what to keep in mind when you're writing a song
10 best Songwriting Tipps
1. Make people care
Imagine you play on a stage and people just walk away and don’t listen to your singing? Why do they do that? An audience should “care” about you and in order to do that they need to feel something. Whatever that feeling is it has to be stronger to than what they were doing before the moment you started singing. When you write a song you should be aware of that. Feel what you’re writing don’t just write because you have to put words to the melody.
2. Practice your Songwriting
Songwriting, as with anything else in music, needs practice. Pat Pattinson at Berklee College of Music talks about object writing. Object writing is when you choose a word or a phrase and you start to describe and in order to do a good description you have to write from your senses. You have to write about what you smell, taste or hear or any of your other senses in order to describe in a way that people can relate to you.
3. Remember from which view you are writing
Are you writing telling a story about yourself? Or do you prefer to write in 3rd person?
What ever your preference it is important to be coherent with your writing. Don’t switch around in directions unless you are recreating a dialog with two people otherwise you will just confuse the listener.
4. To Rhyme or not to Rhyme
There are many different types of Rhyme. I will not go in depth in this post but if you do want to you should read Songwriting: Essential Guide to Rhyming by Pat Pattinson (Berklee Press, 1991). If you are always looking for perfect rhymes ( such as “hat” and “cat” and “see” and “bee”) you might loose on the other end - meaning the story you are telling. Sometimes there is no perfect rhyme for what you want to say. Know that not everything has to rhyme in order to be working with your song. Sometimes it is better to “sacrifice” the rhyme and go for the word that expresses the most of what you want to say. It will make your song more authentic.
5. Study Song structures
There is no way around theory. I’m sorry to break it to you but also in Songwriting there is. Take your time and get to know how songs are built. Learn about the structures of a song. Know what is a Verse and what makes it different from a Chorus. Get to know what structures support your song and what you want to say with it. Trust me you will gain a new horizon of possibilities and it is an immense help to your writing. There are some good books around. I would recommend you check out “Songwriting: Essential Guide To Lyric Form and Structure” also by Pat Pattinson.
6. Know what song you are writing
If you play in a metal band and your lyrics talk about how you fell in love and how happy the world is and how everything is perfect, most likely your listeners is not going to take you seriously. With this I am not saying that you can’t play in a metal band and write a love song, what I want to make you see is that you should be aware of what your are saying and to whom you are talking. Make sure your lyrics support your music.
7. Make sure you have a hook
A hook is the memorable part of your song. It can either be a phrasing of an instrument such as in for example here in the song of George Michael https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izGwDsrQ1eQ
or of course your lyrics and melody that repeats. A great example is Michael Jackson’s “Beat it” because the phrase “Beat it” repeats so many times that you can’t ever forget the title of the song. And that is a very important part of your song as you want to remain in peoples head.
8. Title your song
I know we all want to be creative and come up with something great and special. But do a favour to yourself, name your song with a title that makes sense. I know in history there have been some titles of songs that are 7 meters long and have nothing to do with what they say in the song. That might have worked for them in the 80ies or so, but in today’s world of internet and search engines that swim in content - chose a simple title that is coherent with what you say in the song, maybe even words of your chorus or verse. You will be happy to know that google finds you on first place once you have put yourself on Itunes and co. and look for your song. :-)
9. Help yourself
Don’t be afraid to take rhyming pages or dictionaries in consideration to help you write your song.
Also if you write in a foreign language don’t be afraid to ask a native speaker to take a look at the lyrics. As well as you might want the help of other producers or songwriters to write your song.
10. Don’t think - feel
Maybe this sounds a bit strange, but I find myself writing the best stuff when I am not really thinking what I am doing. I have all my theory in the back, that can help me when I get blocked or I feel the lyrics don’t support melody or vice versa, but at the end of the day I’m just trying to think: “what do I want to say? How do I feel?” If you keep that in mind and write from your heart that’s when the great songs get written! Go ahead! :-)
Hope those tips can help you write better songs and if you liked this post and want more of it, please be sure to write a comment below and share!