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Category: Songwriting Tools

Songwriting Tools – The Capo

I reckon the capo is one of the most overlooked songwriting tools that there is.

Recently, I went out and bought myself another capo as my old one finally snapped its spring after 12 years of faithful service.

It actually prompted me to think about why I use one and how much of an influence it had on my songwriting.

(In this post I’m making some assumptions that you, the reader knows what a capo is and what it looks like. If you don’t know what a capo is then I suggest that you go here. It’s very interesting stuff)

The capo is either loved adoringly or hated intensely by the guitar community.

In the hate camp the opinions range from “it encourages laziness in playing technique” all the way to the nonsensical “you’re not a real guitarist if you use one.”

I, on the other hand sit well and truly in the love camp. I love the capo is because I find it greatly helps my songwriting. Heres how…

Capo’s are used to change the key of a chord progression whilst still playing the same chord shapes at the same time. As part of my songwriting process, one of the things that I like to do is to take a chord progression of a well known song and transpose it up to say three semitones.

Once I start playing the chord shapes again I change the strumming and the rhythm and start humming some other melody just to see and hear what would happen.

Of course if nothing comes of the exercise that’s perfectly okay but most of the time by doing this I get some flash of inspiration which propels me forward onto another songwriting idea altogether.

This is where the fun starts.

Now I don’t see anything wrong with adopting a new idea from an old source (apparently Bob Dylan has said in interviews that he does this a lot in his songwriting too). Capo’s are a great songwriting tool for making this easier.

Capo’s also take the headache out of transposing a song to another key especially crucial if you are working with another singer.

If you are a songwriter/guitarist and you have been resisting using a capo then don’t resist anymore. Go out and get yourself one (at least for your songs sake) and start experimenting with the different keys, harmonic possibilities and open chord shapes on offer.

You’ll be very surprised where the capo journey can take you. Let me know how you go with it.

Until next time, keep on writing

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Tools – The Rhyming Dictionary And Thesaurus

The world is full of words and for me, writing lyrics can be a challenge in itself and I reckon that any tools that make it easier for me to put down my songwriting ideas from head to paper need to be adapted into my songwriting process.

The two online tools I use when I need a bit of help with my lyrics are a rhyming dictionary and a thesaurus.

These tools enable me to expand my vocabulary and put down my ideas in a much more original and descriptive fashion.

Writing lyrics is all about making sure that the story I’m trying to tell or the concept that I’m trying to describe is told in a way that is totally, 100% me.

To do this requires a broad understanding of the language at my disposal, hence the importance of the rhyming dictionary and thesaurus

If you go into a good bookshop you’ll be able to purchase these important songwriting tools but there are also some really good online versions available for you to use for free.

I have chosen the most popular of each version for a brief discussion.


Rhyming Dictionary

Of course when you spot a tool like this for free, it normally means that it’s a demo or sample of the commercial version. This is not like that.

This tool is an amazing database of…

  • End rhymes
  • Last syllable rhymes
  • Double rhymes
  • Triple rhymes
  • Beginning rhymes
  • First syllable rhymes

All you need to do is type in the word you want to find rhymes for and off you go. It gives you a fantastic list of results.

The way I find a rhyming dictionary useful is that I see words that I probably would not have thought of as words to end a line with.

When I spot one of these words I immediately see a whole new line flash before me and that is all I need to start writing again. I am always amazed how just one new word can launch a whole new tangent.

Of course you need to be open to the possibilities in the first place.


Thesaurus

This tool is so valuable to a songwriter no matter how experienced they are. This site is both a thesaurus and a dictionary in one so you are getting double the value from the site.

Quite simply a thesaurus is a book of synonyms. These are words that have the same or nearly the same meaning as another word.

For example, if I type the word SONG into the thesaurus I would get these results:

  • Anthem
  • Ballad
  • Chant
  • Chorus
  • Lullaby
  • Lyric
  • Melody
  • Tune

The thesaurus enables me to describe stories, concepts and situations much better. It allows me to put a new twist onto the same old phrases and cliches that I tend to fall back on when I get a stuck on something.


My challenge to you is this. Adopt both of these tools into your songwriting process and see what happens.

If you are stuck, use the tools to brainstorm ideas and let your mind become open to whatever possibility appears before you. Once the possibility is realised then run with it.

Sometimes not knowing where you are going can be a really fun thing to do.

What has your experience using a rhyming dictionary and/or a thesaurus? Has it helped you out of a sticky songwriting situation? Let me know.

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