Songwriting Tips part 2
Some more song writing thoughts for you…
Songwriters use music and lyrics to communicate with their audience.
Imagine that you’re speaking at a rally (protest, political whatever).
Do you use big words? Take ages to get the point? Use long complicated sentences?
Probably not… unless for some reason you want the crowd to be confused and bored?
Song writing is similar. You need to revise how successfully your songs communicate. Record them and listen back to them…
Do you need the long instrumental section with the weird time signature? Does it help communicate you’re in love/angry/whatever? If you lose it, who cares? Even if you like it – if it’s not needed, lose it. If you like it that much, keep it for another song.
Is it confusing if your album/set list has a pop song followed by a reggae song, then punk then pop again?
Probably. Don’t stop yourself writing songs outside of the genres you work in, but you can’t be elusive if you want to communicate.
There are famous artists (eg The Beatles) whose music covers a lot of genres. But their careers nearly always began with one genre, which established an audience, then grew from there.
Don’t let your songs be too similar though – you’ll sound boring and then you’re still not communicating…
Write Within Your Means
The Ramones were never going to write Satriani’s Surfing With The Alien. They probably didn’t want to and they probably couldn’t play it even if they did want to… which they didn’t.
The Ramones wrote what they could play and they were fantastic at it.
Practise hard to improve your playing/singing. You may also aspire to playing more challenging music – but don’t write songs that you can’t play or sing.
They’ll just sound like crap and you won’t communicate anything.
Don’t write songs that you think will sound great with an orchestra or with three guitarists. You don’t have an orchestra or probably even three guitarists and those songs will never sound any good when you play minus the orchestra. Write for what you have.
Write within your means.
Once your songs are written you have to be really harsh about how good they are. (This is what you pay Producers for).
Is that verse too long? Is that keyboard part too busy? Could that lyric be better? Maybe the song has a slap bass part that just sounds messy and confusing. Could you simplify that instrumental section so it has more impact? Why is there no chorus for the first 5 minutes? Why is it longer than 5 minutes?
At every stage of writing/recording/performing you have to be cruel and ruthless and uncompromising. If it doesn’t work, throw it out or fix it. If it could be better, make it better.
Refine, refine, refine.
These rules don’t exclude artists who write weird songs for years before they get any success. That struggling artist might be you, but you still must refine what you write until it’s so perfect that people can’t deny what an
extraordinary thing it is you’ve written.
As always, if you have any questions, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or head over to our contact page to organise a free, no obligation introductory lesson.