Blog Post 2 – Songwriting (Lyrics in particular!)
I decided that today I would keep the blog thing going by talking about my approach to songwriting. I think it’s hard to say anything that would be consistently applicable because sometimes the methods that work on one given occasion, just don’t on another. To start simply, I generally do a bit of improvisation on the guitar for maybe 30 mins to an hour and see if any engaging riff ideas come from it. I’ve never had an issue with creating new instrumental music, maybe this is because I like a lot of different genres so I feel there are infinite possibilities. Same goes for vocal melodies, usually I imagine them as I am creating the guitar/piano piece. For me, lyrics are what take the longest to write. This isn’t because I have a lack of words/inspiration to write about; as is apparent from these blog posts I suppose, but more so because there are so many different perspectives and styles of lyrical writing. For example, what perspective should the song be from? Oneself, someone else? Is the content personal to you, someone else again? Maybe you want the lyrics to be all of these things within one song. The questions continue; are you wanting to be quite cryptic and/or metaphorical? Perhaps you are trying to convey your message in a more prose style of writing?
I could keep going but anyway back on point, this is by far what seems the most complex part of music for me. The irony is sometimes the best songs come from just writing and not over thinking every minute detail. I guess this is where I personally have a tendency to make stuff harder for myself, this possibly comes from my favourite subjects in school being English Language and English Literature. Language is what connects everyone, personally I think word choice is very important, not just in songwriting but general life. If something is written or said, it should have a reason behind it and hold meaning. Words carry a sort of ‘weight’ with them; so although in reality it’s not always possible, I think it’s always best to think carefully before just randomly writing or saying something in the moment. This is particularly true when it comes to music because if things go well, people will be listening to your songs over and over again. Sometimes even after having listened to one of my favourite songs for years, I hear it again and think of a new interpretation of the lyrical choices the artist made and it just makes me enjoy the track even more.
In my own songs, I explore different styles of writing all the time so it would be hard to give an exact answer on how I ‘always’ write. However, what I can say is that regarding the interpretation of the songs, I often like to put in a ‘double meaning’ (Let’s call it). I write knowing that there will be a much more immediate/obvious understanding of the lyrics for people, but in actual fact it holds a much different meaning for me personally. (Or sometimes not). Don’t think of this as a ruse though… !
This is maybe the best thing about music, one song can have millions of ways of being understood. A person’s unique experiences in life contribute to the meaning they take from listening to your songs. So there isn’t a ‘right’ way of interpreting a song just what is true for the individual. I have my ideas about what I think my favourite artists are writing or thinking about when I hear their music but I’m conscious of the fact that I don’t know and may never know what their personal perspective is and this makes it all the more interesting.