Songwriting Exercise – Expanding On Your Possible Song Titles

As I have mentioned in my last post Songwriting Exercise – Brainstorming Possible Song Titles, I generally brainstorm words and phrases for 30 minutes at a time most mornings, making sure that for every list I do I put the date on top so I know which list to look at first.

Now, if you were doing this exercise two to three times a week for a few weeks you’d have accumulated an extremely large list of possible song titles to glean some sort of inspiration from so now is the time to start working on some songs.

Here’s what you should do with your rather large possible song titles list:

1. Take the earliest list and look it over again a few times.
As you’re looking them over pretend you’re looking at the list of song titles on the inside sleeve of a CD cover. Say the phrases out loud taking special note of the melody and the rhythm of the words.

Is there anything on your list that shouts “I belong in your song?” If so, grab the phrase and write it on the top of a fresh page because you’re now going to start constructing your song from the title.

2. Start brainstorming ideas from the word or phrase.
Lets take the example of “Scrambled Eggs” (which was initially the working title for the Beatles hit “Yesterday”). What does the title remind you of or, what images does the title conjure up for you?

  • breakfast
  • morning
  • waking up
  • dreaming
  • family eating together
  • sun through the kitchen window
  • the weekend
  • being glad to be alive

By brainstorming words and phrases from the song title you are starting to make a list of word pictures and associations. This will be the beginnings of the skeleton structure of the song lyric itself.

3. Find the story/central theme of the song.
Is there a melodic or lyrical hook that you can use to underpin a chorus? Will the possible song title be enough of a hook for the song? Can you see a story or central idea of the song developing from your brainstorming?

From the list above I can see a first verse already.

I wake up in the morning
From a dream that left me warm
Sunlight shines through my window
As I walk into the kitchen
My family eating breakfast
Tells me it’s good to be alive

(Ok, I didn’t say it was going to be good)

Can you see how some of the words (or the inference of those words) in the list above made this verse possible?

4. Marry up the brainstorming ideas plus the central theme and start creating.
Continue with the expansion of your brainstorming but don’t be too concerned with song format as all you’re doing at the moment is fleshing out the songs lyrical skeleton.

Aim for completing three verses and a chorus by using this method. Remember, this is still a first draft with no music or melody attached to it.

5. Begin fine tuning your draft.
If, in your lyrical brainstorming you’ve come across a rhythmic motif or melody for your song, you can use as the basis of the song arrangement. If not, then you need to start from scratch.

How the musical arrangement is put to the song lyrics depends on the songwriter. There is however, much to-ing and fro-ing between the musical arrangement and the lyrical content with each element of the song making room for the other.

If you need to do more than one draft of your song to complete it, so be it, because at the end of the day, there is no right or wrong way to complete a song.

Let me ask you this… Do you generally write a song from a possible song title? If not, would you give it a go? Let me know what you think.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

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