Home Sweet Home by Songwriting Tips & Tricks • A podcast on Anchor
New episode of the podcast to this blog!
Hello and welcome everyone again to another episode to this podcast. My name is Kieper, and I am thrilled to talk to you today.
This podcast is dedicated to writing lyrics and overcoming writer’s block. I hope the previous episodes helped you with just that. If you like the show so far, I’d love to hear your feedback on the content and really appreciate your ratings in whatever application you are listening to this show to help this show further develop. If you know anyone that might benefit from the tips we are talking about, feel free to share the program with them.
So last week, we were talking about writing lyrics with the mindset of a programmer. And we came to the conclusion that we need to write every day, see structures in the code, solve future problems and look at other people’s code. And I hope these commandments helped you with just that and you have tried to use these techniques in your songwriting already. Maybe it even paid off somehow.
In the past week, I have been searching for something new to talk to you about. And then I realised that this corona shutdown itself is something we could be talking about. As it gives us as songwriters a lot of opportunities to grow, write songs and collaborate, even though we are apart from each other. So this week is dedicated to the songwriters Home Office. We will be talking about routines in your quarantine, some software to use in your writing and how you could collaborate with others while they are not physically present.
So what can you do when everything stands still, most concerts for this year got cancelled and you don’t know what to do? First of all, relax, it is quite essential to lose all the tension that builds up over the months of routine and everyday life. Look at it as an extra holiday for the first couple of days. Nothing is more toxic than pressure when you are trying to be creative. It is art after all that you are trying to produce. Drink some tea, read a lot, do all the things that you wanted to do when you were too stressed from working your sideline jobs perhaps.
When boredom hits, you will get creative automatically. It might surface in lyrics that pop up in your mind. It might also be an interest in covering some songs that inspire you, and you would like to incorporate in your songs. Try out some new styles or tunings on your instrument and develop your skills. It might ignite a spark already. While we are mostly talking about writing lyrics, knowing your instrument is an essential part of your career as well. And if your instrument is your voice, well then go ahead and do regular singing exercises to increase your strength and range. Try imitating singing techniques and scales of your favourite singers. Read a lot about your instrument and about techniques to further improve your skills. Notice this time as an opportunity for you to focus on your creative path and use it wisely.
When it comes to reading, read some blogs or listen to podcasts that target your field of interest. These formats are easy to follow along and portable. So whenever you are making breakfast or shower, try listening to a podcast, read some blog posts that inspire you and see whether something pops up in your mind. For me, quite a lot of ideas pop up from podcasts and phrases that the hosts are using.
A high profile strategy for writing better lyrics is looking at other’s songs. So when you are listening to music, try to follow the story, or read the words alongside the music. You might as well use a mindmap to understand the full story. After that, you can use that mindmap to write your own story based on this blueprint by altering some factors such as character traits, settings and relationships. Most popular stories in books are based on the same foundation by narrating differently. So try using this with your favourite songs. You can also try to change the perspective to tell the story from a different angle.
Okay, so much for development and finding and making up new stories, after all, there are some rules that we need to follow when writing coherent and good-sounding lyrics. So you might want to look up a webpage to find out more about literary terms, meter, syllables and basic rules to writing poems. This is a powerful tool to write lyrics that fit your music and even make your music follow the words. If you know about this, then you can translate words into music or vice versa. It is because speech has a rhythm, it has patterns, and there are so many useful devices to make our story more appealing and convincing. So look up some basic rules of writing poems.
And after that, you might want to analyse whether your favourite songs follow some of these rules, or where they break with them. As we said last time, it is essential to see patterns and schemes in songs. Repetition is quite crucial in pop music, as it gives the listener a silver lining to follow. Imagine for a second, you are listening to a song by your one of your idols which you have never heard before. Still, after the first chorus, you can follow the melodic line and sing along to, because there are a lot of repetitions in the song that vary only slightly from the one prior. So try some repetitions both lyrically and musically to give your listener something to follow along.
A significant opportunity opens up with this because you can use the rhythmical blueprint of another song for your next song. Analyse the meter of the song and how the patterns of the different parts are structured to write your song following the same blueprint.
What can you do else than writing lyrics? Well, besides your instrument, knowing how to record yourself helps to make proper demos of your newly written songs. So while you might not have an entire recording studio at hand, there are some ways to record yourself. First and maybe the most used method would be the voice memo application on your phone, which is in your pocket most of the times, I guess. So wherever you are, you can quickly record a song idea. Another tool on your phone would be GarageBand on your iPhone or WalkBand on Android. Personally, I have only used GarageBand, yet WalkBand should be able to do the same with some more limitations. In GarageBand, you can record yourself, add virtual instruments, add loops from Apple Loops to find interesting beats and samples to try something new. You could also use live loops to use it in a live setup if you want to or make a remix. So endless possibilities right in your pocket. Interestingly enough, you can even do a multitrack recording with an interface or use amps when you are busking.
But this is just for jotting down ideas. The proper software would be on your computer, I guess. So whatever digital audio workstation you are using, you should be a pro in using it to your benefit. So know everything about it. Watch as many videos and tutorials as you possibly can. It should be your second nature. With a proper interface and mic, you are able to do everything in your DAW, you don’t need a recording studio. Well, not for now and not for your usual work. The most famous DAWs would be Logic Pro X, Ableton Live, ProTools, Cubase and so many more. So find the right DAW for your work. It is just like finding the right pair of shoes. Once you know about your DAW, you might as well want to watch some production videos of your favourite songs to understand how great producers make songs stand out and share their tricks and best practices.
So one thing that is really important for becoming a better writer is to not focus on writing at all. Try learning something new every day that is not work-related. Watch documentaries or join some online courses on a variety of subjects. Personally, I try to complete one course each month on FutureLearn a platform hosted by the BritishCouncil. The classes are free, and surely there is something for everyone. Take a walk outside and sketch a tree or a river, do something for fun and self-reflect on this later in your writing. Find one moment each day that could be worthy of writing about even though you have not been trying to find something. Find inspiration in your actions. In time, this will lead to an open mind that is ready to find new things to write about in every little thing you do.
So how can we write songs together in these days? Remote collaboration is possible through Skype, Zoom, FaceTime or WhatsApp Video calls. However, I found a useful tool on the web a few days ago, and it inspired me to collaborate with others and write new songs. Songcraft.io helps with writing lyrics, tabs and chord sheets with others in real-time. So you could talk via FaceTime and at the same time write lyrics, put the right chords to them and find words to rhyme or paraphrase them. So when it comes to collaborating on the same project, try giving this a shot. Maybe this sparks imagination. Accompanying this program, I use RhymeGenie and TuneSmith that have a more in-depth dictionary and functionality to adjust the search. The urban dictionary, Merriam-Webster, or MacMillan provide us with the correct definition to words we want to incorporate.
And as always, turn off that inner critic and just write, you will still get better at writing when you are doing it. So do not think you are at your peak yet. Just persevere. It is a steep and rough way to the point you want to reach, so take step by step. You will always find something to rephrase.
So that is it for today already. I hope these approaches help you with writing great lyrics and awesome songs this week. I would really appreciate your feedback and ratings on the platforms you are listening to, all the scripts will be available on my Tumblr, Facebook and Webpage. If you have an approach that helps you and you would like to share with me, simply send me a voice message via the link in the description and get in contact with me. To support the show, you could donate on Patreon and get exclusive access to exercises, reviews of songs and exclusive episodes to this show.
So much for this time, have a wonderful week and happy songwriting.