All About Songwriting

Your #1 Songwriting Resource

Writing Therapy Songs Is Good For You

When life is getting you down and you have no-one to talk to, how about writing a song about it? I can assure you that it will make you feel so much better.

This is because writing a song about your thoughts and feelings is a wonderful way of expressing what’s happening inside you plus, it’s a great way to get things off your chest.

It’s sad that far too many people in this world never allow themselves the chance to release their bottled up feelings and it’s been proven that carrying around all your sadness and anger will make you sick.

With that in mind, that must mean that songwriters must be the one of the mentally healthiest groups of people in the world 😉

Just remember, not every song that you write has to be performed in the public arena so what have you got to lose? You are allowed to write songs for you and you only. No-one needs to know about them and they can be your own little secret if you wish.

Just as long as you write what is in your head and your heart.

It’s widely recognised that sharing a problem with family and friends is a very healthy thing to do mentally however, writing songs for therapy follows a similar concept but in this instance you’re having the same conversation with yourself.

If you want to share your song with others, that’s fine but it’s not essential.

By putting your problems or emotions into a songwriting context you’re really putting a positive spin on a negative situation.

Writing songs about what your feeling at the time allows you to put things into some sort of logical perspective.

Instead of spending hours telling yourself the same old long protracted story about what’s happening in your life, you condense it all into a four minute song. This requires you to cut to the chase with the issue and by doing that, the problem or emotion is not as intense as was first thought.

What you do with the therapy songs you write is totally up to you however, it’s how these songs help you through the tough times, not what you do with them that’s the important thing to consider here.

Please, don’t be afraid to write about how you feel even if you don’t want to face up to it. This is a great exercise in being really honest with yourself and your feelings.

Do you feel a songwriting therapy session coming on about now? The doctor is now in.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

The BIG List Of Songwriting Prompts And Lyric Generators

Take it from me, there will be times when you’ll need a little bit of help in getting your songwriting process underway.

It’s inevitable…

But when this happens to you, be comforted by the fact that there are free online songwriting tools available that are able to get your creative juices flowing again.

As a songwriter who comes up with musical ideas much more easily than lyrical ones, I use these online random word generators and (song) writing prompts whenever I find myself in a situation where I’m fresh out of songwriting ideas.

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 I’d do some online research into these types of songwriting tools.

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


You’ll notice that some of these tools are a bit tongue in cheek but there are also some songwriting tools that are seriously good. Either way, by using these tools it’s my hope that you’ll take your creativity to places you’ve never imagined as much as I have by using them.

I’d be interested to hear how you go with any of these. If you come across any other songwriting tools that you feel will help anyone with their songwriting process, feel free to let me know about it.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Active Listening – A Songwriters Greatest Skill

When we start engaging in a conversation with someone, our minds generally start thinking a few steps ahead and therefore we miss out on the whole experience.

You know, ordinary people really say the most extraordinary things if you just listen out for it.

If we, as songwriters practise the art of actively listening to a conversation then we won’t miss out on anything. I can assure you that you’ll gain many more opportunities for gathering songwriting ideas if you do this.

It’s a known fact that songwriters like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Paul McCartney cite everyday conversations as the, primary sources of inspiration for some of their most well known songs.

Just think of it, as a songwriter, there’s always an opportunity to gather a new songwriting idea because the art of conversation happens on a day to day basis.

What we must do is learn to actively listen to what people say rather than just hear them and believe me, there is a huge difference between “hearing” and “listening.”

Active listening is, like any other skill, something that has to be practised over and over again because as human beings, listening does not come naturally to us.

To actively listen to someone requires us to be mindful of what we’re doing and to be fully in the moment. It requires us to give 100% of ourselves to the other person.

Active listening in a conversation means not thinking ahead about what you’re going to say next while the other person is talking. It’s almost like a form of meditation.

What you’re doing is emptying your mind so it can be filled with the conversation and it’s surroundings.

With active listening there is no doubt, no having to have words repeated back to you because you didn’t hear it the first time. Being in this head-space leaves you open to flashes of inspiration.

Once you become more skilled at this practise you’ll realise that everyone has something important to say.

There are other spin-offs in mastering the art of active listening. You’ll be greatly appreciated by others because you’re someone who really listens and understands them.

We live in a world where we are told time and time again that we have no time for ourselves, anyone or anything. This also means that we don’t take the time out to listen to other people because we are too busy to do so.

Very sad isn’t it?

When you get down to it people want to be happy, loved, validated, acknowledged, appreciated and listened to. Imagine, with your new found active listening skills how much of a breath of fresh air you will be to the people around you?

