My Take On Rewriting Older Songs

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Lately I’ve been looking over my old songbooks, half finished songwriting ideas and my recording archives to see if there are any thing that I can rewrite, reboot, update or restore in any way. Sometimes I get inspired by this exercise but most I don’t.

For me, it very much depends on what is currently going on in my life and how I’m feeling at the time because this exercise requires me to listen to these old songs with a fresh pair of ears.

This is a challenge as I inadvertently put my old songs and ideas into concrete and this makes it very hard to rewrite them in any other way. In fact, any rewriting of old songs is considered a little victory for me.

So, when it comes to the difficulty in rewriting old songs it’s nice to know that I keep in good company.

I came across an article by songwriter Tony Conniff titled “Revisiting Earlier Songs… As A More Experienced Writer” and he discusses how the more experience he gains as a songwriter, the more opportunities he has to improve on his earlier songwriting attempts.

On this topic, he says…

“It’s a bit of a paradox – my rush forward to write more songs, to gain experience, to get better, has perhaps left holes in some of my past songs (or maybe the holes are there simply because I didn’t know how to plug them at the time…?). But that rush forward to write more songs has also given me the experience to improve things that I thought were settled (but don’t have to be).”

Reading Tony’s article has definitely made me feel better about my struggles with revisiting older songs.

What I get from the article is that the more songs that I write, the more experience I gain in honing my craft, and with that knowledge and experience under my belt, the more I can look and hear my older songs with a fresh pair of eyes and ears.

At the very least that is yet another reason never to throw any of your old songs and songwriting ideas away. You never what you can do with them in the future.

Do you have a whole bunch of old song that need revisiting. Maybe reading Tony Conniff’s article will inspire you to take another look.

Until then, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Doing The Work – Defining Your Songwriting Process

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I have been writing songs for just over 30 years now and I don’t think I’ve even scratched the surface of defining what the songwriting process means to me.

For me, songwriting is much more involved than just the song as an end product. No, to me it encompasses a whole creative process.

Writing songs is a discipline, a meditation, a calling, a vocation, a study into the human condition and a way of life. It’s all about doing “the work.”

Without a songwriting process binding everything together, the song as the end result of that process would not exist.

That’s why I’m so passionate about it… The songwriting process is THE essence of writing songs. I’m passionate about it because I feel that songwriters generally overlook the most important aspect of what we do…

Writing…

Songwriting is a word comprised of two smaller words, song and writing. It may seem pretty obvious, but a song is the end result of a process and the writing part of the word songwriting IS the process.

Therefore, without the WRITING there is NO SONG. I wonder how many songs aren’t written because of this fact?

You see, you can talk all you like about verses, choruses, middle-eights, bridges, pre-choruses, the length of the intro, topline melody, hooks and so on, but without the physical activity of writing, all of that songwriting theory is meaningless.

So look deep into yourself and define what your songwriting process means to you.
Remember, there are no rules regarding this because each songwriting process is as many and varied as the amount of songwriters in the world.

What I do to get to a completed song is going to be different to how you get there. GUARANTEED.

Once you’ve defined what your process means, adapt it into your day to day life and take action over your songwriting rather than just waiting for inspiration to come your way.

As author Stephen King once said… “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

But until then, happy writing

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Writing Songs – Pen And Paper VS Keyboard And Word Processor

Call me old fashioned but I still prefer writing songs with a pen to paper rather than to use a word processor.

There have been many times where I’ve attempted to use a computer keyboard and word processor instead of pen and paper to jot down my songwriting ideas and I’ve found that each time the special feeling of continuity I get between head, heart and computer screen is not as intense as the organic scrawling of a really good quality pen onto paper.

It’s like the act of putting pen to paper somehow allows me to become an integral part of what I’m writing whereas I feel an uncomfortable distance from my songwriting ideas if I just type it out.

Yes, I know that for this very post to exist I would’ve had to have typed the words into a word processor or directly into the WYSIWYG editor in my blogging platform of choice, WordPress however, this particular post was written on paper first.

I got the idea for this post from automatically and randomly writing on pieces of paper as a means of clearing my mind of the stuff that has collected in it over time. A bit of mental cleaning as it were and some indication that automatic writing works.

I’m a big fan of technology but at the same time I’d hate to see the art of writing a song with a pen and paper disappear for good.

What do you think? Which medium do you prefer to write songs with? Pen and paper or keyboard and word processor?

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

The BIG List Of Songwriting Prompts And Lyric Generators

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To date, the most popular post of all time on All About Songwriting is called Songwriting Tool: Random Generators And Writing Prompts which is a small list of websites that would help spark off some inspiration in times of creative drought.

It’s the most popular because it seems that there’s a lot of songwriters out there that are in need of some help starting things off with their creativity.

Now I know from personal experience that from time to time a prompt such as a good song title or a few well chosen lines overheard in a conversation can be all that’s needed to open the floodgates of inspiration.

So, with that in mind, I thought of digging a little deeper in my online research into these songwriting tools and in doing so expanded on the list.

