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Thread: Writing Lyrics

  1. #1
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    Default Writing Lyrics

    For me, lyric writing has always been the big challenge with writing songs. I can churn out guitar riffs, melodies and chord progressions on a whim, but the lyric process truly tests me. I'm curious what approach others take to lyric writing.

    Personally, I've tried stream of consciousness (which is fun but not always useful), heavy metaphors, story telling, short and sweet lines/rhymes. On rare occasions, songs will just "vomit" themselves onto the page. John McCutcheon once said, "Some songs you write, and some songs you write down". Like catching them. I wish I had more of those!

    What works for you and how do you get into your "lyric writing head"?

    - Chris
    Jamplay.com Content Producer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris.Smith View Post
    For me, lyric writing has always been the big challenge with writing songs. I can churn out guitar riffs, melodies and chord progressions on a whim, but the lyric process truly tests me. I'm curious what approach others take to lyric writing.

    Personally, I've tried stream of consciousness (which is fun but not always useful), heavy metaphors, story telling, short and sweet lines/rhymes. On rare occasions, songs will just "vomit" themselves onto the page. John McCutcheon once said, "Some songs you write, and some songs you write down". Like catching them. I wish I had more of those!

    What works for you and how do you get into your "lyric writing head"?

    - Chris
    Jamplay.com Content Producer
    Awesome thread! I always have my phone on me so I can jot down the good ideas when they come to me. For me, watching a good movie, reading a good book, spending time with friends, or doing anything that is truly meaningful tends to inspire lyrics. There's nothing like reading to improve your command of language. I dump the stuff from my phone into a word file on the computer every two weeks or so. Then, when an instrumental gets finished, I start writing melodies. Once I've written melodies to a song, I check out the word file and search for some lyrics that I feel fit thematically with the song. I inevitably always have to write more lyrics from scratch to finish a song, but the 'pre-written' lyrics always serve as a helpful jumping off point. Also, the rhythm of the melodies always gets tweaked just a bit to fit the lyrics I've chosen.

    I'm really curious to hear how everyone else does it. I know several people that don't like to write lyrics until they set foot in the studio. That seems totally crazy to me!

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    Premium Member palico's Avatar
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    My best method is just to colloraberate with my singer. She writes lyrics like crazy so I'll write the music and we will work out a melody to the riffs and hone it in from there. I stick to what I do well and she does as well.

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    I heard somewhere that Paul McCartney originally wrote the music of "yesterday" first and the original lyrics in place of "yesterday" was "ham 'n eggs" Don't know if that's true or not, but its great to think about. If you have some cool music but the lyrics are not there yet... forge ahead and lyrics will come
    -Chris Liepe
    Content/Instructor
    JamPlay.com

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    Premium Member denswon's Avatar
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    I 'm not sure about the how part. Sometimes something I see inspires me. Sometimes I wake up with a line of lyrics running through my head. I always have a notebook and pencil around, I jot it all down. Sometimes someone tells me about their day or something that has happened to them and it just strikes a chord and I can't write the words down fast enough. I've done the stream of consciousness thing and it works better in a group setting for me, kind of a feedback situation. I have a few notebooks full of words on paper that I may never use, but sometimes I play a chord progression and suddenly it all fits. I look in the book find the words I remembered and work them over to fit.
    Dennis

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    Premium Member jazzstudent's Avatar
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    Writing lyrics is a 'creative' use of language. You wouldn't try to play guitar without first becoming familiar with the instrument and developing some technical and theoretical skills. You should do the same thing with writing lyrics. Get a simple, beginner's book on writing poetry and read it. Study the works of some of the great poets. There are 'poetry licks' just like there are 'guitar licks'. I taught creative writing for years at University and every year, I had to tell my students, "Just because you can use language order a hamburger at McDonald's does not mean that you can write sophisticated, intelligent poetry". You would be surprised how quickly you can learn a few tricks that will make your lyric writing easier and improve the quality of the finished product. A good writer does not need inspiration to write well. He or she can create language 'artifacts' to 'spec' the way any skilled artist or craftsman can within their discipline.

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    Premium Member slighter's Avatar
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    humor , irony , satire , truth. my nonsensical musings seem to fall in those categories. But if we categorize and analyze them are they not but just words?

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    Quote Originally Posted by slighter View Post
    humor , irony , satire , truth. my nonsensical musings seem to fall in those categories. But if we categorize and analyze them are they not but just words?
    The same as if we categorize and analyze songs and ask are they not just notes?

    I suck at writing lyrics so I can't bring anything intelligent to this thread. lol

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    Premium Member EvanWeeks's Avatar
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    I picked up Pat Pattinson's book on writing better lyrics, and it's helped me immensely. It prescribes daily, first-thing-in-the-morning writing exercises to sort of train your brain to get into that gear on-demand. He's also got LOADS of advice on avoiding cliche and finding effective ways of communicating ideas. Highly recommended.
    Evan Weeks - Programmer. Musician. Dad.

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    Howdy! I am a singer first, then a guitarist next..Thats what I'm doing here on Jamplay, to get better at guitar. for me, Lyrics come easy, there is always a verse in my head and a melody in my heart. I have more songs in me that I could ever record in my lifetime simply because of budget ($) I also have a whole lot of good songs that are waiting on the correct chords of my guitar to catch up. Lyrics always come first for me, even before a melody. I get a idea, I know exactly what I want to write about, I'll jot around song titles, then take note of everything I want in the song, an out line, like characters, scenery, times, or funny lines then sew them all together by rhyme. That is just my process and a different perspective and my 2 cents. This is a song I wrote
    http://www.reverbnation.com/slowjimm...-everyone-else

 

 

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