Rambling Thoughts I - East_TN_Songwriters

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Rambling Thoughts I

Notes About Songwriting

By Ira Braden, ETSSA Songwriter

Getting started:
If you can talk, you can write. Creativity is permanent, but if you don’t use it Mother Nature will take over and fill the void with a vacuum. Embrace and trust your creative process even if it takes you in a different direction while you are writing a song.  Creative processes are a series of tiny images and changes. Capture an idea, write it down; then you can tear it apart and do what you want with it. Write whatever you want to, but wrap it around the idea.

  • Write down those little voices you hear and the images you conjure up in your mind.

  • Don’t let the illumination of an idea die, write it down.

  • Don’t be afraid to get emotional.

  • Write down lines, put together phrases, find a starting point and build from there. Just let the words flow. It doesn’t really matter what the words are saying, just write. Illuminate the idea enough so the listener knows what you are trying to communicate.

  • Most great songs start as a mystery. Realize that the mystery is an idea that becomes a song. Don’t try to figure out the mystery, things will come together for you. You have to do the preliminaries before your ideas come together to make a song. In order to write songs, you have to push your limits.

  • Go down the road you have never traveled. Make the mistakes; sometimes they make great songs. Take chances and take risks, with your writing, then see what develops.

  • Whatever you’re using to write with must not stop moving. Whether it is a pen, typewriter, or computer, keep it going to preserve your thoughts. Each day, have a set amount of time to write. Don’t stop writing until that time elapses. Lose control during this time; it’s ok to make mistakes.

  • Go deep with your thoughts, lean into it. If a song doesn’t move you emotionally, if it doesn’t make you want to listen to it, probably no one else will listen to it either.

  • Go where you’ve never gone before.

  • Make the song lyrics feel like a conversation.

  • Write as if though you are talking to someone; go where it feel s right in the conversation.

  • During the creative process, don’t judge your writing, don’t edit your writing, let it flow.

Write About Anything and Everything:

  • Write about your experience, someone else’s experience, the days of the week

  • Write about the seasons, the wind, the weather, your personal life

  • Write about happiness, pain, sorrow, demons, angels , people you know or have heard of

  • Write about animals, politics, things that are critical, things that are predictable

  • Write about love, your first kiss, your best kiss, or your last kiss

  • Write about relationships, the flow of things, the stars  

  • Write about the sun, how sun shines bright, how it shines on you, how it creates a shadow

  • Write about compromise, flying, being happy, being crazy, smiles, smiling

  • Write about frowning, the nights, things that are routine

  • Look at all of life as an idea for writing a song

Writing Verse 1:
What is a verse? A verse is a communication of an idea. Begin to tell your story, write it in a way that will draw your listeners in, reveal a little bit about what is going on, enough so as to keep the listener interested. Don’t over-think the lyrics. Avoid using the same word, more than once, in a line, if at all possible.

Do A Build:
Try to write in a way as to build the melody as the verse is ending, this makes it easier to go into the chorus. Make the melody more intense, do it lyrically and melodically, or musically, try to find the build, the intensity, the pinnacle, that works for you to end the verse. There are exceptions to everything, and this is no different. Johnny Cash would lower the melody at the end of the verse, in a lot of his songs So I guess you could say there is no right or wrong way to do this. Find what works for you.

Keep to the idea; let the chorus reinforce the verse. This is where you include the hook, a catchy melody , an uplifting phrase--anything that will grab the listener’s attention and will make them want to hear it again. Make it straightforward and drive the point home, make it reinforce what you have said in the verse, clean out the trash, don’t babble. Make it make sense, sound good. Include the title if possible.

Musical Interlude:
Don’t forget to include a musical interlude after the chorus following the first verse.

Verse 2:
A second verse should reveal more of the story detail. You’ve got the listener this far; tell them more of what you want them to hear, reveal more of the mystery. You have to use detail to make a song that listener s will latch on to, but do it with as few words as possible, keeping in mind balance and meter.

It’s also very important to write a bridge when you ’re writing a song: something completely different. This could be a different melody, a different lyrical arrangement, something that will really take the listener away to that “other place” so when the song comes back to home base, the chorus , it’s even more of a familiar, comfortable place, because they have heard it before. So, if you take them away from that, in a bridge, then they attach to the chorus, then it makes them want to listen to it again and again. Let the bridge tie everything together that can’t be said in the normal flow of the song.

Ira Braden
ETSSA Songwriter

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