SONGWRITING TIPS AND ADVICE ON THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS FOUND IN ALL HIT SONGS

SONGWRITING TIPS: Live a song in your head as you write the lyrics, says Tom Odell

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British singer-songwriter Tom Odell believes it’s important to imagine every little detail in the scene you’re describing in a verse if you want to create word pictures that express the physical experience of the emotions you’re trying to convey.

“I almost have to live it in my head in order to write a song,” Odell recently told Dale Kawashima of SongwriterUniverse magazine.

One of the most frequent mistakes in lyric writing is trying to evoke an emotional response in listeners simply by telling them what you’re feeling or thinking. This is actually one of the least effective ways to make a lasting connection with the people who hear your song.

In the verse lyrics especially, you need to show listeners what the song is about. In other words, invite the audience into the world of your song by allowing them to ‘watch’ the story unfold like a movie.

By describing each scene as if you’re looking through the lens of a video camera, you’ll be able to help people ‘see’ and experience what the performer of your song is feeling.

You can also help listeners to enter your song by including descriptions of familiar, tangible objects in your lyrics—such as an empty chair, a wine glass, a framed photograph, and other concrete nouns which refer to physical entities that can be observed by at least one of the senses. These images are more likely to engage listeners than a dull statement of fact.

For example, Tom Odell’s beautiful song ‘Constellations’—from his 2016 album Wrong Crowd—opens with him talking to a girl in a busy bar and his lyrics vividly describe the scene.

“In order to write that,” Odell told SongwriterUniverse, “I had to imagine every detail in that bar—the chatting in the bar, the gentle hum of the bar, the headlights passing outside, the chair that squeaks, the look on [the girl’s] face. But obviously you can’t get all of that detail in the song. You can only pick a few of those details to sing. But in order to get those details I had to almost write so many verses to get to that point.

“I had to imagine it all in my head—the picture on the wall, the girl’s voice, the jacket on the back of the chair—all those details.”

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“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE A HIT SONG! - 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS” is available from Amazon as a paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, Barnes and Noble's Nook store, and from KoboBooks.com.
A 5-star rated book at Amazon,
How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

FRONT COVER - JPG - 10-8-16 - FINAL“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics! – 40 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Lyrics For Your Songs” is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

SONGWRITING TIPS: Leonard Cohen on songwriting

leonard_cohen_2008

Ten inspirational quotes on songwriting from the late Leonard Cohen:

1. “Music is the emotional life of most people.”

2. “I think that songs primarily are for courting, for finding your mate. For deep things. For summoning love. For healing broken nights, and for the central accompaniment to life’s tasks. Which is no mean or small thing.” (from Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo).

3. “If I knew where the good songs came from, I’d go there more often.”

4. “[A song] doesn’t come to me in the form of an idea. It comes in the form of an image.”

5. “I can work on a verse for a very long time before realizing it’s not any good and then, and only then, can I discard it.”

6. “A line will have a kind of rhythm that will indicate, at the very least, where the voice will go up and where the voice will go down. I guess that’s the rudimentary beginnings of what they call melody.” (from Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo).

7. “Journalists, especially English journalists, were very cruel to me. They said I only knew three chords when I knew five!”

8. “[When I finally finish a song] there’s a wonderful sense of done-ness. That’s the thing I like best. That sense of finish-ness.” (from Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo).

9. “Success [in songwriting] is survival.”

10. “I’m very grateful to have stumbled into this line of work. It’s tough but I like it.” (from Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo).

