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How to get inspiration for lyric writing?


davie

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Hey people, I'm new here. Been having some trouble with writing some songs and just seems like it takes forever just to get a single song going in the right direction. I tend to write in the process of chord progression + melody simultaneously then shortly afterward I try to came up with lyrics that go with the melody.

 

So it seems like the lyric writing step is a block for me. And doesn't seem like I can "complete" the song without finishing the lyrics. So I'm asking if you have any advice/tips to increase my inspiration for lyric writing? (eg. read a certain book, climb a mountain, meditate, etc..)

 

I really wanna write lyrics at a quicker rate, been held up for too long. Any ideas? :facepalm:

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Sit down every day and just start writing. Turn off the critic and just write. Don't worry if it makes sense or not. Just write. Do it every day, at the same time, for a certain amount of time. Don't skip a day. Just write. Do this long enough and the muse will know where to find you.

 

Are you looking at songs/lyrics that you like and taking them apart to see how they work? What themes they use, what words they use, rhyme schemes, meters, song forms, keys, chords? Song form is actually pretty important, for it can help you figure out what kind of song you may be writing. Too often songwriters only know one form and try to force everything into that form -- when it would have worked much better in another form. Song form doesn't inhibit your writing. It completely liberates it (unless of course you only know one way to structure a song).

 

One more thing ... trying to force a single song to go in the "right direction" is going to always screw you up. What is the right direction for any song? How can you possibly know? I've had a single word show up and just followed it down the rabbit hole without trying to impose any such crazy notion that it was going in the right direction.

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Thanks Stackabones, I appreciate your advice. As for 'right direction', I simply meant 'making progress', rather than just doing nothing. But anyway, to the good stuff. My song style varies from song to song, I could post some up, but I'm kinda 'slow' these days regarding writing/composing/recording.

 

I've been 'composing' songs on my spare time for quite a while, but its only been these few years that I've been more serious towards lyric writing, since before I primarily focused on instrumentation.

 

I think a fair amount of my songs have rhyme schemes. And call me a noob, but I'm not really sure what are "song forms". I'm not really what are majority of people's, or what's your approach to songs, but I have a few approaches. Usually its either I play some chords then hum/vocalize a melody on top of it and then some time later "insert" lyrics to fill the notes that complement the mood/theme of the instrumentation. OR I make up all three things simultaneously (melody, chords, and lyrics), which is seemingly rare/hard to come upon, but does happen.

 

Maybe for my issue, I should set a well defined theme from the beginning?

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I typically hear a phrase, and say to myself, "self? That would make a great song title!" And then once I have the title, I think about the hook, which incorporates the title? And once I have the hook? The verses write themselves.

 

My best example of this was saying to someone in a conversation, "It is what it is..." and then BING! A light bulb went off. I had another less successful offering when I noticed the roll was empty in the bathroom at the worst possible time? Anybody? ANYBODY! I NEED FRESH ROLL! So sometimes it works? And sometimes it doesn't...

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I keep a notebook at home, and at work. On breaks, I start making a list of words I like -- if I get a phrase, I'll open facing pages -- on the left side I'll start with the phrase and then start trying to flesh it out -- doodles, sentences, anything that might give a flow and an idea, then on the facing page I take more time and start putting together verse / chorus.

 

I also listen to a lot of varied music (I'm going through a Mel Torme period now, two weeks ago it was Weezer).

 

And now, I get ideas a lot more often. Often while driving, I'll turn the radio off and phrases will start popping in my noggin.

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And call me a noob, but I'm not really sure what are "song forms".

 

You are probably already familiar with Verse-Chorus.

 

But you should also know these ...

 

AAA

 

AABA

 

And every songwriter should know how to write a 12-bar blues.

 

Mix and match and mangle as needed.

 

I've met songwriters who weren't serious about this, but they weren't really serious songwriters. ;)

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You are probably already familiar with
Verse-Chorus
.


But you should also know these ...


AAA


AABA


And every songwriter should know how to write a
12-bar blues
.


Mix and match and mangle as needed.


I've met songwriters who weren't serious about this, but they weren't really serious songwriters.
;)

 

oh yeah, THAT. lol

Yeah i know that stuff already. I just didn't really know the terminology for it. I think my main concern at the moment is trying come up with ideas for lyrics/themes. I just wanna know what are some good ways to get ideas, or come up with interesting themes, etc.

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I keep a notebook at home, and at work. On breaks, I start making a list of words I like -- if I get a phrase, I'll open facing pages -- on the left side I'll start with the phrase and then start trying to flesh it out -- doodles, sentences, anything that might give a flow and an idea, then on the facing page I take more time and start putting together verse / chorus.


I also listen to a lot of varied music (I'm going through a Mel Torme period now, two weeks ago it was Weezer).


And now, I get ideas a lot more often. Often while driving, I'll turn the radio off and phrases will start popping in my noggin.

 

Yeah, i do the notebook thing too, its just that I'm kinda stuck in a rut lately. So there's not many ideas/topics to write lyrics to.

 

I use to have some weird friendship with a girl, and that gave me PLENTY of ideas for lyrics. But meh, I've grown past that point. :facepalm:

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Stack's got it right about pushing the process. If you can get that mental conduit open and keep it flowing the good stuff will find its way out.

 

Also......it helps to get serious about capturing what you write. Record everything....doesn't have to be fancy.

 

call me a noob, but I'm not really sure what are "song forms".

 

Guess I'm a bit of a noob also. I never let structure get in the way of creativity.:wave:

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I was listening to Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods) on NPR's Fresh Air program. Great interview by the way. He said something that really resonated with me. Terry Gross, the interviewer. Paraphrasing...