Some are fairly serious and some are humorous but if you have a look at them all you’ll find some value in these sites I’m sure so here is the BIG List Of Songwriting Prompts And Lyric Generators for you to enjoy and be inspired by…


Song Lyric Generators

Song Title/Band Name Generators

(Song) Writing Prompts


Remember, this list is in addition to the list already found in Songwriting Tool: Random Generators And Writing Prompts so that’s a pretty extensive list of online songwriting tools at your disposal. What do you think?

If you know of any other online songwriting tools you’d like me to share, please let me know and I’ll make sure I put it up in a future post.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Tip – Sometimes You’ve Just Got To Walk Away

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The productivity of your songwriting process can be a very hard thing to predict at times. Some days it’s like writing songs is the easiest thing to do in the world while on other days it’s an impossible task just trying to put pen to paper.

When this happens, one of the best ways I’ve found to diffuse this creative stalemate is to simply walk away from the song, do something different and came back to it at a later date.

When I mean walk away, I mean take a complete break from your song. No more going over the song in your head, no more listening to draft recordings and no more playing your guitar or piano either.

Generally, this creative stalemate occurs when you’ve been doing things like over-thinking your songwriting process which will mentally exhaust you because you’re working harder and not smarter with your songwriting process.

This is why creating some distance between you and your song can be the best thing you can do for it because we all know that once your mind becomes stressed and fatigued nothing comes easy for you let alone the next line for your song.

You see, what taking a break does is that it resets your ears, your eyes, your senses, your headspace and your imagination so you can hear, look, feel, perceive and imagine your new song with a completely fresh perspective.

So what do you do in your time off from your song? Well, the short answer is… “Anything you want as long as it’s not songwriting related.”

You can go for a walk, read a book, have a bath, call up a friend, do some gardening, get on with some housework, go for a drive, anything to take your attention away from the creative stalemate you’ve found yourself in.

I can assure you, when you get back to your song (and only you will know when that time is), you’ll be experiencing your song like it was the first time which will make it easier to move your creativity forward towards completion.

Remember, if you’re finding it hard to finish your song, it might just pay to walk away and come back to it when you’re feeling much more relaxed and refreshed.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Six Tips For Basic Songwriting – A Video

Here is a video that really impressed me with the directness of its message. It comes from a singer/songwriter named Kyle Erwin and it’s called “Six Tips For Basic Songwriting.”

Now I’ve been writing songs for a while now and most of the information that I come across online is stuff that I already know or have experienced however, there was something that I found in this video that I wasn’t aware of and now will incorporate into my own songwriting process.

It’s not often that this happens hence why I want to share this video with all of you.

On his blog, Kyle also has his “Six Tips For Basic Songwriting” as a post and cleverly links to it from his video to save you writing down notes on the information he imparts.

He also mentions about a product for the iPad called Music Memos. I’ve actually downloaded that and have been playing around with it. I’ll see if I can do a review of it in a future post.

Anyway, enjoy this video and remember, if there’s anything that you’d like to share with me regarding any of the information presented on the video just let me know.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Using A Random Image As A Songwriting Prompt

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We songwriters are very sensory creatures and we have been known to use a variety of stimuli to kick off our songwriting process.

I have, in previous posts mentioned that listening to music or reading some poetry might be a good way to find some inspiration but I have not yet discussed whether a random image could spark off a songwriting idea or two.

So, with that in mind, try this songwriting exercise and see what you can come up with…

1. Go to any one of these random image generators

2. Go with the first image that is presented to you.

3. Start writing in point-form/long-hand your thoughts, feelings and detailed descriptions of what you see. Use all of your senses and your imagination. Give yourself a time limit if you like (say ten minutes).

4. Once you’re finished ask yourself… “Can I write a song from all this?”

Give this songwriting exercise a really good go, put your everything into it and write down as much as you can. The more information the better.

Doing this will train your eyes to really observe what it sees rather than just to casually look at something and by writing everything that you see down you’re giving yourself an excuse and a reason to write.

By eliminating choice through randomness you’re dismantling your inner critics tendency to become paralysed by too much choice.

If nothing comes of it don’t worry, the exercise might have been the very thing that break your songwriting block however, if something comes from it then let me know. I’d be interested to see if my theory works.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

The Role Of Different Song Sections (Plus Examples)

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Today, I found the perfect accompanying article for my recent 6-Part Series On Song Formatting that I wanted to share with you all.

It was written by Benjamin Samama (a former teacher from the Berklee College of Music) for the very popular SonicBids blog and the article is called “Songwriting 101: What’s The Purpose Of All The Different Song Sections?”

I found this article most useful for two main reasons:

1. It defined the different song sections clearly and concisely
Reading these definitions made me understand a little bit more the precise interplay between a verse and a chorus, or a chorus and a bridge.

2. It gives at least two video examples for every song section
Having the video examples on hand to listen to really drove home to me the reasons why different song sections exist. It also sharpens your ear when you listen other songs as part of your song formatting research.

Benjamin’s goal of his article is to give us a well rounded understanding of the different types of sections that can appear in a song form. He writes…

“… I’ll give you an overview of the different sections of a song, and the purpose each one of them serves. I’ll be using mostly pop music examples, since it’s straightforward and easiest for illustrating these kinds of concepts.”

