All About Songwriting

Your #1 Songwriting Resource

Author: Corey Stewart (page 1 of 3)

Songwriting Process: Oblique Strategies With Brian Eno

Here is a very interesting video I found recently of one of my favourite musicians and sound artists of all time, Brian Eno being interviewed by Jools Holland in 2001.

In the video, Eno talks about the concept of his Oblique Strategies cards and how they can be of immense help to songwriters, performers, studio musicians and even brain surgeons.

Speaking about brain surgeons check out what happens at around the two minute mark. It’s very, very funny and a great example of how Oblique Strategies works.

Would you use these cards as part of your songwriting process? I would give them a go.

I did a quick Google search and here are some places online where you can find and use Eno’s oblique strategies…

Enjoy the video…

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

The Importance Of Always Recording Your Songwriting Ideas

As a songwriter, there are going to be times in your career where you’ll be so inspired, writing a complete song from start to finish in one go will seem like the easiest thing in the world.

For the rest of the time however, it’ll seem like that all you’re doing is constantly finding that next songwriting idea.

You don’t necessarily need to have a fully set up home recording studio to capture your ideas (although I do suggest you seriously consider moving in that direction) but having access to some sort of basic audio recording device is essential.

Personally, I always like to give the voice recording function on my smartphone a really good workout.

It never ceases to amaze me though, how many songwriters out there are still relying on their memory alone and not recording their songwriting ideas.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from all of my years of writing songs it’s this… When it comes to your song ideas, never, ever trust your memory.

A good songwriting exercise and an example of how I record my ideas is this…

If you’re like me and writing songs on guitar is your thing, I imagine you try to set aside some time each day to pick up the guitar and play whatever comes to mind.

Next time you do this make sure you have some sort of recording device near by ready to go. When a hint of an idea develops simply press record and commit that idea to “tape” for future reference.

Once the idea is recorded you then have the choice of either developing the idea a bit more or, go on to finding where the next song idea will come from.

The beauty about this exercise is that you’re not under any pressure to remember the little snippets of possibility that you’ve seemingly conjured up from nowhere. It’s all down on “tape” ready to be referenced ion the future.

Just remember, the whole purpose of the exercise is to simply record what comes out of you.

Another thing I like to do while noodling on the guitar is make nonsensical sounds and rhythms with my voice at the same time, singing whatever comes into my head. It’s quite okay to babble rubbish into a voice recorder or smartphone and not feel bad about it.

When I’m lyrically noodling, I take particular interest in the melodies and the rhythms I produce at the time. The lyrics can come later.

When doing this exercise, don’t even look at finish a song, just gather ideas, phrases, riffs and melodies and get them recorded in some way. After a while you’ll develop quite a collection of them.

This will become your comprehensive songwriting ideas archive.

Be warned though, your inner critic is going to have a wonderful time telling you how bad all of your ideas sound and how awful all the lyrics are. You just have to ignore it and look at all of your ideas in your archive as works in progress that aren’t yet completed.

Once you’ve been doing this as consistently as you can for between two weeks to a month, it’s time to listen back on what you’ve done. You’ll be amazed at how many of the songwriting ideas you’ve forgotten.

This is the part of the process always makes me feel like I’m hearing my song ideas for the very first time and it’s from this perspective that my songs get finished.

Just think, with your ever growing list of possible song titles at your disposal and your musical and lyrical noodles committed to “tape,” imagine how many more songs you are going to write and complete.

Exciting isn’t it?

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Writing Songs – It Doesn’t Matter Where You Start, As Long As You Start Somewhere

Sometimes writing songs is a linear experience.

You come across a possible song title that jumps out at you and after writing the first line of the first verse, a first draft is suddenly completed from start to finish.

Sometimes writing songs is a puzzle solving exercise.

You take a piece here, a song title there, a bit of a verse here and a half written phrase there and, after discovering the common thread that connects everything, a song is eventually completed.

Sometimes writing songs is like incubating an egg.

You finish writing a chorus but find you can’t go any further however, after leaving the half finished song for a period of time something triggers in your mind and the song magically completes itself.

Sometimes you start writing from the beginning and work forwards, sometimes you start from the middle and work outwards and sometimes you start at the end and work backwards.

But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you start somewhere.

What do you think?

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

FAWM 2018 Songwriting Challenge Starts Today – Are You In?

Today is February 1st which means that FAWM 2018 has kicked off for another year.

“What is FAWM 2018?” I hear you ask… Well, FAWM stands for February Album Writing Month and this songwriting challenge dares its participants to write 14 songs (an albums worth of material) in 28 days.

Personally, this is my 10th FAWM that I’ve been involved in but I’ve managed to fully complete the challenge only once, in 2017. It’s definitely a challenge even for an experienced songwriter like myself.

For me, FAWM is one of the best ways that I know to supercharge your songwriting process and to keep the creative momentum going.

By joining the FAWM community you tap into an extremely positive, interactive, vibrant and encouraging group of songwriters whose only goal is to help each other (as well as themselves) write as many songs as they can within the timeframe allowed.

I’m going to be tracking my FAWM progress on Corey Stewart Online (my personal website) however, on this blog, All About Songwriting, I’m going to be uploading relevant content designed to encourage, inspire and greatly help you in your quest to write songs. If you are thinking of joining FAWM for this year then click on this link.

Now, to kick things off, here is a link to an earlier post I made which is a essentially a BIG list of songwriting prompts and lyric generators.

Songwriting prompts and lyric generators are very handy tools for challenges like FAWM because they allow you to start things off without having to think about how to start things off and of course, overthinking things is one of the great ways to create a songwriters block for yourself.

Go to my previous post “The BIG List Of Songwriting Prompts And Lyric Generators” and check out the links provided to see if they do anything for you. If you have found them to be helpful to you please let me know… I’d love to hear about it.

I wish everyone who is participating in this years FAWM all the very best.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting On Guitar – 10 Tips For The Songwriting Guitarist

It would be safe to say that the most common instrument used in songwriting is the (acoustic) guitar and today I’m featuring an article that outlines 10 tips for the songwriting guitarist.

For me, songwriting and the guitar go hand in hand and I was finding myself nodding my head in agreement to all of the tips presented in the article.

10 Tips For The Songwriting Guitarist mentions that “for most accomplished guitar players, songwriting is the final frontier – far more difficult than getting up in front of an audience and wailing out solos or nailing down the hot rhythm that drives the band.”

The article covers topics such as:

  • Learning new chord voicings
  • Alternate tunings
  • The circle of fifths
  • Writing lyrics first before music
  • Song dynamics
  • Song hooks
  • Different sonic perspectives
  • Songwriting process
  • Collaborating with other writers

Even though the article was written in 2013, what’s mentioned is still very relevant to any songwriter/guitarist honing their craft today. Go here to read the article – 10 Tips For The Songwriting Guitarist. You’ll be glad you did.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

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

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