Saturday, April 24, 2010

Writing tools

I don't always write from inspiration- sometimes I have to use tools and push myself a bit to get inspired. If I sit and wait for inspiration, it may never come. I wish I just heard music in my head all the time like Mozart, but it's not the case with me (sometimes, but not always).
Today I am pushing myself to finish a song I'm not crazy about and don't really hear the commercial potential. Sometimes writing for writing's sake is important. It gets the wheels turning and sometimes other songs come as a result..

Here's some of the "tools" I use to get inspired:
- Write to different grooves and beats - write to a hip hop or reggae beat or something I've never written to before as a way of pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
- Write a melody with chords that never repeat in the verse. It's easy to get stuck in the 4 bar repeating phrase type of song...boring!
- Write a melody with chords that are exactly the same in the verse and the chorus, making sure the chorus melody has a strong melody and hook, despite the chord repetition.
- Write a melody that has a common note in all the chords of a 2 bar phrase - so I must find those chords. For instance, I'll sing a G over an combination of Eb, C or Cm, Bb6, Abmaj7, F2 - all contain G
- Sing a melody out of thin air, creating a great-singable melody before adding chords. It's easy to get stuck on the same,old, repetitive chords and forget about the importance of the melody line. I say, if you can sing it in the shower, it's a good melody. Too many songwriters write melodies that follow the chords, rather than the other way around. I always sing the melody first.
- Change key signatures or time signatures mid-stream - this can get tricky! But I respect songwriters that can do it well - the song "Reflection" from Mulan does it well - huge hit.
- Add richer chords than just 3-note chords to add richness and give more melodic choices when matching the chords. Yes, that may mean learning "jazz" chords and improving your skills as a musician, but isn't that what we're trying to do is improve our skills? Being a great musician can only help your songwriting. I've seen too many songwriters that can't even play an instrument...hmmm...
- Write a "sub" hook, a little melody that is the guitar/keyboard/BG hook in the in-between parts. I do a lot of BG doo-be-doo parts.

OK, enough for now, my song is developing (I'm writing the song, then writing this blog as we speak)....gotta write!

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