“For a songwriter, you don’t really go to songwriting school; you learn by listening to tunes. And you try to understand them and take them apart and see what they’re made of, and wonder if you can make one, too.”–Tom Waits
I work with many singer songwriters of varying ages. The youngest student I’ve worked with in songwriting was 5 years old. Watching and listening to them evolve in their work is such a treat.
Songwriting evolves as you experience more things and the more you practice writing. Just as there is an art to writing poems and stories, there is an art to writing songs. Songs are often birthed from experiences or current circumstances one finds themselves in.
For instance, a 5 year old may write songs about the dark and needing a night light, while an adult may talk about falling in love and the heartache that comes with it.
Since I’m a teacher, coach, as well as a songwriter, I am always looking for ways to break complex things down to make them easier to chew on.
I believe free writing is the first place to start in writing a song especially if no ideas are coming to you right away. So, I take a pencil and paper and just jot down any ideas that come to me. If I know I want to write about a specific topic, I’ll focus my free writing on that topic. They don’t need to be complete sentences, just simply thoughts and words.
From there you can create a song structure. Today, I’m going to tell you about the main structure of any song.
There’s an intro, verse, chorus, bridge and an ending/outro. Each part of the song has a purpose and direction. From there you start writing. Maybe the writing happens in the form of a melody; maybe it’s the music behind the melody, or maybe it’s the words.
If you want to focus on songwriting, you need to make TIME for it. I’ve learned this the hard way when years would go by and I didn’t feel “inspired” to write. It wasn’t that I lacked inspiration, I simply didn’t allow time.
Start to write out your thoughts about a specific topic that you want to write about and jot down anything and everything. If you get off topic, no big deal! Maybe your topic will evolve too! Give things room to breathe and let things flow.
Free write. Let your music evolve. Give your writing breath to ebb and flow and don’t be afraid of mistakes. Just create.