Tell Us About Your Songwriting!

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10 Questions About How, Why, and When You Write Music

No two snowflakes are alike. And no two songwriters go about shaping their tunes in the same manner. There’s no “right” way to do it. There’s no clear path to success. And the muse can be awfully fickle, wildly generous one day, coy the next. Sometimes she’s downright neglectful.

Because of this, it often helps to hear how other people do things. Getting a glimpse into another person’s creative mind can help clarify something in your own, can open up new possibilities, inspire you, irritate you,  get you unstuck, or maybe even motivate you simply because you disagree with what they have to say.

CD Baby wants to hear from you. And we want to compile some of the most insightful responses into a free PDF songwriting guide. If we use your answers, we will credit you, include your artist name, and link to your music.

So, let’s inspire and irritate each other! In the comments section below, please answer the following questions (or any that seem appealing to talk about). Please, be sure to leave your name, artist name, and URL.

1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

(now go write it!)


– Chris R. at CD Baby

In this article

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  • tsj

    Almost always. the riff dictates the song, Very seldom, do the lyrics come first. And every blue moon..the title is the starting point.

  • I actually wrote a post about my songwriting strategy (if there is one) not too long ago. Check it out:

    http://www.creativeguise.com/2010/10/07/a-bit-on-

    I hope it's enlightening!

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song? I decide which kind of song..slow or fast..then, start pretending I am listening to something live and cool and driving (if its fast). I hear in my head something I would like to hear that would sound good. Then with my guitar, find a similar sound (for a chorus first). After that, I think of something that would sound kind of cool as basic verse music before the chorus. Once that is done, I hunt a change to put somewhere just for a couple lines to make kind of a bridge or change in the same ol'. After I have finished with the music, I start thinking of words to kind of fit (kind of story like).

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    My favorite songs do move me in the emotional and drive feel to write. They make me feel like I need to bang the steering wheel in the car or play air drums and that is the feeling I try to portray. On slow songs, something to just lay back and relax listening to.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?I have to have complete silence and by myself. If I hear a noise that distracts the song I am hearing in my head while writing, I often have to put it down for a little while and start over (sometimes leads to a whole different song than I originally had).

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck? I most of the time, go outside and walk around on my back property(I live in the country)
    and most times something will come to me then. I run back inside and start again.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process? Yes, every once in a while in my writing, I will envision playing in front of all the school friends I had and imagine how impressed they would be when they see how far I have gotten.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process? Sometimes but not very often, I will get one part wrote that I am proud of and play it for my wife hoping to hear "that is great!". Just motivates me to keep going on the song till finished.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving? There are times when I like to hear one more than all the others and listen as if it were on the radio. The only way I can tell if one is not as good is if I dont wanna hear it over and over myself.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever? I get a big thrill everytime I write one cause it is something that I created for others to enjoy. I guess I will write songs over and over till I am too old to play the guitar. It is just a part of my life I was born with and will go with me.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    Inspiration comes from listening to music all my life and imagining me being the one on stage in front of the world and on the radio playing the songs I love. Perspiration does come into play when spending countless hours trying to get it all JUST RIGHT.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it. It makes me bob my head and play air drums and air guitar in front of an arena audience. It brings tears to my eyes and thinking "this is THE MOST AWSOME SONG" I have ever heard and I created it. I am thinking people are saying "wow! I gotta crank this song up!!"

    Thanks Chris!!

  • I just answered the 10 questions. thanks!

  • What does your songwriting process look like?</i.

    1) Collect any random inspiration in a folder marked song starts. song ideas in the front, single lines/words/metaphors/quotes in the back.

    2) pick ONE song at a time out of the folder and work on it till it is finished. Do some writing every day, even if I'm recording another song, gigging or publishing and promoting other material. The only real practice for writing songs is writing songs.

    3) demo song

    4) send demo to various friends for feedback/comments (and theological critique where appropriate).

    5) assess feedback and rewrite if needed.

    6) publish songs for free on my blog.

    7) Repeat process again.

    Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    I like songs that have some sense of craft in them. I want to know that they weren't just thrown together. But on top of that the best songs have a sense of "this line/riff/arrangement could not have been anything other than it is". A sense of perfect proportions. (Disclaimer: I have not yet written any songs like this myself!)

    What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    Taking too long over unimportant parts (especially in demoing) spending 50% of my time on an element that will only make the song 2% better.

    Much better to spend that time writing 50% of my next song.

    How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    If I keep banging my head against a brick wall, eventually the wall will fall down.

    Also I remind myself that finishing this song will make me a better songwriter even if the song itself is a failure.

    To write great songs you need to be a great songwriter. But to become a great songwriter you need to write songs period. Even the bad ones teach you a lot.

    Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write?

    Never. For me, imaginary audiences often derail and distract the songwriting process. The only piece of equipment a songwriter really needs is a door (that they can shut).

    Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I get feedback from joe public, peers and experts. If there's some consensus about (either good or bad) I take note. "If one person says you're stubborn as a mule, ignore them. If five say it, go buy yourself a saddle"

    What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Without inspiration I'd never start a song. Without perspiration I'd never finish a song.

  • Chris R. at CD Baby

    These answers were provided by Eden Estes on CD Baby's facebook page. Thanks Eden, Chris.
    _________________________

    Eden Estes ‎1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    I take any thing that I feel strongly about and I write it poetically with a flow and usually work on the chorus piece last. I cut out what is unnecessary and improve what I already wrote with wittier lines and then change a lot of the words around when I begin to add musical composition to it. That way I have established a rhythm before even writing the music and if I feel the need to tweak the music I can then play with the lyrics to fit.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    Most songs that move me are very personal songs. Artists who are not afraid to go over the edge with their writing and not hold anything back whether it be anger or fear or sadness. Even happy songs but I really like when you can feel their emotions through their voice alone. The shaking tone that an artist can have when upset or angry when they truly feel every word that they are singing.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    I get stuck if I don't feel as strongly about what I'm trying so hard to write about. If I try too hard I don't usually succeed..

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    I have to just let it all flow comfortably as if no one would ever read it but me.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    If there is a person I am writing about who I am around about I usually envision them hearing on the radio or through someone they know but not me showing them personally. This allows me to still write whatever I need to write without fear of them being able to judge me on it but it still reaching them in some way so hard that it really strikes a nerve or hits them very personally.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    I usually get positive opinions but if someone has an opinion I use it when I can. Writing is more for me than anyone but I like for others to relate as well.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    I feel it when it's really good. When a piece is free flowing and difficult to write it usually ends up sounding pretty cheesy.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    I'm not much of an open person as far as emotions goes so song writing takes all of the feelings that I hold in and turns them into something beautiful. Its a sigh of relief when I finish a piece of writing.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    Its always people who inspire me to write.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    Something that no matter how much I age and no matter how far away I am from that time in my life I never tire of it because it became a beautiful part of me. Writing is the greatest thing to have ever happened to me.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    Sometimes someone or something challenges me. Often, I am struck by something on a deep emotional level, and simply decide to write a song. Other times, things just start coming into my head and I have to put them on paper. Once I get an idea and am intent on fleshing it out, I put myself into the situation I want to write about, and try to live it and feel it to determine the direction it will go.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you? If it evokes a real emotion, talks about something not usually talked about, or has terrific chord progressions, it moves me.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck? Using the same phrases, songs about the same things, stories too complex to express in a short amount of time.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck? To get out of those traps, I try to look at it from a different angle.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process? I don't write for an audience. I am the audience. If it does nothing for me, it will likely do nothing for anyone else.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process? It sometimes helps when you feel oddly about a phrase or word. Sometimes the comments can range from total rewrites to simple word changes that make a huge difference. But sometimes, someone else's comments don't work. It's a judgment call.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving? It's like falling in love. When you know, you know. It all comes together, the message is clear, the effect it consistent.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever? I've been writing since I was a kid, and a lot of it was drivel. I will write forever, and probably continue to produce good along wtih the bad. Seeing what your expressions actually look like on paper helps you state them more precisely, and shows you patterns that you might have fallen into. It's great therapy.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process? Every song is born out of inspiration. Inspiration creates the music. The music has to be "honed" to make it inspiring to others.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it. If I could do that, it would already be written.

  • 1. My songwriting process varies a lot. Often I write lyrics first, poem-like or freestyle, then add music later. I carry a tape recorder nearly everywhere so I can record audio of melodies that pop into my head. Occasionally, a song sort of writes itself — words and melody just happen all at once and solidify and it's done. Those are nice, but not too common. Another common way I approach songwriting is to create a nice chord progression (usually 4 chords) and then start humming a melody over it, just saying whatever words come to mind. I think varying the approach results in more variety in the songs you produce.

    2. My favorite songs have great dynamics and great imagery that communicates strong feelings or tells a story.

    5. Sometimes I write a song specifically for the audience. That audience I suppose is still me — but if I were hearing the song from another artist — what I would want to hear. It generally changes the subject of the song, which is great to look at the world from a different perspective.

    7. I can tell if a song of mine is really good when it gives me chills to read the words and when my excitement about it doesn't wane quickly. Also, getting lots of positive feedback from audience members on a particular song helps to know whether it's really good because that also means that other people can connect with it. I don't judge my songs to be good based only on other people's opinions though. I know a song is not as good when it soon after I've written it, it doesn't make me feel anything or the feeling is confusing/unclear. Sometimes as artists, we don't feel anything from a song after playing it many times, but that doesn't mean it isn't good anymore. That's when audience accolades really help pull you through.

    8. I sort of feel like this is what I'm supposed to do. It just feels right. Yes, I am sure I will always write songs regardless of the level commercial success I achieve.

    Chris,
    This was fun and a good idea. Thanks!

  • My artist name: ade ishs
    URL: http://adeishs.com
    CD Baby URL: http://www.cdbaby.com/artist/adeishs

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    Most of the time, I write songs based on whatever inspires me. Usually, it's what happens to or around me or how I feel about something. The inspiration is usually followed by a natural flow of music. In some cases, the inspirations for a particular song come in different times, but in many cases, I finish composing a song at once. I don't always use an instrument when composing a song.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    Usually what's behind the song, such as what makes me write the song. For example, the "Rain 1" piece in my "Visions" album (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/ishs). I wrote that piece in 1993 when I was at a friend's home. There were 4 people including myself sitting at the verandah. We were all teenagers. It was raining then, the sun almost set. My friends were talking, while I was somewhat in a different zone, thinking of teenager's things: friendships, conflicts, etc. Then I tried to just temporarily forget the stuff; just relaxed and tried to hear every single drop of water from the sky. And then there came a peaceful feeling for a while. A short moment, but a worthy one.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I can't recall being frustrated when writing a song. I don't force myself to write songs. If I get stuck, perhaps it's not the right moment to write one. A forced piece of work of art feels… forced.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    See my answer for question 3.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    No. How do I do that? What kind of audience? There are just many people with widely different tastes. I just write and play what I like. Look, if I write for a specific audience something that I don't like, the rest of humanity may not like it either. If I write and play what I like, there's a specific audience that likes it as well anyway. The rest of humanity may not like it, but at least I like it.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I hardly ever write a song with someone else. Truth be told, I have so far only co-written a song once, and it's never published.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    The answer to both questions is, by seeing how the song grows on myself. I wrote songs that I have already forgotten by now. Well, perhaps I don't really like them so much. On the other hand, there are songs that I wrote so long time ago, and I still like it, and I still know it by heart. The piece "Matahari dan Rembulan" (that's "Sun and Moon" in English) in my "Visions" album (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/ishs) was written in 1992. When I felt like recording "Visions", suddenly that piece came again to my mind, and I still know how to play it (I have never put it in written form).

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    Satisfaction, I guess. Will I write songs forever? Maybe.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Inspiration is the energy. I'm afraid I don't understand what "perspiration" means here, sorry.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    Um, if I start imagining it, I start writing it. Besides, to me, "greatest" is a function of time. I guess it depends on my mood and my need. After all, music is the sound we need, right?

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    I usually write on acoustic guitar. I will just start playing anything that pops into my head until I hear a chord change or a melody hits me for a change… then I usually write most of the music in one session or over a few weeks.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    The feel of a chord change with the pull or flow of the melody. Then I listen to the words. When you get all three I am hooked. If the middle eight has that great hook all the better.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    When I am pulled away from an idea by something else. When I get an idea that sparks a mood I like to at least rough track it at home to play it around in my head.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    I hum or play the track to video on a cell phone or camera to capture the feel of what I started with.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    I do not. I write for myself. I have to be happy later, and after so many years in bands that wrote for labels, managers, sells… I don't even listen to it all now. I want to be happy later. And this has worked better than all the other methods in the past.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    Sometimes I do, depending on the song and if I want an instrument in there that I do not play.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    Ahh, that was one of my jobs in my old bands. Weeding out the weak. For me, I just toss it if it isn't what I want it to be later when held against the whole. I do the old LP thought process. If the album doesn't flow or makes me want to lift the needle… it isn't going to stick.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    I get satisfaction and a great feeling of hearing the sounds in my head played out. I will always write if I get the feeling to track an idea. If it will make me happy later.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    Inspiration is most of it. Writing is easy and fun if I am in a mood to write, and then I get a rush of ideas. I usually end up with many versions of a song. Harder, soft and slow… different words… and the version that I feel the most later wins.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    The one where I will always say to myself that I love everything about it. Where I wouldn't change a thing. To me a great song is a moment in time frozen capturing the feelings of that moment… and if I can listen later and still feel it, to me it is a great song.

  • Chris R. at CD Baby

    These answers were provided by Gary Alt, http://www.garyalt.com.
    __________________________________________________________________

    What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    It’s different every time. Typically I start out with an idea that is simply a few words of a lyric, or a drumbeat, a bass line, a chord progression, a melody, or a combination of two or more of those things. Then I figure out what the song is going to be about thematically. What happens next is anybody’s guess. Sometimes I record a bit of what I have and listen in the car while to come up with more ideas, other times I sit down on the piano or with the guitar and work it out. As I said, it’s different every time. While I’m writing I’m also imagining the arrangements that will round it out and make it happen.

    Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    My favorite songs move me because there is generally some hook that perfectly marries a melody with a lyric, or a chord change. A great melody with silly lyrics does not make a great song, nor does a great lyric with an insipid melody.

    What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I don’t get frustrated or stuck. A good song flows out of a songwriter, and essentially writes itself.

    How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    Like I said, it doesn’t happen.

    Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    Not usually. Sometimes I envision a certain artist singing/playing my song. Once in a while, if the song relates to or is about someone I know, I think of them listening to it, but not an audience.

    Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I have collaborated on occasion, but generally write on my own. But I do often run my ideas by a few trusted friends by sending them MP3s of what I’ve done so far, and inviting their critiques. What I then do is listen to their opinions and see what makes sense to me, then incorporate the ideas that were good, or make changes according to their suggestions. But they don’t actually write anything generally.

    Songwriters are known for loving most of their "babies" equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra "Kill Your Babies!" How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    That is a subjective question. I have written songs that I finished because, after all, I started it and it has to be born eventually, only to feel that it’s not one of my best, but it’s OK. Then that song becomes the favorite of a bunch of people, and they insist it has hit potential. Other times I write something that I’m quite proud of, and feel is very well written, but it doesn’t resonate with others quite the same. On occasion I write a song that, in hindsight, didn’t work, and I know it. I still keep it around somewhere, but since it’ll never see the light of day, I’m not afraid to keep it relatively buried. Same goes for making changes to a song in progress – never be afraid to scrap a pet idea in favor of a better path.

    What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I basically have to write songs, since they flow out of me all the time. It’s what I love to do more than anything else, with the exception of performing. Since every song is different, writing each one brings a different sense of satisfaction, depending upon whether the lyrics are the strong suit, the melody, the arrangement, or whatever. But once I write a song, I have to record and play it, and that of course means that people have to hear it. I can’t imagine ever not writing music.

    What roles do "inspiration" and "perspiration" play in your writing process?

    The process generally starts with inspiration, but perspiration takes over at some point. Edison says that invention is 5% inspiration, 95% perspiration. I think the ratio is probably closer to 50/50, but who knows?

    Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    The greatest song I hope to someday write will move virtually everyone that hears if cry, laugh, sing, or experience whatever emotion the song will invoke. In any audience, there are bound to be some that think a given song is the greatest they’ve ever heard, while others will yawn and leave. The greatest song I will ever write will move 99% of the audience, or maybe 100%. Maybe…

  • Chris R. at CD Baby

    The following answers were provided by Lori Sullivan. Thanks, Lori.
    _______________________________________________________________

    1) When I compose a song, I compose it the way a poet would write a poem. Every second line at the end rhymes with the line before it. I always add a bridge to the song to make this more enjoyable to listen to and more meaningful. This is my regular style of writing a song.

    2) when I think of my favourite songs, they move me in a certain way; I may shed a tear, I may laugh, I may reflect on the words,

    or it may just bring a smile to my face. I can often relate to the song I love so much with either my past, or what I may be going through presently.

    3) My common frustration with writing a song is searching for a proper word to rhyme with the line before it. I really have to
    concentrate on this part. I may struggle with writing the beginning of a song; basically getting it going and making sure that what I am writing about, I will get my message across to other people so that they understand what I am writing about.

    4) I over come the frustration by walking out of the room for awhile and finding another activity to do or I just relax and read a
    book. After I have taken a break from writing a song, I feel refreshed and ready to put some more words down. I find it vital to walk away and take some deep breaths for a short period at a time; I do not recommend rushing the song along.

    5) I definatley vision an audience in front of me when writing a song. This helps me to write the song to hopefully perfection where
    I feel the audience will enjoy what they are listening to. I hope that my audience will be moved by what my song has to say and that they will go home thinking about the words; that they can relate in some way to what I have written.

    6) I always get an outside opinion once I have completed writing the song. I feel it is very important to hear another’s opinion and
    I value their opinion. I will tend to change the words if their opinion really makes sense to me.

    7) I can often tell if my song is not good when the audience is fidgeting or talking while I’m singing it. This is a sure sign that
    the song isn’t reaching out to them. When my song is good, they are swaying, tapping their toes, smiling, or trying to sing
    along to it. This lets me know that I mastered my song!

    8) When I write a song, I feel like I have accomplished something so dear to my heart! I often write songs about experiences in
    my life. If it is a sad experience, then it is a way to release the pain I have been carrying around. If It is a happy song, it is a
    way of expressing my joy, love, or blessing that I have experienced! Very uplifting for me! I will always be writing songs! It is
    wonderful way to express ourselves in real day to day life or in fantasy. It is also a great stress reliever!

    9) When the word “Inspiration” comes to mind, I always hope that I will inspire someone or many people with what I have written
    and that they will remember the message in my songs and hopefully use the song as a tool in their lives.
    The word “Perspiration” for me, would be that I feel I am not getting anywhere with the song I am writing or that it did not influence anyone or inspire them. That gets me sweating every time!

    10) Okay I am imagining the song I have not yet written and have wanted to write very, very much. I normally write songs about love and everyday feelings in life. But the song I wish to write is that of a Christian, inspirational song about God himself! I want to write about what God has done in my life and for others ; how beautiful he really is and how greatful we are to have such an awesome, loving God; how he has changed my life and given me the gift of being just me. This will be one of the best songs I have ever written and will get to work on this right away!

    Thank you CD Baby for telling me to go and write it now! You have me on a roll after filling out this questionnaire! I am off now to write my new song!!!

  • Name and Artist Name: Moisés Nieto
    URL: http://www.youtube.com/HollowRiku or http://hollowriku.blogspot.com

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    I just sit at the piano and start recording whatever comes from me when I'm inspired. You'll sometimes come with a chord progression you love or a catchy melody you'd like to develope. I like starting from those little fragments of music, like a picture with a background done that needs to be completed step by step. I prefer writing the lyrics once the song is done, but I believe there are many different and still right ways to do it!

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    My favourite songs know how to enchant me the first time I listen to them; they're catchy, fresh, and have a great chorus that's hard to forget. Original lyrics also helps, we're tired of cliché topics!

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I hate not being able to express what I want to explain through my music, or not being able to finish that song I've worked so hard on. I must try lots of possibilities before being completely satisfied with a fragment!

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    I just stop composing, doing other things help you to relax and release your tension. You'll probable make up something better after having a rest!

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    Well, I can't help but think "Will they like it? Is it good enough?"; the songs are made for an audience, but I first must be satisfied with my pieces, so I can only envision an audience once the song has been aproved by the composer!

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    No, but I often ask for opinions before releasing a finished composition; if I think those suggestions might improve my piece, I go ahead and change it!

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    I can't say I like everything I've composed equally; some pieces make me feel proud of being its composer, whereas other themes are simply ok, not amongst your best works. I even have one piece I've never shown (and never will) but haven't erased, It's my "baby" after all!

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I think I'll keep composing for the rest of my life, just because it's the best way I've found to reflect what I think, what I have to say and how I feel. Knowing that your compositions are loved by at least one person is the best thing you can ever experience!

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Inspiration takes a very important place during that process, I won't write anything decent if I'm not inspired! It's essential to find the proper moment and place to start composing.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    It would be original, easy to remember but not too monotonous, fresh and surprising but not too eccentric; In one word, a song that has found the perfect balance and makes you hum without wanting to!

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    Generally the process starts with a little melodic riff, when I'm at home playing guitar. Every now and again a lyrical snippet comes to me at a random, inconvenient time. If it sticks with me, I'm generally able to sit down and put that snippet over guitar chords and come up with a full melody when I get home. (I do a lot of recording melodies and lyrics on my phone, to start!) Generally, music comes before lyrics, for me, but the best times, things all kind of flow at the same time.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    The best songs are those that move me – generally, they transport me back to particular time or place. I love songs I can really sing along to. I think the best songs technically are the ones that have quirky details; if you can listen to a song time after time and hear a little something different every time – that's a well-crafted song.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I used to feel almost like I had to wait around for inspiration, and sometimes it wouldn't come, especially when there were lots of distractions. Frankly, I feel like my frustrations come more from just feeling like, as an indie artist, I don't have enough time to manage and promote my music AND actually make new music! I don't usually have problems writing when I have the time to do so.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    I think it's crucial just to take some time every day – and I don't even approach it specifically as "writing time," because that puts pressure on it, but I just make sure to practice guitar, practice singing, or learn a new song, and inevitably, my mind wanders and I tend to write something! Writing with other people is also a great way to get un-stuck, and/or out of a rut, as well. You can always use new energy and new perspective. For me, the key is to designate time for creativity without trying to force it.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    It really depends. I've been asked to write for projects, and in those cases, I certainly think about the person who's asked me to write something, and/or the actual audience, like if it's something theatrical. But for the most part I have to look inward first before I worry too much about someone else's judgment, or I won't get anywhere.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    My husband, Mike Chiaburu, is a bassist, producer, and composer, and he's often the first person I send things to. For example: I wrote a song last week and made a very rough demo out of it, and emailed it to him. He dug it and had production ideas right away, so he started producing a better demo, with full arrangements, a few days later, and now we're working on finishing it up. The skeleton of the song has not really changed, but the vibe of it is completely different after his input. In other cases, I've written half a song and then will finish it up with someone else – often Mike or my friend and guitarist Timothy Young, and in those cases it will also wind up somewhere I didn't anticipate – which I love.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    I get excited every time I write something new, so I have to just sit with the song for a while to be objective. Then, it's absolutely crucial that I play it live, even for the tiniest audience at a coffee shop, a few times. If I'm feeling like there's energy coming back from people most of the time, like they're enjoying it, that song is probably worth pursuing. If not I might just let it go. I try not to be too precious about it. But if I love a 'baby' that no one else does, I can still have fun with it, I just might not release or promote it. Some songs are just personal, and some are just stepping stones to, hopefully, the better songs you'll write later.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I'm a much saner person for being able to express myself via songs, that I know. So I do imagine that I'll do it forever, or lose my mind! 🙂 The beauty of song-writing is that sometimes I learn things about myself and what's actually going on with me when I listen to my own lyrics – it's the truest expression of what I'm going through. And at the same time, it's the way that I really connect with other people. Nothing makes me happier than when a friend or fan tells me that they've been listening to a song I wrote and it improved their day, some little way.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    It's really got to be both. Inspiration feels incredible, magical, but it's not always going to come out of the blue. I think if you want to keep writing, you have to keep making music and/taking time to be creative, and that's the perspiration that will get you back to inspiration!

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    I can't – that's what will make it great! I haven't imagined it yet. But I think that when I do write it, I'll know from the way it sticks with me and with other people who hear it. Hopefully, just like my favorite songs, it will be moving, memorable, and will transport us all somewhere!

  • Chris R. at CD Baby

    The following answers were provided by Steve Somerset. Thanks!
    ________________________________________________________

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    My songwriting process looks like a Snakes & Ladders game board – I just throw the dice and see where it takes me. There's a line in a Justin Hayward song called 'Songwriter' that goes "But these worn out chords go on working for me." Here's a writer of some all-time classic songs revealing in his lyric something all songwriters go through. Of course there are familiar chord sequences that you tend to fall into, but if it works with the melody, great!

    I think being in the moment and open to possibility is also key. I never have a set plan. I can be walking along the road and an idea will pop into my head. I can read a headline in a newspaper or hear something on the news and off we go. For example, I was once watching a concert by The Who on TV. I was sitting on the sofa with my guitar and playing along to Baba O'Riley . In the arpeggio synth section I busked a riff high up the neck. I took that motif, matched it with a lyric idea I had written earlier, and turned it into a song that sounds nothing like The Who at all.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    A couple of my favourites are 'Waterloo Sunset' by Ray Davies and 'God Only Knows' by Brian Wilson.
    A song has to hit me on an emotional level or it doesn't work for me at all. I don't like clever for clevers sake. A song with two chords, feel and emotion will, for me, win every time over some 150 chord opus. A great two chord song is 'The Cross' by Prince.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    I don't really have frustrations – I don't worry about writing songs. If I get stuck I just move on to something else. I have lots of songwriting books with half finished ideas for lyrics and chord sequences. If I get stuck I use these like the i ching , turning pages at random until I find something interesting . I have come across first verses, songs started years ago and never finished that have become middle eights in other songs. You've got to keep the whole process moving.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    See above

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    Sometimes. Especially if I have a gig coming up. I might think the show needs a new up-tempo number, or, as I did recently a closing song, and write it. What's interesting is that the songs which have a life on stage before they are recorded tend to be all the better for it.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I tend to write by myself for The Shadow Kabinet but I have worked on other projects that have involved collaborations. I think collaborating is all about letting your guard down and trusting. The creative process should be a safe place where everything is allowed. You should be able to play a crap guitar part without getting laughed out the room because in that guitar part there might be the germ of a great idea. I was writing with someone once and we were recording a demo of the song. While I was setting up the recorder my writing partner was noodling around and played a four note riff that became the hook of the song. He wasn't even thinking about the song we were working on but everyone in the room went "Stop, play that again it's great."

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    Editing yourself is difficult but absolutely essential. I think with experience you get an instinct for what's good and what's not. 'Killing Your Babies' suggests going all the way with a song and then dumping it. I believe the more you work at your songwriting you just get a feeling that it just isn't working. Or rather the opposite is true, I think you definitely know when you're on a winner. A good test is if it stands up with just a guitar and vocal, then you know you're on solid ground.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    It's the best feeling in the world when an idea falls on your head and an hour later you have a song that didn't exist before. I can't imagine not writing songs.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process? Inspiration is definitely the easy bit and crafting the songs is hard work but this is the bit that makes or breaks your idea. Set up chords, arrangements, intros, outros, key changes. Look at when The Beatles anthology came out; the first version of 'Got To Get You Into My Life' was nothing like the soul rock number that turned up on Revolver. So if it's not working and you think you're on a winner work on the arrangement, break it down, take it out and play it live and then re-record it.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    Handel's Messiah meets The Monkees

    All the best
    Steve Somerset
    The Man from The Shadow Kabinet

    Here's my My Space Page
    http://www.myspace.com/shadowkabinet
    Albums HARK! and Smiling Worlds Apart available on CD Baby

    Steve Somerset
    The Man From The Shadow Kabinet
    http://www.myspace.com/shadowkabinet

  • 1. If I don’t think about it myself, I listen for lines someone said that would make a good hook. Then I try to build a story around it. Then I try to create a melody, bridge and chorus. If happens but not often I have the music first.

