All About Songwriting

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Category: Miscellaneous

12 Ways To Enhance Your Songwriting Process

I realised a long time ago that when it comes to the songwriting process there’s no such thing as the perfect way of writing songs, it can always be improved upon.

Listed below are twelve ways in which I think you can enhance, improve and eventually master your songwriting process.

Even if you implement just one of these suggestions you will be well on your way to writing more songs and generally being more creative with your life.

Here they are in no particular order of importance:

1. Always keep a journal
I cannot stress enough the importance of documenting what happens in your life and how you think and feel about it. This always creates the foundations of some great songs

2. Always make time for you
If I ask a songwriter why they haven’t written as much as they would like, the reason of not having enough time almost always comes up.

True, to get a song down from mind to paper requires a certain amount of “free” time however, if you make that time every day to write something or play something you are going to feel much better about yourself.

3. Use all of your senses in your song lyrics
We have five senses (see, hear, taste, touch, smell) which we use to experience anything that happens in our lives. Why don’t we use them in our writing as well.

Pay close attention to your senses, be mindful of them in your writing.

4. Become perpetually curious with the world
I have a theory that songwriting is life. Songwriting is our way of making sense of the world around us. If we become perpetually curious with the world around us we will have more to write about. Some ways in which you can do this:

    • Always ask ‘why’ either out loud or in your own mind
    • Go out of your way to experience life to the fullest
    • Take some risks
    • Do something different every day
    • Become open to learn new things

Life is about experiences, so go and find new ones and write them down in song.

5. Tame your inner voice
Most of the time your inner voice attempts to prevent you from doing what you know you should do as a songwriter. This is your ego talking and even though it has good intentions (to ‘protect’ you) what it says to you does not further your cause.

Next time you hear your inner voice mumbling inside your head as your about to do something, try to ignore it and do it anyway.

6. Don’t be afraid of your own writing
Remember, it’s okay to write a ‘bad’ song (whatever that means) and the more ‘bad’ songs you write the closer you are to writing a ‘good’ song. Don’t be afraid of the outcome, just immerse yourself into the songwriting process and marvel at whatever come from it.

7. Listen to lots of music/read lots of books
This is another exercise in making time for yourself. Listening to music attunes your mind to different musical structures and melody combinations and reading books exposes your mind to different word phrases and lyrical snippets that you can use in your own songs.

8. Learn other peoples songs
I am not asking you to become a cover musician however if you learn songs that you have a real affinity with you will begin to really understand why you love that song so much and with that knowledge you can then apply that to your own writing.

If you don’t play an instrument at least know the lyrics and melody of your favourite songs.

9. Find and know thyself
Commit to the concept of finding out who you really are. When you know this you’ll be able to write a love song for instance, and not have it sound like one big cliche because the lyrics will come from you and not an interpretation of what every other songwriter has said.

10. Don’t throw anything away… EVER!
Whether it be on paper or on your computer, don’t throw anything away, don’t delete anything from your hard-drive that pertains to your songwriting process. What you may think is rubbish now could be treasure later on. Our moods change day by day and so does our outlook on what we write.

11. Join a songwriting organisation (or two)
The best way to learn more and to gain confidence in a skill is to experience the input of others. At the very least you will not feel so alone in your songwriting endeavours. Seek out and join one (or more).

12. Find a songwriting collaborator
Two heads are better than one at times. A good collaborator makes you write better, will inspire you to come up with more ideas, will allow you to ask questions, bounce ideas and share ideas much more freely.

Every songwriter should have at least one collaborator in their contacts list.

Phew! There you go. If you have any experiences after applying any of these suggestions (positive or negative) or, you have other suggestions that need to be added to this list, let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Song Demos – Be Prepared And Organised

You know, a song demo can be used for many things.

It can be the basis of what you introduce to your band at a rehearsal, it can be the means in which you secure the gig or the song placement you were applying for or it can be what a prospective fan hears before they decided whether to come to see your show or buy your CD.

It’s very important that you get your song demos right, the first time.

This is definitely what I get from reading the latest article from Cliff Goldmacher of Educated Songwriter called “What To Do Before You Record Your Song Demo”

Here it is below for your enjoyment…


What To Do Before You Record Your Song Demo
By Cliff Goldmacher (www.EducatedSongwriter.com)

As a result of recording and producing literally thousands of demos, I’ve learned that it is always better to “prepare and prevent” than to “repair and repent.” Here are a few steps you can take to help make your demo recording experience more successful.

Song Preparation
It may sound obvious but make sure your song is FINISHED. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had clients come into the studio only to start rewriting a part of the lyric or melody. It is significantly less stressful (and quite a bit less expensive) to write a song when you’re not paying the studio an hourly fee.

You can also benefit from trying a few rough recordings at home before you get to the studio. The simple act of listening back to a song instead of performing it will reveal any weaknesses or issues that need to be dealt with before the studio clock is running. The last of these rough home recordings will become the definitive work tape.

The Rough Recording
This is any simple, inexpensive recording that you do into a hand-held recorder, laptop or even your smart phone. Generally a piano or guitar plus a scratch vocal will do the trick.

The key here is not a perfect recording but rather an accurate representation of the song structure. In other words, it doesn’t have to sound great as long as the chords, melody and lyrics are correct. The purpose of this work tape is to provide the demo vocalist and session musicians with a final version of your song that they can learn from.

The Players
Let’s start with the demo vocalist. It’s always a good policy to get a copy of the work tape and the lyrics to the singer a week or so before the session. There are several reasons for this.

First of all, the singer can let you know what key the song should be in to best suit their voice. This way, if you end up recording instrument parts before the singer does their part, you’ll know the correct key. Secondly, the more time the singer has to learn the song, the less time he or she will take to sing the song when the studio clock is running.

