Every musician understands the importance of consistent practice in order to progress. So we put in
the time to run scales, practice finger patterns, and study songs and pieces that push and eventually
develop our technique and general musicianship.
Yet when it comes to composing new music, most of us need help figuring out where to start. We
compare songwriting to a supernatural outflow over which we have no more control than our own
Here are some professional recommendations and songwriting activities to help you improve your
1. Write using your senses
Object writing, destination writing, sensory writing, morning pages, journaling, or stream-of
consciousness writing are all terms for it. Whatever you choose to call it, as long as you do it. You
just need regular, uninterrupted time to tap into a river of creativity constantly flowing
within your core. We teach ourselves to make the inconsequential moment, scene, memory, or object we’re describing
meaningful by use of our senses paying special attention to the language we use to connect us to a scene in a particular moment in time.
2. Begin with a title to help direct your writing
A light has just turned on somewhere, and someone says, “That would make a terrific song!”
Everybody can have an idea. Though it is not always the idea that drives the song it can help you start by giving you the main idea to draw off of. Of course you can always tweak or change the title all together, but it’s one way to start writing a song if you are having some trouble trying to understand what to write about.
3. Repeat a motif or pattern
There isn’t a noteworthy song alive that doesn’t have a memorable theme that sets a song apart from others (Star Wars, Jaws, etc). In reality, all of the melodies we ever sing are derived from just a few motifs or patterns that are easily repeated and recalled. Difficulties with writing a melody are sometimes caused by having too many different ideas or variants on the subject. Patterns and repetition can be quite powerful as they are easier and quicker to recall than something more complex that takes more time to process, learn, and recognize.
4. Avoid overcomplicating the use of chord progressions
Us songwriters are always looking for fresh chords or combinations of them. Yet, instead of spicing up the old tried and true
progressions with chords that are strange to the ear, a wonderful technique for composing a more memorable song is to
use the chords we know in a different or more interesting progression. Another idea is to change the rhythm in which they are played, letting the grove drive the passion for the song.
5. Write what’s on your mind
How many times have we sat down to write only to not knowing where to start, what to say or how to understand what we are thinking or feeling? Our music originates from the inside, yet it can be easy to focus on writing a “killer song” or one that will be a “hit”, without really thinking about why we are writing and where that urge is coming from. Instead, slow down and let your mind wander. Experiment with different chords, tempos, beats and textures. Songwriting can be somewhat of a meditation, connecting your heart with your head in an effort to sort through some difficult emotions or topics. Sometimes I don’t know what I want to write about until I go into that “mode” and start playing around with chords that feel right with what I am feeling and what thoughts are or have been on my mind. Songwriting is a creative outlet for emotional expression. There are different points of entry, none of which are wrong. As long as you are following your heart and intuition, and are writing with authenticity you can’t go wrong.re