Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tip: One simple central idea

Songwriting tip: The heart of a song should be a simple idea, a single experience, or a universal emotion.

It's a song, not a novel, not an editorial, not even a business presentation. If it takes more than half a minute to explain to someone what your song is about, then your idea needs work — it's not clearly focused enough. Indeed, if it takes more than one sentence to sum up your song, you should take another look and see if you can make it simpler.

Now, this doesn't mean a song has to be simple-minded. You can have many layers of meaning and convey sophisticated ideas and subtle emotions. But there should be one central idea, a mood or message that's clearly expressed, one theme or point that any casual listener can grasp even if they miss everything else.

Thursday is Tip Day for the Unruly Beast.

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