You will really get to know yourself and others a whole lot more and you’ll also have a constant stream of songwriting ideas at your disposal.

The world is an infinite song ideas machine and you already have the tools to operate it to your advantage.

Your eyes, ears, mouth, brain and heart.

Start really listening to everyone and everything around you today. Your songs will love you for it.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Advice – Too Many Ideas Will Spoil The Song

Let me ask you something… Have you heard of the KISS principle?

It stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid” and it’s a good rule of thumb for when you’re writing songs.

We human beings are really funny creatures, we get bored with simplicity really quickly, so we try to complicate things so we can remain interested in whatever it is we’re doing.

As songwriters, one of the main assumptions we make with our songs is that, how we feel about them is how everybody feels about them.

This is simply not the case.

Making a song more complicated may be of interest to you, but chances are it may lose your audience, so be very, very careful.

A great song is like a great soup. If you put too many flavours into the it, the soup becomes too overpowering for the palette and you become unsure of what type of soup you’re eating.

You see, a song is made up of two essential components:

1. Melody
2. Lyrics

Put simply, a song without words is an instrumental and a song without music is a lyric or a poem. All are just as important as each other however, as songwriters we need to make these distinctions clear in our own minds.

If you don’t pay close attention you’ll end up with a song that, while it might be great for you to listen to, it may have too many ideas in it for its own good.

Too many songwriting ideas in one song tends to do is overshadow the melody which restricts the listeners opportunity to be engaged in a musical journey through the songs lyrics.

Any hooks that the listener can grab onto become lost in the mess.

In keeping things simple, you’re allowing your songs to breathe and develop organically. A great song has just as much space as well as substance in it and as songwriters we are the scales that allow the balance between these two elements to exist.

Musical arrangement, counterpoint and harmony are very, very important in songwriting however, look at these components as things that you use mindfully, knowing full well that too many ideas can do to your song.

Always remember, never be afraid to keep things simple.

Simplicity is neither bad or boring, it’s the best way to get your message or intention across to the listener and besides, we could all do with a bit more simplicity in our lives don’t you think?

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Song Lyrics – Making Mountains Out Of Molehills

If you’re like me, then part of your songwriting process is to be constantly on the lookout for more and more songwriting ideas because, it’s from these ideas that the next song is born.

However, in the process of doing this you’ll end up having a whole lot of song lyric snippets, possible song titles and miscellaneous lines and phrases floating around the place either in your head or loosely organised on pieces of paper or, files on your computer.

After a while you start to ask yourself the question “what do I do with all of these songwriting ideas?”

One songwriting technique that I use a lot is to write a short story using one of your collected random songwriting ideas as its inspiration and then, once finished, condensing the whole story down into a working song lyric.

All you need to do is to pick one of your random songwriting snippets and without thinking about it, start writing.

Make lists, use a mind map, do whatever you need to do to explore every conceivable angle that come to mind from that single songwriting idea.

It’s amazing how much you’re able to write if you let yourself go. From one line a sentence is formed, from a sentence a paragraph is formed and from a paragraph a short story is formed.

When I do this exercise, I try to fully exhaust all of my options in one sitting. If, at the end of the session I have ten pages of writing then so be it.

For me, I find it best to begin this editing and elimination process a day or two after I’ve written the story, to ensure I have fresh eyes and ears but nevertheless, this is where the fun begins.

Once you’ve finished writing your short story, have a look at what you’ve written and start eliminating all of the non essential bits of the story and with what’s left over, mould a song from that.

You’ll find that by doing this songwriting exercise it’s much easier to write down far too much information and then take things away, than to write too little and have to add things in afterwards.

It just goes to show that in songwriting, it pays to make a mountain out of a molehill.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Learn The Rules Of Songwriting In Order To Break Them

When I was studying music in High School some years ago, I remember having one of my many intense conversations with my music teacher Mr Morgan about the so-called “rules” of music  and why I had to learn them.

I remember saying to my Mr Morgan defiantly, “well, if anything goes in music, why are we having to learn all these rules and structures?”

Now, being a very knowledgeable and insightful chap his answer was simple and straight to the point. He said to me in the calm and measured voice of a Zen Master that I must “first learn the rules in order to break them.”

I was blown away by the answer and from then on, everything just made sense. My insatiable appetite for learning all about music suddenly doubled (no, tripled) right there and then.

What I’m outlining here is that even though the music industry seems to be only wanting young, good looking pop singers who can sing songs of little or no substance, someone will always come along and break the rules.

