Song Writing for Beginners Revisited
This week I want to concentrate on lyric writing, because I realise it probably doesn’t come naturally to everyone. So, the first thing you have to understand about lyric writing is that it doesn’t have to rhyme. While you’re absorbing that try and remember that poetry doesn’t have to rhyme either, both lyrics writing and poetry should be more focused on the natural rhythm of the words than rhyming. The second thing, possibly more important to my trying to teach you how to write lyrics, is that it’s all completely personal, so it’s much harder for me to tell you how to do this than to tell you a couple of chords to put together. However, what I’m trying to do is give you some ideas. So get those brain juices flowing people!
Firstly you have to have a topic to write about. Lots of rock bands do the whole “sex/drugs/alcohol” thing, but if you’re a rock band that isn’t your only option. You can write about world issues like war and poverty, you can write about society and its problems, you can write about personal feelings like hate, love, anger, happiness, lust, etc… just try to make sure it’s something that you feel strongly about, because it really helps the words flow easier.
Ok, so, now that you have your topic you might find it easier to write about if you choose a form to write in. Most of you will already know the Verse/Chorus form (verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus x2) but if your ideas aren’t fitting into that there are other options. I’ll give you a couple of examples: - Binary Form. Basically where you have two bits (for example, an acoustic bit (A) and a heavy bit (B)) and you repeat the music underneath the lyrics in whatever order (eg. AABB, ABAB, AAABBB, etc) this is good lyrics wise because it lets you write a lot of verses with the same rhythm of words in all of them, a bit like putting poetry to music. A song example of Binary form is “I Caused Global Warming” by Behind Crimson Eyes, which goes ABABB. - Story Form. I sort of made this one’s name up, so if you’re doing a music subject at school don’t go and say “this song is in story form” because the examiners won’t like it. But nevertheless I think this form is useful because you can basically just write a story in a vaguely poetic way and chuck it on top of some music. An example of this would be “A Nightmare To Remember” by Dream Theater.
Of course, these are not the only forms in the world. If you can figure out a way to do it I would pay a rock band a week’s wage for them to write a song in Sonata Form. However, these are ways that I’ve found useful. You can also make up your own form, just let it free flow out of you. But, like I said you might find it easier to write about if you choose a form to write in. Structure, rules and guidelines can really help you out if “letting it flow” isn’t working.
After choosing a structure (or not choosing and just deciding to free flow write), you just write what you think and feel about the topic you have chosen (choosing a topic prior to writing is not negotiable). Keep in mind though that although the way I’ve just put it here might sound easy, the words don’t always just appear. Keep at it though, it’ll come eventually.
Ok, so I’ve well and truly taken up my words for this week, so see you lot next time!
--New Kid On The Block