    2. I like using some tonge in cheek seriouness but something that cuts to the core.

    3. I get stuck finding the 2nd or 3rd verse, so I will park it, sometimes it may even be years that I go back to it.

    4. Park it.

    5. I rarely, actually never write for myself.

    6. When fine tuning so I get the nuances just right, I ask my wife.

    7. After playing them so often, the ones I like are the ones that are a bit funny. So I don’t have favourites, but I do have least favourites.

    8. It comes and goes but I’ll probably always write so long as I have a wife tells me “I like that one”

    9. Inspirations sometimes comes from social observations or from songs that I think should have been written a different way.

    10. I can’t think of the greatest song, but if there was one, it would probably make me cry

  • 1. My songwriting process looks like

    I am a person who has woken from a slumber like Rip Van Winkle and is in the middle of a world that is only partially recognizable.
    I face this world with nothing but one hammer in my hands; my ability to write songs. So I hammer away on everything I see, in an attempt to make them the way I think they should be, but the results are never what intended when I started hammering, I know a song is done when something I have hammered looks it needs no more hammering.
    I’d like to think my hammering is making the world a better place, but I am aware that I am out dated and probably delusional.

    The more common ways in which I compose a song, I address moments, frustrations, joys, social injustices expressing my point of view even if it is to elaborately say that I really have nothing to say.

    I think I know a song is somewhere when it plays back on my mind when I am doing something completely different.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    All my songs are my favorites. They take me back to places in the past, and inspire my path into the future.

    My song My Muse, is a elaborate celebration of where my songs come from. I could have easily ended it with 2 stanzas and a chorus, but I just went overboard tripping on the inspiration changing the key 11 times across 9 Stanzas and 11 choruses.

    Lyrically the complexity of the song is the idea that with my muse ‘the sky is no limit’ – I pause before the last word in the chorus and crafted it in such a way that the listener expects the word to be “sky” when I replace it with something else, maintaining a complex abuse of the rhyming and false-rhyming dictionary . The only 2 times I say ‘Sky’ is when I am no longer giving an example parse of what the muse means to me, and I am in my own limited way ‘one with the muse’

    Here are some of the last lines of the various choruses.

    You’re the rainbow in my… storm
    Like the birds that fill the … dawn
    Like the stars that light my … calm
    You shoot me down from my… aplomb
    You're my pie in my … palm
    A chariot ride in my… Psalm
    There are smoky clouds in my… plume
    like the sun shines in my… Gloom

    I don’t know what to say about the chords, but I think they are unusual – emotionally and thematically this song is a representation of everything I love, and live for. I’d like it to be remembered as the ramblings of a floundering and bumbling artist who envisaged the perfect and all-encompassing muse.

    3. Frustrations are, I don’t know. I doubt if I have any as long as I do what I love for the reason that I love doing what I do.

    I have been stuck when I think I have achieve some non-song related goal with the song.

    4. I take road of hammering away, for the love of hammering regardless of results. The results if any are a bonus and a distraction from the next song. This keeps my frustrations under check, I remind myself that this is all I have and I am in it because I love it.

    I get stuck when I give up, but I know that if I stick with the song, I have no need to worry about getting stuck.

    5. The outside listeners are my heroes, my loved ones, my school teachers, my bosses, my enemies and the big establishments like corporations and governments. I ask myself I am being honest in what I say from the way I think they see me. I ask myself if they would say “hell yeah, only Ta‘fxkz could have written that” – I like to think I know who it pissoff the most!

    it helps me resolve conversation I have never had with the imaginary outside listener.

    6. I am a sponge for ideas, yes I collaborate and enlist all the ideas I can get- I love the ideas of those who just do not get my songs. I feel they are by best friends, on the road of honing my art.

    I think it makes me a better songwriter.

    7. I have killed babies, but not because they are my babies but because they are either already dead or I suspect they really are somebody else’s babies pretending to be mine.

    I know my song is really good when I am satisfied with it and when it satisfies a hunger that was unsatisfied before I wrote it. Sometimes there are nagging irritants in a song that last years before they are resolved – I ask myself if I can live with that. Sometimes I go through changes and the song’s meaning changes. I sometimes preserve it the way it was as a monument to when it was written

    8. I get to be me. It is the only moment in the world that I am in this universe for. I have always felt like an outsider in whatever side I was and being a songwriter helps me resolve that.

    I will write songs as long as the songs write the story of my life. When there is no more song for me to write, I’d probably write a song about that.

    9. “inspiration” and “perspiration” really go together – here is how it worked for me. I being very indiscipline have made a pattern out of my indiscipline and that has evolved into a discipline that works for me. Perspiration comes naturally when the inspiration is there and Inspiration loves to be around the sweaty perspiration prone nutcase.

    10. The greatest song I will ever write, will be one the one song I will never write because I prefer to think there is always a better song out there waiting to be written.
    I am on the way to a small studio to record a 7 part song about a song that changed the world, and wherever she was sung it was Eden!

  • Pingback: ade ishs: Q&A About My Songwriting()

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    Number one, I write a lot of songs and I get the first drafts done relatively quickly. I believe in showing up and writing. I believe the muse will show up more often if I show up more often. Number two, I seem to write my best songs when I know other people are writing along with me, and moreover when I know other people are going to hear it. Just seems to be the way it works so I do it that way. Having a theme or title to write to seems to help. Someplace to start are focus me. There’s lots of brainstorming and idea generating tricks I use like word mapping and object writing and just plain scribbling across the page. It’s nice to have my rhyming dictionary nearby, I seem to work on lyrics first as often as not. Finally, the music which I often approach a bit like making up a song at a party. I press record, pick up the guitar, start singing, and hope for the best.
    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    My favorite songs show me something I’ve never seen before or tell me a secret I thought only I knew. My favorite songs make me want to move, or explode, or fall backwards onto my bed. Technically I seem to enjoy descending bass lines chromatic changes, oh and minor substitution. Among other things
    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    I do my best not to get stuck. I always sit down to write in batches, say seven songs over the course of seven days that way I never have to write a great song today. I can always do it the next day, or if I’m lucky I already did it that week. When occasionally I don’t write anything worthwhile in a week, well, that just sucks, but on the other hand, I know I sat down and did my work seven days in a row and that’s mostly what matters.
    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    I sit down and write more songs. I write a song about how my songs suck. I try to have a sense of humor about the whole thing. I remind the muse that it’s her job to be brilliant and my job to show up and write. I try to let go of the outcome and just write. That’s my job.
    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    I don’t know who exactly I’m writing to when I sit down (outside of myself) I try to write stuff that I like. That doesn’t guarantee anyone else will like it but at least I will. I try to stretch out what it is I’m comfortable writing. Mostly when I’m in the zone I’m just trying to tell the story as I see it and as the muse is dictating it.
    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    I’ve done some co-writing but not a lot. It’s been fun when I’ve done it. And sometimes I wonder why I don’t co-write with certain people more. I’ve done a lot of critique groups over the years and I think it’s a really valuable process use. I have people whose opinion I trust to give me feedback and ultimately the audience will give you all the feedback you can handle.
    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    Since I write a lot of songs I generally only play out the things that I’m really excited about. ‘Killing my babies’ is easy in that sense. But I feel like the songs kind of choose me and I choose them and we form a relationship. If I’m not excited about something I don’t generally play it out.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    Songwriting is a release and a for of escape and it’s spiritual or religious in a way as well. It’s stunning anytime something finds it’s way out of me that I never suspected was in there. I think I’ll write songs as long as I am able.
    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    Perspiration is showing up, sitting down and doing the work. Finding out what on my mind, being willing to be bored with myself., being willing to be bad. Inspiration finds us from time to time when we aren’t paying attention, but if we’re doing our jobs, when inspiration hits, we’re ready.
    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    I can describe it. If I could describe it I doubt it would be great. But it will find me sometime in February, or maybe this spring and I’ll be ready.

  • i never have sat down and just said(im going to write a song)im watching tv or i see something and the lyrics just start coming.i hate putting the human element into my music.My cousin(JOHN LEGEND)told me we have the gift of writing in our family.the best songs will come to u from what your eyes and ears are seeing and hearing.I have never written a bad song.Ive written some i didnt really care for.but they still were good songs.lyrics should rep your views and personality everytime u deliver.If people dont walk away feeling they know more about u now before they hit play u have failed.now i know the state the industry is in now that doesnt matter anymore.Thats why very few artist write their own songs becuz its not in their soul.but no matter how watered down and clonish the industry gets good writing will never go away and will always be needed.writing has to be seen as a gift because everyone cant do it.imagine someone asking u what u did this morning and your entire response had to rhyme,hold their attention and make sense.God bless all the writers.no matter what your music forum is and how god awful the industry becomes,they will always need us:)

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a

    song?
    I write lyrics first. They usually come as a thought process that I end up expanding upon. At another time I

    revisit the lyrics and make a melody using a good backing track with no vocals then I use my piano to prune the

    melody and perfect it by getting feedback by family members.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically,

    emotionally, thematically) that moves you? I like any song that lifts my mood and has an uplifting melody and well

    written lyrics also does it for me. I prefer songs that capture optimism than persimistic songs..

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? For me melody writing i.e getting the perfect notes on my

    piano frustrates me because I'm not yet fluent on the piano. What are the ways in which you get stuck?I sometimes

    get stuck finding chords (I have written with my head) on the piano but I usually figure these chords out after

    revisiting the songs…

    4. How do you overcome the frustration?Play all possible notes till I find the notes I'm looking for. How do you

    get un-stuck? Revisit the problem at a later date. I usually find that my unconcious mind has sorted out this

    problem when I return to it.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write?yes If so, how would you describe that audience?I

    envision someone going through the issue I'm addressing in my song and How and what I should say to make them feel

    better and more optimistic. What effect does this have on the writing process? It gives it purpose and direction.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process?yes What effect does that have on the

    writing process? It helps me improve on the song

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra

    “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? If others like it then it's possibly

    good but I'm a firm a believer that how good a song is is a matter of opinion. How can you tell when one is bad or

    misbehaving? If the rhythm of the lyrics and melody aren't blending well then I work on changing the melody or

    lyrics.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? I feel there are people out there that are going to benefit from the

    lyrics God is giving me. Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever? yes

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process? I get inspired then I perspire to

    improve on the inspiration…

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it. Lyrics that inspire and encourage the

    listener with a heavenly melody and very generic so anyone listening 'gets it'.

    Name
    Emem Archibong

    Artist name
    Ememmusic

    URL
    http://www.myspace.com/ememmusic

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    Usually the first line of lyrics, melody or beat will pop into my head randomly, possibly inspired by something I just saw or experienced. I frantically search for something to write on, jot down some notes. I always have a pen on me for such occasions. Once I get my notes home, I can flesh out the rest of the song in my solitude (usually).

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    My favorite songs are almost always sincere, passionate and often personal. Genre and style do not matter – if the lyrics are meaningful to the writer and the music comes from the soul, the result is usually going to be powerful.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    For me, the process of songwriting is completely enjoyable – liberating and satisfying. The only frustration I ever feel is having to interrupt my songwriting to go to my day job.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    If I get stuck on either lyrics or music, I give myself about three minutes before I just move on to another song or take a break altogether. I can typically come back a few hours later and pick up right where I left off. I don’t believe in writer’s block for true songwriters – getting stuck just means your brain is tired. Take a little break.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    It depends on what kind of song I’m working on, whether it’s intended to be a spectacle or subdued. Normally, I’m probably too involved in the process to envision an audience, at least until the song is near completion.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    If the song I’m writing is a collaboration, then I’ll share it with the other writers/performers, and together we‘ll decide what‘s best for that particular song. If it‘s a song I‘ll be performing myself, I keep it personal.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    Like actual babies, the only way to know if your songs will turn out good or bad is to care for them, nourish them, raise them in your image, and then let them out into the world. I made 102 babies in one year, so I don’t feel bad about disowning the ones that disgrace or embarrass me, knowing that the others carry on my name proudly. Parents have to make a lot of tough decisions.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    As a songwriter, I make sense of the world around me, then get to present my view to others through the universal language of music. Songwriting is all at once a job, therapy and part of my religion. If I get bitten by a vampire (fingers crossed…), I’ll write songs forever.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Inspiration, wherever it may come from, is the seed planted in the garden of the mind, from which the song shall grow. Perspiration, to me, comes after the song is written – performance, marketing, etc. In fact, I think the only thing about the music business that doesn’t make me sweat is songwriting.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    Evanescence, Tech N9ne and The Prodigy having a three-way.

  • Name: Joseph VanBuren
    Artist Name: joe DOE
    URL: http://sykophunk.com/
    CD Baby URL: http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/joeDOE

    This was fun – I enjoyed answering the questions and also reading others’ answers. Thanks!

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    My songs generally come to me in various ways, in dreams or out of the blue, sometimes stirred up through emotion. I feel these are generally my best songs. However there are way of formulating hits e.g. many famous writers write over other peoples music. This works very well because in doing so your almost guaranteed to end up with a nice melody and a given circumstance/concept (dependant on the strength of the song your writing on) I don’t do this a lot and not because I think it’s cheating, as there is only 4 chords to each note, which implies somebody else is going to have a similar melody anyway whether you think you originally created it or not.

    2. Think of your favourite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    I’m definitely a melody first guy, I grew up on Stevie and Michael and the rest of motown, so for me melody is key.
    Then concept next I think, many classic hit makers focus more on great concepts than lyrics I think. These people just know how to create a song with a great concept that connects to the audience with relevance and know how to express it effectively, but not necessarily cleverly or intricately through lyrics. Take the song ‘Imagine’ I’m not saying John Lennon isn’t a great lyricist but in this song he’s chosen to write very basic through expression and everyone gets it and ‘what’s going on’ Marvin Gaye “Mother Mother there’s to many of you crying” THAT’S GENIUS TO ME!

    3. What are your common frustrations with song writing? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I just lose inspiration sometimes. And I choose to wait for that divine moment.
    I think I can write a “Hit song” in any state of mind. But a great song? A song that lasts forever, moves people and means something? That’s not in anyone’s control I don’t think.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    Relax and use that skill I mention in question 1, write over somebody else’s classic. You might not get a classic too but your almost guaranteed to make a hit.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    I think I am the consumer, and I also think I can detach myself from my own music most of the time. And If I put 100% into each song I release, maybe not everybody will love it, but everyone will respect and appreciate it.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I don’t really collab much. I think if I was writing for someone else, that’s cool, We can throw in everything we have that’s creative, innovative, eclectic and amazing. But as for my songs, their my babies and I produce them Asexually lol!
    (Although production wise I am thinking I need to collab there possibly)

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    I generally know by how much effort I put in and I know it’s a great song when it’s given to me. Even if I do write a “bad song” there’s usually a great bit in their that I can keep for another song.
    I also don’t believe in writing album tracks just the hits.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    Songwriting is my chance to express, songs don’t have to make sense, people just have to get it and connect to it. A song writing teacher once said, “How many of our favourite songs are songs we don‘t actually understand word for word but like to think we could if we really sat down and tried to” I THINK THAT’S GENIUS
    I will definitely write in music and out of music forever. If I don’t express and share it, I get unsatisfied in life.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Not sure if I’m the best person to ask, but I don’t rush anything, I don’t have to write everyday, but if something comes to me, or inspires me, I drop everything for it. It may not come again for a long time and you’ve lost a gem.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    Haha!
    You get it. It touches your soul! There’s not much lyrics, but you connect. That one verse I’ve written or even one line repeated through the song, with gaps for the amazing emotive production is more than enough. Could be a ballad or not it just is and comes with understanding for the audience and is beautiful. Man that’s a song. I wanna see other peoples answers.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    BC: After noodling on guitar or piano a chord progression will usually jump out at me and a melody will come to me that urges me to pursue it. Sometimes a phrase will sound like a title and inspire me to write a song from that. But normally the first way is the way I write the most.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    BC: Mostly anything from The Beatles shows me the best in writing, producing and preforming.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    BC: Lyrics are the toughest for me. I feel I’m good at it but it’s a constant challenge for me to find the best way to say thing lyrically without sounding contrived.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    BC: Walk away and come back later.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    BC: No offense, but I never think of what the audience thinks when I’m writing.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    BC: I do co-write with people. But as far as getting feedback as I’m writing, not usually.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    BC: Every song has it’s merit I think. They’re all different and should be treated individually.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    BC: It’s a part of who I am. I’ve always imagined I would do it all my life.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    BC: Inspiration is huge as far as motivating me to write.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    BC: perfect melody and lyric that feels completely natural. I actually have a beautiful piece that needs a lyric…

    (now go write it!)

  • CD Baby URL for “Acoustically Christmas” (new Holiday release) – http://cdbaby.com/cd/fitzpatrickricky

    ————————————–

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song? I’m an acoustic guitar guy, so most of the time, I’m “noodling” on my guitar and that leads into a song. Having said that, I do keep a notebook of song ideas, themes, phrases, cool words, chord progressions and voicings…and that book, while it typically doesn’t birth a new song, it opens the floodgates once the initial idea is conceived. The notebook is the best too I have as a writer.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you? I’m a sucker for prosidy…the “conversational”, natural cadence of speaking, within a lyric. Probably one of the reasons I’m so drawn to folk artists, particularly James Taylor. He’s LOADED with it! And despite some of his funkyness, John Mayer is a brilliant lyricist…one of my favorites and a very “prosidious” writer.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck? My nemesis is “the rut”. You know, when you write something that you really dig, then the next 47 songs you write all seem to bear a strange resemblance to that song? It’s natural to fall in love with a certain style or groove or pattern…we’re naturally creatures of habit. But it’s important to force yourself to take new paths.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck? Stream of consciousness. My favorite exercise. Literally, open my notebook and start writing words…one leads to another and another…faster than I can write. Sloppy. Scribbling. Sideways. In the margins. Leads to a phrase and another and a line and…my God, a chorus. Ahhhh… This is a great tool to break you out of the rut.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process? Normally, no. I have this funky belief that as an artist, my art is an expression of something. Not my ability to create something that fits the template of what a certain demographic will buy. For me it’s always market what I create, not create what I can market. But that’s just me.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process? Always. My wife. My kids. My fans. My pastor. My parole officer…I mean…um. Anyway, sure. Of course I tap into the opinions of others. And thank God for them. That’s usually when glaring oversights like a change in perspective or tense pops up. Or a sloppy theme. Or a vague storyline (my tragic writing flaw). IMO, art rarely exists in a vacuum.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own songs is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving? This idea of loving all my songs equally is only somewhat true for me. I do, but only for a while. After a few days or weeks perspective, I get a much better sense of if the song is really decent or just crap in a mask. So I always try to exercise a little patience when I write a new song. Every now and then though, something will come out that just grabs me by the throat and there’s no doubt that this is something I’ll be proud of for a very long time. Public opinion usually aligns on these songs, but not always. That’s when you really have to break out your objectivity and say “Why am I doing this?”

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever? Music and songwriting is, in my eyes, God’s gift to me. Some people are born speakers, carpenters, electricians, farmers, doctors. Me, I was born to make music. I have no doubt about that. But along with that gift comes the sometimes burdensome responsibility, to share it. I don’t believe God gives us a talent for something, and approves of us lavishing it upon ourselves. We (songwriters) are emissaries of God’s heart for song, and whether we sell a million CDs or not, we DO enrich others’ lives when we create something. That’s something I will always be enamoured with…forever.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process? Both play, heavily. Not always, together, but they both get plenty of time in the game. Sometimes it just happens. Pure inspiration. And sometimes, it’s just plain old stubbornness. I get a phrase or a concept that speaks to me and I am determined to write a song around that. And if it doesn’t “come”, then I must work it out and use all the tools that we hate to hone. Notebooks. Study. Research. Interviews. Non-musical activities. Collaborations. Taking advice. When it comes easily, we think those tools are for suckers. But when you’re struggling, it becomes evident that they are indispensible.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you haven’t written yet. Describe it. I’ve been struggling with a song for my oldest son, Cameron, for years. He’s 17, very much like me, and at the same time, very different. I’ve written songs for all the other kids…songs that I’m proud of. But this one eludes me. Instrumental is OK, but I hear something sneaky complex. Something that sounds easy but really is a bear to score. Catchy. Modern. Classic but with an edge. Maybe it’s just over the horizon…

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song? We come up with a basic idea and then present it to everyone else in the band or sometimes we just jam. We then record those ideas with one mic into garageband and then send them to everyone’s email. That way we all have an updated list of all the new ideas. We then pick one and play around with it at practice or sometimes one of us will have ideas at home. Then it’s all math and figuring out transitions and cementing the riffs. Once that’s done we show it to others and get critiques then when we have a collection of songs we further work through them and get more critiques.///In my head, by playing, by playing with past ideas, by wanting to write a song that’s similar to one that inspires you

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you? It’s emotion, with great melodies and epic sounds. Big songs with choirs and huge drums and lots of reverb.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck? When you have a great verse, but nothing seems to be working for the chorus. When a lyrical line is poetically perfect, but it doesn’t fit/maybe sound very good when sung. We never get stuck in a sense. If we are stuck on an idea we just move on to another one. History proves that after some time away or more time studying music in general those “stuck” songs get figured out or you realize that idea wasn’t that great in the 1st place. Don’t agonize just write something completely different. It’s more productive.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck? We simply move on to other ideas and keep discussing our music knowledge.///When we figure out a chorus or study some other songs and then a new idea comes to mind. I don’t feel that we get stuck as a whole in the songwriting process. It’s very touchy some days it’s great some days it’s just not gonna happen. You need to learn how to identify those times, it greatly lessens any frustration.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process? We don’t at this point. Maybe will try that sometime///We write for ourselves and pray that others will like it.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process? We do! It has a great effect. It’s called it always turns out better. Then when you call the song done it’s a lot easier to confident in the choices you made.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving? I get the chills. Jack Johnson calls it “the magic”. It’s a feeling that lets you know. I realize that sounds very crazy, but I’ve applied this method for years and it works for me. ///When it’s not turning out the way you wanted it too(and I mean it feels boring or emotionless or there’s nothing interesting that can be sung over it). The idea is to always be willing to junk an idea for a better or new one maybe you haven’t even written. Don’t settle! What makes songwriters great is their willingness to work hard and come up with lots of different ideas and only pick the best. It’s tough when you put a lot of effort into a song and maybe it even gets recorded, but that doesn’t mean you have to release it. You only want to put forth your best.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever? Joy, life, love, part of life purpose, emotion, connection.///Yes we will, we’ve all had long breaks before and some even thought they were done, but we always come running back. It’s just something that’s too important to us.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process? Inspiration is big, but it must lead to perspiration if a song is to be finished.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it. It would be vocally focused with a melody that sticks in your head. I think mainly it would instantly connect with tons of people and it’d be from our hearts. Music is about connection.

  • I started writin at the age of 15 bak then i started on tapes and used my stereo system that had to mics 1 fo the left speaker and 1 fo da right speaker so iz wuz like makin a real tape wit clear quality. Me and my rap group Nemesis Clan all started then. I made my first underground tape by usin my sterio system by puttin the mics between da speakers and r vocals. Eventually we moved to cds itz much eazier now

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like?
    A sheet of paper in my pocket… to a handwritten journal… to a ‘formalized’ computer page where ideas don’t get lost or mislaid.

    2. What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    Something meaningful in the lyrics… Being greatly distanced from contrivance… Images… Themes & stories that I can relate to personally, or that allow me to visit a life that I am unable or unwilling to visit – the old standard of drug/booze lifestyles is an example.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    Big one is that thing shave slowed down significantly in the last few years. I still get ideas but am unable (unwilling?) to follow through on them. Largely I think due to environment. I am no longer in an ‘easy’ performance locale (ex LA) & unfortuneatley no longer associate with musicians & performers.
    Otherwise, standard frustration is trying too hard. Eieh rthe song will happen or it won’t. Only crap can be forced out.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    Leave it. Write something else. Do something else.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write?
    I do envision performing the song. It’s that old self realization thing. More of how I would feel on stage than any particular audience reaction – other than wild enthusiasm of course.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    No. Initially I attended a lot of workshops. Best thing about them is the networking & encouragement I found there. I prefer not to display a work in progress. It’s an interesting question though. What it dances around is the idea of being confident in what you are creating. There are some people I would love to collaborate with because they have
    developed their own styles & identities – not because they are struggling too.

    7. How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    When you can’t remember the words… Everything sounds good in the living room. It’s first night out on stage tells you the truth. There is a great confidence & feeling of accomplishment that comes presenting something that really works. You can really get behind it at the mic & feel the audience vibe. If they are more interested in chatting & clattering their cutlery then the tune, or at least your performance of it, has a few holes in it.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    As mentione dabove, thing shave slowed down. I’d like to think I have more coming… My two hopelessly buried cd’s earned me a great feeling of self worth & accomplishment. I have enough for a third, that environment thing is a major concern.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    I prefer the “I” word. Perspiration implies the work & consistency that is of course implied in any successful venture, however, you can try too hard & work something to death. Get up walk away occasionally, or sometimes forever.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    I couldn’t. My laptop keyboard would be all ablur with tears. I couldn’t hit a key straight because my hands would be shaking in excitement. It might just touch on something too raw & personal that I might hesitate to perform it let alone tell you about it. But tomorrow… I’ll have it smoothed out & comfortable. It will bring me a great laughing joy when I sing it to you & I reckon you’ll be very happy to have heard it.
    Yeah I better write it now huh!

    Damn! What an inspirational littel questionaire.

  • Woaw. That’s a whole bunch of questions! Here’s my response to question 1.

    Musical inspiration sometimes can come out of anything – images, feelings or simply out of nothing. In my blog post

    http://www.l90r.com/posts/two-coltrane-inspired-songs-by-igor-prochazka-trio

    I reveal a more down-to-earth approach to composing: playing around with particular chord progressions and song structures.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    I compose instrumental only music, playing string instruments like guitar, mandolin, mandola, tzouras…
    whenever I feel the need, I start playing while I record everything I do on a cellphone, without thinking or judging what I am doing, just playing freely whatever comes, much like a daily diary.
    Then I transfer all the files on a computer and listen to them after some days, to have some emotional distance from what I have played, so I act more as a listener or as a producer.
    Those musical ideas that appeals to me have somewhat a different quality than all other audio material, so I start playing again those phrases, modifying them, creating the structure of the song.
    When the song is somehow ready, I play it live or I upload it on soundcloud as a private track and I start sending the link to other musicians, probably those who will play on it when I will record the track, and to some friends, to have some feedback on it.
    During this phase there is another selection: some songs still works to me, I have some sort of feeling towards them, and those who listen to them have somewhat a similar reaction, while other songs not, they don’t work.
    At the end of this process I select the songs to be published.

  • Chris R. at CD Baby

    These responses were provided by Ed Williams @ http://www.ejwmusic.com.
    ____________________________________________________________________

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    Most songwriters have their own special ways of doing things, but writing a song is more of a re-writing process for us all. The old saying is that “great songs aren’t written, they’re re-written”. What you start with is not often what you end up with. Lyrics change, melodies change – it really is a process of always improving on what you’ve just written until you think it’s the best it can be. Songwriting is a 24 hour a day commitment. Even when you’re not physically writing, you’re thinking about writing. Some songs present themselves to you as a musical or a lyrical spark that gets your attention while you’re just messing around playing random things. Very few songs present themselves from start to finish as a stream of consciousness. Even on the rare occasion that you are given that much of a song at one time, there is still re-writing to do.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    We all react to our favorite songs the same. It’s that thrill that you get hearing a song that moves you. It could be a musical passage or a great lyric that speaks to you personally, but it’s always a personal feeling. A great song makes you feel good.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I don’t really believe any more that there is such thing as “writer’s block”. I used to use that as an excuse not to write, but the more and more songs I write, the less I buy into that. But there are peroids of time, and sometimes they can be long periods of time, where you just don’t have anything to say. Those periods of time can be frustrating, but you have to remember that the muse gives what and when it wants to. You have no control over some things.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    You can’t force a great song to come out – it doesn’t work that way. When I used to try to sit down and force out a song it always ended with something I wasn’t really proud of. When nothing is coming out, I just stop and do something else. Mow the yard, watch TV, drive around town – anthing to distract me from songwriting for a while. Then I’ll go back and see what happens. I’ll work a good idea to death until it’s right, but I won’t waste time working on a song that’s just going to end up being average at best. You have to pick your battles. Sure, there are some writers who can sit down and pump out one average song after another like a machine, but then all you have is a lot of good to average songs. Songwriting is a “quality” business, not a “quantity” business. Five great songs will get some attention. Five hundred good songs won’t get you anywhere.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    As a writer and not a performer, I think about the artists and the listener. Will my songs be fun to sing? Are the songs interesting enough to grab a listener’s attention and keep them involved until the last chord is played? Can the lyric be something that someone else might want to say or need to hear? Will the players enjoy playing this song? The songs are not about “me”. The songs are about “them”.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I’m not doing any co-writing at the present time. I do have a close group of writer friends – some are professional writers, and others are writers like myself still working our way in. I can always run an idea in the works by them to get an opinion on whether or not an idea is working the way I think it is. Songwriting is very subjective and opinions vary from writer to writer if something is questionalble. If it’s great, they usually all agree. Usually I can tell myself if something is going to work or not, but it’s great to have other writers who are willing to share their opinions. Also, my wife is the best sounding board I could ever have. She knows me very well, and is not afraid to give me an honest opinion. With all the years she’s put up with me being a songwriter, she has learned a lot about what makes a great song verses just a good song.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    It takes years to get to that point. After you’ve written hundreds and hundreds of songs, you start to lose the “my baby” phase. There are certain things that most writers won’t compromise on – a certain line or melody that means something special to the writer no matter what anybody says – after all, they are “our” songs. We do create them from nothing and we always feel a certain attachment to them. But if you want to write as a commercial endeavor, you have to respect your market.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I personally have been writing songs since I was nine years old. Back then, I was just making up stuff – I didn’t know you could actually have a job doing this – I was too young to really understand the concept of commerce. Today, songwriting is not my vocation so I’m not doing it for the money. I feel a need to create and explore meldoies and lyrics. I’m a self taught musician and wouldn’t dream of trying to teach others, but it is something I will always do.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Inspiration = 5% perspiration = 95%

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    It makes you smile. You can sing the chorus after you’ve only heard it once. It speaks in everyday terms about universal feelings. You find yourself humming the melody for no reason. That’s the mark of a great song.

