Apply the examples in those songs, and other songwriting tips, to take your songs from average to great. Soon you will be well on the way to writing the songs you can be proud of and that your audience will love to hear.
Want some more tips on the “Creating music” topic? Go from Top 7 Songwriting Tips: Secrets Of the Pros to 3 Magic Keys To Making A Hit Song