Songwriting (part 4)

After a flurry of songwriting posts last month, I took a hiatus in order to give you a break. It’s been a month now since I last chronicled my journey to discover whether or not I’m capable of writing a decent song.

Hopefully, you can handle another post now.

I’ve been wanting to learn more about the art of songwriting. So far, everything I’ve written has been based on no real knowledge. Only on my wealth of experience listening to music, and a few years experience playing mandolin and guitar.

So over the Christmas holidays, I picked up the book Songwriting for Dummies. (Please try not to imply anything about myself due to the title…)

Due to the craziness of life, I’ve only been reading it in spurts. But I have to say it’s well worth reading so far. I have learned a lot about song structure, rhyming schemes, etc… that I’ve just been dealing with by the seat of my pants. For example, what is the purpose of a prechorus? I just thought they sounded good sometimes, but musically there is a reason to include one. (Or not to.)

Most importantly I’ve learned about the different kinds of “hooks“, which are something that I’d never thought about before in my songwriting. If you want people to listen to your song, something has to grab and hold their attention. It’s a rather simple concept, but it had never occurred to me. The authors give a lot of great advice about creating hooks for the listeners.

They also highly recommend co-writing lyrics with someone else. I can’t say that I like the idea. Not sure why.

But here’s what I consider to be the downside of reading the book. I guess I’m a bit of a “romantic” when it comes to songwriting. I’ve always thought of it as more inspiration than process. This book is all about the “process” of songwriting. There is also a lot of commercial emphasis as well. How to write songs that will sell – that sort of thing. It bothers me slightly that now I’m analyzing song lyrics when I hear something on the radio or my ipod. Some of the mystery is gone.

Currently I’m waiting for the next piece of inspiration.

Like the next cool song title that jumps out of me.

Or an interesting chord progression.

Maybe a catchy riff that I stumble upon while noodling around on the mandolin.

When something does catch my attention, I think the end result will be much more appealing because of what I’ve learned and continue to learn. I plan on taking that piece of inspiration and running it through the process I’ve learned. We’ll see if it helps.


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