    Thanks for the opportunity to send you my 2 cents.

  • Pingback: Tell CD Baby About Your Songwriting()

  • I actually liken my songwriting mind to that of the mentally ill. I hallucinate music. Songwriting for me is just the act of listening to the crazy sounds in my head.

  • Linda Vee

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    Most of my songs begin in the shower or with a few words I’ve jotted down on a scrap of paper because someone said something that struck a chord with me.
    I get a few words going around and around in my head that won’t go away until I flesh the whole song out.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    My favorite songs give me a good feeling while I am listening.
    They have to groove or I tune them out and they become white noise.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I strive to make every song sound totally different than the others and sometimes it can hang me up until I am positive it is not a rehashed tune of another song I’ve written. Unless you are AC/DC it hardly ever works.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    I just keep on plowing ahead and don’t over think it.
    I never worry about where the next song is coming from.
    I think that can block you worse than anything. Kind of like a desperate woman sitting alone woman on a bar stool hoping for someone to pick her up.
    The harder she tries the worse it is.
    If you are creative, they will eventually come to you.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    Actually no. I have to please myself first. I don’t think at all about anyone else’s opinion during the writing process. Again to me, that is over thinking it.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    No. I find others input confusing.
    I am also a published fiction author (under another name) and found when I take others advise it never works, at least for me.
    The only negative rejection letter I ever got from an editor was when I took someone else’s advice and changed a story ending. The editor called it cliche.
    I believe in trusting your own gut about your work.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    I never fall too much in love with any of my songs for more than a day. I let them go as soon as I feel they are finished and am always anxious to move onto writing the next project.
    I can tell what my best songs are by the audiences reaction. They either sing along or start screaming a lot if they like the music or crowd around and sit down.
    If they begin drifting away from the stage it’s a sure sign the song is not worth publishing or performing anymore.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I do it for the love of creating something out of nothing.
    I don’t believe I will ever stop writing.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    95% perspiration and 5% inspiration.
    I have just put out a song I have worked on and off with for over 20 years.
    It was not a Christmas song to begin with, but it is now.
    Something was just not right and I couldn’t put my finger on it and then just like that I knew what the problem was.
    I have others that lived on the back burner for a few years too and are just coming out as they should be.
    Sometimes I also think I write beyond my own capabilities and need the time to catch up to myself.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    I think several are the greatest the first couple of days after they are complete.
    But perhaps that is true of many of us.
    I don’t know if I would want to write a song that I believed was the greatest thing I’d ever written because then it would be all over and what would I have to strive for.

  • Pingback: Singer/Songwriter Michael Gaither » Gettting “Cosy” in the Canyon()

  • Biggest Mistakes of Songwriters:

    1) To many words

    2) No melody

    3) No story told

    Solve that & you got a great song.

  • I turn on my mic, pick up my guitar, and start strumming, and whatever comes into my head in the way of words, I put to the tune. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

  • A lot of times, I dream a melodic line, and/or lyrics. I keep a little recorder close to my bed so when I wake up, I can sing them into it. Then I revisit it later, guitar in hand, and begin to build something from it. Other times I get a “hook” in my head while running or walking or driving. When my mind is on idle and open.

    I get stuck if I try to “please” somebody – to be the “idea” of what’s popular. It stifles me.

    I can tell if a song is “good” if it holds up with just guitar and voice.

    I try constantly to pare down and simplify. Some of the best songs are 2 chords and simple, universal truths.

  • Start with an idea or word..
    Sing it over to yourself many times..When you get confident test
    it out on a friend,,Then develop the chord structure..
    MAke sure it isn’t a takeoff on another song..
    Thats how a friend can help..Like my keyboard player Ronnie told me.
    “Write it for yourself! Then if you like it, finish it for others!”

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    This is a mystery to me. Each song has it’s own process and rate of growth. Some just spring into existence, some take years.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    The music has to be exciting and have something different for me to be interested, though I have found a few artists that have inspired me on their words alone.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    I have adopted this rule while writing, finish the song today! ( or it will take a year. ) If I can at least get the general thought completed in one go, then I can work on it later.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    It’s like sculpting. I just have to jump in and start carving away pieces to form something useful, sometimes it brings me back to what I already had, but with a clearer view, sometimes it ends up far removed.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    No. I might think about this during recording, but not while writing.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    No

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    This is where other people are most welcome. You can’t really get good until you are willing to kill your own creations.
    Sometimes the point of those songs were simply to experience writing them.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    Yes, I will always write songs, It his who I am. I don’t know what I get out of it, it’s not that kind of thing.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    I do get inspired while I run, which is why I’ve signed up for a marathon in March.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    If you asked me this a few years ago, the answer would have been: Lets squash Dennis Chambers in a blender with Victor wooten, Bob Dylan, Mr. Bungle, The Beatles, Bauhaus, Blindside, Stevie Wonder, etc.
    Now I have learned the art of simplicity, so I would say it would be any song that still has value after you strip it down to its frame. If I can play it for an audience of 4 or 400 on my 4 string bass and they are enthralled then it’s a good song and one that I will write.

  • Loz

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    A melody will strike me, in the strangest places. On the train, in the shower, walking down a street, and it’s up to me as a songwriter to somehow get this down before it leaves my head. Singing into my phone is my usual way, ignoring the looks of passers by. Once I’ve got it captured it’s just a case of fleshing it out with lyrics and structure. The important part is capturing that first spark, coz once you lose it it’s gone forever, and that frustration is hard to live with, believe me.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    I know a good song because it touches me inside, in a place that very few other things can. There’s nothing logical about it. It moves something inside my chest; it’s almost a physical reaction. It makes me utterly vulnerable. If a song can do that then it’s something special. This is absolutely the reaction I want to elicit with my songwriting.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    When the spark doesn’t come, and hasn’t come for a while that’s when you start thinking that maybe it’ll never come back, and that the times it has visited before have been flukes. That’s worrying. I also struggle with lyrics, worrying that I have nothing new to say, or that my lyrics aren’t good enough for the melodies I’ve come up with.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    There’s no way I know of. People will tell you to change what you’re doing, do something else. But we both know you’re not going to do that, because you’re obsessed with nailing that song, that’s what you do. All I can say is to have faith that sooner or later, usually when you’re least expecting it – on the train, or in the shower – it’ll hit you again. It better.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    Never. This kind of thinking is saved for when I’m recording the song, and working on an arrangement. The initial process should be for me, and me alone. If I’m thinking about writing for other people, then I’m doing something really wrong.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    Never during the writing process. Before I show a song to anyone the bones of it are all there. Nobody gets to see anything half-done. It’s mainly because I don’t want other people’s opinions affecting my songs, it can only make me start to doubt myself.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    If they stand the test of time, they’re usually worth something. The only way to find out if something is really worth its salt is to get out there and gig it. The weak ones will soon fall by the wayside. The other way is to get a sense of distance from your songs. It’s usually very difficult to take criticism from a song you’ve written recently, but with tunes you wrote six months ago it’s far easier to see which ones aren’t going to last.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    It fulfills a sense of creation that is a real need. My mentality suffers when I’m not doing it, and it drives me crazy when I’m not doing it properly, or enough. I get physical withdrawal symptoms when I’m not writing. For this reason I am sure I’ll be doing it forever.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Inspiration is everything. Perspiration is a great attribute to have and will really help will other aspects of the music industry, but for songwriting you’ve got to be inspired, otherwise forget it. You can’t force good songs out of yourself, it just won’t happen. There are ways to encourage inspiration which differ for everyone, but I find immersing myself in new situations a good way to spark my brain. Also, listening to varied and new kinds of music is important – there’s nothing that’ll kill your creative life-force than by feeding it the Radio 1 playlist.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    It makes people stop in their tracks. It makes them realize something about themselves that they didn’t know they knew all along. Maybe it makes them cry, or laugh. It makes them feel like they couldn’t go back to their life before they’d heard it.

  • 1. Music comes first. I listen to the music to get the feel of the track. Real music speaks…you just have to be patient enough for the song to come. The music will tell you what should be on it.

    2. My favorite songs are very revealing and intimate, but very “cool”. It has to be a complete thought with no holes. It should FEEL real. Emotionally, it should take you with it (the song). AND, EVERY WORD AND PHRASE SHOULD BE RELEVENT TO THE STORY.

    3. The most challanging part of my process is having the patience to let it come to me, like in sports. There are millions of words and lyrics you can put to your song and it very well may fit, but is it the right phrase and wording? I’m very maticulous, so it becomes a process sometimes.

    4. Relax and walk away from it. Don’t forget about it…it should always be in the back of your mind, but get away from it for a while. However long, doesn’t matter. I may start writing something else. Television helps alot. Also, talking to other people about random subjects and an idea for that song usually comes.

    5. I do R&B, so there’s a lot of personal feelings, intimate emotions, etc… I usually envision the scenario that I’m writing about, or the scenario building up to the point of where my song starts. So, depending on whom I am addressing (woman, women, good situation, bad).

    6. Nope. If I take any suggestions, it’s after I have written and arranged the song. And, I only have one person I really listen to on the writing tip with suggestions. I feel like that song is my baby, my picture, my portrait,so it’s my vision.

    7. You gotta get into the habit of listening to your music with a bias ear.

    8. Sanity. And, yes, I will be writing forever.

    9. Inspired by the music. Perspire in the editing process.

    10. A good song, and I feel like I have written a few, becomes a life of its own. It gets bigger than you. It’s like you didn’t even write it…you look at it like everyone else. To use the ‘baby’ analogy, it’s like when a parent sees their child at work or something. You remember the beginning stages, but you are in awe seeing this grown up being operating on its’own, in its’ own space.

  • 3. meticulous
    7. I meant ‘unbias’ ear.

  • I mumble random words over tracks, then when a couple rhyme and have some developing concept I expand on it.

  • Marty

    I have written some good songs, and even some great songs, and I also have never used an instrument to write them! Let that be a lesson for you, sit down and write, write, write. Be here now, be there then, is that so hard? And also remember to pray to God for inspiration.

  • My song writing has mostly been inspired by events in my life. 80% Of these events up to now have been tragic and I hear the same old request all the time.
    “Why dont you write something up beat.” I am country at heart with a strong Folk “Bob Dylan” back ground. Dont smoke any more but I can still get out there
    when I think of my past. Un fortunately the Country and folk I was brought up with is sad!! I know what I need to do but when I start writing a happy song
    I tend to hit a dead end sometimes by the second verse and I just put it aside with my hundreds of other un finished songs. Mabe I need a writing partner. I know that is the answer but I work in the oil field and dont have time to hang out.

  • I’ll just answer one…

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    Most of my songwriting is spontaneous, and that being said, I record a bunch of stuff first and almost write the song later, so to speak. I record with really cheap materials and with cheapness comes un-reliability and frustration. The software I use makes me sooo angry sometimes. To get unstuck I usually play on my piano a little while, or try to remind myself that the end product will be awesome(sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t).

  • Well this is just a weird and sometimes creepy realization I’ve had about my recent penned songs- Curoisity Kills and Swell. On Curiosity Kills I was writing about my past and new info I found out about my grandmother; but unaware at the time I was involved with a man that fit like a glove the lyrics I wrote- and the future of the relationship was the conclusion I wrote in the song’s lyrics! It freaked me out- everything I wrote in Curiosity Kills came true with this guy I was with. Then I started analyzing previous songs like ‘She Didn’t Know” and I realized the negative things I wrote happened in the future of that time in mylife; but at the time I believed I wrote about the past or current time in my life! So then I made a concerted effort to write happy and how my future is happy. I’ve been trying to write a song about how joyful my life in the ocean was, is and will be. I’ve been trying to write such a song for DECADES! And when I really focused and just was DESPERATE to write an update song just to wipe away this new awareness I was analyzing about my current songs/lyrics — I was despearte to have a happy and fun ocean loving future- just to cover my ass, so to speak. It can all be BS or weird karma, but you know- you just want to cover all bases of any “devine intervention” things or me living out my lyrics. I SCUBA, snorkel and marathon swim almost every day of my life in the ocean- so I wrote “Swell” and it is all up beat and has a subject that lives and loves the ocean- deep blue sea. (Also a wishful thinking lyric, because the ocean water in Southern CA is not deep blue, but deep green:-) And sure enough the next few years after that song was published/released things were all about the ocean in my life– I began teaching in Catalina Island and then got hired to do u/w photos for Discovery Channel. Now is this weird or what?!!! Now I am in a standstill because I am afraid of the power of my lyrics and I am just recording new arrangements to past songs and cover songs. I am a bit afraid of this trend of my songs and the future it brings.

  • Teaching the average person how to write a bad song is not easy, but doable. Teaching him or her write an average song is difficult, but not impossible. Teaching to write a good song verges on impossible, while teaching to write a great song is impossible (an exceptional person with an obsessive interest in music coupled with exceptional amounts of natural talent doesn’t require being taught anything more than the building blocks of music to produce great work; therefore, it is just as impossible to teach a brilliant person how to write a great song as it is an average person).

    Back to the average or above-average person: all that we can do in the practical sense is give some advice based on personal bias towards certain clichés (such as using the word “just” or “and” as lyrical filler; there are lots of book on the subject… read, or at least skim, them all). In the less practical but more useful sense, we can give some simple but profound and essential advice, which is the following:

    1. No amount of chord learning will make you a better songwriter, as you are already aware of the notes available to you, and good songwriting on the musical level is in large part the ability to envision how to put those notes into relationships that you find pleasing. However, if you learn those chords (or melodic assemblages for that matter) in the process of learning a song that you love, it might make you a better (more satisfied) imitator. If you are lucky enough to have a lot of talent and taste that appreciates a broad range of sources, that penchant for imitation will manifest more as “influenced by” as opposed to “copier of,” and you will have something moderately original and interesting on your hands. If you are very lucky, you will be bad at imitating while simultaneously having an innate sense of what you like in a song and how to assemble such a thing. In this case, you’re more likely to have something visionary and innovative on your hands. To be clear, I am suggesting here that a lot of original and highly creative art is the result of a failed attempt at imitation.

    2. Do what sounds and feels right to you, despite convention. Unless, that is, all you want is to have a hit song (that is, comply with convention); then follow convention as much as possible… there’s a lot of info on that readily available to you online and in books and magazines. If you want to write a hit AND do something great, be aware of convention – know it inside and out, in fact – but don’t defer to it. I repeat: do what sounds and feels right. If it doesn’t sound and feel right to you, the song is either not finished, going in the wrong direction, or, if you’ve spent a lot of time on it, should probably be thrown out altogether.

    3. Wagner said that it’s easy to be different, hard to be beautiful. You can’t force originality. It’s better to be sincere in what you write than to be original. Originality per se is overrated anyway. Explore, certainly, but if something you’ve written moves you but you feel it’s not particularly original, for God’s sake, please don’t throw it away for the sake of something less moving to you but more original or technically interesting.

    4. A variation on the above: Do what pleases you the most, THEN find your audience. If you like vague lyrics, write vague lyrics. If you like narrative lyrics, write narrative lyrics. There are brilliant songwriters in both of those camps. If you like ugly music, write ugly music. If you like 5 minute intros to your songs, do it. Be yourself, then find those who share your sensibility enough to pay for your music. If you get too caught up on writing “the right kind of song,” you’ll become creatively paralyzed.

  • I’ve been a songwriter in Austin, Tx for about 30 years, and hope to be getting better at it all the time. Seeing some of my favorite artists of the 70s trudge on for further decades after their songwriting well has dried up is a frightening thing. Does the well go dry for all songwriters? I sure hope not. So far, between living this live and having to stomach Republicans and the citizens that vote for them, I still feel lots of songs coming on.

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    –typically, but not always, I’ll get “the flash” and immediately feel compelled to write the lyrics and music, non-stop, until it’s done. Typically this happens really fast…..about an hour, tops. I’m luck in that I find I rarely have to do much polishing to those initial lyrics. If I’m not physically able to grab a guitar at the moment when the idea hits, I’ll write all the lyrics down and put notes to myself all around the margins about how I hear the music in my head, with the various tracks, instruments, intros, outros, etc. Then just hope that I can remember it in the time it takes me to get to a guitar or keyboard.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    –when I listen to music, it’s all about picking something that matches my mood at the time. Deep emotional impact, whatever the emotion may be, is what I look for….and that can come from lyrics, music, or the combination of both.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    –being a self-taught musician, I sometimes feel like my knowledge, licks, etc. are limited and that I’ve used them all up already on past songs. I’ve written and recorded about 175 songs and the more I write, the more I’m succeptable to that feeling. That’s from the playing-side. Lyrically, I’m lucky in that I don’t generally get stuck (knock wood).

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    –In those types of situations, I’ll either shelve the idea (sometimes for years) or else I’ll try something radical on the music side that is totally unlike the initial musical direction I had for the song. I might get out the 10-string bouzouki, say, and tune it to some crazy tuning made up in the moment, and try to write the music for the song on that.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    –never. I’m writing because something inside me compells me to write that song or instrumental piece of music. It wells up and demands to be written. I’m just the vehicle, at that point. I’ve had some songs that I’ve dreamed, and woken up and they’re done and I have to drag my ass out of bed and try to write it down. I’ve lost some good songs by being too lazy, sometimes, to get up at 4am and do it.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    –I would say that 99.99% of the songs I’ve written have been done alone, and I never preview the material or seek outside input. I’m pretty hermetically sealed during the process, channelling that idea and trying to shepherd it to a recorded version….scared to death the whole time that I’ll forget all or some of it, as it moves around in my head, before the recording is done.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    –Sometimes I can tell right off that something is going to be good (or at least, “good” by what I like). Other times, it’s in the recording process that the song really comes alive and I get that big smile. On the other hand, I’ve definitely spent time writing a song with long lyrics, making notes on how the music should go, then put it down for a few days….then, going back to it, realizing that it wasn’t going to make the cut and just throwing it away. Not that often, but sometimes (as recently as a month ago, too). I think some songs need to be written as a cathartic thing for the writer than really don’t need to be kept once the catharsis of the writing is done.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    –I’ve always felt like I have to write these songs and instrumentals…that it’s a necessity for me and that I might explode if I dont’. Some are obvious coping mechanisms that stem directly from trauma in my life, and some are less overt and direct. But I think songwriting is just a big part of who I am, and for that reason I think I’ll always write songs. I never, ever say “well, it’s time to write another one.” Instead, they well up from my nether-brain and demand to be written. When I have 70 minutes worth recorded, that’s a new album, and so on. If songs quit welling up, that’s probably a signal that I’m about to croak. Hopefully, then, I’ll have just enough time to come up with a good one-liner for my final words (something like “Does the embassy know I’m here??”).

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    –it all starts with inspiration with me. Even when I’ve written “project” material (like pieces I’ve agreed to write, record and donate for use in giant multi-media projects at the Burning Man festival in Nevada), it starts with that flash. Then once I’ve got it all mapped out, the perspiration begins–especially since I usually play all the instruments on my recordings myself. I have no conception of time when I’m holed up in the studio. I can go for hours and hours…..too long, if I’m not careful.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    –Wow! Hard-core question. Let’s see…..It will have a dynamite musical intro lick that really hooks the listener, with a one-two punch of first two lines of lyrics that lays people out….that is simply devastating. And the song will grow in intensity throughout, with this avalanche-feeling of inevitable crescendo and unstoppable energy. The lyrics will be ones that I wouldn’t change a thing on, even years later, and same goes for the music and the recording. It’ll be a song that represents all that I am, somehow, and can function as my epitaph. Hopefully some people will get a little water in their eye when they listen to it, and remember me for a moment.

  • Well get inspired with a idea and title
    It’s on cruise control from there
    If it dosent work , I drop it

    What moves me, well constructed songs
    I’m speaking as listener, I don’t anilize them
    It takes away the magic

    Comon frustrations, not getting a cut with a major artist
    Yet, I enjoy the challenge of writing, I only I wish I could learn more,,thats the most common frustration

    I just write from the heart and use what I’ve learned to convey message

    Yes I use critiques, most the time ill rewrite
    To make them happy ,and usually thier write
    Sometimes I like the song as is, and don’t listing to them
    For instance ME, which is on my website, they wanted me to turn that into chick song, with a whole different meaning, I didn’t.
    Yes I cowrite

    If I got good song ill work it till it does satisfy me

    I get a lot of heartache, ha ha ha, yea probably write
    Till final buzzer sounds

    Get idea , work it hard till its done

    Greatest song , I’m writing one now , will see )

  • Tod

    For me the songwriting process has always been one of more direct inspiration, until very recently. Meaning that I usually only wrote what came to me naturally, in a stream of consciousness sort of way. Of course that explains why, until very recently I have not been very prolific. It really is simple, if you want to write more – write more. If you want to always make sure that you have enough material for the next recording project then you have to exercise some discipline and lay out some time every week to just do the bloody thing. Even if it is just noodling around with some ideas.

    With that said; my favorite compositions of my own and most of my favorite songs by my favorite writers come in that form of direct inspiration that I was referring to, at least as far as the bulk of the song goes. But there are some tools that you can use to capitalize on those daily ideas that we have (often to be forgotten before we get to actually work on them) and most of them are brought to us by technology. I have recently taken to using the voice recorder built into my snartphone to just quickly sing out the little ideas that come to my head when driving down the road or working my day job undistracted. I have also gotten into the habit of turning on my recording gear when I am noodling around with ideas and tracking the ideas as the come to me, or doing so at my very next possible oportunity. Using these tools, I went from writing a song once or twice in the last year to writing 5 songs in two weeks, and all of them have that inspired feel to them. So it looks like you can have it both ways, in being prolific and disciplined, while at the same time getting your ideas from the muse, and not cranking out the same old “method” writing BS that is all over the radio.

    As for how I judge a great song, I look at it like a four cylinder car engine, with the four cylinders being: Does it move you physically? Does it move you intellectually? Does it move you emotionally? And does it move you spiritually? You can have a really good song that only hits on one, two or three of those cylinders but the perfect song will fire on all four. If you right one of those in your lifetime, thank God (or the gods, or youre muse…. whatever gets you through your life) with all of your heart because you just received and are now able to give back one of the most perfect gifts in the cosmos.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    For me it always happens the same way every time. It starts with a poem; all of the thoughts get flushed out in free form and then I merge them to into stanzas. I go over it one more time and work with the rhyming using I-net resources (www.rhymezone.com). Then I study it to find the chorus, then the bridge, and finally the ‘hook’. If I can see them right away I’m done; if not I work at it until I create them. Now, here comes the tough part. Since I can’t sing or play a musical instrument, I have to collaborate with others who can. I always allow them to interpret the lyrics to fit the music and the style they are trying to create. Rarely, but it has happened, I hear the melody in my head and they are able to replicate it.
    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    Some songs make me dance. As soon as I hear the first four notes of a favorite song I’m ready to go. Other songs recall an emotion that brings happy, or sad, feelings. But if a song can elicit my feelings and make me smile or make me cry it’s done its job! I’ve been lucky enough to write two (so far) that other people have told me they get emotional while listening to them. There is no greater compliment to a songwriter.
    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    The ‘dry’ periods are frustrating. I can start and finish a set of lyrics in an hour but for weeks, or even months, nothing happens. No inspiration, no emotion, no ‘light bulb’ feelings.
    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    I have learned to accept it and not to try to push something that is not there. But it takes discipline to try to control the frustration. Just do something else that needs to get done. Being physical is a good substitute; yard work, exercise, sports – anything to take your mind off the fact that your brain is not productive.
    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    I am definitely an outsider listener. Because I am not a performer, or a musician, I can only relate to the listener’s point of view.
    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    Yes, and for me it’s everything. My poems and lyrics are dead bodies; the musicians give them a life-blood that I cannot supply. I am nothing without collaboration.
    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own songs is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    I can feel the lyrics moving along smoothly and not challenging me to think too much. In other words the words flow like water and I’m not concerned about anything else except getting them down on paper; I know that I’ll come back and polish them later. When one is bad it just doesn’t work. I can feel myself trying to force the lyrics out, and I stop often and try to put order and rhyme to it before I finish the thoughts.
    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    I started writing at the tender age of 60. The only thing I’d ever written before was a poem in high school. For me this was a gift from God and I had no choice but to write and keep writing. Some of it has social significance, and some of it is just silly love songs (to quote Paul McCartney). But I have an inventory of about 50 sets of lyrics right now and there is no stopping.
    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    For me it is 100% inspiration. At times I feel that I am transcribing the thoughts of others; the writing is not really my own. It’s difficult to explain but it comes in waves and I just sit at the computer and type. The perspiration part if for my collaborators who try to find the melody and chords to fit the lyrics.
    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    It will be a song of social or perhaps religious significance. I am currently writing several songs about First Responders and the Military. That seems to be my calling. And I think the best song I will write will be associated with this topic.

    Paul Hickey
    phickey2@comcast.net
    http://www.6-angels.com

    The videos of my songs are at: You Tube pchicke
    The Wall / Remember Me is a 9/11 tribute.
    Another tribute to Firefighters is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDWXKoPoTog

  • Same as Skip really. Whack down some random chords then just sing. If something doesn’t flow straight away then I scrap it. If I have to force it it’s usually not going to work. This method has served me pretty well up to know and it generally means I only spend around half an hour (sometimes less) on a song.

