class, please be seated. Comfortable? We are about to embark on a
short course, Songwriting 101. This class will enhance your ability
to create glorious musical masterpieces that heretofore have never
been heard. It will bestow upon you the tools with which to master
the art of songwriting. It will improve your overall quality of life.
It will grow hair on your palms. Smoke em if you got em.
Lets get started.
art of songwriting involves two things, inspiration and craft (more
commonly referred to as perspiration!). Many great songs are born
as something resembling a revelation. Theyre like a bolt of
lighting straight out of the sky. A lot of the greatest songwriters
speak about the experience with the reverence usually reserved for
mystical or religious experiences. There are times when songs just
seem to appear out of nowhere, fully formed. Sometimes its not
a complete song, but a great riff that you can build an entire song
around, like The Rolling StonesS "Satisfaction". These bolts
of inspiration are like manna from heaven to songwriters.
do believe that to be a good songwriter one must open up oneself to
be a channel or conduit for music. Robert Fripp of King Crimson has
spoken in the past of music existing in its own space, waiting
for a musician to play it or a songwriter to write it. In some ways
a truly inspired songwriter may be doing no more than taking dictation!
songwriting is not only inspiration itself. This is where the "
perspiration " (craft ) comes into play. No matter how inspired
and one with your muse you are, if you dont possess the tools
to render your "gift" into a coherent piece of music, no
one will hear it. Besides, inspiration is fleeting. By developing
your craft you will be able to bring your inspirations to life and
even create great music on the days GOD doesnt deign to speak
to you! Following are some suggestions for perfecting your craft and
connecting with your muse:
helps to have a tape recorder around. It doesnt need to be an
8-Track or any sophisticated piece of equipment at all, just anything
that will record. Then you can just play away and record everything
you do. From this, riffs and chord progressions can be gleaned for
use in creating songs. The fact of the matter is, you never know when
the inspiration will strike. That is why its a good idea to
keep the tape rolling whenever you can.
speaking of riffs and chord progressions, study the music that really
moves you to find out how "they" do it. Examine the way
the songwriters you love put a song together. I have heard one successful
songsmith after another recite the same phrase, "all songwriting
is theft". Now, this is not a recommendation to plagiarize! It
is just an acknowledgment on the part of some of the great songwriters
of how much they were inspired by the music of their idols. Plagiarism
is a crime, but taking someone elses idea and making it yours
while giving it a fresh twist is a perfectly valid way to make your
own personal artistic statement. Songwriters have been doing this
since time immemorial.
course, a large part of the craft of songwriting is playing your instrument.
The relative level of expertise on your chosen axe will determine
which ideas you can bring to fruition and which ideas will never see
the light of day. Obviously, the more you know about playing your
instrument the easier it will be to reproduce the sounds you are hearing
in your head.
it is not enough, however, to only practice scales and chords. I would
also recommend practicing creative elements of your music as well.
Dont just hone your chops, force yourself to come up with licks
and chord progressions on the spot. IMPROVISE! This will result in
discovering new territory that is ripe with song potential.
thing you must always bear in mind when writing music is that you
are trying to communicate thoughts and feelings with others. It is
important to employ music in such a way as it supports the thoughts
and feelings you are trying to convey. Learn how to use music so that
when others listen to your song they hear your feelings coming through
clearly. The music must support the message.
class, you have been given the knowledge that will allow you to write
the music of the spheres! Or maybe even a hit rock n roll tune.
So GET WRITING !!!