September 17, 2016

Song School

I recently did an interview (via twitter direct messages) that formed the basis for this Love Is Dead "retrospective". There was a question about songwriting, and this is what I dashed off:

1. Have a clear topic and “conceit” (usually that means a title) and try to make sure it’s not identical to something else someone else has done better.

2. Know what you’re going to say – make sure you do in fact have something to say;

3. Know what you want the lyrics to do, as lines, as verses, and in the overall narrative structure. That is, try to have strategic goals for the lyrics and what they are meant to accomplish;

4. Make sure that each element/line/chunk meets at least a couple of these goals at the same time, and discard lines that don’t “multi-task.”

#1 is the most important. There’s no point whatever in rewriting someone else’s song if you don’t add something distinctive to it.”

It's quite good advice. And if I ever make good on my threat to teach a songwriting workshop sometime it could serve as a rough agenda.

While it is true that #1 is the most important, it was when I started trying to wrestle with #4 that my songs started to get noticeably better.

Posted by Dr. Frank at September 17, 2016 02:21 PM