Tips for Songwriting

Tips for Songwriting

Tips for Songwriting Goal #1:
Aim for Music – Not Money

Great composers, songwriters, musicians, actors, singers, etc… can get paid VERY well sometimes. But, it comes after the fact. Your first motivation must be excellence at your craft.

The goal is the product, not the paycheck. Deliver the product, and the money will often follow.

Tips for SongwritingGoal #2:
Develop the skills you need.

We live in a time when information is readily available for anything you need to learn. There are more opportunities for practical music education than ever before. Online studies, Videos & DVDs, books and private teachers are everywhere.

Don’t laugh at the fact that you don’t know what a G chord is… Learn it!

Tips for Songwriting GOAL #3:
Learn all you can.

Writing music still requires skill in 3 areas: Rhythm, Melody & Harmony.

From Ragtime to Rap…those 3 areas are your playing field. Find out what your weaknesses are and be honest enough to admit it. Then, you can get the musical help you need.

Tips for Songwriting Goal #4:
With your knowledge – Get Understanding.

Knowledge is not enough. You must learn when and where to apply it. (another name for this is experience)

I recently met a young man who manages one of his father’s restaurants. His dad didn’t start him in a management position. He started at minimum wage as an entry-level employee. Now, he has done every job available to truly understand and appreciate the importance of all aspects of the franchise.

After 2 years of college studies for a degree in Business, he has decided not to go back. When we asked him why… his response was not likely to be quoted on his college website.

He said, “The business teachers don’t know what they’re talking about. If you ran a business the way they say you should, you’d lose your ass!”

Likewise, If you are always reading and learning about music but never actually writing and recording.. you can easily become another educated idiot. Get busy writing and recording your songs.

Tips for Songwriting Goal #5:
Get Wise Counsel.

Since a wise person generally gives good counsel, learn from those who are successfully doing what you hope to do. If they’ve made a living at it, they probably have some wisdom to share!

This can be a little tricky with music… and here’s why. Great musicians aren’t necessarily great teachers. In fact, they usually are not. Likewise, great songwriters aren’t always good at explaining what they do… they just have a gift for doing it.

Your job is to learn from their music. You may not learn much from what they tell you… but what you learn studying their songs is invaluable.

Along the way, you will discover your own methods and tips for songwriting that are personal and effective.

Tips for Songwriting Goal #6:
Paint Pictures with your Music.

A great song magically takes you somewhere. Great music bypasses the brain and touches our emotions in ways we don’t fully understand. It’s a Vibe.

That’s why you can hear a song you knew 20 years ago and in an instant… you are there. You feel the same feelings you had when you were singing along with that song.

Of all the essential tips for songwriting and composing I can share, this is primo. Great songs go way beyond notes and rhythms… They capture a vibe, a feeling that you couldn’t express any other way.

Close your eyes, listen to great music and let it take you somewhere. What are they doing that you need to learn?

Tips for Songwriting Goal #7:
Learn how to Match Music with Emotions.

This is related to #6, and is something that you’ll be able to take to the bank if you get it.Watch movies. No kidding… watch great movies produced by Steven Spielberg, Disney, etc., and listen to their soundtracks.

See what genre is used for the emotional impact needed on the screen. I finally realized that music I personally enjoy means something totally different to a new listener. I may think it’s beautiful and melodic, while my wife finds it sad and weepy.

Musicians tend to get into the music… not what it does to you. Perfect example is how most of us musicians grew up playing for the dance, and never actually danced . We never thought in terms of what it makes your body do.

A great song has the music that perfectly fits the meaning of the lyrics. A funny lyric probably doesn’t need minor chords and Goliath-sized drum sounds that make you want to smack somebody.

The hit, “We Will Rock You”, (by Queen), doesn’t need violins or flutes. Listen to how they achieve a musical emotion to fit/marry the lyric.

Music has an amazing vocabulary of sounds that can lead us into most any feeling desired. If you learn the skills required to touch people with music… you just might make a living as a composer or songwriter.

These suggestions are what I consider to be fundamental Techniques & Tips for Songwriting… and talk is cheap. But I’m convinced that if you learn to set the right goals, recognize your strengths & weaknesses, then honestly work to improve… you can reach your dreams.

Put Your Energy Where It Counts

Put Your Energy Where It Counts

Many tips for songwriting seem too vague or unfocused. Do you have dreams of writing music and songs for Movies, Musicals, Games, Television, etc.? The following perspective might just help you develop the necessary skills and strategies for success in today’s marketplace.

These tips for songwriting will help you establish a realistic path for your future. If your efforts and desires aren’t based in reality, you may be living somewhere known as “la-la-land”. Suppose I want to write orchestral scores for movies, but am not willing to learn about Strings and Woodwinds. I have a problem.