  • Osiyo,
    Well, my best writing is when I am down, sort of lost with direction, or in feel like I am in a corner. I come out with poems, song verses in words or note/verses in my head. Seem to get there also when the pressure is on more thn when it is not. Trust also the gut feel or first written words or notes as being the best and not second guessing myself.
    Blessings to all and keep on being creative and sharing with the world through your art forms.
    Wa-do’
    TerryLee

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    i don't have a strict method. Sometimes melody comes first, sometimes it's the lyrics but i write most freely when i can get into a meditative state. Almost as if you don't realise you're writing. It can require persistence. It's also important to have pen and paper handy wherever i am so that i can get ideas down should i have some inspiration. i heard a story about Roald Dahl driving somewhere, having an idea and with nowhere to write it down he pulled up on the side of the road and wrote a word in the dust on the back window of his car. Something to trigger his memory.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    A good song gives me goosebumps and a bit of a rush. Sound, melody and something different are generally the things that suck me in. Theme and technique follow and if it's a good song it will impress more and more as you listen to it over and over.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    i'm not the sort of person that churns out a song a day or a few a week. That can be a frustration in itself. It can take time and for one particular song of mine it took a few years but i don't believe in settling for the banal or contrived if it doesn't feel right. It is too easy to sit there instrument in hand playing the melody over and over waiting for something to come rather than isolating yourself with only pen and paper and trying to get into that space where words flow.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    i often have a few songs in progress at the one time. Different moods create different songs so this can be handy when you sit down to write as it gives me options. There is always a feeling of knowing which song should be worked on at that particular moment. And referring back to the previous question it's important to force myself to focus on a songs lyrics with only pen and paper rather than constantly playing over the melody. There's nothing wrong with writing pages and pages of dribble and only getting one song or a couple of good verses out of it.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    Ironically sometimes i do envision telling them about the song, what it's about, and where it came from. It maybe the audience from the last gig i played or the one i imagine at the next. The irony being i don't do this on stage but it does get me thinking about the theme of the song and lyrics i want to write. Imagery to me is important so at the very least it evokes the pictures i need in my head.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    Generally no. I don't consider myself to be superstitious but i do prefer to have a song completed before playing it for another's ears. Personally i feel a little deflated saying, "And that's all i have so far." For me it's tighten the seals and use the energy until it's spent. After all you have to like and believe in a song if others are to do the same.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    For every song i've written that i like there are one or two i've written that i don't like. When i put a song down for a few days and then play it again it's in that moment i usually know whether it is worth keeping. If i feel i need an outside opinion that's a sign that i'm not completely happy with a song and it won't get recorded. Having said that it's always nice to play a song you feel is good publicly for the first time and getting a good response.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    It's a release and a bit of fun. The idea of living off my music is nice too but to use the old cliche it is important to write for yourself and what you like rather than what you think will sell and what other people like. Again it's a release so i think i will be writing for a while.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Inspiration is key and it should remain throughout the writing of a song. Effort, work, and perspiration however are important in completing a piece. Knowing a song could have a better lyric or be dusted off elsewhere requires persistence.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    I'm wasting valuable time if i elaborate on that.

    phillip bracken

    http://www.myspace.com/tranquildwarf

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    The compositional approach I use is that of a naïve unschooled child exploring the possibilities of a newly discovered instrument, most commonly a synthesizer. Because the process is one of exploration rather than imitation, the music rarely takes a written form, and each piece is almost always in the process of evolving.

    I’ve been using this approach to musical composition for decades. Although I did have classical music training on the bassoon, that training resulted in an almost mechanical process of converting printed music notation into sound. There was emotional content to be sure, but its origin was from someone else’s feelings. I decided that if I were to create music whose source was my own emotions, I would have to learn how to connect those emotions to musical elements, and the particulars of those connections would be personal. I decided to sit at a piano and experiment. I would press a key without much thought or experiment with an almost random chord. If the result was pleasing to me, I tended to repeat the sequence. If not, it would usually be quickly forgotten. I never wrote anything down because that would significantly have interfered with the experimental process, and it was antithetical to the idea that the developing piece should always be evolving. I also intentionally avoided becoming an accomplished sight reader of written music because I wanted to avoid the direct influence of other people’s styles to the greatest degree possible. As I became more familiar with the piano, the experience of playing musical fragments began to form the basic elements that then could be used to form longer pieces and express feelings. The patterns over the keys became something like a spontaneous dance. The modes and chords evoked moods and colors in my mind. Eventually I got to the point where I could use these basic musical elements to explore my inner emotional world. Some of the results are what you hear in my recorded music.

    The work on the Time album began with a relatively thorough exploration of the voicing available on the Yamaha YPT300 (selling, by the way, for under $150 in 2009, so that, based on cost, in the industrialized world it can be considered a folk instrument). By taking a few days to go through all 482 voices plus the various mode settings, I found a dozen or so voices that I really loved. I carefully recorded those voice settings in a spreadsheet for easy reference. It was in those voices that I found the very heart of my creative process. It was as though by listening to those voices, I heard the voice itself suggesting the musical composition. My fingers seemed to find the melodies and rhythms from the voice. I was not multi-tracking and not even using a rhythm accompaniment at this stage; that would come at the very end of the process. Each of the pieces I discovered in the voicing would be played hundreds, maybe even thousands of times. Each time through would be different. Each time through would result in minor changes and sometimes even major changes.

    When I finally was at the stage where I thought the music was developed enough to record and I was anxious to start working on new pieces, I spent some very concentrated time with multi-tracking software (Adobe Audition). It was during this time that I could add the additional layers I sometimes would hear in my head as I played various pieces. However, even at this stage, I kept the ability to change the central musical line in response to the layers. In fact, Bird Flight Past the Moon is an extreme example of this. As I worked on the original music line, I felt it needed additional sections before or perhaps following the main melody. To create these sections, I began long improvisation sessions. Sometimes I got rather lost in this music, and it wasn’t until I went back and listened to it that I discovered that the improvisation was much better than the original. I threw out the original and kept the improvisation, which is primarily what you hear on the last track.

    I will add one important note about rhythm tracks and other multi-track techniques that I’ll explain with an example. The relationship between the right hand and the left hand on a keyboard is extremely complex. If you take the left hand and record it as a track and then try to play the right hand on another track, you are immediately confronted with two problems. First of all, in order to sync the music, you have to be listening to the track that was laid down first. That takes your attention away from your playing to some degree. Even worse, you can’t change the laid down track in direct response to small changes you make along the way. I do resort to multi-tracking during my process, but I try to avoid it whenever possible.

    I’ve extended my musical approach to include songs with words, but it is usually the music which suggests a feeling that in turn suggests a phrase. Crafting the words is a very long process and involves hours of editing and change.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    My favorite songs take me to an emotional place. It moves me because the emotional content is personally compelling and it derives its force by thousands of technical choices made by the artist that supports the emotional intent.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    AND

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    I am rarely frustrated with the process and don’t get stuck because the goal is exploration, not turning out a specific marketable product by a certain date.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    I do NOT envision an audience or outside listener when I write. I write to please myself with the hope that others will enjoy the result.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I love to collaborate and always solicit outside opinions. Solicited opinions are primarily useful in putting together a sequence of pieces for a CD rather than in the writing process itself. I’ve also had very helpful comments that note compositional tendencies. I’m almost always a much more severe critic than anyone who comments on my work, so feedback almost never has a direct influence on a particular piece.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own songs is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    “Really good” is usually used to describe the public’s widespread reaction to a song. I solicit feedback from the public but find everyone has different favorites. For myself, my babies are almost always misbehaving and I’m constantly correcting them. I stop correcting them when fatigue sets in and I’m more interested in working with new babies.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    Creating songs lets me explore emotions I would otherwise not be so intimately connected to. I’ll create songs as long as I’m physically and mentally able to. Nothing is forever.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Inspiration is always at the core but perspiration is needed to evolve a piece, more perspiration is needed to bring the piece to production level, and still more perspiration needed in the production process itself… lots of perspiration.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    I can never imagine a song before it is created. The reason I create is to discover the song.

  • Setting out to write a song never works. I usually jam on a particular type of song I would like to do and see what happens. My favorite songs have came very quickly. If I like a certain riff but cannot come up with a suitable vocal melody I will set it aside, sometimes for years. I never settle on vocal melodies. I also never practice a song until it is fully recorded. That way you are not limited to playing possibilities. Worry about how you play it later. There are many songs I considered throwaway songs until other bandmates put their signature. I am a sound junkie and really love hearing bands that push the limits of a studio. Beatles, radiohead, sparklehorse, fugazi, all flourished in the studio. Aim high

  • Mel MacKaron

    I usually start with a theme–either a musical hook or a lyrical idea. This establishes whether I’ll write a ballad or something edgier. If it was the hook, then I look for the rhythm and chord progression, thinking in terms (also) of instrumentation. If it’s the lyrics, I ask myself if it’s the chorus or the verse–something unique or a repetitive theme. I’ll then work on potential melodies.

    Once I’ve established rhythm and structure, I’ll add in some interesting drum and bass tags (feeling that the rest of the bass/percussive elements will take care of themselves as the song progresses). Finally, it’s create and polish, and polish some more.

    If I get “stuck,” frustration does not enter into the picture. No one ever succeeded by succumbing to stress. Instead, I might break away to get new perspective. Perhaps I’ll pick up my guitar and just riff, playing different songs or looking for interesting sounds–nothing related to the current project. After a while, the muses answer my call, and I’m back at it.

    I don’t necessarily picture a particular audience (although I may envision a particular person from my past or present) as I’m writing, and I do not collaborate. Too many opinions can cause a song to lose its identity. Also, another person may not “see” what I wanted in the first place. That said, I will ask for opinions after I have produced my “final” cut–and I sometimes take the critiques and modify elements of the song (e.g., could I have softened the overdrive or brought up the keyboard more)?

    Not writing any more would be the same as being dead. How can you not create? So far as the inspiration/perspiration argument goes, inspiration always starts the process. I’m a firm believer in the muses. Also, if you quit writing, the muses will go elsewhere, so you will have to “lure” them back. But after they have given you a nudge, work it out–that is, get on to the perspiration part of the job.

  • I had a crazy songwriting experience 2 weeks ago, in which a song came out in one go after I had a shower. I’ve written about it here: http://atlumschema.com/atlumschema/an-odd-experience-of-creative-barf/

    I’ve never experienced anything like it before and wonder whether I will again but I’m so glad I managed to catch it – it was like a creative puke reflex. Most strange!

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    My process usually begins at the piano/keyboard Synth, I’ll just start what I call doodling until I find a chord or groove that feels good and inspires me. The music tends to lead me in it’s own direction. Once I have a piece of music that I like, then come the more challenging part….. discovering the lyrics within the music. This process can happen fast or take what seems like forever, I’m very picky about the lyrics to my music. I’ll sit with the music until it speaks to me, again the process of doodling….singing non-sense until I discover what I want, or should I say what the music wants to say….. I allow it to comes fourth on it’s own terms and time. It’s like drawing and painting to me.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    My favorite songs make me feel good, they comfort me when I’m not feeling so good. They inspire and encourage me to greater possibilities. They are like eating your favorite food. They are like a special friend. They know how to speak to a need within, that often times is very hard to articulate. It can be the melody, the play on words….the pictures that they paint. It’s all about the feelings they create for me.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    The most frustrating aspect about songwriting for me is the lyrics, To communicate a feeling in words and melody in a unique way. I strive to avoid being cliche’. I often get stuck because of this effort, so I’ll let the song sit for a while until I’m ready to approach it again. I’ll listen to other songs that I admire, or read books to expand my vocabulary, and get inspired by the use of words to help me. Many times I’ll collaborate with other writers whose work I respect, they always bring something fresh to the table, or help steer me in the direction I need to be going.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    Yeah, I must admit to “Loving my babies”. Each one represents a certain place and time for me. Being a singer, I know I have a really good song when I enjoy singing it, and I feel a strong emotional connection with it. I also know by the response of the people who listen to my songs, strangers who are bias. I am very critical on songs, I know when a melody or a lyric is not working/feeling right….doesn’t sing well.
    I have recently discovered that my songs really speak to where I’m at in my life at that moment. My songs are my legacy, my gift to the world. I know I will be writing songs for as long as I am living.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    It’s a mixture of both for me, the inspiration is always there to want to write a great song that moves/touches the world. The perspiration comes in being persistent in taking action towards that goal. I think the creative part is the easy …..getting the songs out into the world where they can have a full and prosperous life is the greater challenge for me.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    LOL…. My greatest unwritten song would be very short and simple, a song that every listening ear would fall in love with and want to sing. This song would lift, inspire and empower people all over the world to honor their life and the lives of others.

  • For me, songs come towered me like a train. I rush to the paper or whatever I can find and it flows out in a creative fury. I never keep a song that doesn’t come out in 30 mins or less because after that the train has passed-once I try and work on songs after that point they become forced and unnatural feeling. My songwriting is extremely poetic, deep, and contemplative and is a very personal experience-thus I hesitate strongly when it comes to co-writing. As of lately I am realizing that I may need to challenge myself to wrote songs in more than one way-though this terrifies me! I am so used to it coming like a flood that “working on a song” sounds wrong to me, it gives me a ‘swimming upstream’ feeling. But for the first time in my 5 year songwriting career I am stuck. Yikes.

  • It all starts with the hook — not the topic, not the melody, but a hook. The hook has both a rhythm and a catch phrase. If I can't get to the hook at that moment, I scratch it down on anything at hand and stuff it into my purse. Some hooks have disappeared in there forever. Now, I carry a little notebook in my purse so the hooks don't go missing. But I also record some hooks into my laptop – just activate the internal microphone, and store it there.

    Then I come back when I've got the time and work it out in both directions. Add words, add music. Create a tune, make a verse. Some hooks want to be developed through piano, and others through guitar. A few want to be a capella.

    I believe that my best songs come from hooks, not from plans to write a song….my most well known satirical song, "Mammary glands," came from a hook I carried around for about six months. "Mammary Glands, whoa whoa, Mother Nature's dairy delight!" I knew it would be honky tonk, I could hear the chords. Finally I sat down and wrote the verses, sang it a few dozen times, and revised. Only after that point should you ever record it. Wait till it's been under the lights and on a microphone, heard by real people, live, and only then commit it to a recording.

    Songs dress up in funny costumes, and I laugh at them and then come and let them in. They are charming and insistent. They amuse and move me way before I share them with others. Then I tote them around and by god they charm others, too!

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    The songwriting process for me varies. I can start with just a title I have been thinking about or sometimes I’ll be writing in my journal and a line or thought will manifest itself and I will be inspired from there. Once I have rolled the idea around in my head (is it a different perspective, is it unique), I go into my studio (if I’m not already there) and light some candles, get my blank paper, my coloured pens, set them in front of me, and centre myself by taking a few deep breaths. I ask my higher self for guidance and inspiration. Then I put my pen to paper and just write. Sometimes it’s brilliant, sometimes it blows, sometimes it leads somewhere I could have never imagined. I almost always start with the lyrics first. I write about the thought or title or whatever it is until I can’t write anymore about it. Then I reread it and usually I can already pick out a chorus, or a bridge, or a cool hook line. The trick for me, is to just write. Spend the time and let whatever happens, happen. Sometimes it comes right away, sometimes not. I get frustrated, yes, but mostly in the editing process. My songs go through a brutal editing process, three or more times before they even see the light of day with any of my co-writers, or even if I’m writing the music myself. To me it saves a lot of headache if it’s the best it can be first of all, then more editing once the music comes into the equation, cause syllables need to be tightened, or a word might not sing well, or it’s cheesy. Whatever. Bottom line, I let the creative process flow until it’s exhausted, and after it’s crafted into whatever type (aaba, vs ch bridge) it warrants, then I edit like crazy.
    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    Emotions are king. Whether it’s the lyrics, or the music, it depends on the song. First of all, it has to be a well crafted song. Melody lines that are perfectly matched with their lyrics really can affect me. Riffs, sometimes really affect me (Enter Sandman). But nothing moves me more than a passionate singer who is really getting their point across. Not necessarily a great technical singer, but someone who really is nailing the emotion of the words.
    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    Most of my frustrations are when I’m in the editing process and am trying to find just the right word or line, or lines. Another frustration is when I’m working with a co-writer and the music is leading the lyric in a different direction. I might keep the chorus, or have to write new verses…that’s a frustration because when the song is at that point, I want the words to be perfect and at the same time say something new and interesting…not trite and cheesy. I often get stuck when I’m working on the 2nd verse. We call it “2nd verse hell” for a reason. To craft a great song, you have to say something different than the first verse, and sometimes it even requires a rewrite of the chorus. Most of the time my stuckness and frustration comes from wanting to make it perfect…and perfection is really a myth.
    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    I beat what I am working on to death, and when I’m about to pull out my hair, I walk away from it…if I’m under a deadline, sometimes I’ll sit and meditate and clear my head for 15 minutes, or I’ll go out and walk or ride my bike…something to get my mind off it. I might even ask a co-writer, someone who I trust what they think…whether I’m on the right track or being too hard on myself. Sometimes I leave things for a week or longer…depends on the situation.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    When I am crafting ideas, I am writing for myself. It’s my purging process. But when it’s developed into a song, I ask myself, is this relatable? When I’m working on the music and melodies, whether it’s with a co-writer or not, I make sure it’s a well crafted song. When the chorus comes, is it obvious, can you sing along to the melody line, things like that I think over the years of have just become second nature to me. If I can’t remember the melody line after singing it a bit, I scrap it. You want your audience to sing along or hum along. I also think about how it will sound live. Will it be anthemic, or quiet; what’s it’s personality? You don’t want your audience to be bored…well, I don’t, anyway.
    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    I love co-writing! It brings a different perspective to the song, and sometimes a co-writer is able to see things you can’t in a lyric, or music. Sometimes they interperet things totally different than you would…and that’s a good thing. I think you can write a great song alone, sure, but I think you can write a brilliant song with a co-writer.
    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    I’ve been writing long enough, that if the song moves me when I sing it, I have a feeling it’s good. But that means nothing until you get the response of an audience, whether it’s a co-writer to say yeah, or no. But if a song is bad, it usually starts misbehaving from the beginning and leaves me cold. A lot of times those ones don’t get finished, or they just end up being lyrics on a page.
    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    If I didn’t write songs, I’d be insane. I’ve been writing songs since I was 9 years old…it’s fun…why would I stop doing something that’s fun?
    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    For me, inspiration is about 10%. Yes, things inspire me, but I also must do things to get the ball rolling. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing better than being woke up at three in the morning because I’ve got songs in my head and the muse won’t let me sleep til I’ve got them down on paper, but in reality, if you write lots, those “inspiration” moments are few and far between. If you wait for inspiration to hit, you could wait forever. Perspiration is 90% because I believe to write a great song, you have to rewrite and edit and rewrite and edit. But that’s okay…that is a beautiful thing, too.
    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    Amazing melodies, flowing, inspiring lyrics, a chorus that breaks your heart. Everyone wants to hear it and sing it and record it…my favourite singers are fighting to sing it with me. Guitar riffs that leave other guitarists jealous that they didn’t come up with such brilliance. I can sit back and smile and say, wow, I hope I have a bunch more in me like that…that’s a cool song.

    http://www.robinbrock.com
    http://www.myspace.com/robinbrockrocks

  • It is difficult to explain how to write a song. I don’t read music and all my music is in my head, what I hear there. When I first started, I wrote on the front of my pad,(days before computers) “if it ain’t workin’ you’re tryin’ too hard.” Actually, it is the ego trying to take over the creative process of which is it not qualified to do. I first feel an idea about a song, then there is a gesatation period, different lengths for different songs, and once that is past, the birth of the song is almost instantaneous.
    My first songs evolved around the Cripple Creek gold mining discoveries in the 1890s. So much rich material in our history. Next, I wrote about the mountain men, then trail drives and now have written many songs around the Lewis and Clark expedition. The last song I wrote is about the Montana Vigalantes. I read a lot and am always intrigued with the self-reliant people who created the greatest nation in the world. For me these are all love songs, love songs about our great America.
    My songs are from visualizations in my mind from reading, my actual experience, and sometimes from the imagination alone. Since I don’t have to worry about making a living selling my songs, I am free to write a song about anything I want. I love freedom and not worrying about going commerical gives me the freedon that I want to keep. I received a certificate of recognition from Billboard, one of three songs I have ever entered in a contest.
    I am gifted in that I can get melodies one after another all day long. The hard part for me is to get the words, just the right words that exactly fits what I want to hear and then feel when singing the song.
    Song writing is a craft and the more we do it, the better we get at it. It satisfys something in my soul to write the songs that I perform in my one man concerts laced with stories about real people that generated the idea for it to be born.
    ,

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    I have no idea how I write songs. They either come or they don’t. That can be frustrating, particularly for an impatient person such as myself, but that also makes the whole thing all the more magical. I have in the past spent hours thinking about the perfect way to go about it to achieve something beautiful but I realized I’m like one of those gamblers trying to come up with a system to beat the casino. I believe that the best songs come from a power greater than ourselves. Whether you want to call that God or Satan or anything in between is up to you but there is definetly something mystical about. The best songs ‘I’ have written literally fell out of the sky and landed in my head. It was as though someone else was guiding my hand and my voice. I don’t mean to sound all religious. I don’t know what I believe but I do believe in the infinite power of music.

  • Lindsay

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    Songwriting is really easy. Anyone can do it. The less you think about it the better. Don’t write anything down, because you are going to have to remember it in order to play it for people. Try to do the same thing the next day, and if there is something about what you did the day before that needs fixing, then fiddle with it until you like it again. Do this every day for as long as you have the patience and pretty soon the song has taken shape and it starts to “walk by itself,” like Bob Dylan said.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    It has to have some sort of intelligence- whether that’s emotional intelligence or artistic. The kind of song that makes you feel like you’re a smarter version of your own self after having heard it.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    Once I get them to the point where they’re pretty good, I’m bored with them and I don’t want to bother playing them anymore!

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    Playing with other musicians. People who can really jam.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    There is one song I have where I like to envision myself playing it as the musical guest on the David Letterman show.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    Once I bring it to other players, I find that their suggestions are usually helpful and I usually adopt them. It’s important that everyone enjoys playing it.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    If it sounds like a million other songs that are already out there, I’m more inclined to drop it. I want to keep the ones that are unique because they’re more exciting to play.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    It’s a great craft and hobby. It’s easier than writing novels. I’ll only stop if I no longer feel compelled to express my emotions.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Inspiration comes first and perspiration comes second, third, fourth, fifth etc.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    I still feel that way about the songs that I’ve already written. I don’t think I will ever feel like they’re finished until the whole world has heard them.

  • KJ

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    It has happened a number of ways in my life. Some have been the flash of inspiration, and others have been an endeavor that has spanned years. The one piece of advice that has stuck with me was given to me was, “Don’t throw ANYTHING away.” and often I find that some little snippet or idea that was nothing suddenly becomes the musical idea that inspires the subject I feel like writing about. Often just playing through the pages and pages of melodic ideas can inspire me even if I don’t use any of them straight out.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    It is the sound of the song as a whole. I can analyze it for structure and technique, musicianship and passion (and the songs I like have these aspects) but it is the sound as a whole that draws me. Does the song MOVE? (and I’m not talking fast tempo) Does it say something Musically? Lyrically? I can’t define it. I just know it when hear it.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    My own damn limitations.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    Getting stuck is an interesting way to put it. Sometimes you’re just not ready (musically, emotionally, technically…whatever) to say what you are trying to say. Sometimes a step back and a little time, a little growth will save and improve a song that would have been lost if you just gave up in frustration and destroyed the work.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    No. Never. Music is from the soul. It is your statement to the world. I only ever worry about myself and the people with whom I may be collaborating. If anyone else gets it, they get it…. if not….. oh well.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    Collaboration is a good thing. It gives you a fresh perspective and helps you grow as a musician. It can (if you let it) enrich your writing skills faster than just listening to someone else’s recordings. And it can increase your professional network. Something definitely worth having.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    I think that phrase (Kill your Babies) is a load of crap. Don’t kill your babies, (not if you’re sane anyway). Just don’t expect everyone to love your kids the way you do. Everyone sees things differently. Some of my favorite songs growing up were not the popular ones. They still helped me.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    Sanity. and yes, I probably will be writing forever. (or until I stop getting ideas)

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    20%/80% respectively. Good song-writing is not easy. But it is worth it.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    Can’t… I haven’t met it yet.

    KJ – Songwriter/Arranger for Jupiter

  • Lucky Jean

    I know you’re “supposed” to start with the lyrics, but I rarely do. I almost always start with a melody or a chord progression on guitar.

    If I have some lyrics figured out by then, I’ll start putting that together, but usually I start with a bunch of throwaway words which will never make it into the final song. They’re just there to catch the rhythm of it.

    Then I slowly, oh, so slowly, come up with words. Some of them get figured out while I’m playing guitar, but most get written in my head while I’m doing something else, dishes or yard work or whatever.

    Then over an excruciatingly long time I sort the good verses and choruses from the bad ones, trying to eliminate the obvious cliches and overused rhymes, etc., and just keep the very best of it. Sometimes I can just write a song all in one flash, but sometimes those fast songs turn out to be cliched and boring when I give it a critical listen later.

    My frustration, obviously, is with my glacially slow lyric writing. I hate boring, insincere, predictable lyrics and I don’t want to just put any old thing in there that will fit. I throw away a lot of crappy lyrics, so I’m learning to not be so attached to certain parts of my songs if it really ought to get edited out.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song? – My default has always been to start with words. Sometimes it’s a title, sometimes a verse, or chorus. These days I force myself to take a 360 degree approach – that is, come at it from any angle: melody, chords, vocal line, words…where you start makes for a different outcome.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you? – What moves me the most is the writers effort to communicate with the listener. Music is great therapy and people have saved thousands of dollars and solved millions of problems just by having the right song at the right moment. A song that motivates people to take the next step (whatever that step is) is the only song that moves me.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck? – Trying to force a result. I write everyday. It might be a whole song, just a line, an interesting word, something that contributes to the process. I think writer’s block is bullshit. Writing songs is a job (a pretty dam good one). Creative hooey aside, it’s a job you can do or you can’t. Everything else is an excuse.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck? – Same answer as Q3.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process? – I don’t envision an audience at all. You can’t please everyone (don’t even try). Just please yourself, and if you are trying to communicate you will.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process? – Generally, I wait until a song has form before exposing it to others. Creative critisism is considered, used or disgarded depending on who the critic is. I’ve collaborated a few times, but rarely from scratch. As I say, the song generally has form and collaboration becomes a tweeking process in varying degrees.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving? – Peformance has always been the litmus test for me. It’s been proven to me many times over, I am not the best judge of what makes a good, great, bad or indifferent song. Peforming that song to an audience (a few times at least) tells me this song still needs work, or I’m onto a winner here, or whatever. I am often suprised with a song that I thought was “average” suddenly turns into a crowd pleaser…or vise-versa. So again, write to please yourself and then road test it.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever? – I hope to be writing a song the day I die. In terms of a career or job, there is nothing on earth I would rather be dedicating my time to.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process? – The 90/10 theory is mostly accurate. I think of it this way: Songwriting is the easiest job in the world if you work at it hard & the hardest job in the world if you work at it easy.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you haven’t written yet. Describe it. – What a clunker of a question…you were doing all right up until that one.

  • I come at this from the perspective of being a part-time songwriter that started out as a self-taught guitar player. I’m no great singer but have a love of song. Slowly I’ve found myself gravitating towards the artistic achievements of some of my musical heroes, emulating aspects of their work, pouring them into a singular melting pot and making them my own.

    I’m also a part-time artist (a painter). Creativity features highly in my daily life.

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    These are some of the main methods:

    I’ll get a tune in my head, a melody that I’ll find myself singing, a phrase that won’t leave me alone, all too frequently when I’m doing something else entirely like cycling, walking, swimming, working on my allotment. I take this to a guitar and work some chords around it and it’ll grow from that.

    I find something that my fingers like to do on the guitar, some lick/sequence of chords/pattern that resonates in my bones and body, and I’ll go over and over the territory, exploring things that fit with it, allowing little branches to occur. Frequently I’ll mumble along, often making up word sounds, mumbling gibberish in places where I feel inspired. Over time these word sounds will form themselves into words per se and the piece will gain a coherency.

    I’m in a mood. I pick up a guitar and try and dissolve my whole being into that mood and try to define it, describing and delineating with words/melody/music, surrounding myself in a bubble.

    I have a structural idea and implement it. Maths, kind of. A + B, etc.

    I take some broken little pieces from 25 years of scrap ideas and chuck them together, old lyrics, fragments, guitar licks, etc.

    I have an idea of something I want to say. A theme, content, a scenario, a lyric idea. I’ll write a load of words, some of these words form phrases, a guitar is never far away, life works a little magic and hey presto!

    Sometimes I just start with a ‘brick’ and start building.

    Play, and creative exploration is key to all these processes and many of these approaches are used in conjunction with one another.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    The best songs for me raise hairs all over my body, suffuse my being with a grace and a beauty so pure that I don’t know whether to burst out in joyful laughter or cry my eyes out. They often defy logic, will totally transport you, take you out of your present state of mind/being and let you inhabit the landscape of the song. I’m deeply fond of songs that stop time, that indefinable quality, where you’re immersed and totally unaware of your worldly concerns, where everything else becomes secondary, whereby infinity and living forever seem like totally normal everyday concepts, where you can sit in the pilot seat of the song creators and share their ride.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    Starting but not finishing, i.e: not having enough ideas to turn a nugget into a complete song. Or alternatively trying to squeeze too much into one song, too many ideas, so that the song gets so dense it cannot breathe.

    Another big frustration is becoming desensitised as the years go on, nothing gets to you any more, gets past the ever thickening wall of hardened armour and worldy cynicism. Does writing a piece a few minutes long, trying to express yourself with words and music have much relevance any more in a world full of people/noise/songs/information overload? Hasn’t it all been done to death? A naive attempt to communicate? Is silence not so much more eloquent?

