Section 3.2 (New July 2000) (back to index)

23/07/00 08:32:02 Creativity in Songwriting


Songs come in two types - uninspired and inspired.

Writers who can write both ways can see this and discuss the differences. The differences themselves are inspiring.

Uninspired equates to the craft of songwriting. Inspiritation impels the blending of the arts of music and poetry. Make no mistake this is the highest art we have. Art can be defined by its ability to communicate. Words, particularly words tied to simple melody, that is song, can communicate down 600 years or more. No other known medium has this proven ability.

The craft of song-writing can be seen clearly in clever songs. Songs that are obviously structured, and good examples of this are comic songs. The craftsman gets his theme, he writes the lyric logically and, with forethought and planning builds his piece. Another factor in the difference is that crafted songs generally do not themselves inspire. Many songs fall into the 'Just Another Silly Love Song' genre and you know as soon as you hear them that you will just as soon forget ever hearing them.

A good dose of Handels' Messiah will quickly show you the difference.

Inspired work inspires.

This is the 'Prime Directive' for musicians - inspire. Mozart, Beethoven, Bach ... Nusrat Fateh Aly Khan prove this on every listening. So now you see the question becomes this it's not only ' How do I become inspired ? ' it's also ' How do I become inspiring ? '

Part of becoming inspiring is trying to proceed always in a positive direction. By continually training the mind to see the possible positives we counter the minds natural inclination to try to foresee every negative outcome. Also if you are NOT always looking for the most positive outcome from a situation, what ARE you doing ?

ENUFF WAFFLE! Here's the way most songwriters that play guitar or piano write inspired.

1 Choose some new chords that you've never played before. (Easy on guitar)

2 Set up a rhythm with those chords.

3 Start recording ! - to tape, mp3, minidisc or whatever you have.

4 Ad lib lyrics to your rhythm line.

5 Stop when you run out of words.

6 Edit what you got - decide on any form changes (By form is meant Verse Chorus order)

7 Choose a strong title from a hook in the lyric.

8 Sort any wrong line scanning or bad rhymes. (It's OK to make it rhyme !)

9 Chew it over for a few days/years. You may have to learn to perform a song after you've written it - if you want to perform that is. Performance is not the same as writing.

Part 4 is where the difference between inspired artist and diligent craftsman comes in.

Many artists are on record as saying 'I don't know where the songs come from.' This IS the difference. If you sit and make up a song lyric it is entirely different from a lyric that you improvise with rhythm and emotional content happening.

There is another vital condition that determines the content and thus the quality of song. The extemporised lyric will contain details and fragments of the writers conscious concerns over the days previous to writing the piece. This is the reason we get so many references to newspapers in so many songs - the songwriter had been impacted by the newspaper article.

So the content of your mind during the days before you write contribute to the depth and content of your lyric.

recommended reading - J.Krishnamurti - three times daily and before sleep. Try following the above prescription for seven days and then write a song - you might be surprised - and be


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