Welcome to EpicSongwriting.com!
You followed the link from Musician’s Roundhouse Cafe, where Cottonwood Stone interviewed me.
Thanks for joining me here on my website EpicSongWriting.com where I transform musicians into songwriters.
Cottonwood and I discussed deliberate songwriting, the approach I use and teach to write songs on purpose using intentional strategies. You don’t have to rely exclusively on your musical intuition to start, write and finish great songs.
Does this sound familiar?
You’re struck by a blinding lightning bolt of songwriting inspiration…
It’s going to be a brilliant song, sung through the ages.
You grab a pen and your songwriting notebook and run to your guitar or keyboard.
The lyrics flow out of you and the notes fly from your instrument.
You write the first line and rhyme it with the second line.
The next few lines almost write themselves as you scramble to keep up with your thoughts, but…
Your ideas start to jumble together, your words get stuck and suddenly your inspiration evaporates like morning dew.
Your writing slows and then stops…
And you’re stuck again, with a broken song nobody will ever hear.
It's not your fault…
It happened to me too…
(and almost every other songwriter ever, they just don’t talk about it!)
I started songwriting relatively late in my musical journey.
I’d already studied jazz saxophone, finished a Master’s of Music Composition and a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education.
I could write a 15 minute suite for a small orchestra but I couldn’t write a 3 minute pop song that wasn’t embarrassing!
My Kryptonite was lyrics! I didn’t enjoy singing, never really had.
I could remember every note of most of the albums in my collection but I couldn’t remember the lyrics to save my life.
Not a big surprise that my lyric writing was so pitifully weak!
But the real problem was I didn’t have a songwriting process!
I just wrote with my intuition hoping to finish before the inspiration ran dry.
It didn’t get me far!
So I dug in and wrote terrible awful things, until after several weeks of frustration I finished a song that wasn’t terrible.
But it felt random.
After months of failures, I finally finished four songs that didn’t suck…
So I started to figuring out how I’d done it!
What's Deliberate Songwriting?
Instead of relying on my intuition, I discovered strategies to intentionally finish songs.
Deliberate Songwriting is:
- Writing on purpose and with a purpose, instead of faking your way through it.
- Consciously choosing what to write next, instead of using only your intuition.
- Knowing how to create and edit your ideas instead of picking the first one that comes to mind.
For example, you can follow the process that I took Cottonwood through during the podcast.
(I really appreciate Cottonwood’s willingness to play along, I didn’t warn her what I was planning!)
How to Start a Song...
Start a new song by choosing the main idea or title… don’t try to start with the first line and work through to the end.
Write as many ideas as you can. Keep your thinking just a few words ahead of your pen.
After 5-10 minutes, stop and circle the best ideas.
Starting with the best ideas, brainstorm again.
Outline the story you want to tell in the song in point form.
Decide what you want to write about in the:
- Chorus, use the title and the main emotional state you’re trying to communicate.
- Verses, use the most important parts of the story.
- Pre-Chorus, how you want to connect the verse to the chorus.
- Bridge, use the end of the story.
I usually choose in this order because
it’s faster than trying to the chorus in the most important part of the song, and the verses have the most information from the story.
Do what works best for you.
Choose some songs you love for sonic inspiration.
(Mixing engineers use reference tracks to help them balance their mixes as they work.)
You could pick a great verse with an interesting accompaniment pattern or a cool riff.
You can select a song with a similar topic to give you ideas or approaches to the subject matter.
With a few reference tracks you can quickly imagine what your song might sound like… without ever touching your instrument.