Wednesday, September 29, 2010

4♥ Collage

4♥ Four of Hearts in The Rock Songwriter’s Deck: 52 Ways to Write a Song

The Four of Hearts asks you to collect a file folder of clippings, quotes, pictures — all things that evoke something for you or inspire you in some way.

Step two: Use the clipping to build a collage. Make the most beautiful and inspiring collage that you can with the materials that you have collected.

Step three: Write a song that expresses what the collage is expressing. Try to capture the emotional tone of the collage in music. Let the quotes and images in the collage suggest ideas for the song's lyrics.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

9♠ Introducing Eddy & the Falcons

9♠ Nine of Spades in The Rock Songwriter’s Deck: 52 Ways to Write a Song

Sometimes you are your own worst enemy. Or your own ball-and-chain. And sometimes the fastest route to a brilliant creative breakthrough is for you to pretend to be someone other than yourself.

The Nine of Spades invites you to invent a colorful, fictional rock band. Come up with an album title and the full list of song titles that would appear on the band's album. Then write at least one of the songs on behalf of your fictional band.

If you prefer, instead of a band you could invent a fictional solo artist or a stage musical.

Eddy & the Falcons is a fictional 1950s rock & roll band portrayed by the 1970s rock band Roy Wood's Wizzard on the album "Introducing Eddy & the Falcons." A more famous example is Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the fictional cabaret band portrayed by the Beatles.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

3♥ Dear friend

3♥ Three of Hearts in The Rock Songwriter’s Deck: 52 Ways to Write a Song

The Three of Hearts ask you to write a song as if you’re writing a letter to someone. Your song could be a stylized version of an almost-real message that you might write to someone you actually know. Or it could instead be purely fictional, based on an imagined situation where a made-up character needs to send a written message to someone.

Whether the message is based on real life or fiction, the feelings expressed by the song should be authentic and heartfelt.

Many songs have been based on a slight variation of this idea: a message that can never be delivered, for one reason or other. Unexpressed feelings can pile up, and writing a song seems to provide a way to bring those emotions to a conclusion.

If letter writing seems impossibly old-fashioned to you, write a song in the form of a text message or telephone message.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

2♠ First build a framework

2♠ Two of Spades in The Rock Songwriter’s Deck: 52 Ways to Write a Song

The Two of Spades invites you to work out the structure of a song before you introduce any musical or lyrical ideas.

The quick way to do this is to start with a song that you like, and set out to write a new song in the same tempo and with the same musical structure. You might even record a drum track first, in order to have the structure solidly in place.

Then pick some chord progressions and see if any musical ideas or lyrics suggest themselves to fill up the empty space of your song.

This method may require some patience. You can't force ideas to come, but if you sit with the rhythms and chords, things will soon start to fall into place. Don't worry if the song remains incomplete, because you can come back to it again and again over a period of days or weeks. New ideas will inevitably show up and find their places in the framework that you have created.

Before you know it, you'll have a complete song, one that grew naturally and organically in your own musical space. You may find that it's surprisingly fresh!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

3♦ Update a folk song

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

The Three of Diamonds asks you to find a public-domain folk song and update the words and music. But the resulting song doesn't have to be in a folk-rock musical style! You get extra points if listeners can't tell that a folk song was your starting point.

Modernize the rhythms, the vocabulary, and the structure of the song, and dress it up in the garb of your favorite current musical style.