Tips-Writing Song Lyrics
There are many writing tips for beginners but the best one I know is to be yourself.
There are many that would say, “do this or do that,” but at the end of the day you are the artist that paints the picture, tells the story, guides the listener on an adventure. You know what you like and are best suited to reach out to your audience.
If you like what you are doing, there are people that have been where you are that will like it too.You must know how to play an instrument. You don’t have to play “lights out.” But a basic musical understanding is needed.
Fast start tip
When you think of something, write it down. If it doesn’t all come at once take a walk and come back. Songwriting structure can be “involved” but starting out simple can get your creative juices going and start your creative process.
Go with what you like and what you want to share and communicate.
I like to tell stories and paint pictures with words.
Two ways to go about songwriting
There are two ways to approach writing a song. You can start with the music and add the words. Or you can start with the words and add the music.
I am more of a sound person and tend to have a tune in my head first. But sometimes the word idea comes first and a melody is second.
With me, there is a groove that both the music and words seem to fit. Most of my songs are simple but have a phrase that is catchy. That would be the hook. ( more on that later)
The process is not that big
Most new songwriters tend to see themselves in a small light. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If you are creating, you are an artist. Just like if you play the guitar regularly you are a guitar player no matter what level you are on.
Some of your best work may come when you are not constricted by formality.
Most used song structures by Ralph Murphy on youtube
( order changed by Guitarsuite for preference)
1. – chorus – verse – chorus – bridge – chorus – end
○ This is the most common song structure.
○ The bridge should express the “what if?” or the opportunity of the song’s story.
2. Song Form 2 = verse – chorus – verse – chorus – music – chorus – end.
○ common in rock, dance, and country but lacks a bridge.
○ this is the song structure that has the most #1 hits.
○ the pre-chorus should be 2-6 lines that precede the title line.
○ the pre-chorus expresses the “and, if, but, maybe” of the song.
○ bridge should be just about 2 lines but not much more.
4. Song Form 4 = (a) beginning – (b) now – (c) what if? – (d) down the road.
○ no chorus
○ 1st or last line or each section is the title line many times.
○ sense of the passage of time is usually essential with this song structure.
5. Song Form 5 = chorus – verse – chorus – music – bridge – chorus – end.
○ this song structure is called a rondo… or at least, is similar to a rondo.
○ great for dance record songs.
○ lots of Western Swing songs are written in this song form.
6. Song Form 6 = preamble – followed by song in various structures.
○ the preamble sets up the premise for the song or introduces the song.
○ think Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer.
Fighting writers block
Every writer, songwriter, prose, poetry, fiction, etc. has to deal with writer’s block.
Carry a notebook so that when an idea or line comes to you it can be written down. Pin phrases and titles on your wall. I have a Onenote on my computer that I can make note of ideas. Do memory joggers such as the random writing of words and ideas.
Whatever your main instrument is, go to another. Change chord structure and word order. Change the beat and the feel of the song. Try different song patterns. Go chorus first, add a bridge. Remember a favorite line that fits in.
Change chord patterns. If you write a basic 1-4-5, make the 2 or 6, a minor chord. You can also work with sus, dim, 9th chords, etc.
Have fun and try things out. If you have the equipment record your practices and writing sessions.
You are a gifted artist with a wonderful talent that needs to be expressed.
Back to the hook
Every song must have a phrase or musical interlude that is catchy and sticks with people. This can be in the chorus but should be something that you go back to during the song.
Hey, it is your creation, enjoy!!!
ASCAP vs. BMI Posted by Songtrust staff May 21, 2015 Repost: ASCAP vs.BMI which is better.
There are three main organizations that have been formed to protect songwriters royalties when their songs are performed, publically, or on radio, television, movies or advertising. Sesac is by invitation only so I will not deal with them.
Official site: ASCAP.comLocation: New York, London, Miami, Peurto Rico, Los Angeles, Nashville, Atlanta
Vitals: With 500,000-strong membership of composers, songwriters, lyricists, and music publishers-its board of directors is elected by its members. The reason for existence is to make sure the members are treated fairly with due compensation for their creations.
Cost: Free for writers and composers if you sign up through Songtrust. $50 if you don’t or you are a publisher.
Publishing Companies: To collect your publishing share of Royalties as an ASCAP member you must be an ASCAP publishing company.( Becoming a Songtrust member will also allow you to collect your publisher’s share.)
BMI, Broadcast Music, Inc.
Launched: 1939Official site: BMI.com.
Location: Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, London, Atlanta, Miami, Puerto Rico.
Vitals: Founded by radio executives as a non-profit, BMI now boasts more than 650,000 members. According to their website, “BMI’ is the bridge between songwriters and the businesses and organizations that play their music publicaly.
BMI serves as an advocate for the value of music, representing 8.5 million musical works created and owned by more than 650,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers.
Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Eminem, Rihana, Maroon 5, Sam Cooke, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton.
Fee: Free for songwriters, $150 as a publisher.
Publishing Companies: You do not need a publishing company to collect your share of royalties at BMI.
On a Personal note
As an aspiring songwriter, I wanted some protection for my creations and I decided to go with BMI. Although I haven’t had any public use of my material yet I have found BMI to offer much advice, training, and support. They offer in-depth training and webinars to help aspiring songwriters. They also provide a written record of my songs and have taught me about copywriting.To find out more on copy write law go to copyright.gov.
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