The music industry is indeed a constantly changing and dynamic beast with a voracious appetite for great songs. It’s always good to remember that the music industry would die a slow and horrible death if there were no more songs to be written.

Just think about it… The songs we write today could potentially shape the music industry of tomorrow so learn all the rules you can so you can then be that songwriter that makes a difference by breaking those rules.

When you’re honing your craft, perfecting your process, increasing your songwriting activity and researching your art, you’re not doing this to find some magic formula that will make you millions upon millions of dollars.

You’re doing all this work to exponentially multiply the amount of sonic colours that you can paint with.

Don’t use the songwriting tips, ideas, techniques and rules that you pick up along your creative journey as a means of corralling your songwriting output in a certain way under the misguided promise of finding some sort of songwriting holy grail.

Use that information as some sort of point of reference so you know how you’ll do things differently next time. Change your direction from time to time, challenge yourself and don’t ever be just content with where you’re at right now.

Nurture your desire to keep learning because in a world full of similarities, it’s the little differences that make you and the songs that you write, stand out the most.

I hope that in some small way All About Songwriting helps you to learn all the rules you’ll need so you then know which ones to break first.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Smashing Songwriters Block, One (Bad) Song At A Time

Songwriting is the creative process of joining together lyrics, melody and music, and this process requires focus, time and patience.

However, all creative people have their own personal nemesis buried deep inside them waiting to wreak some havoc and put a spanner in the works.

It’s called your inner critic but really, it’s another name for your ego.

You know what I’m talking about, we’ve all been there, it’s that little critic inside your head that tells you that you have “nothing to write about” or that you’re “not good enough” or that you’ve got “no time to write” and so on.

If writing songs requires a certain level of activity then to write more songs we need to increase that activity, and one of those ways is to consistently win the battle with your inner critic.

As songwriters we need to be open to fresh new ideas, thoughts, feelings, experiences and observations and keeping that momentum going requires a steady flow of words from brain to paper.

If we lose the daily battle with our inner critic then the songwriting idea valve gets shut off by our own negativity, reasons and excuses and we simply dry up.

Hence the songwriters block.

Songwriters stop writing songs not because of their reasons and excuses but because they have let their inner critic talk them into believing that those reasons and excuses are the truth.

We need to find ways to distract, pacify or perhaps make friends with our inner critic and make it work for our songwriting, not against it.

I’ve always found that the best and most direct way to cure a dose of songwriters block is to just write anything no matter how corny and cliche the outcome may turn out to be.

Hell, I’ve written a lot of “bad” songs in my time from doing this very thing, but I don’t see anything in the rulebook that says that every song you write has to be heard by other people.

The next time you’re sitting down in front of a blank piece of paper and nothing seems to be coming out try this songwriting exercise, just write whatever comes to you and keep going until you fill the paper with words.

As you’re doing this really listen out to what your inner critic is telling you, accept that it’s not the truth and keep on writing and maybe, just maybe you’ll write a song about how you defeat your nemesis.

Hey! It might even be a good one 🙂

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Ideas Are Infinite And Sacred

My first piece of advice that I would give to any beginning songwriter is… “Never throw anything away, EVER!”

Just think, that piece of paper that you’ve thrown in the bin with some half finished lyrics penned the night before might have contained the ideas for THE song that defines you as a performer, artist or songwriter.

All it might’ve needed was a few re-writes either by yourself or, maybe with a collaborator (or two).

As a songwriter you must keep all of your scraps of paper, nonsensical ramblings on your phone and your audio snippets on your computer because songwriting ideas are infinite and sacred all at the same time.

Just hear me out here…

First of all, songwriting ideas are infinite because they are absolutely everywhere. You just have to allow yourself to be open and perceptive to them.

One songwriter may see a falling leaf and not think twice about it while another songwriter may see that same leaf as a metaphor for freedom and write a song about it.

If you take the view that songwriting ideas are infinite then you cease being protective of the songs you have already written. You then allow your songs to truly breathe, and come into being which will then lead to those songs being listened to and performed.

It also stops yourself having the view that everything that you write has to be perfect.

Remember, if you write a song that you are not sure of, don’t throw it away, just leave it and go onto something else because you’ll always think of another songwriting idea (if you allow yourself that is).

Secondly, songwriting ideas are sacred because they come from you and only you.

That alone is a reason to keep everything you write because, when you think about it, throwing away a songwriting idea is throwing away a part of you.

You should always be proud of what you create whether you feel they are good, bad or indifferent.