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“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE A HIT SONG! - 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS” is available from Amazon as a paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, Barnes and Noble's Nook store, and from KoboBooks.com.
A 5-star rated book at Amazon,
How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

FRONT COVER - JPG - 10-8-16 - FINAL“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics! – 40 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Lyrics For Your Songs” is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Billy Bragg on how Trump’s victory could be a boom for new political songwriters

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Photo: Kris Krug

“It’s a good time to be a political songwriter … Let’s have another generation of young songwriters come along and tell us all about it, about the pressure they feel under.”
—Billy Bragg (in an interview with Music Week)

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“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE A HIT SONG! - 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS” is available from Amazon as a paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, Barnes and Noble's Nook store, and from KoboBooks.com.
A 5-star rated book at Amazon,
How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

FRONT COVER - JPG - 10-8-16 - FINAL“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics! – 40 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Lyrics For Your Songs” is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

SONGWRITING TIPS: Rhyming doesn’t have to be exact anymore, says Nobel laureate Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

“Rhyming doesn’t have to be exact anymore,” Bob Dylan told Paul Zollo of American Songwriter magazine in a 2012 interview. “It gives you a thrill to rhyme something and you think, ‘Well, that’s never been rhymed before’. Nobody’s going to care if you rhyme ‘represent’ with ‘ferment’, you know. Nobody’s gonna care.”

Dylan—who was recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature—once admitted to Rolling Stone magazine that he stunned himself when he wrote the first two lines of ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ and rhymed “kiddin’ you” with “didn’t you”. “It just about knocked me out,” he said.

Historically, many classic pop songs from the rock era have tended to feature ‘perfect’ rhymes where a one-syllable word is rhymed with another one-syllable word (such as ‘kiss’ and ‘miss’), or where two words have the same spelling in the last syllable (such as ‘love and ‘above’).

These days, it’s best to steer clear of perfect rhymes, if you can, because rhymes that are too exact can often limit the expression of true emotion.

You can create a much greater impact by rhyming words that don’t have the same combination of letters but sound similar (such as ‘clown’ and ‘around’, or ‘made’ and ‘late’). This is because sound-alike words tend to engage listeners more than words with the same spelling, as in the case of Dylan’s “kiddin’ you” and “didn’t you”.

Using ‘false’ rhymes that create word pictures – or which convey what you want to say more accurately – can often be much more effective than pure rhymes.

It’s not enough to simply go through the alphabet looking for words that rhyme, irrespective of whether or not the chosen word helps to underpin the meaning of your song and drive the story forward. This approach usually results in clichéd rhymes that we’ve all heard many times before.

You can surprise the listener by having the rhyme fall on the second or third syllable of a multi-syllable word instead of at the end (for example, put the rhyme on the syllable that is stressed most strongly in normal speech, such as ‘unachievable’ and ‘believable’).

You can also rhyme a multi-syllable word with a word that only has one syllable (such as ‘sublime’ and ‘time’). This device can make a lyric much more interesting.

So don’t weaken a potentially good song by going for the easiest and most obvious rhyme. These days, lyricists have to be much more adventurous. Challenge yourself and make your rhymes less predictable.

As the great Stephen Sondheim once remarked: “The ears expect certain rhymes, so you want to fool them because one of the things you want to do in a song is surprise an audience”

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“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE A HIT SONG! - 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS” is available from Amazon as a paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, Barnes and Noble's Nook store, and from KoboBooks.com.
A 5-star rated book at Amazon,
How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

FRONT COVER - JPG - 10-8-16 - FINAL“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics! – 40 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Lyrics For Your Songs” is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Sting on the role of the songwriter …

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Photo by Brian Rasic

“Your real job as a songwriter is to provide a soundtrack to people’s emotional lives, touchstones for their emotional landscapes, their memories. And that’s an unexpected and unanticipated honour as well as a privilege.”

—Sting on receiving the BMI Icon Award on 10 October 2016 at the 2016 BMI Awards in London.

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“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE A HIT SONG! - 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS” is available from Amazon as a paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, Barnes and Noble's Nook store, and from KoboBooks.com.
A 5-star rated book at Amazon,
How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

FRONT COVER - JPG - 10-8-16 - FINAL“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics! – 40 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Lyrics For Your Songs” is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

 

 

SONGWRITING NEWS: Hit machine Max Martin renews performing rights agreement with ASCAP

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Hit songwriter Max Martin has renewed his agreement with ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, for representation of public performances of his songwriting catalogue.

This follows the announcement last week that Paul McCartney has also renewed his agreement with ASCAP. The organization has represented McCartney’s performing rights in the United States for multiple decades.

