Songwriting Tips

photo (8) // I get asked often for advice on songwriting. And since, today was really the first time I sat down to concentrate on writing since Micah was born... I thought it would be a good time to give some tips (since it's still very fresh on my mind!)

1. Just write.

I can thank my aunt P for this great advice. She is always diligent in asking me how my songwriting is going. It's so sweet. But, I told her recently that I was struggling to write something that was any good. She encouraged me to keep writing, no matter how "good" I thought it was. So I did, today, and she was so right! I started four songs, none of which were (in my opinion) anything really amazing. But I noticed that by the last song, the words were coming together easier and the melodies were starting to fit. When I first sat down to write, my head was spinning with ideas and the words were completely all over the place. Writing consistently will help separate the good ideas from the bad. Eventually the right words will fall into place.

2. Music or Lyrics?

Decide which comes first. I am figuring out that this is more and more important for a great song. Sure, you can kind of strum along and make up both as you go (which I've done a whole lot of) or you can take the time to be intentional about it.

Music: Writing music first is fun. You'll know when it happens too. You'll be playing around with chords and progressions, when you hear a melody in your head. Go with it. Keep playing until you have at least a verse, chorus and a bridge melodically. Then decide what the music is saying. There are some simple rules you can follow (but art is all about the freedom of expression, so no rule is set in stone.) An upbeat song is usually in a major key, while a slower song is often in minor. Major keys usually mean a song will be uplifting and positive; while minor keys can be more contemplative and sad. But not always. These are just some tips to guide you in choosing the right words to go with your melody.

Lyrics: You may have a few words that you are really passionate about at the moment - maybe some Scripture, quotes or emotions that you want to describe. Take advantage of this, because words don't come easy! Take time to write them out, put together a rhyming scheme and see how they flow as you repeat them out loud. You'll begin to notice a natural rhythm occur - that's when you pick up your guitar/piano, etc and figure out a melody to really capture how  you want to say them.

3. Naming your tune.

You should be able to communicate the message of your song in it's title. For me, this is the part of the process that makes me know whether I have a good song or another throwaway. I'm not all about the "super-mysterious-randomly-hipster" song titles. If your song is about the grace of God, don't name it Coffee for the sake of artistry. Please. A good song will be known by it's title - and even if you name it something random, people will still end up singing the most catchy line of the song when trying to tell others about it.

// Hopefully that will give you a start, at least! I'm sure there are other tips and ideas that you may know of, feel free to leave a comment below and share them with me! And if you are a songwriter - let me know, I am always up for collaborating and working together. :)