The Song Writing Process

Last week, I went to a Nashville Songwriters Association meeting (the Charlotte chapter) and I learned some new things about song writing and also was reminded of some old things about it too.  And that prompted me to write this blog. After going to this meeting, I realized that there is a three part process in song writing:  Brainstorming, Putting it together, and Review/Critique.

Brainstorming - Here's where you come up with the topic and ideas for the lyric, and in some cases the chords and melody.  Not necessarily in that order depending on your methods.  I learned a new trick to coming up with possible lyrics.  What you do is list out all phrases, words, and ideas that come to mind on your topic.  Don't stop there.  You can even list concepts and ideas from the approach of the five senses.  Feel, touch, sight, hearing, and taste.  Let's say your topic is friendship.  What does a friendship feel like, what does it look like or is there a special taste of a food that you can liken to this friendship.  You'd be surprised of what you come up with.  It makes you think outside the box.

Putting it together -  Depending on how well your brainstorming went, you can just pick and pull from your list and go to town.  During this phase, you will be looking for your rhyming dictionary to figure out how you can put lines together.  You're looking for a chord progression and a melody.  You're looking for a hook, that part of the song that everyone remembers.  One thing I was reminded of is that you're telling a story.  You should try to find ways to draw the listener in by painting a picture of the surroundings and including a progression of the story line.  It helps if the lyrics make sense too.  Don't just say something because it rhymes.  Make sure it fits with your overall story.  Once you get all these parts together, you're well on your way.

Review & Critique - This is the part that I always skip, but it is so necessary.  Review it with a fresh eye.  After you think you've completed the "Putting it together" phase, walk away for a week or two and come back.  When you come back, have a list of requirements and see if your song passes.  Does it make sense?  Does it tell a story?  Does it have a hook?  Does the verse lead up to the chorus lyrically and musically?  Does it have a recognizable structure?  And so forth.  Then, get a second and third opinion.  Have other songwriters critique your song.  Make sure it's someone you trust.  Then, take their ideas (the ones that you think will improve the song) and re-work.

That's my two cents for today.  If you have any other ideas or anything to add please comment.