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    By immersing myself totally with passion and having an idea strong enough for me to believe in it.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    Not often. I’m the audience. If I get off on it I figure somebody out there must also feel something too.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    Writing for me is a solitary pursuit, although jams with other musicians have sometimes provided the spark, the excitement, the fresh new kernel of an idea, which I then take and model.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    Every song has its own merits. A really good song ticks all the boxes (quality of theme, content, melody, chorus, integrity with a sprinkling of something ‘extra’) and is a place you can come back to again and again and again. It’s a song you can ‘wear’ differently each time you play it, that’ll mellow with age like an old pair of jeans, that your soul can inhabit comfortably and if you’re lucky that’ll find resonance in the collective unconscious somewhere, i.e. many others will click into and dig what you’re doing on deep levels. It is born from silence. A bad song has no longevity and won’t allow you to immerse yourself. It holds back, reflecting your own state when writing/playing it..it’ll never feel a comfortable place for you to be, it doesn’t ‘fit’, changes are clunky, it’s just noise for noise’s sake, graceless. Unaware of silence. Life will edit it, or remove it entirely.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    Creative release. As long as it still interests me, I’ll keep doing it. I go through phases. Having a quiet one of late. Painting pictures is taking up more of my time.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Inspiration. It’s the fire under the belly of the creative beast. It fuels action. This gets me to take an idea and do something with it. Stops the ever spinning wheels of the fruit machine in my brain and makes me stay put on a combination long enough for me to actualise it, i.e: to get my caveman brain to pick up the proverbial hammer and beat something into shape.

    Perspiration. Is needed to complete the inspiration process, to finish the actualisation, to take you through the ‘hammering’ process. Ideally, the inspiration carries you through the ‘work’/perspiration part so that you’re enjoying yourself and fired up all the way and it doesn’t feel like ‘work’, (work = dragging boulders up mountainsides like Sisyphus in my opinion). I have forced the issue sometimes. Dragged my bones across the hot coals of my ego. Kicked my body into action because my brain says ‘I must work and finish this’, not because I have any desire to. I have tried to work an idea that’s not working through sheer bloody-mindedness and hard work, and tried to implement a cold steel discipline to the process at times because I thought I ought to, but in my mind, (and judging by the results), these methods do not work for me.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    It’d be a classic, a defining moment in time like Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind, one that radiates across the airwaves, helps change a culture, one that stands as exemplary of (or an epitaph for) the best of myself and my musical message. It’d be one that still sounded great 50 years on, that didn’t age. It’d have those joy/tears, honest integrity and stopping time qualities previously answered in Question 2. It’d be deceptively simple and amount to a sum far greater than its parts. And it’d resonate with a truth. Or rather: Truth.

  • I ask God to remove me out of the way! I think about the title of poem, then I turn it into words within five-ten minutes. I never have to sit for more than ten minutes or rewrite the words. My gift is from God and it just flows very easly for me. Every poem I have written is very different from what other people are thinking or saying.Many of my peos thus far hearts the soul of an individual. Ckeck out website to find out,I want to have my poems or writing becomea success for others through songs.

  • Great topic and discussion!! Please Google Ross Phazor and “Like” us on Facebook too! 🙂 http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Ross-PhazorTM/50315976043

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    Song comes in my head, I pick up guitar and write lyrics and then record.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    The groove and the beat moves me and lyical hooks make me say YEAH!!

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    N/A…it comes easy.
    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    N/A…see above
    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    No, not really.
    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    No, not really.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    I ask people which songs they like best. If I don’t like a song I write, I dump it.
    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    I get personal artistic satisfaction and some cash too. I write, therefore I am.
    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    I write when I’m inspired but don’t remember perspiring.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    I am holding a Grammy and enjoy burning money for fun. 🙂

  • Question #1 What does my song writing process look like? A few of the most common ways?
    Okay, try and picture this if you would:

    Walking somewhere, driving my car or being driven, no talking with driver, shopping for groceries or in stores meandering about, barely hearing a song coming from anywhere, and usually not ever trying to sit down and ‘write a song’ is how it works for me, the writing of songs.
    It’s insane I know but, when I least expect it or prepared for it, BAM! A section of a song begins playing in my head, fully produced, usually starting with a catchy chorus. They just fly into my head and then I begin to sing it out loud just loud enough not to be heard or noticed over and over and over all the while making subtle melodic or chord changes refining the chorus or song piece to a nearly completed section.

    If I’m lucky and I’m not distureb at all by whats happening around me, I begin to tackle the missing verse or bridge trying different melodies, chords and production sounds all together in my head until I reach a point where I say or think to myself, “Yes! This can be an awesome song here.

    If I don’t happen to have my hand held tape recorder with me to hum what I have just composed the past 5-15 minutes (or more) on to, I call my cell phone from a friends cell phone I may be with or use a 2nd cell phone I often carry with me to call myself. I hear the the beep tone and start to sing all the ideas I have made up to that moment and leave myself a very long and rough cell to cell phone demo shouting out instructions as I go along as to maybe a cello part, a dynamic change, or maybe some harmony parts, who knows?. Later, when I return home, I take my guitar and play back my message to myself of music and directions and then hash it out properly with an instrument. lol

    Now if I’m very lucky, I may have the opportunity to just keep working on the song for hours and hours before ‘phoning it in’. The whole initial process might be just a clever phrase I remember or come on to and with the slightest efort, I begin to just formulate an accompanying melody and chords along to it. Some times, it’s the complete opposite. The music bursts into my head and then I begin to sing words along to it.

    A good drive alone, from CT to NYC with windows up and no radio playing at all, I can often be seen by passing motorists banging on to my steering wheel and singing quite loudly with wild abandonment. Oh, I do love how that all just happens, out of the clear blue….BAM BAM BAM, here it comes flooding into my head….the good start of a great song. This is not reccommended but when I start getting on a roll flowing with lyricical ideas, while driving (ooops), I have a pad of paper or even just scrap paper beside my right side and begin to scribble down lyric ideas as I’m watching the road driving, sometimes at a high rate of speed. I feel very elated and excited trying to keep up, writing, scribling down lyrics as I’m driving along. I think it all adds to the mad spontinuity creating and caputuring, yes yes, capturing all my song ideas all at once.

    It’s a beautiful piece of time, adrenalin flowing and words, music, and production are just flooding my head. Then of course, when I feel spent, (10 – 60 minutes later), I pick up my cell phone and call my other cell # and make my message demo call, haha.
    When this happens, I feel like a million bucks, usually in a great mood all day and sometimes shortly later I will sing it to someone I know just to see his/her reaction to the main jist I’ve been working on.

    The greatist song I have not writen yet and describe it?

    Well, thats an easy one. The greatest song I’ve written is the song when the hook or the best part comes along, everyone and anyone who is listening to it (no matter what they are doing at the time) turns to one another and begins to shout or sing along that ‘best part’ to each other, eye to eye, smiling, laughing along, or quite serious, like their with a best friend coming out the speakers being a part of it at those sweet moments of the song. The song is a smash hit, world wide of course!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL hahaha

    Thank you for reading guys,
    Hilly Michaels

  • Adendum to Q #1

    Sometimes I have to make 3-6 sepparate phone calls to my ceell phone as I’m honing in on all the parts, adding, changing, subtracting ideas. As for the phone bill and anytime minutes, it’s worth it!!!

  • Firstly let me just say that the similarities I have read in these posting is phenominal! And rather than go point by point to reprise the very intuitive and inspirational comments I’ve read, I’d just like to add, that for me as a songwriter/lyicist, it all begings with “feeling” melodies arise from rythm,not all songs are written in the same way…there is no formula to creating. Poetry can be translated into song and sometimes lyrical ideas come from, and I know it sounds strange,listening to music and literaly having melodies reach out from within the sound. I have tried many times to sit down and write a song with all the stored up energy and experiences pounding to get out-only to wind up staring at the paper in front of me and looking at my pen as if it is some foreign object invading my hand! And the other side of that one is that sometimes when I least expect it the pen starts moving across the paper as if it has a mind of it’s own and I don’t know what I’ve really written until I stop and look back at it! Finally I just want to say that for me,colaboration has been the greatest tool for writting songs,whether it has been forming lyrics to music or singing accapella to another musician or just jammin’ out and improvising on the spot,pitching lyricial ideas and bouncing melodies off of eachother is the most rewarding part of the creation process.
    Influences are so numerous and life offers us so much to work with that I believe without music my life would be incomplete, and even though most people don’t understand what it’s like to have such a gift, most people do enjoy the end results…the songs!- the music, and the emotions that are stirred through listening. Thank you for reading. Good luck and keep making music!!

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    Basically it happens one of two ways for me. I'll either come up with music first that i think is interesting and see what i'd like to write lyrics about to go over it, or the exact opposite, I'll want to talk about something and write the lyrics then try compose music that's true to the theme.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    My favourite songs basically have every ingredient working together. They don't have to be lyrically brilliant or musically complex, but when everything just melds together to form solid music it's wonderful. And I always just want to hear honesty and spirit in the music, that's what you'll remember in 5 years time.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    I get stuck everywhere. I can go for months without writing a word. Sometimes it's the littlest things things like one word doesn't fit right or the melody just won't sit on top of the chord progression. The problem is, if you have a huge problem with a song, it's a lot easier to fix because it's all too obvious what's wrong. It's the little problems that give you nightmares.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    I find the best way to overcome frustration with music is to walk away from your instrument for a while. You can't force it and the results would be poor if you did. I just go listen to some music by my favourite songwriters to see if I can pick up a pointer or watch a movie or go meet friends. You need to get back in a relaxed frame of mind to get back to your best.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    I never envision an audience or listener apart from the person I'm writing about. I ofetn ask myself (perhaps wrongly) 'would they like this?' I always try to write for myself but sometimes you just can't help but hope that you impress the person that inspired you.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    Never. I'll know myself if something will work or not, or if it's just complete garbage. My attitude is that I have to be my worst critic and if I can make something I enjoy playing and listening to then there's a chance other people will too.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    I think the best way is just to play your songs to yourself over and over and see if you get sick of any of them. At first you'll be learning the motor skills to be able to play the song in your sleep but when you've got that down you can really start listening to yourself and hear inside the song. Eventually you'll find that some songs you just don't look forward to playing and maybe subconciously you're telling yourself that it's just not good.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    Mostly it's just the chance to vent. To say things to people without having to say it to their face. It can be really cathartic in that way. I probably will write songs forever but they'll always be interspersed with other projects like scoring films and instrumental work.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    Inspiration is the one thing every creative person loves and hates. When it's here, it's the most wonderful thing on earth, and then it leaves and you're stuck waiting for it. When I write lyrics they tend to be really melancholic so if I'm able to write it means I'm not happy and that's the inspiration, so sometimes it's better to be uninspired. Perspiration never comes into it. I like to push myself but never strain myself. If you're struggling for something to come but it just won't then leave it for a while. The best job in the world is being a musician, so you shouldn't make it a real job. Work at it, but don't labour at it.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    The greatest song I haven't written yet is one that simply makes someone rethink things, maybe discover something inside themself that was hidden and they're happy to let out now. And there's a good chance it has an awesome guitar solo.

    Darren Giles
    http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/DarrenGiles http://www.myspace.com/darrengilesband http://www.facebook.com/darrengilesmusic

  • The following is an article I wrote many years ago for a national songwriter magazine. It is what I write and live by when it come to songwritint. Hope this helps you.

    Five Steps To Songwriting
    ————————–
    By Harvey Derrick

    The first “Tidbit” I always try to pass along to those who want to be a songwriter is; there are two types of songwriters. Those who write for self-satisfaction, family and friends and those who write commercially for the public. If your goal is self, family and friends, your road will be smooth and straight. If your goal is to make money, then your road will be full of bumps, curves, potholes and detours. This article focuses on the writer who wants to write songs for the public and make a few dollars. To be a commercially successful songwriter you need to know what type of music you want to write, learn your craft, join songwriting organizations, be familiar with what is being recorded, and learn the business part of the industry. That sounds like a lot but it’s like any other commercial writing, you have a certain amount of homework to do to be a seller. And if you break it down, you’ll probably find you’ve already done some of the steps.

    Know What Type of Music You Want to Write.

    If you are a country, western or folk writer, you don’t want to pursue a career in Heavy Metal Rock. You’ll want to concentrate on one field until you are a known writer and then you can write what is called crossover songs. This is material that is accepted in two or more music fields or markets. Songs like “Nine To Five” or “The Rose. Spend several hours each day studying the music in your chosen field, analyzing it, determining what makes it sell. Is it the unforgettable lyrics, music, vocalist, group or a_mixture of one or more of these elements?

    Learn Your Craft.

    Songwriting is an art form of expression. Songs that sell paint pictures and create emotional images. A songwriter strives to weave words with music so the listener feels a touch of magic, tastes the sweet and bitter kiss of life, feels beauty and agony, sees a vision, and smells the sweet fragrance of a rose. The writer writes so the listener feels compelled to listen, sing the words or play the music until it is deeply embedded in their minds and memories. Why is “Love” played and sung at so many weddings? Because the words and music symbolize the hopes of “and they lived happily ever after.” Or perhaps you want your listener to laugh with merriment, nod their head in understanding or tap their foot to the rhythm of the music. So how is it done? First you want to find a word, phrase or a set of musical notes that is a “hook.” That element that hooks on to their memory that they know without thinking about it. It is in the title and repeated several times in the lyrics. It can be the chorus after each verse. Or it can be a single word. It can be a catchy phrase, a play on words or a different way of saying something familiar, or something ridiculous. A musical hook is usually placed in the intro of the song, just prior to a verse or chorus or during an instrumental portion. “You are the Wind Beneath My Wings” is a good example of a lyrical hook. It says you are my inspiration, my reason for living, the reason I am a success, but says it in a different, magical way. Roy Orbison’s

    “Five Steps to Songwriting” By Harvey Derrick ©1991

    “Pretty Woman” and Bobby Bare’s “Detroit City” are songs that have a musical hook. So, go through your lyrics and musical compositions to see if you have this essential hook. Songs also tell stories. They’re about someone, somewhere, doing something. It is usually universal. But there are times when a song will be topical such as the patriotic song “The Ballad of The Green Beret,” the political song “We’re On The Eve of Destruction,” or the moral statement song “Did Jesus Wear a Rolex.” Although these may not be as successful as those with universal appeal (love, heartbreak, etc.), don’t be hesitant to write them because they are very satisfying to write and may become a legendary hit. Always try to structure your lyrics and melody to be singer and listener friendly (easy to sing and remember). I’m sure you have heard a song once or twice and found yourself singing, at least, the chorus and possibly the whole song an hour later, word for word. This is what I mean by singer and listener friendly.

    Join Songwriter’s Organizations.

    Although national and local songwriter’s organizations are a sounding board for songs you have polished and have ready for marketing, it is important for you to be open to all comments, both positive and negative. It is your responsibility to listen, ask questions and write the comments down. When you are alone, analyze these comments and decide which should be used and which should be discarded. They are opinions based on the likes, dislikes, and experiences of the critic and may or may not be valid. The first few times it may be difficult to listen to these comments objectively. But as you gain confidence, it becomes easier. Just always remember, the song is yours and the responsibility to make any changes is yours, no one else’s. You won’t get the benefit of belonging to a group unless you learn from their comments.

    Be Familiar With What Is Being Recorded.

    Listening to music on the radio is the best way to know what kinds of songs are being recorded, which performers are played most and who is the audience. You can determine the audience by listening to whom the commercials are aimed to. What is the age group? ETC. Also, to be a successful songwriter, you need to know the people in the music market. If your song fits the viewpoint or background of a particular artist you will have better chance to have that artist review and record it. If you want to write country/western music, study Randy Travis, George Jones or Alan Jackson. The same applies with pop, rock and blues. Sometimes the singer can make changes in your song to fit their image and you, the writer, will have to accept those changes if you want your song recorded even though it’s hard to do so.

    Learn The Business Part Of The Industry.

    There are thousands of songwriters sending songs to publisher. So you will want to be better than average. You’ll want to do your homework and know the financial part of the industry as well as the music. One of the best ways to do this is to read books on the craft and business of songwriting that are available in most local libraries. The final
    “Five Steps to Songwriting” By Harvey Derrick ©1991

    word to those of you wanting to break into songwriting is this, as in all areas of writing: Do your marketing well! Know what is needed, is wanted and is being recorded. Your song must conjure up dollar signs in the minds of those who control the purse strings.

    SIDEBAR RECOMMENDED FOR FURTHER READING.

    The Songwriter’s and Musicians Guide To Making Great Demos: by Harvey Rachlin. Writers Digest Books, an imprint of F&W Publications, Inc. 1507 Dana Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45207.
    On Record: by Simon Frith and Andrew Goodwin. Pantheon Books, New York.
    The Craft and Business of Songwriting: by John Braheny. Writers Digest Books, P.O. Box 12948, Cincinnati, Ohio 45212.
    How To Pitch and Promote Your Songs: by Fred Killer. Writers Digest Books, P.O. Box 12948, Cincinnati, Ohio 45212.
    The Craft of Lyric Writing: by Sheila Davis. Writers Digest Books, P.O. Box 12948, Cincinnati, Ohio 45212.

    SOME HELPFUL HINTS FOR SONGWRITERS.

    Write lyrics that are not offensive to anyone.
    When your story is told in your song, stop.
    Be determined your songs will be written well. Just because you hear a mediocre song on the radio, don’t accept that for yourself. Always strive for the best that is in you.
    When you receive criticism, listen, analyze it and learn from it.
    When you send a publisher a “Demo,” make certain it is of superior quality, one that he or she can hear plainly. And send a typed copy of the lyric sheet.
    If a song is rejected, try again as soon as possible.
    Don’t hesitate to let an unknown artist record your song(s). A little heard song has a chance but a never heard song doesn’t.
    Consider collaboration. Sometimes two heads are better than one.
    Accept changes in your song if it is improved by those changes.
    Change words that are hard to sing or pronounce and never use words or phrases just for rhyme sake.
    When you go into a studio or hire someone to make a demo, make sure you always get a sound track of your demo(s)in case you change the lyrics and have to re-sing the voice tracks.
    NEVER PAY ANYONE TO PUBLISH OR RECORD YOUR SONGS! ###
    ©1991 Harvey Derrrick

  • Name: Kellen McKay
    Band Name: Stacked Like Pancakes
    Band URLs:
    http://www.myspace.com/SLPBand
    http://www.youtube.com/SLPBand
    http://www.twitter.com/SLPBand
    http://www.stackedlikepancakes.bandcamp.com

    1. My songwriting process is very specific. Over the years I’ve found that I am the most productive and write the most efficiently when I am sitting on my bed with my tape recorder, book of lyrics, and acoustic guitar. It’s gotten to the point where all of these factors need to be in place. The tape is filled with ideas that I’ve come up with at any point in any given day which I think are song-worthy. I also make videos on my webcam recorder if I think of a good chord progression. Over a surprisingly quick period of time, usually the way it works is that I begin to synthesize elements from the tape, the videos, and notes I may already have in my book. More recently, I’ve been coming up with simple themes to write about. I open my book and just free-write with a pretend melody. Then eventually I can hear it making sense in my head, and I begin shaping it into a song.

    2. My favorite songs that come to mind right now are In One Ear by Cage The Elephant, The Sound by Switchfoot, and Wine Red by The Hush Sound. In One Ear gets me good because I’ve been a drummer for most of my life in spite of me playing guitar and singing for my band. I dig the simplicity of songs like these over the technically and rhythmically ridiculous songs of other bands. If you listen to the drums… they’re not difficult at all to play. But that’s the thing – it’s at just the right level where pretty much anyone can jam out to it. It’s one of my favorite songs to play on drum set. I fell in love with the sound because it makes a very strong link in the chorus between the poetic structure and what’s being played by the band. Most people don’t even realize it when they’re hearing ‘the sound of a heartbeat’ while Jon Foreman is singing “This is the sound of a heartbeat.” Finally, Wine Red is probably my favorite song by The Hush Sound. I’m a sucker for bands with really good female vocalists as it is, but I like that she doesn’t hog the show. The male vocalist comes in at what seems to be just the right times, and their harmonization is very crisp in spite of the timbral differences.

    3. My biggest frustration is simply the dreaded writer’s block. Sometimes it my last months before the frustration of never being able to complete something I like ends. I usually get stuck when I’m writing for four hours a night…. that’s understandably too much stress on the brain as it is. Additionally, I get extremely frustrated when I come close to finishing a song, but am stuck on a line or two. I make sure that I never settle for something that just sounds “okay,” when there could be something better and more meaningful.

    4. It wasn’t until VERY recently that I’ve figured out a way (though I doubt it will work every time, but still…) to overcome the writer’s block. And it’s simple… go to a concert! Get inspired! Halloween weekend this year I went to two concerts – Ballyhoo and Anberlin (with Civil Twilight and Crash Kings). The next week I finished writing two songs and wrote a whole new song.

    5. What effect does this have on the writing process? I’m not sure if I actually “envision” them while I’m writing… but I absolutely keep them in mind. A lot of my songs have chants that are catchy and easy to remember that a fair amount of people have started to catch on to. When I write, I keep in mind that I want every person in the audience to be able to relate in some way to the story or whatever is being said. Notice I did not say I write to please the audience. The point I make to my bandmates all the time is that we are out there to share a moment with the audience – not to just hop on stage and play a few tunes. It’s that communal effort that brings bands to their success.

    6. I rarely collaborate with outside opinions. I haven’t shut it down completely, however. There are a few ideas given by my bandmates that work perfectly and ultimately made the songs better. With the exception of two lines and a few horn lines (we’re a 9-piece ska band) I’ve written all the lyrics, progressions, melodies, horn parts, etc. I do try my best to keep an open mind… it’s just a sticky situation because if the process works for you on your own and your output isn’t repetitive or monotonous, keep doing it. Down the road I see myself looking to my bandmates more and more though.

    7. If a song is really good… I kind of get the vibe during the writing process. I get the band members hyped up before it’s finished, and when we finally put it all together there’s this weird sensation that I think is synonymous with every band member that we’ve just put together something incredible. Our fans agree – especially on our newest song, “The Robbery.” People STILL sing that tune and have it in their head, even though last time we played it live was in July. When a song is misbehaving, I scrap it. We’ve scrapped three songs so far, including “The Robbery” (I heavily revised it to make it what it is today). The real reason for the other two to be misbehaving is they’re fairly old; song’s I had written when I first started out. Once my songwriting got better and evolved, it just wasn’t at the write caliber four our talent.

    8. There is nothing I love more in this twisted world than to be on stage staring down hundreds of fans. It comes easy to me to naturally relate with the crowd, which is why I think local venues keep calling us back. We can bring as many people as we do to the shows because it is guaranteed that everyone will have a good time. I don’t even think my bandmates understand the thrill I get out of the whole process. And to hear the fans chant out the words to something you created from the ground-up…. well that’s a whole other thing in itself. It’s a feeling to be sought out for the rest of my career – that’s for sure.

    9. Inspiration now plays a huge role. I told people I listened to all kinds of music before (a few years ago) but that was a lie if you take how much music I listen to now. I could point out to you specific parts in specific songs that I have written and what that part was inspired by. And if you listen to the source, you would be like, “Oh, okay – I can kind of hear that!” That’s because I take all of these ideas, re-shape them into something that is my own, and synchronize it all into something original. Now… this doesn’t apply for EVERY SINGLE thing I write, obviously. But in my opinion it’s that synchronization of all kinds of creative elements that make a great song. As far as perspiration… well, any creative process is going to have its frustrating moments.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it. This is a tough question. All I can say is that I picture the audience yelling out the entire song back at us while we’re playing. If a song is that good to where the audience hears it enough to remember everything that goes down… that’s gotta be a damn good song.

  • How I Write Songs

    I. Why Do I Write Songs?
    A. I have a passion to create something new, genuine, and lasting—something which will impact my culture for good—something which will challenge, bless, and somehow draw my audience into an honest introspection.
    B. I love the satisfaction I feel from structuring a lyric with a well turned phrase which no one else has thought of. Life is what it is, therefore I’ll have to say what life is, but differently, so that the song will be more interesting and more resonant with the audience.
    C. I’d like to make at least enough money so I can continue my creative passion—that is, more demos, CDs, postage, and more publisher contact.
    II. How Do I Get An Idea for a Song?
    A. A catchy phrase that sort of pops up out of nowhere makes a neat title. Usually, my songs form into complete thoughts and stories from the title itself. The title is the discipline that gives the song lyric coherence and flow. The title is the skin that holds the body of the song together.
    B. Sometimes, like King David, I get songs in the night. If I don’t get up from my nocturnal trance to write it down and record it, I’ve lost it by the time I arise the next morning. Those are the times I could kick myself around the block, because the songs in the night are usually the best that ever come to my mind.
    C. I might see a movie or read a book which suggests a song theme related or unrelated to the story in the movie or book.
    D. Most of the time, my songs are simply about life and my experience with it. What else is there to which we can relate? A song to which no one can relate is like a prayer without faith. The songs that touch my heart are those that peal the cover off my comfort zone and fathom the depths of my experience.
    III. How Do I Write Songs?
    A. Mostly by accident. I usually don’t have a song lyric formula in mind, even if I have a title and a tune. A lot depends on how the first line in the first verse comes to me in relation to the tune I have chosen. Of course, the question arises, “Which comes first, the words or the music?” My answer is “Yes.” Actually, most of the time, the tune comes to me first. And because I don’t know an A from a Z note, I record the tune on my cassette recorder.
    B. Next, after I write the first two lines, I choose a rhyme scheme. There may be four, six, or eight lines in each verse. The lines that rhyme could be the first and second, the first and fourth, the second and fourth, the third and fourth, or all of the lines.
    C. No matter what I write, I try to say it in such a way that it will sound like normal conversation without music. Otherwise, it sounds forced.
    D. I try to write so that the last line of each verse will transition smoothly into the next verse or chorus.
    E. My usual lyric formula is two verses, chorus, third verse, and last chorus, but not always. Even I get bored with the same formula. The structure of all the other verses must match the structure of the first verse. And the first verse structure usually comes to me as I move with the tune, just like meandering down a winding road and writing about all the interesting things I see along the way. The substance of the song is purely an adventure, but it must make sense with the title or hook phrase in the chorus.
    F. Then comes the chorus. The hook phrase of the chorus usually comes to me before the verses. This hook may be the title or some part of it. And the hook is the spring board from which I leap to form the first verse in the song story. The hook is the song story in microcosm, and it helps the audience to remember the song and want to sing along.
    The chorus helps signal the “Ah hah” of the song. And depending on the number of choruses sung, the chorus can be the sub-climax, the ante-climax, and the ultimate climax. But the chorus must relate clearly to the verse which precedes it, or the chorus becomes unreasonable and therefore, anti-climatic.
    Well, that’s the way I write songs.

  • For me, "inspiration" can come from many sources. Sometimes I hear a comment, chord/progression, situation or myriad other "influences." I'll be sitting in my "music room" or dead asleep and there it is. Then comes the task of build a song around the "inspiration" and that can take a while or it can come in a flow. For example, my song "Move On" (available here on CD Baby) was written after a friend lost his girl and felt really down in the dumps and was thinking about "bad things." I was thinking this dude needs to "Move On!" That song was done in about 30 minutes. Whereas, a song I wrote after my cousin passed away took almost 3 months (quite a long story for that one). Another song was written when a friend of mine challenged me to write a song around an Amaj6 chord, 3 days. The point being, a songwriter should "allow" things to happen rather than "force" things together just to put something out, the results are so much better!

  • How do I come up with my original tunes? Glad you asked! Experience forges the birth of songs. Vibrations erupt from the heartstrings, in the form of musical strains, which then resonate with primal human sadness and joy, pleasure and pain, in all their gradations. Harmonies bridge the gap between the present and eternity. Songs are discovered, not created. For a song to be written, arranged, performed, and recorded, there must be a willingness and capacity to lift the gates of unconscious emotional repression. Several intellectual and emotional processes converge and coalesce. The elements of the song, i.e., rhythm, timing, melody, harmony, lyrics, intonation, expressiveness, and instrumentation, are then subject to a trillion random variations of the recording process. Some of my songs are well-crafted and produced, others with rough edges. What you hear is what you get – one small voice echoing his brief presence among the countless stars, within the wilderness of time.

  • I write messages from life, what moves my feelings and also my concerns.

