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I got the music, the melody, the structure ...


NeverTheMachine

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I just can't write lyrics for {censored}. I'm not an idiot. I read a lot and always did well writing essays for college stuff. I like to think of myself as a conscious person with a lot to say and a lot on my mind, but every time I sit down to write lyrics I have an out of body experience where I either laugh or hide in shame at what I'm saying. It usually doesn't make sense at all or it's too blatant for a rock song. I want the lyrics to reflect the music in a way, but I can't seem to do it. The main problem, I think, is that I can never settle on something, it's always got to change, meanwhile I get up and put the song away after a few minutes.

 

How do you lyricists do it ??

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I think what you struggle with is something every writer battles (myself included!). IMHO, being successful at something is choosing the arena in which you battle yourself.

 

I find that I'll get a bit teary-eyed when I've touched on and captured something real inside me, either in music, lyric or together. Identifying indicators like that is important. I would assume it might be different for everyone..

 

But, also practice makes perfect, as the adage goes. The mid-state there is comfort. Once you're comfortable in the process, you've gotten out of your head enough to let yourself feel and describe it without needing to *analyze* it. Learning to accept things as they are instead of how you want them to be. Actively living your life, having stimulating people around you and providing yourself provocative fodder for feeling is a writer's single greatest resource.

 

It only happens for me in moments. It would probably be exhausting to live there.

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I like to think of myself as a conscious person with a lot to say and a lot on my mind

 

 

Stop right there. Pick one thing. Look at it from a couple angles. Examine it with all your senses. What is it in and of itself? Don't be afraid to be simple.

 

Part of the discipline of writing is setting limits. Another part is setting a specific goal. Write one verse. Four lines. You have twenty minutes. Stop after twenty minutes no matter what you have. Move on to the next goal. One chorus. Three lines. You have fifteen minutes. Stop! Move on to the next goal. One bridge. Two lines. You have ten minutes. Stop!

 

Do not forget to stop. A lot of the frustration of writing comes from feeling that you haven't got it right, that you need to keep trying until you get it right and since all you do is keep trying to get it right, you somehow never finish anything. Give yourself a time-limited goal of finishing a song. Good or bad. Get in the habit of finishing songs. Good or bad.

 

The thing about writing a bad lyric is, at least it's done and now you can go write the next one. That's better than never finishing the greatest song ever.

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Hey Never-

Been there... stop judging your writing. Just write all the BS you have to and keep writing... something decent will come forth and then you can expand on that. I too get caught up writing... in my case, I`ll actually have a verse and/or chorus I really like and then I get stumped on the 2nd verse. Its like I have the initial ideas but developing them is tough.

Always fun, this creative muse...

EB

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I agree with everything said so far.. Sometimes when I get stuck, I simplify and focus on small things.. Just yesterday I wrote and entire song about drinking a glass of water..

 

I feel the cold beneath my hands

And though there isn't much it comforts me

I see the light shine through the glass

and through the melting mass it comforts me....

 

anyway, you get the idea. There is a song to be written in the simplest things. It's up to you to put it to words. Just remember to be specific about the way it makes you feel. People will either get your metaphor or make up their own interpretation.

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I feel what you are saying. I get hung up when writing all the time. One thing I've learned to do is keep a little recorder or paper with me all the time, or as much as I can anyway. It seems the good ideas always come when your doing something else like driving down the road. Another little trick I'll do is I'll write the song, then change the words to other words that mean the same thing but sound cooler. Of course it's not a fool proof plan. I mean is there really one out there? Microsoft Word has a decent thesaurus you can use to do this. I think overall, you just got to get it to a point where you can live with it and move on. Sometimes I'll come back later on, after writing other songs, and change something. Like anything, you got to do it until it makes you sick. The more you write the better you'll get. Hope this helps you some and Good Luck!

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Stop right there. Pick
one
thing. Look at it from a couple angles. Examine it with all your senses. What is it in and of itself? Don't be afraid to be simple.


Part of the discipline of writing is setting limits. Another part is setting a specific goal. Write one verse. Four lines. You have twenty minutes. Stop after twenty minutes no matter what you have. Move on to the next goal. One chorus. Three lines. You have fifteen minutes. Stop! Move on to the next goal. One bridge. Two lines. You have ten minutes. Stop!


Do not forget to stop. A lot of the frustration of writing comes from feeling that you haven't got it right, that you need to keep trying until you get it right and since all you do is keep trying to get it right, you somehow never finish anything. Give yourself a time-limited goal of finishing a song. Good or bad. Get in the habit of finishing songs. Good or bad.


The thing about writing a bad lyric is, at least it's done and now you can go write the next one. That's better than never finishing the greatest song ever.

 

holy {censored}, what a great {censored}ing post. :thu:

 

 

 

(profanity accentuates my enthusiasm and makes me cool :cool: ....{censored}ers.) :)

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Another little trick I'll do is I'll write the song, then change the words to other words that mean the same thing but sound cooler. Microsoft Word has a decent thesaurus you can use to do this.

