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

Tag Archives: songwriting techniques

Twin_Peaks_2017_Poster

With David Lynch’s cult TV series Twin Peaks returning to TV screens after a 26-year hiatus, the haunting central music from the show – ‘Laura Palmer’s Theme’ – is also back, along with the Laura Palmer character whose murder was the basis of the original show.

In this video, composer Angelo Badalamenti explains how the dark and mysterious ‘Laura Palmer’s Theme’ was written in less than 10 minutes, with director David Lynch sitting beside him at a Fender Rhodes piano.

For composers who aspire to write for film or television, it’s a masterclass in how to create music that accurately interprets the on-screen emotion or atmosphere of a particular scene.

In the video, Badalamenti explains how he set about perfectly capturing the disturbing images, sounds and emotions that were in David Lynch’s vivid (and weird) imagination …

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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).

 


Ed_Sheeran_2013 - Photo - Eva Rinaldi

Photo: Eva Rinaldi

“I think songwriting is a form of therapy … I think any time I’ve ever got down or ever felt low the one thing that picks me up from that is writing a song about it because at least you’ve got a positive experience out of a bad experience.”

— Ed Sheeran (in an interview with Kirsty Young for BBC Radio Four’s ‘Desert Island Discs’).

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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).


Stevie Wonder

In his recent ASCAP Expo speech in Los Angeles, Stevie Wonder insisted that songwriting should never be hurried. He revealed that he has never been motivated by deadlines to complete his work. “Everyone at Motown would love if I could have done that,” he said. “But if it doesn’t feel right, it’s just not done.”

Most experienced songwriters would probably agree that trying too hard to make a song happen — force-feeding the songwriting process — rarely leads to great results. A song that is laboured often lacks the emotion of something that comes naturally like a perfectly-formed idea that you just pluck out of the air (or, more accurately, out of your subconscious).

“If you don’t try and force it, a song will find the proper moment to come to life,” says Valerie Simpson who co-wrote classic songs such as ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ and ‘Solid (As a Rock)’ with her late husband Nickolas Ashford.

Neil Young holds a similar view: “If you don’t have an idea and you don’t hear anything going over and over in your head, don’t sit down and try to write a song. Go mow the lawn…”.

When inspiration does come, though, don’t stop the flow. Take the chords, melodies and lyrics that come instinctively and accept that they may change during the creative process. Don’t go chasing the ‘perfect’ melody or rhyme or the correct phrasing — just get the first draft of the song written.

If you spend too much time trying to perfect one element of the song, you may lose your connection with the spark that ignited the idea in the first place.

Above all, though, don’t try to rush a new song. Be patient.

We’ve all heard the stories about classic songs that were written in 10 minutes, but the majority of well-crafted songs are actually the result of many rounds of re-writes and careful polishing.

Ed Sheeran once told American Songwriter magazine that he’d spent five years working on a particular song. It just kept evolving, he said, so he kept adding more and more things to it. And Stevie Wonder surprised everyone by revealing that the new song he performed at this year’s ASCAP Expo, ‘Where’s Our Love Song’, was one he’d been writing since 1971!

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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).

 


Aimee Mann

“I write songs because I like to know what people are feeling, and with, for example, a 15-person songwriting team I’d like to know, who is doing the thinking? Who is doing the feeling?

“They give songwriting credits to so many people in a way that I never would. I suppose they’re crafting a song for mass consumption in a way that is just not my thing – it isn’t personal enough.

“People are just coming up with a topic that might sell, or what approach might sell. There is craft, but not the way I like. There is attention to detail, but not the way that I like. Where are the rhymes, images, turns of phrases, metaphors? It’s all very meat and potatoes, and of not much interest to me.”

— Aimee Mann (in an interview with The Irish Times). Her new album Mental Illness is now on release through Super Ego Records.

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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).

 


john-legend

“I think we have to be honest in our songs. I always quote Nina Simone that ‘it’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times that you’re living in.’ It doesn’t mean that every song has to be political, but it does mean you should be honest with how you’re feeling and what’s important to you …”

– John Legend (New York Times – TimesTalks)

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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).

 


tom-odell-2

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).


billy-bragg_shot_by_kris_krug

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).