You might not like the songs used in the examples but they do help you understand the different song sections better.

Have a read of the article “Songwriting 101: What’s The Purpose Of All The Different Song Sections?” And as always, let me know what you think.

I’d be interested to see your take on how you use the different song sections in your songwriting.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting 101 – #6: The Hook

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This is a series of posts about song formatting and structure. All this week I’ll be writing about the different individual elements that make up a song.


Go to #1 – The Chorus

Go to #2 – The Verse

Go to #3 – The Melody

Go to #4 – The Bridge

Go to #5 – Intro’s & Outro’s


Please bear in mind that these are my definitions and interpretations of the different parts of a song structure. There are no hard and fast rules determining which part of a song goes where.

However, there are generally accepted guidelines. Think of this Songwriting 101 series as the “nuts and bolts” of putting your songs together.

You’ve been refining your songwriting process and you’ve come up with some great ideas and now you are ready to put them all together.

Your journey starts now…


In this the last post in the Songwriter 101 series we’re going to talking today about the HOOK.

The hook is the most important aspect of song construction. It’s the very thing that captures the attention and the imagination of your listening audience the most.

It’s that certain something in a song that enables your brain to keep remembering it long after the song has stopped playing.

Think about it, have you ever had a song spinning around in your head that you just can’t get rid of? Has anyone mentioned a name of a song and all of a sudden you’re humming along a section of it in your head?

If this has happened to you (as it happens to me all the time) then you’ve been influenced by the almighty hook.

In the first instance, the songwriter determines what the hook is but then what the listening audience determines as the hook of the song may be a completely different thing however, if you write a hook that both you and your audience gravitate to then you’re halfway there in creating a song that people want to listen to over and over again.

According to an article written by John Braheny on the TAXI website there are four types of hooks.

  • Structural
  • Instrumental
  • Story
  • Production

For me, reading this article opened my eyes a little bit more to song construction as a whole and I’ve been writing songs for years. As John says in his article…

“… hooks are essential in commercial music. They are points of reference that keep us interested and focused on the song. They’re devices that help us remember and an entertainment in themselves.”

It just goes to show that we are never too old to learn anything new.

The reason why I say that the hook is the most important aspect of songwriting is that as songwriters we want our creations to be remembered, played and listened to over and over again.

The hook is the very thing that will achieve this goal for us. If you give your listener something to remember your song by, it will be with them for a very long time.

A hook can be the chorus line that is repeated many times for effect or a really cool bridge section that makes the listeners ears stand up and take more notice of your song.

A hook can be a lyrical or a musical motif that once heard will never be forgotten or it can also be something that is added to in the studio as the song is taking shape.

Sharpen up your hooks and catch a few listeners with them. Can you think of any great examples of a killer hook. Feel free to let me know.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

PS: Read John Braheny’s article here

Songwriting 101 – #5: Intro’s And Outro’s

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This is a series of posts about song formatting and structure. All this week I’ll be writing about the different individual elements that make up a song.


Go to #1 – The Chorus

Go to #2 – The Verse

Go to #3 – The Melody

Go to #4 – The Bridge


Please bear in mind that these are my definitions and interpretations of the different parts of a song structure. There are no hard and fast rules determining which part of a song goes where.

However, there are generally accepted guidelines. Think of this Songwriting 101 series as the “nuts and bolts” of putting your songs together.

You’ve been refining your songwriting process and you’ve come up with some great ideas and now you are ready to put them all together.

Your journey starts now…


If you break a song down to it’s most basic structure you’ll find it’s just like any other type of writing. There is a beginning, a middle and an end.

How a song starts and finishes is just as important as what happens in the middle (especially if you’re performing your song live).

Today I want to write about INTRO’S and OUTRO’S. Let’s start off with the Introducton.

The introduction sets up the vocal melody and the primary musical arrangement of the song. It shouldn’t be too long otherwise it will ‘overstay it’s welcome’ with the listener.

An average song intro is four to eight bars in length.

There are of course exceptions to every rule. Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” has a sixteen bar introduction however, this is needed to map out the complex (and timeless) musical arrangement of this epic tune.

The introduction motif for your song can happen only once at the benning or can appear a number of times.

It can double as the breathing space between verse and chorus, it can form the basis of your bridge section or, it can be the bridge between a major and minor tonality.

For instance, your introduction maybe in A minor and your verse is in it’s relative major key which is C.

Now for the Outro.

An “outroduction” (not sure if this is a real word or not but I like it anyway) is a section that signifies the end of a song is approaching.

It can be as simple as a repeating of the chorus, of the hook-line or it can be just like a bridge, a departure giving the listener one last surprise before the end of the song is upon them.

An example of an outro would be the repeated “sending out an SOS” line at the end of “Message In A Bottle” by The Police.

It’s always good practise to let the listener know where the beginning, middle and the end of your songs are. Intro’s and outro’s are a good way to let the listener know where their ears are taking them.

Do you have any other examples of really good intro’s and outro’s? Feel free to let me know.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting