Where do songwriting ideas come from?
Wouldn't it be sweet if we could just sit down at the piano or pull out the old guitar and have a hit song just flow out the way we might tell a friend what kind of day you had?
Although I have experienced that kind of songwriting nirvana once or twice in my life, for the most part songwriting is not one of those stream of consciousness activities. If only it were!
Much like the "chicken and the egg" it's hard to trace the true beginning of any song since everything we see, feel, hear, touch and experience throughout our lives can become the air bubbles of creativity rising to the surface to breath life into a new song or supply us with the next crop of songwriting ideas.
We may write a song about an experience we had just today but the way we feel about that experience and the way we interpret those feelings has taken a lifetime to develop.
For every song that a songwriter writes that passes the standard for personal and commercial muster there are often dozens and dozens of sub- standard tunes that never even make the grade.
That is why if someone comes to me and says I have written over a hundred songs and has the expectation of all of those songs being great songs I might say something like which one is the "Hit " song.
It may take that many songs to get one great one!
Remember, quality is everything but it will take quantity to get there.
I recently read an article about the creative process that gave a 4 part problem solving model you may find helpful as you think about writing songs.
Some of you more experienced songwriters may find that you use this process or parts of it quite naturally when writing as a vocation.
In this phase the goal is defined.
When it comes to songwriting ideas you may want to write a song about a particular event so you begin to observe, and study and gather all the information you can at that point.
Sometime you will have bits and pieces of lyrics and melodies that you try and fit together in various ways but somehow you just can't quite find a way to string them all together the way you would like.
At that point you might find it helpful to let it go and enter in to phase two....
This is where you lay your song aside for some time and involve yourself with other activities.
Something that takes your mind off the original problem.
It may take some time but you will find that an idea may surface at this point and you enter into the third stage which is:
This is that " A Ha" moment when the light bulb appears over your head and you come up with that illusive idea for the ending or the bridge or that third verse.
It appears to come from out of the blue as some sort of gift but it is really a result that incubation period in which all the connections are made in your subconscious until that perfect idea presents itself.
It is the ending place of all the preparation you went through in phase one.
Now comes the final phase in this 4 stage process and that is:
The verification process is where you will plug in that new verse, or try that new rhyme, and make adjustments to your song using the new songwriting ideas you received in the incubation period.
It is the finishing period where you may ask questions like, was there a better rhyme I could have used?
Did I keep the lyrics simple enough yet make them interesting?
Does the melody stand strong with just vocal and piano or guitar? (the ultimate test of a truly good song.)
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