Likewise, if I’m going to be the next Sting, (solo artist and singer for the Police), but my bass playing and songwriting stink… who am I kidding? Too often, our dreams don’t match our skills. (Watch “American Idol” auditions for a huge dose of that.)To make matters worse, We often don’t know what skills we lack… or… what skills we need! A music career is not like other professions with clear paths for success! I can tell you!

There are no guarantees of a paycheck for your efforts. (You won’t read that on the music school advertisements, will you?) My high school guidance counselor didn’t offer “Making Money with Your Songwriting Ideas” in his bag of tricks. He was disturbed enough by the fact that I wanted to go to college to major in music. That means we have to navigate this songwriting journey without much help from the educational system.

College programs have improved…some. At least Berklee and a handful of others offer programs with an emphasis in songwriting. But the truth remains that a career in music writing has unique hardships to overcome.

Let’s imagine for a second that you are sitting down with your very own guidance counselor. (Even if you are long-past the days of school, just go with me…)

She likes you and wants to help you achieve your dreams. She doesn’t care what profession you choose as long as you can make a living doing it.

Believe it or not, she’ll probably go back to the basics:

1. What do you want to be when you grow up?

2. What skills will you need?

3. Do you have the musical gifts required? (Yes, I know it isn’t politically correct to imply that you might not… but we’re not all songwriters. Some are doctors, electricians and bankers. Thank God we’re not all wired the same way!)

4. Are you thick-skinned and motivated enough to succeed?

You want to be a songwriter/composer. That is understood. Then you must be willing to develop the skills required. And you must possess both the basic abilities AND work ethic for success. Nobody ever handed me a clearly defined road map for a career in music. Even after a Master’s Degree in Music from a respected institution… I learned most things the hard way.

One of the most important things I developed was the ability to meet a deadline. It is easy as an artist to just enjoy the creative process and not the business aspects. This tends to breed many unfinished projects, songs, plays, etc… that COULD be quite good if completed, edited and produced.

I also found that “artistic types” are fun and exciting to be around, but somebody less creative usually gets the job done. The brilliant composer may not get the job simply because he can’t deliver the music on time. People who possess time management skills tend to break a big idea down into small steps. These little steps get books written, commercials scored and CDs recorded one-piece-at-a-time.

This is what goal setting is about. Clearly defining what the problem is and then taking the right steps to solve it.

The Rhythm Family

The Rhythm Family

To understand music rhythm, the quarter note is our guide. He is the foot-tapping, neck-bobbing, rhythm-roadie that all rhythms are based on.

Most music is played “in tempo” with a steady beat. This beat is where you feel the music, like when your toes tap. If you ever played in the school marching band, you marched “in time” with this beat. It is recurring, steady & regular – like a clock ticking.

I’m calling this beat or pulse the Quarter note. It is felt and counted “on the beat”. When marching, there is one step for every quarter count. Every time your foot hits the ground, it is a “downbeat”.

Likewise, when you lift your leg, there is a moment when your knee is highest called the “upbeat”. You have now divided 1 beat into 2 equal parts: The downbeat and the upbeat.

If you can divide a quarter into 2 parts, it makes sense that you can divide it into other note values(rhythms) as well. All the other rhythms… 8ths, 16ths, 32nds, etc., are divisions of this important note.

The Family Tree of Rhythm comes from a single Trunk… Quarter Notes.

I can hear the music theory scholars yelling, “that’s not always true… what about 2/2, 6/8 and other time signatures where the quarter note doesn’t get one beat”. Call 911. Maybe even the Musician’s Union… they’ll send someone right out.

There are exceptions, but this concept is a good place to start.

Songwriting ideas, tips and techniques

Songwriting ideas, tips and techniques

Isn’t it great when you find the exactsongwriting ideas, tips and techniques that today’s songwriters are using to write, create, compose, arrange and record today’s hit songs?

Well, you’ve come to the right place my friend because I know the exact type of songwriting information that you’re looking for:

1. Today’s songwriting ideas, tips and techniques to create great melodies and harmonic chord progressions.

2. Don’t worry about writer’s block ever again – use today’s lyrical ideas to write out experiences and lyrics that express exactly how you feel – in any genre of music.

3. Use today’s popular song structures.

4. Learn the basic’s of songwriting to create that fundamental education that you need in order to keep creating, composing and recording great songs.

This is exactly what I strive to do……you know why? because it is exactly what I Love to do! that’s why!

Isn’t it fantastic when you complete a demo of a song and you feel so good for creating such a beautiful song. It gives you more confidence, security and inspiration to keep writing and composing more songs.

In songwriting-ideas.com I aim to deliver high quality free content with tons of great ideas, tips and techniques to help you write, compose and record hit songs that are waiting to be unleashed from within your inspiration and creativity.

