Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Suggestion: Write a breakup song, with a twist

Songwriting suggestion: Write a breakup song — but not about a romantic relationship.

A long-term relationship has soured, and it's time to call it quits. Maybe it's a person breaking up with a heartless big bank, or giving up on a favorite product after its quality got worse and worse. Maybe your character is quitting a sports team, or sending a well-worn pair of boots to the trash.

Where to find ideas: Listen to some of the thousands of breakup songs for ideas on how to approach the subject.

Tips: You can do this as a funny parody of the breakup song genre, or you can make it completely serious.  It's all up to you.

Here's the secret: A breakup always involves an inner emotional conflict within the person initiating the breakup.  Play out that ambivalence and tension in the verses. Become decisive and single-minded in the chorus.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Suggestion: Write a song of enthusiasm

Songwriting suggestion: Write a song with a central message of enthusiasm for some thing, product, place, person, event, or activity.

Where to find ideas: What have you enthused about lately? What have other people raved about to you?  What brings joy into your life?

Tip: Write the chorus so it could pass as a commercial on radio or TV. The chorus should express the song's central idea in full, even without the help of the verses. 

Here's the secret: Zoom in. Don't try to cover your whole subject. Get more specific. Pick one aspect or angle and make it the central theme (and hook) of your song.  When the Beach Boys enthused about the girls they met in their travels, the chorus could have been "There are terrific girls everywhere you go."  What they actually sang was more specific, and much better: "I wish they all could be California girls."

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Here comes February Album Writing Month

It's time for February Album Writing Month 2013, at http://fawm.org. The FAWM challenge: to write 14 songs during the 28 days of February.

Writing quickly with a deadline is a great way to build your strength as a songwriter. If you never face a deadline, you you might be holding on to lazy, sloppy, inefficient writing habits.  It's like an athlete who works out but never plays a game or runs a race, or like an actor who practice lines and characters but never gets onstage.  Putting your feet to the fire forces you to do better.  That's why I recommend participating in FAWM to anyone who wants to become a better songwriter.

For the month of February, I'll be posting songwriting suggestions — ideas that you can take and build into a song for FAWM or for any other purpose.  Sometimes it's hard to get past the initial hurdle of deciding what to write about.  If you find yourself in that situation, check back here for  songwriting suggestions, and see one of them helps you get started a little faster on your next song.