    1. I wrote my song called "Sunrise" just after someone stole my wallet on my birthday.
    2. A song idea often starts from my mood. A basic melody/tune appears and I work on it like clay, trying different chords. When it's done, it must be transparent like glass and not block the flow of feeling with lumpy thoughts.
    I like unexpected connections, ideas and mental pictures, like in Bob Dylan's Tambourine man, which is in the William Shakespear class.
    3. Over-writing a song can be a problem. Keep a recording of the first original song sketches (I use a cheap dictaphone) and then take a break for a week or so. Then only keep what really fits from the new ideas and cut the song back to the basics of the original. Does it make you laugh or cry?
    4. Write when it comes. Keep pen and paper by the bed, and a dictaphone in the car, etc. Make time to write. Take a guitar and a recording machine on holiday.
    5. I need a public to write for. Some are my friends. Always respect that children may be listening. Aim to give yourself and other people something that's good for them. A song is always about you and it will follow you for the rest of your life. Be you own best and don't settle for less.
    6. I play my new song or CD to my wife and to my best worst critics.
    7. Get them to play your demo loud, in a crowded noisy bar. If you sweat too much, it's probably not finished yet? Cut back to grow. Try removing every other line and see how it feels?
    8. Writing a song is BIG FUN! even if it's a sad song. Take yourself seriously as a songwriter and arrange you working space so it's private and safe to make mistakes. Most experiments fail, but when you do suprize your own mind you will probably laugh. Record these moments. I will probably stop songwriting after I'm dead, but I'm still not so sure about this?
    9. Polish a song to knock all the lumps off. The lyric is also part of the percussion section, so get the phrasing-tempo right and record / practice it.
    10. My next song is a small river of tears that flows out into a great ocean of peace and beauty.
    Cheers,
    Bob Rowley

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    I usually have the melody stuck in my head. Just a little snippet. As I think more and more about it, I add on, and sometimes words come into play. Then I start writing the words down. Once I have them written down, I begin organizing them and developing them into a thought and focus. It really is like writing an essay. The one main difference is that I never have to explain myself. Once I have enough of the lyrics, I record myself singing the song so I can remember the tune. This helps for when I revisit and begin composing.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    My favorite songs always strike some emotional chord for me. They connect to my happiness, sadness, frustration, anger, contentment, love, etc…

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I get stuck a lot in the composition stage nowadays, because I’m always trying to get better or do something different. I especially have problems with piano composition. Currently, I’m working on taking what I hear in my head and playing it out on the piano, but I don’t get the right sound or the notes don’t fit together the way I want them too. Or, most of the time, I’m uncapable of playing what I want to play without a little practice/warm-up, and by the time I’ve finished that, I forget what I was wanting to play. Oh, and sometimes I get writer’s block, especially when I’m not emotionally connected at that particular moment to the song I am writing.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    If I’m composing electronically, I simply try any and every idea I have and see which ones fit with the piece. For piano composition, if I can’t play by ear, I notate on the computer and sightread. For writer’s block, I listen to music with a similar mood or theme to the song I’m writing, or I reflect on the event that pushed me to write the song.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    When I write, I envision my peers, people around me. I see myself singing to them like it’s the only way for me to tell them how I feel or what I’m thinking. And there’s always some story involved.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    Never. Songwriting is very personal to me, so I may have outside influences, but never direct collaboration. I prefer it this way because songwriting is the one thing where I don’t have to compromise or feel stupid about an idea.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    I can tell a song is good if I can play it over and over and never get sick of it. I can tell it’s REALLY good if it sends chills up my spine. On the other hand, songs I tend to repeatedly skip or that have me forcefully singing along are the ones that misbehave. But on many occasions, after listening to the song a few times, it grows on me. So really, I rarely kill my babies. Oops.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I get a feeling of personal accomplishment. And it relieves a lot of stress and pressure in my life. I can’t just talk it out for hours to a close friend like some people. I would rather express all of my true emotions through the perfect song. I will definitely have to write songs forever. They are my therapy.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Inspiration plays a lot in my writing process. Things that happen to me or around me, or to people around me, always influence a new song. I’ve gotten into the habit of primarily titling songs with the date I begin writing them as if they were journal entries. Another source of inspiration is the music I listen to. But, unfortunately, my process does not leave much room to perspire.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    The greatest song I have ever written would explain every reason why I am me. It would recall experiences in the past that have hardened my heart or in some cases opened my heart, or people who have made me feel insecure. And it would be the one song I have written that has a complete resolution.

  • Terry Wheeler

    On the outside looking in, my songwriting process might look unorganized because depending
    on how a song comes to me decides the path I take to do the song. I have had some songs
    come to me in my sleep or something might be said or done that inspires me to do a number.
    Number one thing is that I love to write which in itself gives me the motivation.
    Not knowing sometimes when a song is going to hit has made me to be prepared either with
    a note pad and pen by my bed or always to carry a small hand held recorder with me. I never
    sit down and try to force a song, if it doesn’t come to me naturally, I don’t do it.
    I like songs that tell a story and that trigger an emotion, songs with meaning not nonsensical.
    Songs that take me back to a different time and place that make me relax and forget my
    everyday cares.
    The most frustrating thing to me is to get into a song only to have the idea go nowhere or
    worse yet having nothing at all for a while to write. One of my easiest ways to get stuck is to try to force a song. I find that if this is the case I simply stop and give it a day or so to relax the
    brain.
    I do not usually envision an outside listener unless I feel a song is geared for a specific artist,
    then I try to picture that artist singing the song and imagine how the artist would make the song sound. Yes, sometimes I hear it in my head, this process makes the song even more exciting to
    me and makes me strive for perfection.
    Once in a while I enter song contest to get feed back from the judges and I have been known to make the suggested changes and can see the difference. To me if a song isn’t right on I usually can feel it. Sometimes the flow might be uneven or the lyrics too wordy, then it is a matter of
    adjusting accordingly.
    I get a personal satisfaction out of each song I write. To hear the end result makes it all worth-
    while for me. Both inspiration and perspiration are involved in my songwriting although loving
    what I do makes it fun and fulfilling. I imagine the next song I write each time to be my greatest, probably a love song as I have a wonderful wife for my inspiration.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    Its long drawn out ordeal over months of intoxicating experiences that mold every chord change, thus etching in stone the feelings overall of your experience and don’t forget that this song will be around as a testament to something long past after its all said and done.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    A good chord change becomes a doorway to an emotion, the technical aspect is just the arrangement of tones through the octaves, if you find the gravity of the dynamic tension inherent in seven tone scale. You can use it almost as an atomic energy source, as if it were the kea to the harmonics of the universe. A micro universe with mass and gravity that you don’t necessarily control, but you ride the waves. When you can connect to the microscopic universe you then can effect the entire universe.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    Same patterns in life that get you nowhere repeat themselves in creativity. That is to say that life imitates art because art is a reflection of life. In life and in music you have to keep going, no matter what.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    Move beyond the blocks of your life by carefully constructing them into a song, if the blockage in you life is then removed you may never need to sing the song again.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    I write songs about people I love so that I can remember them or honor them, I think about them then every time the song is played, and when it is being written.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    Its hard to find good help so when its there learn from it.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    Your song is really good if you can remember it.
    Your song is bad when you cant remember it
    If your song is misbehaving, that’s good means it has a strong will.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I feel I have been and will be a songwriter forever. You get the ability to imagine reality & to consciously create new universes.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Inspiration is necessary when you want to write, but when you get down to task you sweat.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    Its got a big band behind it with lots of neon letters in flashing red. Also some exotic zoo animals are featured, as well as some stunt dolphins. A full orchestra and a full choral in a big church with a flaming heart in the middle of a green European hillside.
    (now go write it!)
    Ill need the ghost of John Lennon

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    Usually I'll write a poem with a heavily structured rhyme and syllable scheme. I'll leave it for a few days then read it back in all sorts of different melodies. I'll then record a few different versions and it's usually there.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    God Only Knows by The Beach Boys (which I cover on my channel) moves me through it's deceptively simple lyric combined with one of the greatest bass lines of all time. The chord changes are sublime also.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    Usually I find writing the second verse the hardest, as you basically have to find a new way to say whatever you've said in the first verse. I'll get over that byu creating some sort of backstory to a lyric and then write the second verse with that in mind.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    Leave the song for a week, then come back and usually the ideas will come flooding.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    As I have relatively broad tastes I don't think about a listener. If it pleases me, it will probably please others.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    Never, I'm far too selfish!

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    Usually it will sound awkward, and you have to make that ruthless decision to admit that it just isn't working, then start all over again.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I hope so, it's a release, like a sort of musical diary.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    I feel really inspired after listening to other songs and usually the songs I write after hearing them come fully formed, which is pretty lucky. I don't tend to sweat over the work, because you usually end up with forced and rathewr stilted sounding music.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    A two part epic similar to 'Superwoman (Where were you when I needed you?) by Stevie Wonder

  • I write only when the feeling hits… could be mid day, could be 3 in the morning. Usually, the music and lyrics come to mind simultaneously, then I get a guitar and get it all out in one sitting, if possible. If I don't, then the lyrics will end up unfinished in a notebook or on a scrap of paper, meaning I'll probably never go back and finish the song. I've got to complete it in the moment, then I know it's probably worth keeping and refining, then I record a vocal & acoustic track to capture the earliest raw feeling and emotion that's in my head.

  • 1. Songs come to me in different forms, sometimes it is a melody, a beat, a bassline or even a topic. I often begin with a beat, then the bassline or chords, then the melody followed by lyrics.

    2. I am not really drawn to lyrics as much as I am to the beat or flow. The melody/hook definitely adds to the recipe because if the song sucks yet I am humming it all day, then the songwriter’s job was accomplished.

    3. Fitting lyrics into the melody and having the words make sense as a whole.

    4. I take a break, I do some exercises that free my brain from its rut and then get focused.

    5. There are times that I will think of an audience especially when I am writing for other artists. I will envision the audience singing the chorus or waving their lit cell phone screens in the air.

    6. I usually write alone but when I do write with others it expands the vision in ways I could not have imagined on my own.

    7. This is a tough one. The songs I generally fall in love with are usually not the ones the audiences take to heart. I feel it is because I know the entire process of the song in question and some hold a dear place due to the circumstances around the writing process.

    8. I did stop writing for several years and felt something was missing in my life. I was writing dozens of songs a week at one point and then it came down to 1-2 every other year. Now that I have the bug again and my family is my muse, yes I will write forever and seeing the smile it brings to my family’s faces is what I get out of being a songwriter.

    9. Inspiration is my greatest tool. I sponge off what I hear and see whether it be a song, a title, a trip down south, everything around me has the possibility of being in a song, good or bad. Perspiration plays a small role as most of the time I channel music so it flows like a river but at times I run into a dam or a stone that I must dodge so that is when I perspire.

    10. It encompasses all styles I have been influenced by and at the same time none.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    I get into some natural trance state and just write and I cannot stop when I am in that flow.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    They alter my emotional state and make me feel relaxed or exited about something.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck? I have no problems with this. When I am inspired I write a lot so when I am not… I do not write.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck? I do something else.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process? Humanity with a heart ready for some Truth. My message have to be perfect or I could cause a lot of confusion.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process? No, I am a loner, I like to collaborate on beats though. Although I just wrote a song with pianist Peter Reilich , we mixed our words…but the message is the same.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving? I can tell a song is good when the message is perfect and everyone gets it. Bad means…unclear.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever? Inner satisfaction, fulfillment and world change. Yes, I will NEVER stop writing.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    Breathing and being in The Light is where creativity is born, in inspiration, through life experience, I perspire when I jog!!!hahaha!
    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    It would make people levitate! haha!

  • When I am inspired by something in life as soon as possible I write down a verse or chorus. I then run it through my head for a few days, sometimes weeks. After this, I generally have the whole of the lyrics in my head and simply write down the whole song. While running the words over in my head, I also put some music to it(in my head). After I write the lyrics down, I put them on a music stand, put on my Bass Guitar(my compositional instrument of choice), and pluck away until I find the groove. I then either note the instrumentation on the lyric sheet, or make a cheesy recording of it. I then send it to one of my musical associates for tweaking.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    Boy, my process is so much different than the others I've read here; makes me worry! But that's why I decided to respond. I'm very disciplined throughout, and show up to my studio every day, like a job. I begin by thinking of my current project — an album, for example — as a whole and wondering what is lacking to fill out the set. So it's like I commission myself to write what's needed: today an up-beat feel-good tune, next perhaps a smoky ballad. Once the basic direction is determined, I use my existing style as a set of "rules" or starting point and push those boundaries — just a little. Then there's the period of endless revision. Since I'm a wind player (clarinet and sax) I'm always writing for an ensemble: myself, a singer, a rhythm section that will include some solos. So the song evolves some more during the arrangement stage.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    It's been said that every work of art is at its core a self-portrait. My best songs are those that express an experience or emotion of my own — one that is hopefully shared by the listener — more exactly than any previously written song. For me the technical joy, or frustration, comes at the performance stage.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    Well, of course there are times when the tune just won't seem to work. Things get worse as my efforts pile on and make the song more and more complex. The best fix is usually to strip it back down to the absolute essentials. Less really is more.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    If this sounds corny; I apologize. Though I wanted to make music all my life, it was many, many years before I was able spend my time at this. So now, I'm thankful for each moment I can work with music. It's all joy — no frustration! A disciplined work pattern and switching between multiple projects going at once avoids getting stuck, and provides cross-fertilization.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    Who's the most important person in your life? You — not me! Self revelation? Who cares? Everyone is ultimately concerned with themselves and I believe art should be about communication. So while my songs spring from my own experience, I always imagine a listener and ask myself if they're going to "get" what I've written. If not, it's back for more revisions!

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I like to get a basic idea down, enough so that a few close confidants can hear the "work-in-progress" and offer critical opinions. Often I'm initially too close to a new project and wonder if I'm delusionally infatuated with it. So a cold hard critique from a person I respect is essential, and often leads to a much needed rewrite and a stronger end product. Occasional unqualified adoration is nice too! Sometimes, I'm writing music to my songwriting partner's lyrics. That's a unique challenge and joy. It's really exciting to see a project evolve into something that neither of us could have created on our own.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    Despite all the discipline I seem to have in my process, when a tune flows easily in the writing, arranging and performing phases, it's a winner. If one makes me work really hard, that's a red flag.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    As a jazz performer, I used to see my role as interpreting the standards. But I turned to songwriting to open doors professionally. Now I can't imagine not writing original work. For me, the greatest joy is still performing. I'll stop when they pry my clarinet from my cold, dead fingers.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    It's 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration and both are equally woven throughout the project.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    The one that introduces you to my work and leaves you wanting to hear more.

  • 1. I used to always write music first and then come up with a song idea and squeeze the lyrics in. Now, the idea almost always comes first, then lyrics ideas, with some basic musical themes, and then the music and lyrics co-evolve from there.

    More often than not, I also use a particular process to guide the songwriting. I've adapted Appreciative Inquiry, an organizational development methodology, for use in creating artistic works. It's excellent at fostering creativity even when you're not inspired. Indeed, it tends to be only when I am actually inspired that I consider not using AI anymore, though even then AI more often than not can only help the process.

    Also, informed by the Internal Family Systems methodology of psychotherapy, I often imagine what "part" of me is narrating with particular songs. This also greatly helps in gaining clarity during the creative process.

    The Offhand Band's album Everyone's Invited was created almost entirely using a combination of AI and IFS, as I describe here: http://theoffhandband.com/2008/11/everyones-invit

    2. I often thought that it was mainly the music that gets to me in my favorite songs, barely explicable things about the chord progressions, arrangements, melodies, etc. Many times over the last few years, though, I've noticed that the lyric to a song I'd liked for decades had a particular emotional resonance for me even though I'd barely paid conscious attention to the lyrics before. So whether I'm aware of it or not, I think that my favorite songs tend to be the ones that reach me emotionally, especially those that hit me in ways that are so purely emotional that I'm not even consciously aware of what they're doing.

    3. Well, the truth is, other than the occasion difficult rhyme or prosody, I just keep plugging away, and ever since starting to use AI, I'm even less likely to get stuck. It helps to be not-quite-perfectionistic, to take at least a little bit of an attitude of songs wanting to be what they want to be, even if they may not always end up the way we might have thought we wanted them.

    4. Set things aside for a while, or do an AI!

    5. I usually don't, but I think my songwriting would improve a lot if I did 🙂

    6. Occasionally, and the effect really depends on the nature of the feedback. No way to generalize.

    7. I'm not very good at killing my babies 🙂 I think for the most part I love each for however it turns out, and then I learn from however they may have misbehaved and use that learning when writing new songs. I rarely go back and rewrite. That's another think that I should probably do more of 🙂

    8. I get a sense of expressing myself in a way that unique. As Stephen Sondheim said, "If it comes from you, then it will be new." I do imagine I'll write songs forever, as long as I can keep finding the time for it.

    9. Inspiration is great when it happens. Ride the wave. But it can't and shouldn't be relied on. Songwriting is a craft in addition to being an art. Like I said above, between just plugging away and using AI, and paying attention to details of craft like rhyme schemes and prosody and song structure, things get bette rand easier. On the whole I tend to agree with Edison about inspiration and perspiration.

    10. No comment for now 🙂

    Mark S. Meritt
    http://theoffhandband.com/ – Satisfying songs for kids and families
    http://potluckcreativearts.com/ – Music, arts and creativity services / Accredited Simply Music Teacher
    http://potluck.com/ – Original stuff
    http://marksmeritt.com/ – Interactive resume/biography

  • 1. I've been writing songs (and novels) for over 40 years, and the only process I can pin down is boredom. I decided that if necessity is the mother of invention, boredom must be the father. I don't mean drudgery – I mean manual labor; cleaning the house, driving (especially driving). Work.
    My brain begins to play games, and sometimes that results in a song, or book. My novel, A Thousand Bridges, received a starred review in Publishers Weekly. I wrote it while working two full-time jobs. If I hadn't had something to concentrate on I believe I would've fallen apart.
    So, in my long-winded style, I write because I love telling myself stories. I love words.

    2. I've never been moved by effusive writing. Not much for Yeats, though Frost or Hank Williams can bring me to tears. A creative writing teacher would correct you if you wrote ‘the silence of a falling star lights up a purple sky.'
    ‘Silence can't light up a sky.' I've heard that kind of snobbery. But follow it up with the simplicity of ‘and as I wonder where you are, I'm so lonesome I could cry.'
    Even typing the words stirs me, and they're not even mine. If you've ever been that lonesome, you know what silence can do. How much more simple can a lyric be than ‘Oh, my love, my darling, I've hungered for your touch'?
    Tom Waits, Paul Simon, Melissa Ethridge….I can't get enough.

    3. I get stuck when I try to force a round word through a square hole.

    4. I get unstuck by leaving the damned thing alone. One of my most requested songs is The Earth is an Island…I finally finished it because I walked past it one day and noticed the sunlight through the window had almost erased it from the page. So I took it out on the porch and worked it through. Otherwise, it might still be lying there.

    5. I never envision anyone when I write. I slip into another place. When my wife (a fantastic songwriter) sees me in that place I hear her mumble, "lights are on….nobody's home."

    6. Neither Maggie nor I have ever collaborated on a song, though we do ask for, and trust, each other's opinions.

    7. Sometimes you just know your song isn't ‘right.'
    Sometimes, it takes playing it to a good crowd a few times and watching them react to it. We've been known to shelve songs we thought were good because of that, but we've never thrown one away because of it. You just have to trust your built-in ‘crap detector,' as Alan Watts once called it.

    8. I'll write songs as long as I live. It's given me the world, literally. Also, it's how we socialize.

    9. Inspiration is the ignition and perspiration is the ride.

    10. The greatest song I've never written would be somewhere between Ave Maria and Twist and Shout.

    Mike McKinney
    Lucky Mud
    luckymudmusic.com

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    I've never been someone who can sit down and write a song. They never come that way for me. I'm a lyrically driven writer so my guitar is more of a tool to get my ideas out. Sometimes a fully formed song comes all at once, sometimes in the shower, sometimes eating dinner. Sometimes a lyric set will bounce around or be on paper for a while and at some point a fiddlin' around on the guitar will pull it back out of the notebook. I will say the songs that are written in 15 minutes are often the most appealing. I think there is a tendency to overwork songs as a writer. I would also like to get a little pretentious for a second and say the implication of a process is wrong from the start. I always find it peculiar to see How-to's on songwriting. Writing a song is not at all like solving a mathematical proof or baking a cake. At least I hope that's not how it is for the most of us.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    I have some favorite songs that I almost don't enjoy listening to because they are so good. So I guess that's an emotional response. It's mostly emotional response, technical skill with an instrument moves me little. I can be impressed but not necessarily moved by it. I get turned on by clever and colorful lyricists, but I also am affected by folks who employ an economy of lyrics and have them all in the right spots. A writer should let all the music they love influence them as long as he or she doesn't get stuck trying to rewrite what they love.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    Unless you are Dylan or someone who can pull off writing like he did (does), songwriting can require a lot of editing which I don't have the patience for. So, sometimes a song with ten line verses and 3 bridges will come spewing forth and once it's all down on paper it feels overwrought and hookless. It may contain some great lyrics or ideas (and I'm not opposed to reusing them) but I generally just bury those songs in frustration rather than work them out. There are also situations when I'll think I have written a clever limerick, a sticky opening line, and then nothing follows. That can be quite frustrating as well.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    I move on. If a song is taking too much effort to complete or shape up, there's probably a reason that's the case. Put it aside. There are more ideas in there ready to pop out.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    Sometimes you write with someone in mind, so inherently there's an audience for that song. But, as far as making a concerted effort to appeal to some vague audience of listeners, I don't think that's the case with me. That's a trap really. You'll end up writing a Rascal Flatts or a Nickelback song. Though the chance of selling a million of those records like they do is a little slimmer.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    Almost never, but it's not really on purpose. I am a very quick writer, so there really isn't the window for me to take a song to someone else for collaboration. I have collaborated with other writers on stuff they are stuck on, but as previously mentioned, if I get stuck, which is a situation where collaboration might apply, I generally shelve the song and move on. I'll write a song on Thursday and play it out on Friday so in a sense I'm enlisting the opinions of that first audience at the Friday night show.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    I don't fall into that category. I can usually tell when a song is a total stinker. There are also songs of mine that other folks love that I really don't understand why. It's hard to tell sometimes if one of your own songs is "really good", but if you play it out and people respond to it then there's a good chance you've got something there. I say trial by fire is the best way to test out a new song. That being said, you have to have a realism about the stuff you write and that goes both ways.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I'll write songs as long as they come to me. I started writing later in life than a lot of folks I know. It gave me a chance to go through some things and then need a way to help deal with them. Songwriting became that salve for me. It still is but is now, even though some of the stuff I write is much less serious than when I started, more like a vital organ. As long as I continue to experience life I suppose I'll always have a reason to write.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Inspiration is at the root of songwriting or really doing anything. If you're not inspired the song will reflect that. There's a quote by Charlie Parker which pops up in a David Dondero song that goes something like "If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn". That's a key sentiment. The perspiration comes after the song is written in getting it out in front of people and convincing them of your inspiration.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    I want to write the song that gets played at my funeral. I'm hoping I have some time to let that one develop.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    Listening and editing are key.

    Way before I get in front of an audience, I listen. I listen to feelings, ideas, desire – whatever is telling me to write this song. And when I see the lyrics take shape on the page, I listen again. Songs are for hearing, not reading. I need to put words together that my tongue likes to pronounce. Finding all the good words can take time. Metaphors and hooks and rhymes can get tangled up and messy – before I know it, the spark of inspiration is lost in the process.

    So I need to edit. Sometimes I think of editing as a comb. I comb through my lyrics, taking out the knots. (not this, not that! We’ll keep this…) I don’t stop until there are no more knots.

  • Anyone here want to co-write? 😉

    http://www.myspace.com/sinem

    Send me yours too.
    xo

    Sinem

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    An idea attacks me, makes me nearly swerve off the road, and I cuss myself out for not having a notebook and pen to defend myself with.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    The music has to move my butt, the lyrics have to stimulate my brain, and the melody has to lift my soul.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I often let a song sit for some time before finishing a bridge, or the story turn in the last verse. Sometimes it just flows, but a lot of songs need time to come together.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    Co-writing is great to force me to defend my story, explain why, delve deeper than I ever would on my own. Getting unstuck requires perspiration, not inspiration.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    I picture the video to the song I'm writing. I picture the looks on the faces of the characters I'm writing about, 2 people dancing in love, 2 people breaking up and walking away. What kind of car did she get in to? What did his shoes look like when he kicked a trash can in desperation?

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    It's a great tool. Having another writer's perspective can turn a good song into a great song.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    If I can get all the way through a new song on the first try, I'm doing something right, but might not have enough detail or melody hooks. If I have to stop constantly, then something is wrong!

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    God built me to write music, how could I stop?

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Equal parts. Discipline comes in after about 4 minutes, you have to sit there and go through it! Imagine a publisher sitting behind a fancy desk telling you, "That's not good enough!" He's right, and you should revise till you puke.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    The greatest song I will ever write…will have funky grooves, make people sing along even when they don't know the words, and make them feel happy.

  • As a touring artist in an 8 piece rock'n soul band, I spend a lot of time with live performances, trying to sell CD's, press releases, bookings, and the neverending business tasks required. The most enjoyable part for me is writing songs. In my opinion, songwriting is the entire foundation for any musical artist, because without great songs, you're dead in the water!

    There's a very fine line between "good" and "great", and successful songwriters have developed their talents and have crossed that line. Not every song I write is great, I've written plenty of stinkers, but writing on a regular basis (like every day) helps to improve your craft.

    One of the most important elements of songwriting is "re-writing". Going back over the song, line by line, trying to improve the lyrics, eleminating the weak lines, and looking for words and expressions that convey your idea in a more meaningful or more fluid way. Same thing goes with the chord structure, melody, signature licks……it's important to re-examine the entire song and look for ways to improve it.

    Sometimes I write alone, but I welcome talented co-writers. Sometimes just a few new lines or a new idea can turn a good song into a great one. I don't write much country material, however most successful songwriters in Nashville have a number of writing partners and you'll find these folks are true song "craftsmen".

    I don't get caught up in a lot of "inspirational" mumbo jumbo when writing. Usually a song idea will pop in my head while I'm driving, maybe a line, a title, or a melody I might just start humming. When I get home, I'll grab a guitar and give it a go to see if it's working for me. At this point, I look at it as a "chore" and I take the time to sit down and start working on the song. Sometimes I might finish it quickly and some songs take longer, so I might call up one of my co-writers, but I'll continue working on it nearly everyday until I'm satisfied.

    You have to look at songwriting as a "craft". The first day on the job as a carpenter, there are probably a lot of bent nails and hurting thumbs, but over time, most develop better skills. Same thing with songwriting, it's a craft that's developed by trial and error, consistency, listening and learning from other songwriters. I don't know if I've written that "once in a lifetime great song" yet, but I'm working on it!

  • First off, I have a general problem with songwriting "coaching" because of the general difference in every individual and how they're likely to approach the creative process. That being said, when put on the spot (like now thanks!), I begin with three basic things.
    1. The Duke Ellington Rule–If it sounds good, it IS good. Genre is irrelevant. Tell your story, express, leave it at that.
    2. With every fresh creation, you have re-identified yourself… know that this means your expressive style is going to most likely evolve as well. I find that I'm constantly re-inventing my songwriting style.
    3. Yes, throw out your babies–you're not as brilliant as you think you are the second that song flows forth. Set it aside for a week or two, come back to it. Still sound and feel good? Try it in front of an audience. Don't say, "Here's a new song I wrote," nobody cares. Just tell the story. Good response? Must be a good tune. But yes, be willing to throw any song out. You can always re-use and recycle that great riff, lyrical phrase or chord progression.

    Why do I write songs and will I always do so?
    When a new music student walks into my studio, I ask them why they want to do this.
    When they say, "I can't imagine doing anything else," I know I've got someone like myself… one who lives to communicate the human condition through creative expression. The number of new songs may or may not wax or wane, but I will always have the need to create through one form or another and will never stop.