I agree that revision is an important tool, but I would stay far away from any thesaurus. While on the surface, it appears to be a giant tangential source of creativity, it really only ends up sucking the soul out of whatever you mean by focusing you on the surface of your intention. You want the heart of it, even if it ends up looking and sounding like "I love you." You're in it at that point and that's what matters.

 

A lot of people may see such a thing as bad taste, cliche`, overdone, meaningless by excess... but, it's all about what it means to you. When you do it for other people, your goals are different. Decide what your goal is with music.

 

It's kind of like saying the word "home" to somebody. It will conjure up different feelings for everybody, but it's in that abstraction that it becomes complex. If a single word can be so powerful, imagine what a phrase can do. Haiku poetry is often seen as having a lot of depth because it relies on this concept.

 

The best place for people to develop their vocabulary is contextually while reading books. Books that challenge you a bit. Keep a dictionary next to you while you read.

 

Great artists are generally in tune with the work of their peers, have heros, influences and the confidence to relax because... they're doing something they love. Learn to enjoy the process. As someone above said, don't force it. Easier said than done, obviously, but remembering things like that when negative things enter your mind can provide for an excellent defense.

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holy {censored}, what a great {censored}ing post.
:thu:



(profanity accentuates my enthusiasm and makes me cool
:cool:
....{censored}ers.)
:)

 

F:cool:CK YEAH!

 

I can write a post like that because I struggle too.

 

Of course, it's a double-edged sword. Sometimes, you can get stuck in a rut of rules and limits. Even when you know the method, you still need some madness.

 

But I when I hear a person say they are lost in a sea of ideas, they get fed up with trying to get stuff down, they never finish anything--limits are almost always the proper prescription.

 

On the other hand, if a person says they write a lot of songs, but they're all cliched, formulaic, lifeless, then I say it's time to put on your jello hat and ride your camel to crazytown.

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I've recently been focusing on what they sound like as opposed to what they actually mean. Maybe change their meaning later, although they generally do have a loose meaning somewhere... maybe you could try that :confused:

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I just can't write lyrics for {censored}. I'm not an idiot. I read a lot and always did well writing essays for college stuff. I like to think of myself as a conscious person with a lot to say and a lot on my mind, but every time I sit down to write lyrics I have an out of body experience where I either laugh or hide in shame at what I'm saying. It usually doesn't make sense at all or it's too blatant for a rock song. I want the lyrics to reflect the music in a way, but I can't seem to do it. The main problem, I think, is that I can never settle on something, it's always got to change, meanwhile I get up and put the song away after a few minutes.


How do you lyricists do it ??

 

 

I have the EXACT SAME situation. So, while I struggle with it like you do, I have been able to progress from this stage, and here are my suggestions:

 

1) It might not be your song. I have lots of music and I want to be able to sing over it all, but some songs I just have to let go of. Maybe someday I'll hear that melody in my head and think of what I should sing over it.

 

2) It's mostly in the melody. Surely you've heard songs with silly lyrics, but the singer sings them so perfectly that you feel he/she could have been saying anything. Just get the melody and the emotion down. The words are just a carrier for these.

 

3) Focus on imagery, then make the words. Try to picture all the people, places, things, and the general "set" for the song. Then start describing this as best you can. The better your imagery, the easier it will be to describe it in words.

 

4) Patience. I have parts of songs that I wrote over a year ago and still don't know where to go with them. Others, the words came looooooong after the music. Just keep the process ongoing in your head, for all your songs, and make sure to write down the interesting ideas when they come to you. For me, it happens in that half-awake, half-alseep morning haze; walking to my car; at the supermarket; in the shower...basically, anywhere, at any time.

 

5) Practice practice practice. Just keep writing. It takes time, but you get better as you keep at it. As you get better, you'll notice that when particularly emotionally intense experiences come up in life, your ability to write about them in the moment will get better. Sometimes it takes these situations before you actually notice that all your practice has made you better.

 

6) Learn how to make your lyrics more singable. By this, I mean go over your written words and just try to speak them as poetry. If they are cumbersome, throw them away, or try to reword them. I've found that I have become a better singer partly because I learned how to make my lyrics more singable on paper before I actually sang them. READ lyrics from famous songs, or songs you like -- I guarantee you will see them in a different light on paper, even if you already have the words memorized. Notice how much of a flow there is to the words on paper.

 

7) Sing out of a lyric book. Hopefully you keep a lyric book of all the lyrics that come to you during the day. Open this up when you have a few chords that you like, and turn to any page in your lyric book, and try and sing your words in harmony over your chords. If you don't get a keeper out of this process, you will at least hone your ability to sing your own words.

 

8) Listen to your music at work. I keep music-only versions of my songs in a playlist at work. I'll put it on almost every day, and just let it play while I work. Invariably, my mind is listening, even if I'm not, and I catch myself suddenly singing over the music. Then I pull out my cellphone and record these passages.

