A few basic songwriting issues and considerations, with emphasis on how songwriting is inspired, and how to connect to the listener’s heart.
Do you want to try your hand at songwriting? This is a fun hobby that comes naturally. Songwriting is a great way to express your heart and let others know what’s most important to you. Here are a few songwriting basics to get you started on your songwriting journey!
Songwriting Basics: Start Here
What means a lot to you today? Seize that thought!
Write it down.
Now what are the aspects of that thought or issue that affect your life? Focus on both your personal connection – and on feelings that will be universally understood by others.
Personal Insights and Universal Revelations
Last night I wrote a song that celebrates my time as a mountain dweller. I started by stating I came to the mountains to raise my children. Now, not everyone will relate to that because not everyone has children to raise – but it does tell something about the songwriter. I’ve let people know a tiny fragment of my personal journey in life.
Later in the first verse I mention getting out of the smoggy cities. Here is a more universal thought – one that many millions can identify with.
Songs should bring out a listener’s feelings. If your listener’s heart isn’t affected he’ll be bored and walk away. Ho Hum! So you want to twang your way into the center of a person’s heart, appeal to that fountain of emotion and engage it, and start the energy moving from the heart, throughout the entire body. If you look out over your audience and see heads bobbing in time to the rhythm, people swaying or dancing, you’ll know you’ve succeeded in your appeal to the human heart.
Rhymes or Free Verse?
Rhymes in songs… I usually use them as they increase the repetitive feel of beat and rhythm. There’s nothing more basic to human life than a repetitive thump. Long before we’re born our hearts begin to beat. As unborn infants we listened to the steady pulsating of our mother’s heart.
Primitive man’s first instrument was probably a drum. Even now, the popular drum circles reconnect us to the primal heart-felt beating of our primitive selves.
Repetitive rhymes of songs do the same, in a more complex way. I’m not saying rhymes are essential to songwriting, but they usually work best for me. If you can write songs effectively without rhymes, then do it. Every song is a different journey and has different requirements.
The main goal is to connect human senses with universal heart consciousness – for people to reconnect to the primal beating and feelings of their own hearts, and from there, to find deep emotions within, that well up and flood their awareness and their entire beings.
Inspired Songwriting vs. Planned Songwriting
My current goal for my newest song, the one about moving to the mountains, is to have three verses. I’ve written only one so far but have a plan for the next two verses. The second verse will probably be my reflections on mountain life now, after being here ten years. The third verse will get spacey – I intend to write about metaphysical implications of my choices and their outcomes.
I’m telling you this to show I’ve given forethought to the direction and development of my song. This is not entirely necessary. Sometimes a full three-verse song will flow out of you intuitively, fully developed, without much conscious thought at all. It is like channeling coming from a higher source – perhaps your own higher all-knowing self.
The more you, as a songwriter, open yourself to that expanded consciousness, the more likely it is to be available to use. It is one of those use it or lose it capacities of human life. Just be willing to be the channel by putting your first thought on the paper. Consult your heart for the reasons why that thought is important to you, and the inspiration for the next line is revealed to you.
One thought at a time.
Editing Your Song
When you’re done and are experimenting with melodies, singing your song for the first time, you may find the need to change words or phrases to better fit the best melody. Try for more colorful phrases. For example, you could change, “I drove to Houston,” to “I felt the call of Houston.” Another example, “Blue skies overhead,” changed to “Azure diamond sky.” You don’t need to say “overhead” or “above” because everyone already knows where the sky is.
If you use a word twice in close proximity it is usually wise to change it. Of course this wouldn’t apply to songs that intentionally use a repeating word or phrase to set up a rhythmical response in the listener.
Remembering Your Song
There are many ways to remember a song for future use. My method is to record myself singing it. These days I use my Zoom H2n. It isn’t quite as readily portable as the SanDisk Clip, but I love the surround-sound quality.
Others may simply make musical notations on paper, but I’m not all that good at reading or writing music though I’m learning more by working my way through Hal Leonard Guitar Method books – great for beginners or for us old-time chord-only guitar players to loosen up and become more comfortable with all the individual notes on the guitar fretboard.
I’ve written many songs simply by knowing guitar chords and recording my efforts until I’m able to keep everything in memory. I write words and chords on paper and store them in my big green file box of songwriting efforts. I may not be the most accomplished and knowledgeable musician but I’ve enjoyed my songwriting hobby and been blessed by awesome lyrics that I am admittedly proud of.
Connect With The Source of Inspiration
I hope my article encourages others to give songwriting a try. I find the experience powerful – a way to connect with the source of creativity in a profoundly personal way.
At times I’ve awakened in the middle of the night with an amazing melody or lyrics in my head – a total gift from the universe. I crawl out of bed and find my recording device and guitar, and give it a go – not wanting to forget the beautiful gift I’ve been given.
If you choose songwriting as an avocation, prepare to have your sleep disturbed.
It is all worth it in the end, believe me!
About the author: Linda Jo Martin lived for thirteen years in Happy Camp, California, where she wrote novels, painted pictures, and learned to write online for a living. In 2013 she moved to Northern Idaho where she lives near the Spokane River.