Twelve Songwriting Secrets For Success!

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Songwriting By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: Songwriting
Last updated: 24/02/2017
Tags: singing tips, songwriting, songwriting tips

Never written a song before but always wanted to? The best songwriting tip I can give you is to...start writing songs!

Even if what comes out sounds awful at least you have a starting point. Writer's block happens when you judge every idea (see Tip 4) so in the end you stare hopelessly at a blank page or screen. More song writing tips below!

1) Record every melody idea that comes to you. This is where a smart phone comes in handy! In ear headphones are a great way to record melody on the move- just put the mic close to your mouth and hum or sing! I’ve recorded some of my best melodies whilst I was walking my dog and whilst sitting on the tube. Keep everything and listen back to any ideas so that you can then develop them.

2) Write down any lyrical ideas that come to you. Again iPhone Notes app or even emailing notes to yourself via your mobile is a super easy way to collect ideas. You can create a folder in your email called ‘song lyrics’ so that you have an ideas bank to look at when in need of inspiration. The number of time I’ve needed lyrics for sessions and then go to an idea or word of phrase I wrote down months ago. These can be real life savers when your mind goes blank and when you’re suffering from writer’s block!

3) I find physical exercise really helps my writing. If I go for a run and clear my mind ideas come to me. Particularly if I am not listening to music and I can only hear the rhythm of my feet. I sometimes chant words as I go and come up with the best little hooks and tag lines! 

4) Throughout the creative process try not be over critical! Let your ideas flow. Just write whatever comes to you. Don’t stop before you get to the good stuff. If you keep stopping and judging what you are writing you’ll always have a blank page in front of you. Editing is the second stage of songwriting. The first is writing your stream of consciousness. 

5) Read everything! (Newspapers, adverts, poems, books, articles) listen to good lyricists (note any ideas you like) and write a tiny bit every day. Sometimes writing a journal can help or a ‘thought log’ where you write everything that comes into your head without stopping. A stream of consciousness style and diary. Even if you just write down descriptive words or bullet point phrases this can really help. 

6) Which leads me to the next point: keep a 'slogan book’. Lots of songwriters use every day phrases as listeners will always hook onto the familiar. Think of 'Dark Horse’ the metaphor used in Katy Perry’s song, the phrase 'head in the clouds’ in Ariana’s Problem, 'body like an hourglass’ in Jessie J’s Bang Bang. There are millions of references like this in all popular songs (regardless of genre). The lyrics themselves are the hooks. Advertising companies also use similes, metaphors and catch phrases to get your attention. Look out for these as they are everywhere and can give you great song inspiration!

7) Talk to other songwriters and find songwriters to collaborate with. Sit in a room with someone you have never met before and try to write a song. Sounds tricky? You might just find someone who is the yin to your yang. Someone who you can bounce so many ideas off of so that before you know it you’ve written a whole albums worth of songs whilst having a good time! Particularly great if you are more of a singer than a piano or guitar player or vice versa. Remember to be clear on who owns what though (I recommend splitting everything equally) saves pesky arguments at a later date (and legal and financial mess)
8) You gotta rhyme with it - it’s not all about full rhymes. Songs can sometimes sound a bit predictable and cliched if you choose the most obvious rhyming word. Half rhymes are great for changing things up a bit and keeping it interesting. Online rhyming dictionaries are amazing when you’re stuck for the next word. 

9) Hit me baby three more times! Advertisers also use the power of threes. Say something three times and it instantly becomes more memorable. Songwriters do this too! Think of Bruno Mar’s 'take take take it all but you never give’ in Grenade or 'Bye Bye Bye’ in N Sync’s song of the same title.

10) When in doubt, repeat yourself! A song chorus should be super catchy and repetitive. It’s the main idea of the song. The central point in your story. So repeat it until it stays in everyone’s heads. 

11) Writer’s block? Imagine you are writing directly to someone who has hurt you, who you love and or something similar. Imagine them sat in front of you and you being able to say everything you want without really having to take responsibility for it. Think of Someone Like You by Adele and Not The Only One by Sam Smith. There are so many examples of songwriters speaking candidly to someone who has hurt them. They say all they’ve ever wanted to say whilst how they feel remains safely in song form.

12) Above all…write songs from the heart.
When you’re really fired up this is when songwriting is most effective. The best things often come out in anger! Even if every word is a curse word or something similar. You can always censor later just get the emotion out. After all that’s what music is all about and you will feel better for it I promise! 

Happy songwriting! 
Happy singing!

Laura Duckworth Jazz/ Pop Singing Teacher (Harrow)

About The Author

Hello and welcome! My name is Laura and I have been singing, recording, performing and songwriting for over a decade.

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