Why? because sometimes we just need the right tools, ideas, tips, techniques and resources to guide us along the way, the process of great and enjoyable songwriting – the way it should be!

So Welcome and enjoy!!

That’s all for now, please feel free to subscribe to my newsletter for more ideas, tips and techniques.

Lindsay Lawler

Lindsay Lawler

Lindsay Lawler is no stranger to the music scene as she has been performing all over the country from a young age. Lawler was born in Oklahoma and raised in Texas. She began singing in the church and at various country venues throughout the South. While attending the University of Oklahoma, she fronted a rock and roll band that recorded and toured the Southwest. After graduation Lawler packed up and moved out West to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of being on stage. Quickly she joined the band Ciattic that she fronted for packed houses all along the Sunset Strip. Lawler never ceased to amaze audiences with her powerful vocals and stellar stage presence at the likes of the famous Whisky-A-Go-Go, Viper Room and The Roxy.

In addition, her band recorded a full-length album and toured subsequently. Lindsay Lawler was then discovered in LA by producers Marshall and London Jones (Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton, Marcos Hernandez). She recorded several songs for them, one of which received airplay across the country and another that was sought after by the WB. It was shortly after that Lawler saw a void of passion in her music and quickly decided to return to her roots. She has since relocated to Nashville, TN and is currently writing with some of Nashville’s most prominent writers, recording, and performing full-time downtown. She can be seen on stage at the famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Broadway weekly. Lawler’s true charisma is personified in front of a crowd…it is a live performance you won’t want to miss!

In addition to her music, Lindsay Lawler is known to many for her radio personality. She has been featured for several years on the nationally syndicated Kidd Kraddick in the Morning show based out of Dallas and broadcast to over 80 markets. The show continues to support Lindsay and has featured several of her tracks. Lawler has just finished recording an EP and will be hitting the road this fall. An exceptionally strong live performer, Lindsay Lawler exudes classic charisma & sensuality on the big stage, captivating audiences of all demographics.

Forms that meets the needs

Forms that meets the needs

The FORM THAT BEST MEETS THE NEEDS OF THE SONG is your best choice.

Tip #3. Song FORM helps the listener PROCESS THE DETAILS OF THE STORY.

If I pull up to the drive-through at McDonalds and an employee runs outside to the car and hands me a fish sandwich and a chocolate shake… how would I respond? I’ve not had time to make up my mind and choose what I want, etc. Timing is Everything!

My tiny brain needs to see the menu and process my order.

There is a reason that the outside menu has big pictures of the food, not just the name & price.

It is possible to begin a song with the Chorus, but it’s usually more effective AFTER we’ve been given some details that lead up to it. Then, it comes as a payoff, not a slap in the face.

The best way to learn about Form is to listen to the professionals. Learn to analyze and understand the Form of your favorite songs. I’ll bet you already understand song form just from listening to popular music.

FORM will usually fall into one of the following categories or labels:

1) 12-Bar Blues

2) ABA

3) AABA

4) 1-part, 2-part, 3-part

5) Verse/Chorus

6)Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus/Bridge

I would argue that several of these labels actually have identical meanings, but different composers refer to them in the terminology they have grown up hearing.

For example, I refer to a “channel” while others would call it a “pre-chorus”. It is and does absolutely the same thing… it transitions you away from the verse and sets up the chorus.

Some would call this PRE-CHORUS a separate section, others would say it is part of the verse. Others would obviously call it part of the chorus… So what???

You can call it a “TRANSITIONALICIOUSMAXIMUS” if you want… as long as it delivers some musical and emotional impact.

Again, the needs of the song should dictate a song’s Form, not the other way around. You don’t enter McDonalds through the kitchen, even though the food is why you’re there. You don’t place your order in the manager’s office, even though he runs the show.

The McDonalds design works to MEET THE NEEDS OF THE CUSTOMER. You enter, you head toward the menu, you see the options, you choose, you order, you eat… call it blueprint, marketing, feng-shui, FORM…whatever, It works!

In songwriting, we should MEET THE NEEDS OF THE LISTENER. They are our CUSTOMERS.

And, for better or worse, the “customer is always right”. They don’t care about song Form, but they feel it when it isn’t right.

For the beginning songwriter, the principles of song Form may seem like old-fashioned rules that aren’t very practical. But make no mistake, writing music without using the various song forms is like writing poetry without the alphabet… it’s impossible.

There are already many online articles & lessons about FORM in songwriting. Instead of explaining the mechanics for you with a music theory approach, (you SHOULD understand the mechanics), I’ve tried to give you an EMOTIONAL concept instead.

The wrong song form confuses the listener. Using a form that works delivers the “Happy Meal” to your audience.