 

Gross: I'll ask the silly question all non songwriters want to know. What comes first, the lyrics or the music.

 

Sondheim: Either. What ever good idea comes first I run with it. But... I never go too far with one or the other. They have to come in tandem. If I go too far for lyrically or musically, I've painted myself in a corner I can't get out of. They need to go back and forth in the process. A melody snip / a lyric phrase. Teeter-tottering back and forth as I write. This way it belongs together as one thing.

 

Bear in mind this is paraphrased from memory so forgive me if I got it way wrong. But this is what I picked up from the interview. Great interview. Get the podcast if you have the interest.

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I heard that interview too.

I thought highly of him before hearing it, and even more highly afterward.

I think he said " I still think of myself as a 26 year old with potential".

Smart funny dude.

Yeah lyrics are tough. Have to beat on them until they give in. Sometimes they go easy sometimes they go hard. I have a bunch of melodies with no words. Call it practice!

C>

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I heard that interview too.

I thought highly of him before hearing it, and even more highly afterward.

I think he said " I still think of myself as a 26 year old with potential".

Smart funny dude.

Yeah lyrics are tough. Have to beat on them until they give in. Sometimes they go easy sometimes they go hard. I have a bunch of melodies with no words. Call it practice!

C>

Mmm... multi-quotes. Nice feature!

 

I'll have to check out that interview. Gross is one of my favorite interviewers. I have a radio crush on her. She still sounds as young, lively, interested, and passionate as she did a couple decades ago.

 

 

That process described by Sondheim is very much how it is for me, too. I don't write out lyrics all by themselves -- even back when I was writing 'in the DAW' -- electronica seems to lend itself to that. Back then, when I came up with something in the DAW that seemed to cry out for lyrics, I'd still tend to pick up the guitar and write the lyrics to the guitar -- not even necessarily something precisely the same, musically, even... just something where the time would work out.

 

 

By the way, I saw Sweeney Todd staged a month or two ago, original staging (as in the Angela Lansbury filmed stage version from the early 80s). What an interesting, cool, rather disturbing musical. Not the cannibalism. That's more or less good, clean fun. No, it's that corrosive bitterness that is so well laid out by the opening numbers -- and how that corrosion finally destroys a carefully (if perversely) constructed little world. Really cool music.

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it's that corrosive bitterness that is so well laid out by the opening numbers -- and how that corrosion finally destroys a carefully (if perversely) constructed little world. Really cool music.

 

 

 

Yeah. That bitterness, you can taste it. The song about London. From the 2 different points of view as they sail into port. One optimistic and young, the other... pissed off, black and vengeful.

 

Great.

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Yeah. That bitterness, you can taste it. The song about London. From the 2 different points of view as they sail into port. One optimistic and young, the other... pissed off, black and vengeful.


Great.

I have to say that the young couple seemed pretty much two dimensional cyphers, plot pawns -- but most of the other characters were so boldly drawn as to well make up for it. And, really, the two young lovers are romantic ideals... what can be more cypherous, more vaporous than that? They're just a dream. The reality is there in the gritty streets around the pasty shop -- and in Todd's stormy, poisoned soul. (And the ending leaves little doubt about just how that poisoning is the thematic engine of the plot. And yet still shocked me, even though, as a long time absorber of plot mechanisms, I shoulda seen it comin' a mile away. ;) )

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Lots of good advice here. I'll echo what a few others have said. To me, being a songwriter is as much a way of life as it is a craft. It's a mindset. You have to constantly be listening and looking at what's going on around you. When you do this, you'll start to notice certain words or phrases that jump out a you. Always have a small voice recorder or a pad and pencil handy so you can remember them later. Constantly expose your self to new things. Getting out of your comfort zone is a great way to keep your lyrics fresh. On the other hand, you shouldn't be afraid to write about things that interest you. There's a niche market for everything these days, and even the most obscure interests can have easy parallels to more typical lyrical topics.

 

Good Luck!

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listen to your soul....sit in quite place..keep inovating..keep thinking in not too long time...you will create a song of millenium

Hey people, I'm new here. Been having some trouble with writing some songs and just seems like it takes forever just to get a single song going in the right direction. I tend to write in the process of chord progression + melody simultaneously then shortly afterward I try to came up with lyrics that go with the melody.


So it seems like the lyric writing step is a block for me. And doesn't seem like I can "complete" the song without finishing the lyrics. So I'm asking if you have any advice/tips to increase my inspiration for lyric writing? (eg. read a certain book, climb a mountain, meditate, etc..)


I really wanna write lyrics at a quicker rate, been held up for too long. Any ideas?
:facepalm:

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I almost always write the music and melody first, though there is typically a lyric snippet of some kind - be it the hook or the opening line. If lyrics don't come easy I then ask myself a barage of questions.

 

For instance, I just posted a song called "California" in the promo thread. All I had for a little while was the opening stanza and the refrain

 

V1

Packed up all of (my/you/her/his) things

And headed out west

Where (my,your....) chances are best

 

R

California

 

Since I couldn't get any further I asked myself a questions like these.

 

Who is going out west?

Is it a good thing that they are going?

Is someone left behind? Waiting?

Chances for what?

What happens when the person is out there?

 

As answers fill in, they will lead to a deeper, more specific level of questions. Answer those you can (or want to) and the story is pictured.

 

Something else I do with regularity is to sing the very first thing that comes into my head. You will be surprised how often a very important word or phrase just comes out of nowhere.

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