The good songs are the ones you perform as they are a gift from yourself to yourself.

The not so good songs should be acknowledged as the stepping stones that they are and besides, you can always go back to them later. Maybe with some more life experience under your belt plus a fresher set of eyes and ears (or maybe a collaborator) a song you’ll be proud of, will come from it.

It’s okay to write a song about world peace. It’s okay to write a song about love and it’s also okay to write a song about a falling leaf.

As long as it comes from you that’s all that matters.

Besides, if you allow yourself to be truly receptive of the world around you, you’re never going to run out of songwriting ideas.

Exciting isn’t it?

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Exercise – Brainstorming Possible Song Titles

A good song title is a songwriter’s best friend because it can encapsulate the whole song in a few well chosen words and one of the best ways I’ve found to get my own songwriting process going is to brainstorm lists of possible song titles and see what comes from that.

For those who aren’t sure what “brainstorming” means, it’s the process of spontaneously coming up with ideas on a given topic, problem or task at hand.

Now in this songwriting exercise the task is not to write a complete song but to come up with at least one A4 page of possible titles for a song. Personally, I try to do this exact songwriting exercise at least twice a week and through doing this on a regular basis I now have pages and pages of songwriting ideas for me to look back on if I find myself not knowing where to go next.

Start off this exercise, by writing down the first thing that comes into your head at the top of your page and from there start writing down your possible song titles, making sure that the next phrase is either tightly or loosely derived from the first phrase.

Here’s a short example starting off with the phrase Cry Baby:

  • Cry Baby
  • Baby Don’t Cry
  • Don’t Cry For Me Baby
  • Don’t Cry
  • Why So Sad?
  • I’m So Sad
  • I’m Leaving Today

Just remember, because you are brainstorming there’s no right or wrong way of doing this exercise. You can write anything down, go off onto any tangent you like and not worry about whether you are going to use it in the future or not. It’s also important to not think about what you are writing, just be automatic, spontaneous and most importantly, have some fun with it.

Set a target of doing this for 30 minutes, two to three times a week so you can build up a comprehensive body of possible song titles to choose from.

Once you’ve been doing this exercise for a couple of weeks of doing this, have a look at what you’ve written and start to pay close attention to the phrasing and the rhythm of the possible song titles and wait for something to jump out at you. Once this happens you have the beginnings of a brand new song.

For me, looking back on what I’ve written in the past is an interesting experience in itself. It always amazes me what I’ve written once I stop second guessing my own songwriting process.

In the meantime, give this songwriting exercise a try and see what happens. Let me know how you go with it.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Words First Or Music First? Does It Really Matter?

In my experience, one of the first questions a songwriter will ask about the songwriting process is “What should come first? Words or music?”

Well, there’s really no right or wrong answer to that question but I’m sure that if you asked 100 songwriters you’d definitely get 100 (slightly) different answers.

First of all let’s look at the definition of what makes up a song.

I’m an Australian songwriter so my songs are registered with an organisation called APRA (Australasian Performing Rights Association) and the definition that I use is loosely adapted from theirs.

According to APRA, a song is comprised of two main things:

  • Lyrics – The words in a song.
  • Melody – How the words of the song are sung.

Everything else that wraps around those two things such as the chords, format and dynamics, is  the arrangement of the song.

It took me many years to figure out that a song is not necessarily defined by the chords that are played, but by its lyrics and how it’s sung .

For instance, if a well known song is covered by another artist, more often than not the songs arrangement will have been changed but the integrity of the melody and the lyrics would still be intact.

The reason for this is that the covered song still needs to be recognised by the listener and if the listener sings the words and hums the tune then the song has a better chance of being remembered.

Generally the average listener doesn’t worry if there was a G chord or a G major 7 chord in the arrangement or not. In fact, they probably couldn’t tell the difference.

I use to write most of my songs by fitting lyrics and melody around a completed song arrangement but nowadays, I generally write the other way around. I fit my guitar arrangements around a melody inspired by a set of lyrics. I’m finding that by doing this I’m writing more songs than I used to.

You see, at the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong way to write a song but the question of whether the music or words are written first should not concern us as songwriters.

It doesn’t matter whether words or music come first, what matters is that the words and/or music come at all and by immersing yourself into the activity of writing songs as they come to you, you’ll notice your songwriting process becoming more of a personal thing that eventually integrates itself into your day to day life

So what do you think? How do you start off writing your songs? Words first or music first… Does it really matter? Let me know what you think as I reckon this would make a very interesting discussion topic.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

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