 

9) Ad-Lib lyrics. I find that sometimes when I just record myself singing over my songs and put myself on the spot to come up with words, I occasionally get interesting phrases that are worth writing down. These are always phrased better than when I try to force myself to sing something I wrote over the music. In other words, it will usually have a better, more natural flow.

 

10) Get to know yourself away from music. Who are you? Could you sum up your life story in a couple sentences that describe your temperament? Really get to know yourself -- maybe with writing in a journal everyday -- and keep chipping away at yourself until you can't be any more honest. Really getting to know who you are and quantifying it on paper will give you a lot to write about, and if you do it right, there's no way you can come off as conceited.

 

To conclude, the process is nothing like writing a paper AT ALL. It's a whole different thing. Yes, it uses words, but that's about it. You don't have to pace your college papers to rhyme or to music. Just keep practicing, keep revising, keep with it, ride out the frustrating times, and you'll be fine.

 

Cheers.

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here's a technique that works really well if you have a melody but can't think of lyrics. works well if you don't care if your lyrics have 'depth and meaning' and are just trying to write a pop song.

 

Take your melody, and sing it as gibberish.

 

DAMMANA SOMETHING {censored}IN YEAH BOO SANG DANG DI BAN DAN WOO YEAH {censored}IN SOMETHIN-a YEAH.

 

then start hunting for words that fit the rhythm of the 'phrases' this creates. I know a couple of guys who write everything this way, and come up with the most poetic stuff this way.

 

I approve of this method because i've always been a great believer that the music needs to come first. taking a good melody and {censored}in with it to make it 'fit' your lyrics will ruin it. so sing gibberish!

 

If you can't think of good gibberish on the fly, construct it all out of the words 'somethin', '{censored}in' and 'yeah', then do the 'fit real words to the rhythm' thing.

 

edit: there are chili peppers songs where kiedis does this for entire verses at a time in the 'real song'. go {censored}in figure.

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Nobody listens to lyrics anyway, man.

 

I live by this!! The only song I've written in the last ten years where I felt that the words, music and production all came together as a whole... nobody likes!?! The songs that I've written that people like, I think the lyrics are pretty pathetic. So, moral of the story is that you write what you want and if someone gets it then BONUS.

 

One thing I'm personnaly working on is writing songs about me. I mean really how I feel about something. The problem with that is that if I let people listen to it, I'm exposing myself in a way that is really uncomfotable. This is just one more reason to go with the "nobody listens" philosophy. If nobody is litstening to your personal thoughts, then it's the same as pissing in the woods where no one can see. Your exposed but it doesn't matter.:)

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I agree that revision is an important tool, but I would stay far away from any thesaurus. While on the surface, it appears to be a giant tangential source of creativity, it really only ends up sucking the soul out of whatever you mean by focusing you on the surface of your intention. You want the heart of it, even if it ends up looking and sounding like "I love you." You're in it at that point and that's what matters.


A lot of people may see such a thing as bad taste, cliche`, overdone, meaningless by excess... but, it's all about what it means to you. When you do it for other people, your goals are different. Decide what your goal is with music.


It's kind of like saying the word "home" to somebody. It will conjure up different feelings for everybody, but it's in that abstraction that it becomes complex. If a single word can be so powerful, imagine what a phrase can do. Haiku poetry is often seen as having a lot of depth because it relies on this concept.


The best place for people to develop their vocabulary is contextually while reading books. Books that challenge you a bit. Keep a dictionary next to you while you read.


Great artists are generally in tune with the work of their peers, have heros, influences and the confidence to relax because... they're doing something they love. Learn to enjoy the process. As someone above said, don't force it. Easier said than done, obviously, but remembering things like that when negative things enter your mind can provide for an excellent defense.

 

 

I think your focus is on trying to impress people rather than helping them. I mentioned the thesaurus as one idea that may help him with his writing. Anyhoo... Good Luck again with your writing, NeverTheMachine, I hope I helped you in some way.

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I think your focus is on trying to impress people rather than helping them. I mentioned the thesaurus as one idea that may help him with his writing. Anyhoo... Good Luck again with your writing, NeverTheMachine, I hope I helped you in some way.

Our ideas of helping people are simply different, friend.

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I mean really how I feel about something. The problem with that is that if I let people listen to it, I'm exposing myself in a way that is really uncomfotable.

 

That is definitely one of the more difficult things to do and be as an artist: be open. There are different types of listeners: the Joni Mitchill listener wants you to be open and expose yourself :eek: so they can discover and evolve with you & then you`ve got The Killers listener who wants to rock out and have fun :rawk:. Nothing wrong with any of them. So as a songwriter and/or artist, you have to figure out who is your listener. If they are the Joni listener, then you better work on those lyrics.

 

Something about Billy Joel that I always admired... he had that magical way of saying something interesting or insightful while at the same time delivering a really good rocker or ballad. Its a rare gift...

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Our ideas of helping people are simply different, friend.

 

I agree DW. I think everyone has given good advise here. I also think there's something to be said about simply sharing our ideas without putting another persons down. DW, Have a Great Day! :cool:

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