Song Starter: Say “YES”

Having trouble getting a song started? Try this idea: Just say “YES!” Here’s how.

Say YES!Imagine yourself…
Walking on the beach or…
Being hugged by someone you love or…
Petting your favorite animal or…
Playing a game with children or… anything you like.

  1. Write a list of phrases describing how you feel. Say YES to every phrase.
  2. Choose four to six phrases and put them in any order. Say YES to the order.
  3. Play a groove on guitar or keyboard or just tap your foot and clap your hands. Say YES to the groove.
  4. Sing a melody to the beat using your phrases. Say YES to the melody.
  5. Add chords that go with your melody. Say YES to the chords.

There’s your first draft of a verse or chorus. Keep saying YES until you finish your first draft. THEN you can rewrite.

Check out my new book: Song Starters: 365 Lyric, Melody, & Chord Ideas to Kickstart Your Songwriting. It’s filled with creative Song Starters like this one and it’s available at

May your songs flow! – Robin 🙂

Robin's books at Amazon.comFind out more about all of my print and eBooks on my Author page at Amazon. In each book you’ll find dozens of useful, real-world shortcuts that will show you how to craft songs that work for today’s music market, plus dozens of hands-on exercises to get your creative ideas flowing.

Get Inspired: Study Great Holiday Songs

Here’s a list of great holiday songs you can listen to on Youtube. Each one has something offer to today’s songwriters as examples of great song craft.  As you listen, notice the  structure, lyric imagery/action words, melody style, and production. For more detailed info on writing and pitching holiday songs, read Holiday Songs: ‘Tis the Season.

Winter Wonderland  – Jason Mraz with an excellent  version of this seasonal classic. The vocal has a contemporary jazz flavor and conveys warmth, upbeat energy, and fun. The production is just guitar and vocal and nothin’ else! It’s simple and it’s effective.

Learn more about creating basic, barebones arrangements. Continue reading “Get Inspired: Study Great Holiday Songs”

Song Starter – Write a List Song

I love the theme song for The Big Bang Theory, written and performed by Bare Naked Ladies. It’s a “list song.” These songs are literally a list of images, ideas, facts, or related phrases. It has a catchy melody and is usually delivered at an energetic (but comfortable) pace.

List songs like this one have a long history in musical theater, from Gilbert and Sullivan to Disney animated feature films. You can still hear a form of the list song on Country hit radio. “She’s Country” by Jason Aldean is a good example and, if you’re a Country fan, I’m sure you can think of more.)

You’ll also hear this style in children’s songs, comedy/novelty songs, theme songs, and commercials. A great example of a list song in a commercial: Delta Faucet’s “Hands” ad.  Continue reading “Song Starter – Write a List Song”

Songs That Help Us Remember

Remembering the past is one of the things that binds us together. Several times a year we take a moment, an hour, or a day to recall significant events. They may be personal or part of the shared history of a nation.  Some are joyous, some impossibly sad.

How much help could a song be?
After the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, as we watched scenes of devastation, loss of life, and the strength of these people faced with such immense challenges, I suggested that songwriters express their feelings about what they were seeing through their art.  I wrote this on my Facebook page and was quickly criticized by someone who felt that this was self-indulgent, even useless. I wasn’t suggesting that writing a song should take the place of hard work or much needed donations. I was thinking of the long haul… I was thinking about remembrance, about never forgetting.

Today is a day of remembrance. We take time to think about the human cost and the courage of those who lost their lives in New York on September 11. Now, over a decade after those events, one of the things that brings those memories back for me with the most intensity is a song written by my friend Bridget St. John. The song is called “The Hole In Your Heart” and its expressive beauty never fails to recall the emotions of that day and the ones that followed. Bridget wrote it to express her own feelings but it speaks for many.  Continue reading “Songs That Help Us Remember”