PSA: This is MY opinion on songwriting and I know a lot of people will disagree or have a different idea of these topics and I’m so cool with that. This is just what I have noticed that has worked and worked for me. If you have different opinions on any of the topics discussed I would LOVE to hear them.
The best output for strong emotions: Writing. Whether that is poetry, music, or other various types of stories… writing can be a great way to release feelings that you otherwise wouldn’t. Personally, I find that inspiration comes at random times and if I am not feeling inspired, I can’t write anything. Inspiration can range from random bursts of love for your dog to anger building up inside of you that you have no idea what to do with.
Writing music is much different than writing poetry or stories. No matter the genre of music, when you write a song it has to include poetry or a story which is a big part of its beauty. A lot of musicians think that when you write a song it needs to be and complex and have the more difficult riffs or the guitar solo has to be the best guitar solo ever made but that is so far from the truth. Unless you are composing an orchestra or something, songwriting shouldn’t be difficult. I have come to notice that my best songs are the ones that I have written in under an hour. When you write a song, you should feel the music flowing through your life a caffeine rush and when you spend too much time on some song, that feeling can become so small and the song doesn’t have as much passion as it should.
Songs ALWAYS need to have structure. Many songwriters have songs where the melody is non-existent or the beat doesn’t flow and expect people to enjoy it. If you are writing a song in hopes that it will go viral, you need to have the following: a verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus and an insane melody for each of those parts. Of course, there are songs that don’t contain that or maybe you don’t write a song in that order and that is okay but I’m telling you, nearly every famous song has at least that much included into the song. Melody’s are much more important then people realize, if you don’t have a good melody then you don’t have a good song. (one way to know you have a good melody is if it gets stuck in your head or better yet… someone else's)
One thing to always keep in mind when your working on a song with someone else is to always keep an open mind. You don’t know everything and just because you think you have the best song in the world, doesn’t mean everyone else will agree. Even if you are not writing with other another person or people, it is important to share your music so it can improve. You can always improve a song and take other people’s opinions into consideration is CRUCIAL. When you write a song and put it out for the public to hear it is no longer only yours, it becomes everybody’s so you have to expect different opinions about to come to the surface. Sometimes those opinions are awful and mean absolutely nothing but it's important to listen to the ones that can help you. This is especially important when recording. Producers will work a song until they think is perfect and if you really want your song to be a hit, you have to listen to what they say. Though if you really disagree with someone just ignore it and stand your ground. That being said, my most favorite songs are imperfect and I think that what I like the best about them. Art is meant to be critiqued and imperfect!
Over the past 5 years, I have written over nearly 300 songs and I have only played maybe 20 of them in public. Most songs I write are absolute shit but its ok but the next song is an empty canvas. A tool that myself and nearly every musician finds handy is the voice memos app on a phone. (I put some down below.. sorry they are so awful) I have nearly 180 unlabeled recordings or me humming a random melody or playing a guitar riff. I think I find this app so important because when I get a melody or lyrics in my head I have to record them immediately or it will leave my brain forever. A lot of my memos are recorded in a classroom or at a concert or in a car or even some on the toilet… you never know when a song will come into your mind. Though technology can be super helpful in writing songs, I find it the most inspiring when its just me, my guitar, and a notebook (or paper) and a pen. That allows me to be completely focused on the song rather than possibly being distracted by something that may pop up on a phone or computer screen.
Music is art and art is yours if you make it. Writing can be so powerful and can give the most powerful messages in a civil way. You never have to strive to be anything with music or writing except for yourself.
Here are some songs that show qualities that I just talked about….
These are listed because the production is so amazing:
Fire in the hole- Steely Dan
The lion the beast and the beat- Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
These are listed because the melodies are INSANE-
ABC- the Jackson five
I wanna hold your hand- the Beatles
Billy Jean- Micheal Jackson
Cecilia- Simon and Garfunkel
These are listed because they have amazing lyrics tell a story or show emotion-
Hey Jude- The Beatles
Rhiannon- Fleetwood Mac
Sunshine on my shoulders- John Denver
These are listed because the groove is crazy-
If you want me to stay - Sly and the Family Stone
Lazy Nina- Gregg Phillinganes
Take me to the River- Al Green
I'm sure you know most of these songs but you know them because of how incredible they are. You should never say you hate a song because it's popular, of course, you can dislike it but it got popular for a reason and to know and appreciate that is important.
If you want to hear all my favorite tunes you can follow my Spotify- @sdnybrnhm
Below are my song writing books. I have a lot of other songs on random papers and such but here or a good majority.
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Rock and blues singer from Detroit, Mi