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By Matthew Collins
Matthew Collins. All rights reserved.
songwriter craves the muse. This erratic creature is our life force.
Whenever a songwriter gets up in the morning, he prays that today
he or she will be blessed with a visitation from the muse so they
can make sweet music together. Any time they are and come up with
a real gem as a result, there is no better feeling. But sometimes,
it won't come. No matter how many chord sequences you run through
or scales you play around with, nothing that catches your ear. You
just can't make the connection.
is, there isn't a tunesmith on the planet who would claim to understand
the how the process of inspiration really works. We all love it. Some
of us need it. A lucky few even earn a living from it. One thing's
for sure; it's not under our control. But if we understand how it
works, perhaps our relationship with the muse will be that little
is not a tap that you can turn on and off at will. Ever been lying
in bed trying to sleep when a tune just hits you, buzzes around your
head and won't let you rest? Don't you always wish it would go away
and let you sleep? Still it persists until you get up, turn on the
light, pick up the guitar (or sit at the piano) and write it down.
You can barely play the notes you're so sleepy. But if you don't,
you'll lose the tune. Perhaps one of the best you've ever come up
with. It won't be in your head the next day and it'll be gone forever.
Similarly, when you've have a bit of time on your hands and want to
work on that song you started yesterday, or begin a new one, how often
have you found that, try as you might, nothing will come out? The
right melody is in there somewhere but it just won't be found. All
you can find is a string of unrelated notes that don't say magic to
you. When you want to turn the tap of inspiration on, more often than
not it stays stuck in the off position. When you're quite happy to
leave it off as you busy yourself with something else, it suddenly
begins to gush forth sweet music. If you don't cup your hands and
catch it all, it'll run down the sink and be lost forever.
songwriters say they never invent songs, they just write down what
the muse sings to them. So when it does decide to visit, you'd better
be ready as a songwriter to listen to what it has to say. Always keep
a little notepad and pen handy for the snatches of lyric that come
to you as you wait in the supermarket queue. Learn to play by ear
so that when a melody line starts buzzing round your head and there's
no musical instrument handy, you can write down the basic notes that
make up the line and work it out properly later. If you're really
committed to the craft, you have to be prepared to write down anything
that comes to you, whatever you're doing at the time. If you're watching
a movie and a tune hits you, miss that cliffhanger so you can get
it on paper. If you hear a potential lyric in conversation with a
friend, put up with looking a little rude by writing it down while
they're still talking. If for whatever reason you can't physically
write it down, repeat to yourself again and again until you can. Don't
let it get away.
is a strange bird. She flies when she wants to, not when it's convenient
for you. She doesn't fly all that often so when she does take to the
skies, make sure you listen to the song she's singing to you.
Collins is a young songwriter, originally from Belfast but now living
in Manchester, England. He has been writing songs for over 6 years
and wants to form a band soon in England with himself as the main
creative force. He also hopes to interest English publishers in some
of his work. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org