I was asked to bring a 3 day songwriting experience to a high school class… so here are my notes. Hopefully some of you who read my blog posts will give it a go 🙂
As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn
SONGWRITING CLASS NOTES -January, 2016 (glenn kaiser)
BE BRAVE! Take the risk of creating something from nothing. Imagine. Think, ponder, consider, then write.
Words or Music first? Or maybe at the same time depending on what pops into your mind. No matter, no strict rules on this, just jump off the cliff and see what splash you make 🙂
I suggest starting with a PASSION. Something you either KNOW about or wonder about, an area of discovery.
Consider a STORY about it, him, her, them, a place, flora, fauna, what or whomever. Imagine. How do you feel about it/her/him/them/that place/event…?
The prose/poetry/lyric may or may not have hard meter (timing), rhyme, can be long or short… but if it’s a song -just to get you started, consider:
Paint a word and/or music picture. What do the images (yep, how would that/they/you FEEL Like, Look Like? Describe it with words, with melody, rhythm (music)**.
What would someone looking IN on such a scene, picture (photo) think if they heard those thoughts, saw that happen in front of them, or TO them).
A scene (inner-city, deep woods, mountain top, vast western wheat field in Montana… or The Ukraine with a couple armies facing one another… or a Michigan Walmart parking lot??
Person/s Place Thing/s Event/Action Your/Their involvement/Responsive Action
Stretch out, imagine, create, take the risk, you just don’t know until you’re done… and you may go through several re-writes until done.
**Choose a pitch, come up with a melody, basic rhythm/melody
Try to sense, feel a matching music for the lyric (or vice-versa if you came up with the music first). Does it strike you as “hand-in-glove”, a good “fit”, the music and lyric?
Depending on your abilities, the vocals may come to mind first, or perhaps guitar, or keyboard. I have written songs hearing the vocal in my head, sometimes mainly the guitar part. I have even written songs based on a bass part or even drum part rarely… but I play all of these and am a singer so… what do you or your group of people bring to the songwriting experience in terms of singing or instruments. Different sounds in one’s mind (instruments) may inspire different bits of music, pitch and even lyrics, or you might write a lyric and hear a particular instrument or vocal approach (style) in your mind as you write them.
A basic arrangement/song-form concept:
Bridge (maybe with or without lyrics which connects you to a 3rd verse or single or double chorus, etc. A bridge keeps a song from same-old-same-old right through… often before an instrumental solo part, then back to the 3rd or repeated verse, then often comes the ending part)
3rd verse, single or double Chorus
(if 3rd verse, maybe single chorus and end…
Outro (maybe same or somewhat changed Intro, with or without lyrics)
FADE or HARD STOP ending
May you enjoy the experience of learning and doing songwriting! There is a great deal more detail re. this subject, but in my experience, these are the basics 🙂
Perhaps a way to start- decide upon: PERSON PLACE EVENT (situation) Key WORDS
Re. Advanced Songwriting: Making it MEMORABLE!!!
The “HOOK”: can a person who hears your song just –one time- walk away humming your main melody line (maybe from the chorus or verses) whether it is sung or played on an instrument? A hook might be a repeated word or phrase, a melody or the main body of chords repeated in the main “riff”. Mature, advanced songwriting accomplishes this in several possible ways, one of which is simplicity. Another way is repetition.
Then there is the matter of some loving a hook, others hating it because it is so memorable! It’s always a matter of the listener who decides if the hook (or hooks) is/are too repetitive or hypnotic/cool!