Songwriting: It’s Like Riding a Bicycle

Bicycle in your mindRemember when you learned to ride your first bicycle? It wasn’t easy. You fell down a lot, but you kept trying. At first you needed someone to hold on, keeping you steady. Then you used training wheels to help you stay upright as you pedaled. Then, finally, you were able to ride on your own. You had found that complicated thing called balance. After that, it was a breeze! The process of writing songs is a lot like riding a bike. It’s all about finding a balance!

=> Balance Melody, Chords, Lyrics – Writing a song that listeners will love involves finding a good balance between melody, lyrics, and chords. If you have a busy lyric with a lot of words and images then writing a melody that’s easy for listeners to follow might give your song more appeal. On the other hand, if you have a complicated melody with a lot of rhythmic interest and interval jumps, then keeping your chord progression simple might be a good idea. Try the chord progressions on this page to get things going.

When there are too many things demanding their attention, listeners don’t know what to focus on and that can be frustrating. If they’re feeling confused or overwhelmed, they’re  likely to tune out.

A good rule of thumb: As the complexity of one of your song elements goes up – lyrics, melody, or chords – consider organizing the other elements in easy-to-follow patterns or using more repetition.

=> Balance within each song element – We all love to write those beautiful, poetic lines but they can sometimes be hard for listeners to understand. Sp. try to mix in a few conversational  lines that come right out and say what you want the listener to know. If you don’t feel comfortable interweaving poetic and conversational within a single song section, consider making your verse the evocative, poetic section, then come straight to the point in your chorus. Let the singer come right out and say what he or she feels so the listener knows what’s going on.

The same idea can be applied to melody.  If you have a verse with a fast-paced, complicated melody, consider writing a chorus with a little breathing room. Stretch out the melody notes in the chorus and use fewer notes per beat. use a little more repetition or a simple melodic pattern. Give the listener a chance to absorb what’s happening before plunging into another verse.

=> Study the balance in your genre – Each genre has a balance of melody, lyrics, and chords that gives it a characteristic sound. For instance, the Pop genre tends to have a lot  of melodic interest. Verse, pre-chorus, and chorus all have different melodies with changing dynamics and rhythmic twists.  Pop lyrics  maintain a balance by staying focused on a single emotional situation that’s clearly defined in the chorus.

The Country genre, on the other hand, relies on lyric stories with more physical detail and development than Pop.  Listeners need to pay attention to the lyric in order to get the full impact. As a result, Country melodies tend to be a little less complex than in the Pop field. This doesn’t mean you can write a boring melody, ever! You’ll still need to keep your listeners interested with strong melody patterns and plenty of contrast between sections. But you might want to use fewer melodic twists than you would in the Pop genre.

=> Balance craft and inspiration – Balance is also an essential part of your approach to songwriting as a whole. Finding a balance between inspiration and song craft can help you express your deepest thoughts and feelings and in a way that listeners can understand and respond to.

Inspiration is the heart of your songwriting. It’s what guides you, tells you what’s important, and delivers that brilliant line out of the blue. But inspiration can be a very personal thing, sometimes giving you lines that may mean something to you but not to your listener. If you balance inspiration with an equal amount of song craft, you’ll end up communicating more effectively, surrounding those inspired gems with lines that support them and keep the listener involved.  Continue reading “Songwriting: It’s Like Riding a Bicycle”

Study the Hits eBook on Amazon & iBooks

I’ve been working hard to bring you a brand new book and it’s finally out. Study the Hits is DONE! There are 30 new songwriting shortcuts and 21 song guides to recent hits in the Pop, Country, Singer-songwriter, and Folk genres. If you’re looking for something to spark your Pop hits, inspire your Film & TV songs, spur your Country creativity, check it out. It’s 278 pages of songwriter LOVE for just $9.99. Click here to buy it on Amazon.com. Or click on the Study the Hits book image.

You don’t even need a Kindle or e-reader to read the book. Just download the free Kindle app to your PC or Mac computer and open the book.  There’s a link to the app right on my eBook page at Amazon. You can listen to the songs, read the lyrics, and study the Shortcuts all right there on your computer or tablet.

This book will show you how to get your hands on the latest songwriting tools and techniques straight from today’s biggest hit songs. Read about a technique, listen to hit songs that use it, then try these cutting-edge songwriting tools in your own songs.

You’ll find Songwriting Shortcuts that take you inside today’s hottest markets and latest song craft skills:
• 6 Hit Songwriting Shortcuts
• 6 Lyric Shortcuts
• 6 Film & TV Songwriting Shortcuts
• 5 Music Shortcuts
• 7 “Ears-On” Kickstarter Shortcuts show you how to study any hit song and learn from it.

PLUS “Ears-On” song guides to 21 of today’s top hits. We’ll explore…
• 5 Pop and Pop/Rock Hits
• 6 Contemporary Country Hits
• 5 Singer-Songwriter Hits
• 5 Folk & Folk/Rock Hits
… to see what makes each one so successful.

You’ll find “Try It Now” exercises in every Shortcut and Song Guide so you’ll hear and apply contemporary hit songwriting techniques right away.

NOTE: This eBook contains active links to online videos and lyrics. An Internet connection and audio output are recommended.

Available soon for Apple iBooks.

Inspiration to Finished Song

Q: “I find that I have an easy time finding a first verse and chorus (or rather, it finds me) but I’ll have trouble coming up with two more verses or a verse and bridge. The lyrics tend to sound forced and I feel trapped. Is that just how it goes when you’re trying to stick to a form?”

A: For a lot of songwriters, this is how a song gets started. The first verse or chorus of a song may come to you full-blown, music and lyrics together. But what happens next? That rush of inspiration has exhausted itself and now you have to write more verse lyrics and, harder still, they have to fit your existing melody.

Continue reading “Inspiration to Finished Song”