    -Phil Circle

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song? – It just depends, usually I work on music and lyrics separately, so I have a 'pool' of ideas for music or lyrics to work from. Other times, the words come as the music is being written, or the cadence of the words inspires a melody.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you? – I'm drawn to good dynamic songwriting, when I hear something new it inspires me to try something like it or something completely different from it. However, I can enjoy dynamics even in music I don't personally care for. Emotional honesty is probably the biggest factor for whether or not I'll love a song.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck? – Time! Inspiration often hits when we're not prepared for it, and thus I end up with thousands of little cryptic scraps of paper for ideas I had in the middle of the day but couldn't cultivate, ect. I don't really worry about getting stuck; if something isn't going anywhere I'll leave it alone and work on other ideas until it's time to come back to it.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck? – I let it sit and work on other ideas. Usually, once I've let the idea sit long enough I can get perspective on it and finish it, or sometimes realize that the idea wasn't that great to begin with, and that's why I got stuck in the first place; lack of interest.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process? – Not really. While I do want people to like what I make, I'm making it because I feel compelled to, so the only person I try to please or impress is myself. If others like it I consider it an added benefit.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process? – Yes. I collaborate with several different people on various projects and will ask their opinions even on songs I'm working on alone. Collaboration is a great way to broaden your songwriting, and perspective is always good; even if I don't use their advice in regards to a song I'm working on alone, it helps to hear it.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving? – By the level of inspiration I feel in regards to it; that's the only barometer of 'good' or 'bad' that I use. It's fairly established among songwriters that the one you love, no one will get it, but the one you can't stand is everyone's favorite, right?!

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever? – Expression, a way to say what I want or need to say. Yes, even if I didn't record them or even figure them out on an instrument, songs would still pop up in my head (and probably drive me crazy if I didn't pursue them!).

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process? – Equal. I don't ever try to force a song, but the muse likes to find us working, right?

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it. – No way! Then you'll just go write it before I get the chance, ha!

  • Artist: Banmier

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    The first important step to writing a song is to be barefoot. No shoes allowed. The second step is to plan ahead and have all my equipment setup, plugged in and ready to go so all I have to do is turn everything on and boot up my computer. If I have to spend time searching for cables and getting peripherals to communicate with each other then I miss the moment and that idea is lost forever. So I leave all my music equipment setup all the time.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    My favorite songs are like fireworks to my brain. -There needs to movement. A great song doesn’t sit at a constant level. It needs peaks and valleys and space where nothing happens so that when something does happen is blows your hair back.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I have difficulty completing a project. I have a bad habit of starting something and getting it to about 85% completion and then I start something else. I have more songs that are almost finished than I would like to admit.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    If I’m having difficulty thinking of something to write I typically visit a local pottery shop and hang out there for a while. There is something about being in the studio of a working artist that usually helps get me out of whatever funk I’m in.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    Honestly, no. I write music because I have to get the ideas out of my head. It’s a matter of my own safety.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I always play my music for my friends and family because they aren’t afraid to tell me if my work is “face blisteringly awful.”

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    Hmmm… well I have a difficult time agreeing with this. I find myself spending most of my time trying to convince myself to not hate my music. I think it is important to be your own worst critic.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I hope I can continue to write music until I die in a (insert death that’s not lame here. -Like any one of Bruce Willis’ characters who seems to have the innate talent for intercepting bullets.)

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    It’s much like climbing a mountain only your brain is responsible for creating the mountain you abuse your body with.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    The greatest song I’ve yet to write is one that encompasses all the extremes. It should be soft but still have some teeth when it wants to bight. It should quietly and then strike when you least expect it. It should be inviting and kind only to turn around and rip everything up and taunt you while it does it. It should be able to bring you great happiness at times and make you cry at others… hmmm this sounds a lot like a cat.

  • Andrea Maria Ottavin

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    I think my songwriting process looks like the work of a painter. My composition is a sort of descriptive process of something it fascinates me or something I care I'd like to talk about. So, we can say that I create my music by observation and by capturing the essence of the things I want to represent.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    I think that a song which moves me must be a song in which I can find myself. It doesn't have to be extremely technical. It can be something simple or technical, but the property that every song must have is emotion. A song should tell me a story, of every kind, and it should make me feel inside the story.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    Usually, frustrations come when I have to write music under commission. That's why I usually don't write for someone else in defined deadlines, because I need a lot of time to elaborate my ideas in something concrete (for example, works for my next "The end of the World" project are very slow and there are just 4 ready tracks of the entire album, of which only 2 tracks are already released as single). Another way in which I get stuck it's when I have to write songs in my language: the Italian language. I always used to write in English. In Italian, even if it's my language, I have real difficulties in songwriting.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    Listening to music of the genre to find inspiration it's the better way I overcome the frustration and I usually get un-stuck. There's a song I wrote for the band Ten O'Clock called "In rotta verso il Paradiso" which came out after listening to the song "Dove comincia il sole" by Pooh.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    The envision of an audience helps to write those universal tunes, in which every one can put himself. I think it's important to figure out the audience outside when you write music. And it's interesting to imagine the reaction of this audience listening to the music you created.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I usually like to have some feedback on my music and I always let some people listen to the songs I think are strong tracks and candidate to be singles out my albums. Critics are very useful for improve the music I write, especially if these critics are well-build constructive critics.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    Generally, every song is a good song. Usually, the good/bad-property of a song can be defined by it's execution in studio and in live performances. Music is life, and like life, music is protean. Usually every song communicates different emotions from studio to live, if it's well done. So a really good song brings new emotions every time you listen at it.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    Songwriting helps me to express myself at my best! So I think I'll write song forever, until I'll have ideas to put up.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Both are important. There's nothing else to say.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    Well, I never thought about it…but I think it must be the most epic and spectacular song in history.

  • #7 I believe is a particularly important skill for songwriters to develop. Listen – really LISTEN – to a song after you've composed it, and get someone else you can trust to tell you "no" to listen. Does anything in the song sound awkward (fix it! don't just leave it because *you* can sing it without stumbling)? Any words that might be easily misunderstood? Think about the logical flow of the writing. What do you want to convey (emotionally, rationally, etc.)? Can someone else understand what you want to convey?

    I think it's nonsense to fret about "overanalyzing" something, which for many people means revisiting a song after it's been cemented into one form. Or they worry that "polish" is going to dent the raw emotional content of the song (which is, I believe, more a product of the performance than the content). Not being able to self-edit keeps a lot of songwriters down, and songs are a lot more maleable than most songwriters realize. Good writers are good listeners first — this goes for any sort of writing. The reason? It makes you honest, makes you entertaining, and makes you empathetic.

    I also write for a music magazine, Driftwoodmagazine.com, and I can tell you that you can tell when an artist is being a good self-listener and editor. You don't hear awkward lyrics. You don't hear bad/off key chord voicing. They're internally consistent across their writing. The song has emotional impact because they aren't trying to "sell" something that's weak on its own.

    I'm writing a 10-part blog series, "Song Sources," on my band's website (www.midwayfair.org) about the songwriting process behind our new album. I tend to use many different songwriting techniques at the beginning, but the end process is always the same: get feedback from the other band members, play it live, and work hard to polish the final product.

  • 1.What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    Often for me, there's an initial idea which goes into songwriting, which can come on the subway or walking in the park—usually a phrase or catchy limerick. All it needs is cadence. Then, I try to figure out the two parts of the song—the lyrics and what i'm trying to get across with the song, and the music to accompany the lyrics. The better the two mesh together, the better the song. If you can play the song without singing the lyrics and it still sounds like it's saying what you meant to say, then the song is well written.
    This process can work itself out within a matter of hours or even months or years. Certain songs take longer to ferment, which might be considered a form of “writer's block” to some people, but I see it as just a part of the writing process. Just like brewing beer, some songs take longer to write than other songs.
    Sitting down with other musicians can also help the songwriting process.
    2.Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    The best songs are songs that you wish you wrote in the first place. They make you move from the hips in rhythm with the music, try to attempt singing it even while knowing you aren't the true singer. A song can truly move you when it physically moves you. It has this “swing” to it that from the first listen to the thousandth listen, achieves the same goal—to get you up and dancin'.
    3.What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    Songwriting is a tricky beast to get a handle on. In order to progress as a songwriter, you must constantly challenge your emotions, technical ability and have moments of doubt where you want to give up the craft. It's moments like this that songwriting becomes a chore. This is when you pick up a paintbrush until further notice.
    4.4. How do you overcome the frustration? how do you get un-stuck?
    The best way to get over the frustration is to stop writing songs until you want to again. No one is putting a gun to your head saying “you need to write songs” instead of using your creativity in other forms. Sometimes you feel like writing a song because you haven't written one in a while. This is a bad idea. The lyrics will be “yesterday was gray, I had a bad day” and it will suck. Instead, wait for inspiration to strike, or attempt writing a song on a different instrument or with a group of songwriters that can help give you feedback and inspire your writing in a different way.
    5.5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    It's best to write for yourself. Sometimes I write songs for my family, knowing that they will probably be the first to hear it and the most receptive to it.
    6.Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    7.Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    By favoring certain songs or chord progressions or even styles of music, you can end up boxing yourself in and snuffing out the flame of creativity. It's important to be proud of your songs from a “I was there and I did that” aspect, and give them their due as far as playing them if you get the chance in front of people to get a reaction, but it's also equally important to push your own limits creatively as well as musically. You can usually tell if a song is “misbehaving” if you don't like the way it sounds. This can be an easy fix, or you can just drop it from your setlist if it doesn't feel relevant to you anymore. Case in point: Radiohead stopped playing “Creep” live because it boxed them into a particular “grunge” scene. They wanted to expand their sound, so they stopped playing it for people. A great song, but irrelevant to the band's performance after 1994.
    8.What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    What does a blade of grass get out of having the sun around? I can't image not having an outlet like songwriting to express myself. Songwriting is a process of filtration, allowing me to take in the world and express myself so that other people can listen and hopefully be inspired as well. Songwriting forever? Forever is a long, long time. I suppose if I have the chance and feel inspired, forever seems like a long enough time to be a songwriter.
    9.What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    Inspiration is the key to writing a song, perspiration is the doorknob that you turn.
    10.Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    I like the idea of multiple harmonies going on, with parts for banjo, mandolin, guitar and organ. The lyrics are based in transcendentalism, like a brisk walk in the woods in late November as the last leaves fall in New England.

    Check out some of my music at johnnysanford.bandcamp.com!

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    I approach each song differently, some come gradually and others are more rapid, but there are definite stages in each process;

    * The inception – that moment when you find some words or melody and a riff or chord progression that all locks into place… is it a verse? Is it a chorus?

    * Finding the theme – the bit that comes after the inception.

    * Chipping – chipping away at it until it resembles a shape that can be identified with the previous step.

    * Refining – sanding down the lyrics and smoothing out the structure so that the sculpture resembles more than what you (or your subconscious) initially intended.

    * Polishing – making a demo, listening. Playing it live, listening. Tweaking it so it fits the vibe of step 2.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    It's definitely a mix of all three elements that somehow come together in a blessed union to create something more than the sum of parts, and none can exist without the other.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I think watchin too many soap operas, reality television and generally taking the 9-5 job too seriously are all sure ways to numb any creative sensibility.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    Listening or watching other creative minds that have and continue to inspire me are a great way to become reinvigorated.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    I have done on occassions, but it was only in a situation where I felt I was writing in behalf of them and for them… a group of my muckas for example.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    My girlfriend might make some useful suggestions on small details from time to time, and she's usually right.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    I generally rate my songs on how much I enjoy playing them, if I don't like them… it can be a useful gauge. However, I've had occasions where people have mentioned how much they love certain songs, so it inspires me to revisit them and play them with a new found sense of… affection?

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I get a creative life, a dimension that continues to give me a sense of wealth and excitement. It takes me places I wouldn't go otherwise and introduces me to people I wouldn't otherwise meet.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    In the early days it was primarily inspiration. Now days it seems more perspiration is required to find the inspiration… this order seems to be much more rewarding, but it could just be an illusion.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    !!!

  • As a founding member of AMERICA, we began our careers at a time where it was virtually mandatory to self-author our songs. Our first attempts really started with re-arranging Top 40 songs. Somehow, this got the creative juice flowing.

    Within a short time we began writing our own songs. 2 quick tips: Use a cliche as jumping off point. "Love Hurts" is just one example. The other tip is writing something close to an existing song, without of course plaguerising.

    When AMERICA had recorded our first album, Joe Smith, then President of Warner Records came to hear the first song we'd laid down. It was "I Need You", a bit of a cliche.

    When the song finished, Joe said bluntly, "That song's a hit".

    I asked him how he knew, and he replied, "Because it sounds like 5 other songs that have been hits." Needless to say, that rocked my world as a songwriter wanting to create unique, one of a kind songs.

    Joe was of course right, the song became a huge hit. The average listener doesn't want to go into uncharted waters, they want their ears soothed with songs that are reminiscent of other songs. Again, not advocating plaguerism, just that songwriters focus on the audience's comfort zone.

    Of course there are extreme exceptions to both of these helpful hints. Righting on demand usually produces mediocre songs. I believe that most songwriters would agree that their best work comes almost unbidden, a flash of brilliance inspired by some event or events that touch something deep inside and pulls the song out of the depths of their souls.

    Stay in the groove,
    Dan Peek

  • 1. I get auditory hallucinations. Sometimes the rhythms or rhymes of language go through my head, and I can easily develop a few lines of instant lyrics. The content develops easily from there. Sometimes I get a combination of tones in my head and I do my best to reproduce them with the instruments I have. Lyrics can inspire music, and music can inspire lyrics. I only have about three to five songs inspired solely by emotions pertaining to real life drama.

    2. My favorite songs are my own songs for about three days following their initial recording. They really captured those feelings that I was feeling at the time! Then I have another flash of inspiration from other artists' compositions. I love all the different combinations of chords that people choose. I love the rhythm of lyrics, it's amazing that the language we use to communicate can be music. I love getting specific emotions from the way an instrument is played, and even simply from that instrument's unique pattern of sound. I love the juxtaposition of a main melody to it's backing chord structure.

    3. I hate sticking to one subject, because there is so much going through my head at any given moment. Sometimes, I can't find the right sounds that go with the main emotion I want to convey, even with my vocals.

    4. I start a lot of projects. Some of them remain shelved for a couple months. As I cycle through life, old music makes sense again and I can come back to lyrics or riffs and give them the life they deserve.

    5. I don't typically envision my audience when I write. Instead I keep myself accountable, and decide whether I would buy the music that's coming out of me. If, after a few listens, the answer is no, I'll re-record or move on. I'm the audience.

    6. Sometimes, I'm a control freak when I'm writing music. I must be a pain in the ass when I'm collaborating with other people. However, sometimes I relinquish control and just let my inspiration match whoever is heading up the project. If I need to rewrite, so be it. This would be an instance where I envision my collaborative partners as the audience.

    7. I give my music to my biggest fans and closest friends. They tell me which songs are actually good, and which over-hyped songs were actually disappointments.

    8. I'll compose music for the rest of my life. Whether I actually write it down will depend on my motivation and priorities, but music is just something that happens to me. I'm really entertained when I can hear what I've recorded, and think, I can't believe all that came to me!

    9. Musical inspiration creates perspiration. I hear music differently in my head than in my ears, and it seems impossible to create a sound that's perfect. Emotional inspiration carries no burden, it's sound is almost irrelevant.

    10. The greatest song I haven't written yet is the one that's in my head right now. The latest is always the greatest.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    Most all of my writing comes from twisting and pushing reality to the limits. The story's genisis usually comes from one line that I think has both sonic and content interest to me, or a story that I might make up about people from afar. Have also used the method of making a pop-song "book report" (mine was for The Catcher in the Rye…called "Daisy Don't Cry."

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    I have grown to be in awe of some writers technical ability. Not in skill at their instrument so much as the way simple peices are used to build a song. The items that most interest me about a "great" song are the ability to build emotion thru the song to it's climax….and for that to add to the lyrical content.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I am afraid at times that melodically I will be stuck in a certain comfort zone…this is where getting opinions from others and really reworking a song over and over helps me a ton.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    "…getting opinions from others and really reworking a song over and over helps me a ton."

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    Some songs very much evoke a picture of a fists-raised crowd singing along…but much more often I get wrapped up in the story telling and want to stay true to that. Choruses are choruses though and have the most push towards being "crowd-friendly."

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I will usually get the bulk done on my own, with the exception of help on melody if I feel I am stuck. I then usually bounce thinks off 2 people in areas that I am not feeling 100% about. Lastly, we have a great producer we record with who we have a relationship with where he will simply tell us when something does not feel right…very helpful.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    I think that this is built-in with our process. We will usually write our songs and then methodically start "cutting the fat." If it isn't doing something to move the song where it has to go…it's gone.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    Nothing better in the world then creating an emotion in someone from started as a thought in your head. Always improving is a huge point of emphasis as well.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    These intermingly every day. The inspiration is what tells you what path to take with your songs…but the more you do it, it becomes obvious that alot of work is involved in building something that you will be proud of. 100-hours of pre-production per song is not outlandish.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    Original, on the edge, yet strangely familiar. I think that this fosters the idea of your listeners taking ownership of your songs and is what makes artists feel like there are really doing it. This is what we always are striving for.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    I try to always be writing or capturing ideas. I've learned that I never know when an idea is coming and I probably wont remember it if I don't write it or record it in someway. I can't tell you how many random ideas are recorded on my phone or left on someones message machine just to make sure the idea didn't escape. At my house I have all of my guitars out on stands. That way I can grab any instrument I need and start writing. I find the more instruments you have around the better. Each one has it's own soul and story to tell. You just have to find out which one's talking that day. Music usually comes first before lyrics but not always. I find that I'm most inspired when I'm reading good books. Things not related to music at all. It keeps me grounded in real life.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    The thing that catches me with any song is if I believe what the artist is singing. If I don't believe it, it just doesn't stick. I also want to feel like I'm going somewhere, like the artist wants to show me something I've never seen before or look at something in a way I've never thought of. Not to name names but the song "trumpet child" by over the rhine is one of those songs. It's pierces through you without asking permission.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    I seem to get most frustrated when I'm trying to shape myself into something i'm not. I'm all about being creative and trying new stuff but I hate it when my insecurity gets in the way and make me think I need to be something not truly me.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    I ask myself if there are any lies that I'm believing and then I ask my self what the truth actually is about the situation. I also have a bad habit of distracting myself from my work. I find that sometimes I just need to make myself work even if it feels like it accomplishes nothing. Sometimes you just have to push through.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    Sometimes I imagine the person I'm writing the song for or about but I don't usually picture an audience.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    I do co-write a lot. I find it helps give a different outlook and changes the scenery for awhile. I've been lucky enough to write with Tyrone Wells, James Grey and a few others who have been doing it for awhile. It's always a pleasure to write with guys like that cause I feel like i'm learning more and more every time.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    I think there is a difference between a song being really good and a song being really marketable. Sometimes I write songs that I love and feel most true to my spirit but those songs wont always make it on the pop charts. Now I've also killed a lot of songs in my past. Sometimes you just have to dissect them and look at the parts later. And lets be honest, some songs just have to die and never be resurrected.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    I think the question is more, What does it get out of me? It takes from my soul and creates beautiful and strange and complex little monsters that call themselves songs. and whats really crazy is those little monster songs sometimes help people through really hard times. Sometimes the monster songs teach me about myself even though I'm the one who helped me created it.
    My Great Grandfather wrote songs and played music on the radio during the great depression and my father wrote and preformed all my life. I don't want to do anything else and I don't think I could if I tried.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    I think perspiration has to come first. We all go through the process of learning and changing and I hope I never stop. I figure if I work hard then when inspiration shows up I can give her a run for her money.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    I don't want to ruin the suspense.

  • 1. No one process to my songwriting. Ideas come from everything and everywhere. Usually, the best ones come when I'm noodling around on my guitar and a figure presents itself which, in turn, inspires a melody line. The other major process is through musing on a particular idea for a while and suddenly it pops out of my subconscious.

    2. My favorite songs have almost always connected viscerally with some kind of personal experience or belief. Dylan's "Visions of Johanna," Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey," John Hiatt's "Memphis In The Meantime," and many others. My faves are almost always songs that strike both an emotional and thematic chord simultaneously.

    3. I don't get stuck as much as I have ideas I can't finish to my satisfaction. I've got plenty of songs that have great verses with no complementary chorus or strong choruses I can't find an appropriate verse for.

    4. Many times a long walk will stimulate my brain to come up with the stuff I couldn't get to just sitting with my guitar. If I can connect with the essence of how the song feels inside, I can usually find the parts that seem to be missing.

    5. The audience I envision when I'm writing my songs is myself. I'm a tough critic. If the song moves me viscerally, personally, it almost always moves the audience I eventually play it for.

    6. Any collaboration I do is an accident. Usually, though, if my wife loves or hates something I'm writing, it's a winner. 🙂

    7. My best songs are ones that have overwhelmed me when I began writing them. I felt moved to finish them quickly, as if the muse was only stopping by for 5 minutes. Something in the melody might make me shudder (really!) or there's a line that sums up something I've felt forever and that I know is universally true. The bad ones are the ones I've been pushing because I sensed they had better than average depth but then after a month or so they stop ringing true. In those instances I know they either fooled me from the get-go or they simply didn't stand my own personal depth tests.

    8. There was a time when I abandoned songwriting because I felt I wasn't being heard. I quit for 6 years. When the muse whispered in my ear next, it was angry with me for quitting and made me work harder than ever before to get my mojo back. That took almost two years. Once I'd realized the error of my ways I realized that I needed to write songs as much as I need to eat or drink or love or be. I'll write until they put me in the grave.

    9. Inspiration, though only 10% of the equation, is an absolute necessity. Once that's in gear, the 90% perspiration part is like cruising down the interstate on a sunny day with no traffic. Inspiration comes in many forms. Perspiration should not be "work" if the inspiration is valid. Songwriting should be more joyful than anything else.

    10. The greatest song I've never written is the one that every and any listener immediately identifies with and wants to sing again and again and is the one every songwriter says "Why didn't I think of that?"

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song? My songs are sraight from the pen and on the fly. Logs On The Fire, Sound Of My Guitar & Carolina Autumn were all penned in under 15 minutes. A great song can fall at any time during any circumstance and I'm almost always ready.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you? – "Unchained Melody" is an example of a song famous for both the lyric and melody in perfect matrimony. When a song has vocal class but also stands on it's own as a great instrumental, a quality pinicle in songwriting prevails.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck? – Getting stuck isn't an option, if worth doing it's worth doing well. Sometimes a low point is also a turning point with no where but up to go!

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck? Use it as an excuse to do something your workaholic self won't usually allow. Go shop at the mall. Watch a sports game. Or just enjoy a gourmet lunch getaway. Perspectives change with a break.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process? – I always write as if it's my last song. As if my reputation as writer will be established by that song.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process? – Never. Don't read How-to books and stay clear of music fads. Stay on your on island as long as it takes and when your michaelangelo David is finally complete, proudly introduce it to the world.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving? – Sometimes a good song is badly recorded and sometimes a not so great song becomes a recording classic. Go with your gut about the quality.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever? – Writing is in the fabric of who I am. Without writing I'm not me.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process? – If you write the music first as I do, the words will be explained through the emotional notations. I believe that all the world's greatest music is already composed. It's now a matter of through whom human that music will be concieved.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it. – I'm working on it – it's the one common idea that the whole world somehow missed. It's saying what everyone would like to say but couldn't be politically correct in doing so. It's a classic that was missed, but now laid down in both lyric and melody. It's real music!

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    I record lots of little snippets of guitar and keyboard parts, and then I'll put them all on my iPod-like device and listen for a couple of weeks… the ones that jump out at me will usually put a melody in my head or lyric in my mouth. This process can take months and I've even used guitar parts that are years old for songs.

    Also, I tend to write a lot of poetry, random phrases, or prose. Once I have words that I like I'll find a rhythem and then try to fit whatever orphaned guitar or keyboard parts i have running around inside my head.

    A few of my favorite songs ever have just come about on one long take, though. I've had this kind of magical moment only a few times in my life… where I record for hours and just play and play and play and then eventually there is a kernel for a song and a spark for lyrics at the same time. The best part is when the lyrics come right out of the air while you're playing. It's as if you know the words, but not until the second you are singing them. Very cool

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    The one feature that always grabs me about a song is something unexpected and clever. One of my favorite songs is "The Blood Book on the Half Shelf" by Danielson. During the chorus he makes this sound, like a muted guitar, like "chick-chick," except with his mouth, and it totally floors me how awesome it sounds. I mean, he's playing guitar, why doesn't he just do the chunky palm muted thing with his instrument? I'll tell you why: cause Daniel Smith is a freakin genius.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    I always get hung up on the recording process–feeling like I need a new cable or soundcard or interface always makes me stop and worry for hours on end about my process.

    The other thing I'm constantly frustrated with is singing in my bedroom, which is my studio as well. I can hear the neighbor's dog barking and I'm assuming they can hear me singing, which makes me self-conscious of my own voice. It's very difficult for me to feel completely uninhibited while recording vocals.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    Aside from a few sips of bourbon, not much. If I'm really frustrated, I'll most likely just move onto something else entirely (another song, a favorite DVD, writing).

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    I love to write with friends in mind… especially those who are also musicians and who make music that I enjoy. For example, I have a friend who plays drums in a mathy instrumental rock band. The music is fast and technical. I cannot play music that fast, but it helps me when I ask myself if he'd appreciate some of the slower things I'm trying to write and record. It always helps to try and approach a piece with fresh eyes or a new perspective.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    I have twice collaborated over the internet (during the FAWM 50/90 challenge), and it was fantastic. Both people who contacted me about a collab wanted to give me lyrics, so I wrote music and it turned out to be quite a bonus to not have to worry about how corny my words can sound sometimes. I found that by focusing intently on the music I was writing, I ended up creating something much more dynamic and interesting than I normally would've been able to. It was quite an experience. I highly recomend open and honest collaboration.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    Haha, awesome question. Yes, I have plenty of misbehaving babies. They crawl up inside your head and keep pestering you and stealing your brain's bandwidth. It seems like no other writign can be done until the song/baby in question is changed or fixed or possibly even killed. I have a killed a few babies in my musical career, but their cries still linger in my ears.

    That being said, I believe it is possible to dig through your pile of dead babies (oh god, this metaphor has gone too far…) and pick out maybe just one thing you liked about it. Then you can save it for another song or day. It has happened that I've been inspired by re-listening to an old guitar solo that I'd forgot about… the solo finds a new home in a different key or set of chords and then I have a new, Frankenstein-baby.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    I know that I'll always write songs, but I'm not sure I know exactly why. I think part of the appeal for me comes from the same place that drove me to study physics (I work as an editor for physics journals now). I have a curiousness about the universe that makes me want to dig deeper into every thought and phenomena. I don't think I can say this without sounding horribly egotistical, but I like to think I am a music experimenter and researcher than a song-writer.

    Besides, if I didn't write music I'd drink ALL the time and that would be pretty sad.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    It's dead on with 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. The kicker is that when that 1% of inspiration comes, it makes the perspiration so much more enjoyable. They go hand in hand.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    my song is horribly, mind-alteringly sad. the sadness of the piece is so striking only because of the immense and excruciating truth that lies within. you cannot deny the logic of the song, so you follow its conclusions blindly with each verse, until you find that you've been stripped of all the beliefs you've ever believed about the world around you. the real beauty of the song, though, is that once the song ends, there is rebirth. you are reborn anew and everything you see, you are seeing for the first time. all of your cynicism is gone and there is only an incredible joy borne of wonder and optimism.

  • 1. Whenever I sit down to work on a song, it generally happens on accident. I’ll usually be in front of the Television with my guitar and come up with some kind of progression, and play around with that for a while, then maybe start humming a vocal melody to it, which later forms into actual lyrics.

    2. They make me feel a certain way, which is what I think music is supposed to do. Not only that, but it gives me ideas for future songwriting. I’ll listen to a song sometimes, and think, “Why couldn’t I have written that?” I don’t try to emulate a song, but I try to take aspects from all I listen to, and create something new, as well as putting everything I have into it.

    3. Mostly, I get stuck on lyrics, which is why a song can at times take months to write. Usually I can come up with a melody, but I try to be careful and creative with what I want to say. I do also have trouble with the music. I try not to follow the same patterns, like verse, chorus, verse, bridge, outro.

    4. I’ll put the song away for a while. When I start getting frusterated, then everything starts to sound the same and I risk making a song I’m not going to be happy with. I just come back to it once Im refreshed, which can mean a month.

    5. I don’t really think about any outside listeners when I’m writing. Songwriting is kind of my catharsis, a way of getting my feelings out. I’ve never really written for people. I think songwriting becomes sort of contrived if you do.