When you get to the session, it’s wise to have printed lyric sheets for the engineer, musicians and vocalist. The lyrics should be typewritten and have each chorus written out in full.

The reason for this is that you’ll be using these lyric sheets to mark spots that need fixing (or spots on certain takes that you like) and having “Repeat Chorus” written for the second and third choruses won’t allow you to take good notes.

The better the notes you take on the lyric sheet while the vocalist is recording, the easier it will be to tell the vocalist what works and what needs to be fixed.

The session musicians do not need a rough recording in advance. They will be learning the song from your work tape when they get to the session. You can save a little time by writing a chord chart of the song if it’s something you’re comfortable doing.

If not, the session musicians should have no trouble doing it for you quickly using the work tape you bring to the session.

Conclusion
After that, it’s up to the singers and musicians to bring your song to the next level. There’s nothing more fun than listening to world-class musicians and vocalists record a song you’ve written. The more you prepare in advance, the more you’ll enjoy your studio experience.

Good luck!


About The Author

Cliff Goldmacher is a songwriter, producer, session musician, engineer, author and owner of recording studios in Nashville, TN and Sonoma, CA. Cliff’s site, http://www.EducatedSongwriter.com, is full of resources for the aspiring songwriter including monthly online webinars.

Go to http://www.educatedsongwriter.com/webinar/ for more info.

Cliff’s company, http://www.NashvilleStudioLive.com, provides songwriters outside of Nashville with virtual access to Nashville’s best session musicians and singers for their songwriting demos.

You can download a FREE sample of Cliff’s eBook “The Songwriter’s Guide To Recording Professional Demos” by going to http://www.EducatedSongwriter.com/ebook.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/EducatedSongwriter
Twitter: edusongwriter


Essentially what Cliff is saying in this article is to just be well planned, prepared and organised when it comes to recording your song demos. It never ceases to amaze me how much time is wasted in the pre-production and the recording of song demos.

All it takes is a little bit planning, preparation and organisation to ensure that the song demo recording process runs as efficiently and creatively as possible.

What have been your song demo recording horror stories? Have you experienced something directly? Let me know, I’d love to hear about it.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Tip – Developing A Songwriters Mindset

“Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new” – Og Mandino

The above quote beautifully sums up what I would call a songwriters mindset, a powerful skill to master in 2013.

Just think about it, if songwriting is all about capturing aural snapshots of our lives and what’s happening around us then, to get the best out of our songwriting we have to develop a certain attitude towards our lives.

Let’s explore this further.

If we are to work at our chosen craft to the best of our ability, gathering songwriting ideas, refining our creative processes and perhaps gain some inspiration along the way then, we, as songwriters need to look at life in general differently to how others would see it.

I believe that there are three stages to writing a song.

1. Mindset – What this blog post is about
2. Process – The nuts and bolts writing of the song
3. Result – Song completed

The songwriters mindset is one of letting go of any preconceptions about the world around you and taking everything in at face value.

It’s about embracing life for what it is, a wonderfully personal human experience that’s different for everybody. Your songs need to be recorded/performed and shared with everyone.

Develop an almost obsessive yearning to experience as much of life as you possibly can (whether it be good or bad) so you can write a song about it.

It’s about not being afraid of what others might think and telling the world about your thoughts, feelings, observations, dreams, questions and answers. It’s all about facing your fear and doing it anyway as the well known cliche says.

Having a songwriters mindset is all about becoming a receiver for the songwriting ideas that are floating about in the ether and when you successfully receive, it’s about being open to what you have received.

As Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones says:

“Songs are funny things, they wake you in the middle of the night and say “I go like this”. They control you until you’ve done the right thing by them.”

It’s about being more aware about what is happening in the world, what people are doing and saying and being prepared to write down what you feel, hear and see.

It’s about finding out what is the essence of you and attempting to put that onto paper so that no matter what you write it will always be from your own unique perspective.

I could go on and on and on but hey, it’s all about allowing ourselves to be a songwriter. Allowing ourselves to explore the grey areas of life and finding the light and shade.

Allowing ourselves to ask “what would happen if..?”

To develop and eventually master the songwriters mindset you have to question everything around you and nurture a childlike curiosity for the world.

As the beginning quote says “… never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.”

As we’ve started off a new year ask yourself this question “what does a songwriters attitude mean to me?” Then write it down because that will become your first songwriting resolution

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Exercise – The Benefits Of Reverse Engineering Songs

In my previous post Songwriting Tip – Learn Your Craft By Studying The Songs Of Others, I outlined the importance of studying songs that you have an affinity to or, have been proven in the marketplace to further your own songwriting craft.

This video featuring well known songwriter and author of Shortcuts to Hit SongwritingRobin Frederick explaining the importance of “Reverse Engineering” songs to study them.

For me, this is a great way to study the songwriting craft of other songwriters. Find the lyrics on the internet, print them out, get out the pen and paper and go for it

Reverse engineering a song is not copying a song or plagiarizing the lyrics, what you’re doing is learning the song-craft behind the song. It gives you, the songwriter another point of reference to use in your own songwriting.

Robin gives the example of the One Republic song “Apologize” to illustrate how she had deconstructed and reverse engineered the song and what she had learnt about it.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oidqsw6gOs

She also cannot stress the importance of reverse engineering songs by saying “how else would you grow as a songwriter?” Robin goes on by saying that reverse engineering a songs establishes new habits into your songwriting process.

So get out and study some new songs, create some new habits and embrace the concept of studying songs that work by reverse engineering. You’ll be glad you did.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting