www.whyville.net Jan 25, 2015 Weekly Issue

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Hey there, folks! Today I want to take you through my process of writing a song. Some people have asked me how I do it, and I thought I'd share with you my thought processes and some tricks and tips I've acquired over the last year. No, I'm not professional, and no, I'm not an expert. Remember, there is no fool-proof guide to writing song lyrics. There is no one-size fits all. However, I hope that this article will be helpful for you if you want to write a song!

When I decide to write a song, I normally brainstorm for a theme. There are plenty of them out there! The most common themes (and often easiest to write about) are love, friendship and strong emotions (happiness, sadness, etc). Once you've settled for a theme, you can base your song on it. What I do from here usually depends on how well my brain is functioning that day. If I need some help with lyrics, I'll create a mindmap, with the theme I've chosen in the centre. I'll write words and phrases I associate with that theme around it. From that, I start to construct the lines of my song, which I'll talk about after I've finished covering how to start your song.

Another way I've found to start writing a song is to read a book. Books, especially fantasy ones, contain a myriad of beautiful expressions and metaphors, all perfect for you to adapt to form the basis of your own song. I find it easier working from phrases because it gives me the basic line structure and an end word to rhyme with. It's less work for me, so that's all good! I read a book called "The Healer's Keep" by Victoria Hanley and fell in love with a phrase that described how one of the characters felt about her impending death. She said, "The tide's low now and it won't be high again." This was the starting point for my song, "Let it Take Her". The chorus goes:

The tide's low now,
It won't be high again,
Say our goodbyes
And leave later.
Don't try to stop her,
She?s gotta go,
Leave the current,
And let it take her.

From there, I'll mess about on my keyboard or guitar, selecting a chord sequence that I like. Bear in mind that at the moment, there's no melody to the lyrics, which allows me the freedom to choose whatever chords I like. To keep my song simple, I select a few chords and just repeat them throughout the song. I'll play the chords and try to sing the lyrics to a melody that fits the chords. If I find something I like, I find it easiest to record what I've got on my phone. It's quicker than notating the melody.

Yet another way I've found to write a song is to select the chords before I write any lyrics. I'll play the chords and sing random phrases. You might surprise yourself with some of the things you're capable of making up when it's spontaneous! I make sure I record everything on my phone because my memory's pretty bad and I'll forget whatever I've just sung, so I won't be able to write the lyrics down.

Well, that's it for the ways I get started. But once you've got your theme and some lyrics, you want them to sound like a proper song, right? To make your song as easy to write as possible, it needs to be simple. Like I said, I use the same chords throughout the entirety of the song and I also use a simple song structure. I write one chorus, which is repeated a maximum of four times. Because of how often it is repeated, I spend a lot of time working on the chorus to make sure it's catchy. The chorus should be the part that people remember. Have you ever been to a disco or a dance party? Most people, unless they've taken the time to learn the whole song, will only know the chorus of a song. It's the part that sticks in their minds. Your goal is to make your chorus as easy to remember as possible. Repeated words and melodies help make it memorable. Try not to change the chorus too often if you want to keep it catchy,

I write three verses, all the same length and I try to stick to the same melody as much as possible. I often like to include the same words/phrases at the end of each verse. I mostly have verses that are eight lines long - music works best in groups of four, eight or sixteen.

Sometimes, if I'm feeling particularly adventurous, then I'll write a bridge. Not all songs need bridges. Bridges don't work in all songs so don't feel obliged to write one. If you do, however, feel that a bridge is necessary in your song, don't be afraid to add one! A bridge should be eight bars long and near the end of the song - connecting the second chorus to the last verse. Your chords should change slightly. You can keep the same chords, but switch some around. I find bridges really hard to write, so I'm normally lazy and just leave them out. Oops.

The whole song sequence could be something like this:

VERSE 1 (8-16 bars)
CHORUS (4?8 bars)
VERSE 2 (8?16 bars)
CHORUS (4-8 bars)
BRIDGE (8 bars)
VERSE 3 (8-16 bars)

I find that all of my songs end up kind of twisted. You could give me a decidedly happy subject, but I tend to twist it and make it morbid. Or just unhappy. I'm not sure exactly why. But y'know something? That's okay! Unhappy songs are good! They're happy . . . for deep people. Please, don't take what I've written about as rock-solid fact; these are just techniques I've used and I've found helpful. I hope they are helpful to you! Let me know if you write a song! I love to read them!

- Reach for the stars; the sky is closer than you think!


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