Wednesday, October 7, 2009

J♦ Sculptor

J♦ Jack of Diamonds in The Rock Songwriter’s Deck: 52 Ways to Write a Song

Try the sculptor approach. Create an initial version that's very approximate — just in the right general shape. Then chip away at it, one little change at a time, until you're satisfied with the results.

A song, of course, is not like a block of granite or a lump of clay, and writing a song can never be exactly like carving a sculpture. But the Jack of Spades reminds you that you can rough-in the full song, and work on its overall shape, while many of the details remain unresolved.

For lyrics, you can start with pure nonsense — if you're good at thinking up nonsense lyrics — or perhaps something like this, words that are obviously just temporary placeholders:
I'm going to sing about something here
Exactly what, it's still not clear
I'm going to sing about something here
And when it's done
This will be verse one

Using whatever shortcuts you have to take, quickly get a draft version of the whole song together, and then try it out and see how it feels.

At that point you're ready to begin a trial-and-error process of revisions. Think of one change you can make, and see if it makes the song any better. If it's an improvement, keep it; then see what else you can change. You might change almost everything along the way — the title, the subject matter, the chords, the melody — but as long as each change is an improvement, you must be heading in the right direction.

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