To help accelerate your songwriting early this year, I thought we’d take a look at four key writing tools that will get you organized and thinking about songs in ways that will dramatically improve your writing, theses songcraft tools are:
Writing good songs means navigating successfully between our head and heart. These tools are your creative GPS, map, and compass to do that. Get good at using them and quickly you’ll see exactly where opportunity, perspective, momentum, and contrast live or don’t live in your songs.
The result; better written, original, and honest work that resonates with listeners.
Let’s break each down:
Opportunity’s the most important as opportunity is about how high you aim with your song idea and how big you can write it’s potential.
Opportunity is where your imagination, influences, and passion as a music lover meet your songwriting ability. It’s where you decide if your musical and lyrical ideas are original, if your approach is interesting or, if your idea’s been written a hundred times before, can you write it different or better? It’s basically where the rubber meets the road in terms of good judgment and taste. As you grow as a writer you’ll develop strong instincts around sizing up the opportunity living in your lyrical and musical ideas.
Perspective helps you decide what needs to be said in your song and who’s saying it. Perspective helps get you out of trouble when you’ve written your 1st verse and chorus, and are wondering where to start your 2nd verse, what else needs being said in the song, or whether you need a bridge or not.
Momentum falls into two categories: musical and lyrical. Musically, momentum is created by modulations, tempo changes, time signature changes, dynamics, and accents. Momentum is also created at key spots in a song to give it critical lift and acceleration. These spots are typically the 1st and last lyric line in a verse, and the 1st and last lyric line in a chorus.
Thinking about where momentum’s building in your song helps you make key decisions, like where to shorten musical sections or cut the fat in your lyrics so you say exactly what needs to be said.
Contrast is also musical and lyrical.
Musically, contrast can be as simple as writing punchy, staccato or short melody notes for your verses that contrast with legato, or longer held melody notes in your chorus. Lyrically, contrast is as simple as using a verse to for example; describe all the great things a girl does, then using the chorus to describe how all those great things she does makes you feel – The verse is about her, the chorus is about you. The contrasting verse sets up the chorus pay-off.
Contrast is also good to see where repetition’s working, or where your song needs to add new elements to keep the listener’s attention.
Think constantly about opportunity, perspective, momentum, and contrast as you size up initial ideas and also during the entire writing and re-writing process, you’ll be thrilled with the results.
Remember, the big payoff recognizing where opportunity, perspective, momentum, and contrast live or don’t live in your songs, is in gaining the priceless ability and calibrated radar to let the song tell you exactly what it needs at all times.
Good luck, work hard, and aim high,