With 22 Billboard Hot 100 Number One hits, Max Martin is one of the most successful songwriters of all time. He has won an unprecedented nine ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Awards. Since his first US top 10 single in 1997, Robyn’s “Do You Know (What It Takes),” listeners can’t get enough of Martin’s addictive pop songs, including #1 hits like Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” (2008), Pink’s “So What” (2008), Britney Spears’s “Hold It Against Me” (2011), Maroon 5’s “One More Night” (2012), Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (2012), “Shake It Off” (2014), “Blank Space” (2014) and “Bad Blood” (2015) and this year, Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”

“I love being part of the ASCAP family of songwriters and composers,” said Max Martin. “As songwriters, we are lucky to have ASCAP on our side, offering support and fighting for our rights.”

“Max Martin is a generous spirit whose irresistible music keeps winning listeners’ hearts,” said Elizabeth Matthews, CEO of ASCAP, a world leader in performing rights and advocacy for music creators. “We love his music and we admire his broader sense of mission and advocacy for songwriters everywhere.”

“Max is a rare talent with an aim that never misses,” said ASCAP EVP Membership John Titta. “He’s one of the few who can tap into the zeitgeist to create hit after hit after hit. We’re privileged to be part of his incredible success.”

ASCAP is a professional membership organization of songwriters, composers and music publishers of every kind of music. According to ASCAP, its mission is to license and promote the music of its members and foreign affiliates, obtain fair compensation for the public performance of their works, and to distribute the royalties that it collects based upon those performances.

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“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE A HIT SONG! - 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS” is available from Amazon as a paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, Barnes and Noble's Nook store, and from KoboBooks.com.
A 5-star rated book at Amazon,
How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

FRONT COVER - JPG - 10-8-16 - FINAL“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics! – 40 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Lyrics For Your Songs” is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

“Inspiration should not be confused with infringement,” say the stars backing Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams in ‘Blurred Lines’ appeal …

Blurred Lines

Some 212 leading songwriters, artists and producers have come out in support of Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams in their bid to overturn the verdict in the infamous ‘Blurred Lines’ plagiarism case.

In the original case, the jury found that ‘Blurred Lines’ (written in 2012) had copied Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song ‘Got to Give It Up’. Thicke and Williams were then ordered to pay $5.3 million to the Marvin Gaye Estate.

The diverse group of stars who are backing the appeal by Thicke and Williams includes members of Train, Linkin Park, Earth Wind & Fire, The Black Crowes, Fall Out Boy, Tool and Tears for Fears, as well as Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, John Oates of Hall & Oates, R. Kelly, Hans Zimmer, Jennifer Hudson, Jean Baptiste, Evan Bogart and Brian Burton (Danger Mouse).

They all argue that the ‘Blurred Lines’ copyright ruling has set a dangerous precedent by confusing inspiration with infringement.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the 212 stars’ document submitted to the Court of Appeals in support of Williams, Thicke and rapper T.I (aka Clifford Harris Jr.), states:

“The verdict in this case threatens to punish songwriters for creating new music that is inspired by prior works. All music shares inspiration from prior musical works, especially within a particular musical genre. By eliminating any meaningful standard for drawing the line between permissible inspiration and unlawful copying, the judgment is certain to stifle creativity and impede the creative process. The law should provide clearer rules so that songwriters can know when the line is crossed, or at least where the line is.

“Such a result, if allowed to stand, is very dangerous to the music community, is certain to stifle future creativity, and ultimately does a disservice to past songwriters as well. One can only imagine what our music would have sounded like if David Bowie would have been afraid to draw from Shirley Bassey, or if the Beatles would have been afraid to draw from Chuck Berry, or if Elton John would have been afraid to draw from the Beatles, or if Elvis Presley would have been afraid to draw from his many influences.”

# # # #

“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE A HIT SONG! - 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS” is available from Amazon as a paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, Barnes and Noble's Nook store, and from KoboBooks.com.
A 5-star rated book at Amazon,
How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

FRONT COVER - JPG - 10-8-16 - FINAL“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics! – 40 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Lyrics For Your Songs” is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).