    6. Sometimes, I’ll ask a friends opionion if I happen to get stuck on a song or what direction to take it in. In a way, it helps me to try something different, or to not be redundant.

    7. I am very hard on myself and very critical with my songs. It’s one of those things you just get an ear for. I guess the one’s that I love to play the most are the ones I’ve recently written. I rehearse songs alone in my bedroom for a while and make sure they are how I want them. Over time I can tell if there is something that should be changed or if there is something that I end up not liking. I’ve had a lot of songs which I played around with for a while where I ended up really hating a certain verse, or melody and ended up changing it.

    8. I think I get the ultimate joy out of being a songwriter. For me, it’s really the only thing I know how to put everything I have into. I don’t go a day with out playing guitar or some kind of instrument. I’ll write songs as long as I am able.

    9. They are both very important.

    10. Very melodic, and raw. Honest and humble. I’ll leave this one vague.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    I noodle around on guitar aimlessly and stop when I play something that catches my ear. I'll develop it as much as I can in the moment, make a quick, basic demo, then file whatever I've got away for future reference. Generally, I have about 10-15 unfinished song ideas floating around at any given moment. Some of them are developed to the point of being basically finished except for a bridge or something; some of them are little more than a couple of chords and a melody sketch. Basically, I just keep all these fragments running through my head, and little by little, I chip away at whichever one feels best at the moment, until the details of all the pictures get filled in. Sometimes a song will be gestating like that for years before I figure out how to finish it. I sort of write lyrics at the same time, just chipping away at it–I almost visualize a kind of grid in my head, where each line of lyrics fills in another square, until the whole thing is a solid color. I don't REALLY start working on lyrics until I'm positive that the musical portion is going to be worth keeping, though. I think in my entire adult life, I've only written a couple of finished songs that I ended up thinking were not good enough to use. Because by the time it comes to working on the lyrical portion, I pretty much know already if the music is strong enough to continue with or not. If I can tell it's not going to be a good song, I just don't bother finishing it. Or I'll find one part of the song that I DO like, and just steal it for use in another song I'm working on. I combine separate song ideas like that a lot. Sorry for the convoluted answer.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    Usually the music strikes me first; I love it when you can hear a bit of music and can immediately think to yourself, "that makes me think of moonlight," or "that totally conjures up this picture of my bedroom in the house I grew up in," or "this song totally sounds like a horny teenager panicking as he tries to hide his…er, excitement…in front of the girl he likes." Just anything, so long as it's kind of visually or emotionally evocative to me. Then I take notice of the lyrics and the arrangement and everything else. The songs that really kill me and end up becoming favorites are the ones where all of those elements work together and paint some sort of really indellible emotional picture in your head. They create some kind of atmosphere that feels so real, it's like you can reach out and touch it.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    Lyrics. I hate writing lyrics. Music comes comparatively easy to me most of the time (not always, though). But if I have some music that feels really evocative to me in the way I described above, it can be a real struggle to create a set of lyrics that can match it. I feel like if the lyrics aren't good enough at working together with the melody, it'll totally wreck the whole effect. I beat my head against the wall constantly second-guessing myself on lyrics.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    I just walk away from that song for a while and work on one of the other songs I've got floating around instead. Sometimes when I feel like I'm in a rut, I try to listen to stuff that is sort of a palate-cleanser for me. Stuff like free jazz or Captain Beefheart or Tim Buckley's Starsailor album. Things like that are so fee in their approach, and so different from the musical approach that I'm usually taking at the moment, that they can open up your mind to all sorts of different possibilities you hadn't considered before. Listening to music all the time that is in the same style you're writing in at the moment usually means that the result ends up boring as hell. Broadening your listening is a good way to break out of a rut.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    Not really, because my band has never had a very big audience in the first place. The thing is, the artists who mean most to me are usually people like Neil Young, who just write the songs they write in that moment, and if it matches up with what the audience wants, fine. If not, that's fine too. It's led to him cultivating a lot of different audiences; I know people who only like his loud Crazy Horse garage rock, and different people who only like his mellow acoustic stuff. And then there are people like me who just like almost everything he's done. If there's any crowd out there I'd like to think I'm writing for, I guess it would be people like that: the types of fans who actually WANT their favorite artists to surprise them, and who are open to going along for the ride when they try something new. But honestly, it never crosses my mind when I'm writing; I'm always too busy just thinking "what chord would sound good after D7 here?" or "Dammit! What rhymes with 'hand grenade?'"

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I'm a horrible collaborator in the actual writing process. I'm always so self-conscious about not wanting to step on anybody's toes or mess up what they want for their songs that I just get overly deferential and end up contributing next to nothing. It's a disgusting display. Now, once I bring a song into the band and the arranging process starts, then it's fair game. Other people can come up with a little guitar part or a drum groove or a harmony or whatever that can completely change the whole texture of the song to you. And a lot of the time, those actually change the song for the better. Collaboration works great for me then; just not while I'm in the actual composition phase.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    If I can listen to a song I'm writing and actually be really moved by it, to the point that I feel almost like it's not even something I wrote anymore, then I know it's a good one. If I can listen to a part in a song and literally have no idea how it came out of me, that's always a good sign. The ones I know aren't working are the ones where I listen to it, and all I hear is the construction itself: I just think, "oh, it's sort of interesting that I decided to put the minor chord there" or whatever. I don't see the whole house; I just hear the way it was built. If I'm thinking of stuff like that, it's not a good thing, because it means that the song itself as a whole isn't a captivating entity. If you can hear one of your own songs and all you can think about is the damn chord progression, that means it's not moving you; it's making you think of what is essentially work. For the most part, I never finish writing songs like that. I'll break them down and if there's anything salvagable in there, I'll sell it to other unfinished songs for scrap.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    It's just sort of an amazing feeling to hear your band play your song for the first time, or to see people in a crowd reacting to it for the first time, or to first hear it after it's just finally been recorded. It's this feeling like, "this started out as just some little idea in my head, and now it's something that's actually really EXISTS now." It's addictive. Before too long, the excitement of hearing your last new song played for the first time wears off, and you have to bring a new one in to keep your excitement going. That, and also the cliched need to express yourself–"I can't tell anybody my deepest secrets, but I can put them somewhere into a song and sing them" and all that. It's a total cliche, but it's real. I don't know if I'll ever stop or not. There have been a few times when I've had writer's block that lasted for like a year at a time, when I literally thought I might never be able to write again, but luckily I've come out of it each time. Those periods usually really suck for me; I hope none of them ever becomes permanent.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Inspiration is totally necessary to start a song. If you start building a song on a foundation that wasn't that inspired to begin with, the song will always suck. Persperation comes in towards the end of the process, when you've got the song basically done but just need a few more lines of lyrics and have to MAKE yourself write them, despite not being able to come up with anything. Anything in between the beginning and end is just a combination of the two in varying proportions.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    It'll be called "Stairway to Heaven," and it'll have a really pretty beginning and a totally badass guitar solo at the end. Oh man, it'll be so kickass when it…wait…what's that you say? Dammit!

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like?
    What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    For me, hooks march in first. I'll pull out my cell phone and record the hook
    either with my keyboard or by singing the melody. Then much later, I'll get to
    sit down and nurse the it. Usually I'll build the drum track around the hook,
    then the supporting instruments around that. Most of my songs see about 12
    incarnations, and then a final structure. With the song's structure solidly
    established, I begin work on vocals and lyrics. The vocals take the longest to
    arrange. The music itself usually is established within about an 8 or 9 hour period.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you?
    What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    Songs usually touch me sonically, more so than lyrically. Even the most emotive
    lyrics are rendered futile when set against a lifeless musical framework. As someone
    with OCD, attention to detail is something I greatly appreciate in bodies of music.
    My favorite songs allow me to live vicariously. Typically, they give me chills and cover
    me in goosebumps. Occasionally, tears come.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting?
    What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    As I said before, I can easily pen a hook. However, it's the sections of the
    song after that that typically trip me up. Creating a lyric is probably my
    biggest frustration however. I'm not one to settle, especially lyrically, so I
    won't rest and feel accomplished until each and every syllable falls in the
    right place and the word association conjures the exact images to properly
    fit the mood of the song. Sarah McLachlan once described the lyric writing
    process as "trying to draw blood from a stone." I whole heartedly share her
    thinking on this matter.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    Generally, I have to walk away from the piece for at least 20 minutes.
    Though taking too leisurely a break can be problematic as well,
    severing contact with the muse that initially inspired the song being.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write?
    If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this
    have on the writing process?

    I do not. In order for me to successfully write music, intimacy between
    myself and the project at hand is paramount. Sharing that creative space
    in my mind with the sentiments and reactions of other human beings would
    utterly contaminate the product. This is a bloodletting, not a bloodbath.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process?
    What effect does that have on the writing process?

    During the initial creation, I do not. However, once I've established
    the bulk of the song, I usually collaborate with my engineer on the
    remainder of the song body. The production and mastering processes
    are especially collaborative for me.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally.
    This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!”
    How can you tell when one of your own song is really good?
    How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    I'm a very harsh critic when it comes to my babies. Generally speaking,
    if one is off kilter, I'll know it. If the fault is in production, I'll address that.
    If the fault lay with the bridge motif, then that morphs. However, if the energy
    of the entire piece isn't working, it's time to say good-bye. When I'm pleased
    with my own song, that is when I feel it is good. I'm always open to revisions though.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I'm not going to say that it's cathartic. I believe it can be, but sometimes
    I feel that it's very scientific. So for the most part, what I get out of writing
    music is sanity. It's like a compulsive habit. Lyrics I find completely cathartic though.
    I firmly believe that passion alone cannot sculpt great sound. The technical aspects
    have to be cultivated.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Much like how in a spiritual sense, "Faith without works is dead,"
    so is the case with creating music. A great idea gives you a jumping
    off point, but it's your job to stay in flight.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    I can't describe what I haven't experienced.

    – The Kali Co.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    I start with rhythm. Everything in The Universe moves by virtue of rhythms and cycles and I find that the initial "feel" informs my choices from chord structure to arrangement to the syllabic content of my lyrics. Usually this process begins by creating a beat in a looping program (Sony Acid Music Studio 7.0), or on the drums, the guitar, or the flute using Delay and Loop pedals.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    Usually a song gets to me by virtue of lyrical poetry or intense harmonic structure. There are tonal intervals that resonate within me to a greater extent than others… I tend to like that addition of 6ths (and #4th's when resolved to the major 3rd). I also gravitate toward quieter introspection and exploration rather than outward aggression and screaming. That being said, everything has it's place!

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I get stuck when I'm trying to fight convention. Sometimes it's okay to build a song around common cliches but most of the time I try to do something, anything, to change things up. My biggest frustration with my songwriting is that I can't really get anyone to listen to it.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    I get un-stuck by trying a new genre or emotion. I haven't overcome the frustration of not finding an audience, though.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    I do not write for an audience. I write for myself. I write folk, rock, rap, country, anything that crosses my mind. If people like it, great… and I DO get positive feedback!

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I tend to preview my material for musicians, friends, and family, and get their honest opinions. Sometimes I post a piece on the web to see how folks react. I ask about the song, the lyrics, the music, the mix… everything.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    I don't really love all of my songs. There are a few that I always like while others I waver about. I know when one is "misbehaving" when I keep hearing the same problems… a lyric I don't like or a chord that sounds funky. I revise, as necessary.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I can't stop. For me, it's akin to both therapy and autobiography. I can track the history of my life through my recordings and my songs. I remember the exact emotions or cicumstances that fueled a song. For me, songwriting allows me freedom of expression and the opportunity to experiment with the marriage of music and lyric.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    I am inspired by everything… I can't go to live shows because they inspire me and make me want to go home and write or to be onstage myself. I don't consider the work of it "perspiration" because I have so much fun!

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    It's a song that makes people listen but retains my artistic vision.

    http://www.sethasa.com http://www.facebook.com/pages/Seth-Asa/6387228130

  • Thoughts on Contrast When Putting Music Together

    real quick thought

    i think there's a large realm of music theory that isn't so technical…i think that too much theory relies on concepts concerning how the instrument work for the musician and not as much as how functionality of musical ideas and concepts work in how it is received by its audience.

    a friend asked me what's so special about DJs and the fact that (if they're not producing) they're just mixing other peoples' music together. the question is: is this really an artist if they're not creating their own music?

    i related the idea of a DJ to a person's very own mixtape. if you ever made one when you were young (or even now), you would probably realize that there's a real art in mixtapes. its creating a mood taking peoples music to give to others. certain songs can go after one another and putting the wrong combination of music can lead to a shitty cd. you gotta know your music to make a good mix. you gotta find stuff that sounds together and then make it interesting by bringing in songs that no one has ever heard of and allowing them to be introduced to new stuff. with this, a mixtape serves as a door to bringing people into your tastes and hopefully bringing them into new realms of music. a dj set is just this, and there definitely is an art to it, so i would say that they are artists in this respect.

    DJ sets create a mood that affects the listener by how things are orchestrated together and how each part affects the next part. in this, you get a realm of music theory that is hard to teach based on scales and understanding physics and math, and more on the listener's approach.

    medeski martin and wood do cool freejazz breakdowns in their live sets. at one point, each musician will take out all forms of structure and just do their own thing and make everything completely random. omar rodriguez-lopez from the mars volta does this as well in his solos where he starts playing chromatic random freakouts. in both cases, this creates an interesting scenario where the musicians begin to be dissonant and ear piercing to the audience. the cool thing is that this creates tension in the listener and makes their mental state confused, offended, and sometimes very uneasy. this creates a realm of contrast in that when the band comes back together from freejazz or dissonant solos and comes in tight and melodic, the listener instantly brings their uneasiness into full circle and begins appreciating the structured melodic music more because it finally clicks back in and makes sense to them. DJ sets will put really ambient parts in followed by hard hitting house beats, followed by a faster paced song, or a more chilled out track.

    in all these cases, there's this underlying idea to create contrast just as you would create dynamics. some people dont realize this happens – and it could be done by a musician completely by accident – but realizing how this function affects the overall experience is a really interesting way to find more respect in a set or cd in a more overall way.

    hope this finds some "fit" in this topic…

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    A – pretty scrabbled actually. Normally I will get a brainstorm idea from what someone says which could be one or two lines for a song, or something that will affect me, a situation or event that moves me. Or it can be an interesting or inspirational person! I put all my 'scrap' lines and verses into a hat box and when I need to start a writing session I pull out a piece and begin to expand on it. Kind of like a songwriting lucky dip!

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    A – mostly they are about a groove, the rhythm or the message behind it. Also it likely has a great melody if it's a hit song. Overall it's how the song makes you feel.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    A – mostly laziness! Finding motivation to get stuck into it until it's finished. I'm not a disciplined writer who gets up at 6am to write no matter what like some I know.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    A – I find I just don't stress about it as thats when you're likely to write rubbish. If you really need to write at that time to finish a project it's best to go out and travel to a new place, meet new people, observe humanity and you're sure to get ideas from that.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    A – Not usually. Though lately I have been writing songs for some great live up tempo new tunes to play with my band. So are writing with a live audience in mind.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    A – Yes, most of the time. I will share it with a co-writing partner or songwriting group to get feedback. My co-writers will also add lines, a melodic riff or suggest some structure changes or additions.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    A – I find sometimes you need to test them on a live audience. Some songs which I thought were the corniest things have been peoples big favourites so you just never know. It's all too close to you so you need to expose it to objective fresh ears and I don't mean family and friends who are biased!

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    A – Definitely a release. A cathartic experience at times. I am a writer and always will be, whether it be songs, poems, books, articles etc. Even if I get too old to sing I can still write songs for others I hope!

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    A – Mostly inspiration as I consider myself a fairly lazy writer! When I see or hear something or someone that inspires me and a line will pop into my head I just jot it down and come back to it when it's lucky dip time! Or if it's a really strong idea sometimes I just have to continue the song right away to make the most of the vibe at the time.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    A – Well it would a No 1 hit picked up and recorded by a No.1 artist in America like Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood. That would enable me to retire in leisure – with any luck! It would be a contemporary country song with a great hook and melody and an unforgettable story and tune.

  • Jake Apple

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    A. First I sit down think of what my day has been ,or maybe make a song of something I've seen or has happened, (once I wrote a song of A lady from a painting I saw). Then I Start Writing, sometimes pick the guitar up and play along with some ideas of a song.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    I like music that talks about life, and feelings.

    3.What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I get frustrated when it feels I cant think of some good lyrics, like when they don't make sense for the song, I take each song like a story or book, and when the lyrics don't make sense for the story I get frustrated.

    4.How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    I overcome frustration by taking a break, or thinking how I can make the song flow, or make sense for me and allow me to write lyrics that go with my feelings or story.

    5.Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    No, not really. I think about who the song is going for or perhaps the way feel.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I do with another band member, but that's about it. it does make me feel that others feel the same or differently than me, so it gives another type of lyrics, which is good to me

    7.Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    I like all my songs equally, If an artist doesn't like his/her song, then rewrite it!

    8.What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I will definitely write songs forever. I get a chance to express myself to friends, family, and listeners, to how I feel. I get to show how I love something or don't like something.

    9.What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    The music just 'pops' in my head, I get inspiration sometimes from my feelings for a girl or of a person or a situation that had happened to me.

    10.Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    A song, that has all different styles of music, and has one point, love. While ranging from fast beat all the sudden to slow dance music

  • Chuck Zahemski

    My inspiration comes many times in the middle of the night. It helps to have a muted amp and headphones handy. I carry my ipod to sing or play ideas into at a moments notice.

  • What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    I used to just jam on my guitar for hours until a riff captured my attention. Then I would spend hours laboring over all of the other song elements, making them fit just so. This worked sometimes, and I've turned out a few songs I'm proud of this way, but it isn't the most productive way to spend my time.

    When I started working on my first full length, I knew I needed to try a more structured approach. In college, I remembered learning about the Pareto Principle which asserts that we get 80% of the value for 20% of the effort. With this in mind, I now spend most of my time on the most important elements of my songs: memorable melodies and gripping themes.

    To facilitate this I use my phone's built in recorder to capture melodic/lyrical ideas whenever they might arise. I get a lot of these: some divine, most terrible. I continue to develop the best ideas into at least 1 verse and a chorus. I found an app called SongSketch that is perfect for this job. Occasionally I will play curator, by sending the most inspiring ideas to my computer for future reference and archiving.

    When I'm ready I will pick whatever song idea has been stuck in my head and make a basic recording with just programmer drums, bass and rhythm guitar. If everything clicks I start to fill in lead parts and background vocals.

    By this time I have a demo recording of reasonably high quality of one of my better song ideas… From there it's just a matter of economics what to do with the song next. In any case I have something I can enjoy forever.

  • I wrote my first song "Done You Wrong" while still in high school. I recorded it and released it on Opal Records in 1961. It got me a contract on Vee Jay Records. I wrote the song because I had heard a song called "You Can Have Her" recorded by Roy Hamilton. I thought it was great and I wanted a song like that.
    Since then I have written 100's of songs. The inspiration for each song came from a different avenue. Some fiction, some true stories. I feel each one is very special to me. My aunt Dot Zon wrote some songs and one day out at Bill Lowery's studio Ray Stevens heard a couple of them and she sold them to him. I could not understand how you could sell a song you created. I could never do that. Many artist want half writer credits to record a song. It would be hard to get half credit on one of mine unless we worked on it together.
    What excites me about writing a song is before you write it there is nothing and after you write one it has it's own idenity and each one is very special. There is always the possibility, the next song you write could be heard all over the world for many years. Here fifty years later, "Done You Wrong" still plays in Europe and many parts of the world, and continues to be relased on new CD's with virious artist every year. A song writter goes into another world when he is concentrating on lines and a story for a new song. He usally writes about something that's going on in his life or something he wishes was going on. Sometimes we write about a subject that is propular or something that's happening in the world. There are many ways we get inspired to write a song.
    It seems to me the better songs come quickly. Sometimes I can't write as fast as it comes to mind. Some of my best songs, in my opinion, came to me and in just a few minutes I was through, tune and all. But each song takes you down a different street, and you never know where you'll be at the end until you get there. It's exciting and I love writing. My next song could be worthless or a number 1 on the charts, yours could too. But don't force youself to write, just let it come when it's time, you'll know when. Never quite, never give up, just write when it's time.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    Lately I have been starting with melody. I never did this when I was younger, it was all about being in Dropp D and coming up with a chord structure. But I’ve found as I get older, the easiest and most creative songs come out of a solid catchy melody. Starting from there allows you to build a solid structure and song.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    I think that’s just it, the song has to move you. Each of us is different, what I hear one way, you hear another. More often than not, you each of us claims as “the best songs” are the ones that come from honest places inside the artist. If the artist can convey whatever it is they are trying to say in the most forthcoming way, that best represents them at the core, it has a better likelihood to stick. I think when you force sincerity in songwriting or any art form for that matter, something almost instinctive about us as humans prevents us from truly connecting to it.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I find my brain seizes after I get about a third way through a song. Same with lyric writing. Its as if there is a creative clog in the drain of my brain.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    Walking away from a song helps. It feels defeating sometimes to leave an unfinished idea hanging out by its self, but going for a walk, or doing anything else for at least an hour, usually something menial, helps clear my head.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    I try to think in terms of context. “Does this make sense if the person were to read it? Does it convey the message of the song I’m trying to write and the point I’m trying to make?” If my songs qualify those questions they pass.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I have just recently been collaborating more. Collaboration is such an effective way to grow as an artist. As a human being. People have an innate way of effecting you especially if you are lucky enough to be working with someone you admire. They rub off on you.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    The best test for any song, is multiple venue audience reaction. All songwriters have songs they LOVE. Songs they figure can’t possibly miss. Then when we play them live, the audience’s eyes glaze over, they whip out their iPhones and start reading Facebook. You need to try out your songs in different rooms for different crowds. If those iPhones are recording you for Facebook, if you have those eyes glued to you. You know you’ve got something.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    Counting for fun yesterday, I realized I have had upwards of 20 jobs in my lifetime, including being a musician. I’m 28. That’s more jobs than years I have been alive. Songwriting and performing has been the only thing in my life that makes me feel connected to who I am, feel passionate about and is very much my own. People connecting with it and drawing some emotion form it validates it all. I don’t know many people who get all of that from their careers. And I couldn’t imagine not doing it.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    I’m in the camp that “inspiration is a myth”. Ultimately, you, the artist, have chosen to write this song. Whether or not it was after seeing an artist you like, breaking up with a girl, some realization you came to, you made a conscious decision to sit down and write. I think identifying the things that make you WANT to write are more important and effective than waiting on the divine or spiritual to guide you.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    If I could describe it, I’d have written it 😉

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    I usually hear some short phrase on TV or in conversation, and it sticks in my head and gets my muse going. From there, I create some music and then develop that phrase into a full song

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    I love NIN’s music because it is so off-beat and unusual. The common everyday songs on the radio bore me to death. I thrive on hearing creative and inspirational songs which push the boundaries of songwriting.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    The most common one is either getting stuck on lyrics, or getting trapped into the everyday music writing. Once those things happen, it’s very hard to get away from that rut and get creative on my own terms. Taking a week or two away from all music sometimes helps out a lot. I can re-approach my musis with a clean slate and get very creative.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    As I mentioned, taking at least a week away from all music usually does it. Also, getting out and exploring new environments and people will help. Breaking away from my normal environment always seems to spark some sort of creative idea in my head due to the new surroundings.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    I only envision audiences for my dance music, but when I am writing very deep lyrics/songs, I tend to find a certain type of person’s situation and then build on what I think they might be feeling. In the end, a part of my life story always ends up emerging in the music, and it also becomes my story as well.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    Not very often. Usually outside influences bring my creative process to a halt. I hide a lot of deep feelings inside me, which nobody knows about until I write songs about them. If I allow outside influences to shape those songs, it wouldn’t really be me.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own songs is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    The only way I know it is good, is if I can put it away and come back to it time and time again and still feel a powerful emotion or energy from it each time. If I come back to it and it doesn’t have the same powerful vibe every time, then I usually move on. Breaking away from my music is the best way for me to find out if the song really has the hook that will keep fans listening to it.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I will write songs forever, because they are always stuck in my head until I get them put on paper or into music. The main thing I get out of being a songwriter is the release of those trapped emotions and thoughts. If by chance my fans totally connect with a song and its lyrics, then I am thrilled to no end knowing I have made that connection.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Inspiration is the key to a great song. Without it, you might as well be doing karaoke. Perspiration is essential too. As you mentioned above, songs are like our “babies”, and you can’t create a baby and watch it grow and develop without a lot of perspiration and hard work.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    It is one that brings out my deepest inner emotion, and one that connects with my fans on the most intimate level. If I achieve that, then I have achieved greatness in my eyes. Without being vulnerable and laying your soul out for everyone to see, you can never have a truly great song. The connection with your fans and listeners on a deeply personal level is the most crucial element to achieving the greatest song.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like?
    My songwriting process is actually the process of writing many songs at once in little inspiration sized pieces. I generally get a concept for a bass line, guitar riff, or just random lyrics and try to expand on each concept until my creativity runs dry. Then I move to a different part of the song, the bass, maybe a lead melody or vocals. If I hit a total brick wall I’ll try to see if it might sound better at a different speed, in a different time signature, or perhaps in a different style (acoustic vs electric, varied instrumentation etc). After outlining the general idea of a song I’ll try to move flesh it out with rhythm chords, maybe establish a few key drum fills. From there it’s mostly tweaking and perfecting what I’ve got until it’s presentable. After that I introduce and try to play the song with my band for awhile. They almost always have something unique to add and during the course of practicing and performing it we’ll sometimes come up with a different ending, intro, solo section, or way to perform the chorus. Our theme is variety and with this simple direction we always have something to work towards.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you?
    A lot of my favorite songs build off a very simple riff or idea and expand on it. The idea that System of A Down can keep me entirely entertained with the same 6 chords for three minutes is very intriguing and It’s fun to see that they’re playing with time signature, rhythm, attack, emotional feel, all within the same song. The idea that you can experience a wide variety of emotions like love, loss, hate, and indifference all within one song is very different from the ‘one song, one message’ era my parents came from. I’m also inspired by very technical bands like Muse that concentrate on playing very precise, very difficult songs while at the same time tweaking effects, jumping from piano to guitar, and keeping a strong stage presence in a live setting.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting?
    My biggest frustration with writing is reception. I can write about just about anything but I honestly fear, hate, and constantly check to make sure that what I’m writing does not come off as corny. I want to be taken seriously and there are no finite guidelines that say when you’re song has become too corny, too emo, to trashy, or too random. At what point do you say “this metaphor about my love for my car is just silly” or “this song about my hatred of my ex sounds whiney”? These are very unquantifiable things because these concepts peppered the great hits of the 1960’s and are still reoccurring themes in modern music around the world. I am frustrated by the lack of clarity between insanity and genius in songwriting and seek to push the boundaries. There are rules for the music itself to follow (disregarding atonal music) and our ears operate a certain way, so writing the music itself it’s that frustrating. Occasionally you’ll want to break a rule intentionally to jar the listener or to fit with an idea and that seems very clear-cut and dry.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration?
    When I get stuck with a piece I abandon it and move on to the next idea. I find that working on 5 or 6 songs at a time is healthy, because working on the next song will sometimes give you the idea you need to complete something you put on the shelf earlier. I also try to revisit everything I’m stuck on about once a month, just to see if I come up with any new ideas. As for the blurred line between overpoweringly cheesy lyrics and a meaningful song, I’ve found that just finishing the song and asking people you trust for their input is never a bad idea. Just be sure that the people listening know you can handle the truth and know enough about music to help you out. If you’re in a band it also helps to ask “would you feel like a fool performing this?”

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write?
    I like to envision that I’m writing for the unconscious human collective, a hive mind containing the thoughts of every great musician, every great writer, and every brutal critic. It also contains the souls and minds of the people I call my “target audience” and that fact is reassuring. When writing something I try and make sure that it makes sense musically. That fact alone, a series of well-timed and well-played notes, gives everyone a chance to at least say “it’s good music, it’s just not my thing,” which I think of as respectable. As for messaging, I try to be vague enough in my content where perhaps at least my vaguely defined target audience (age group, type of person, or a unifying culture) would be able to identify with the issue. I also try to leave clues that our more specific target market (certain age AND common interest, etc) would pick up on to know exactly what I’m talking about. The concept makes our music universally identifiable to an extent while staying true to our roots.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process?
    I love collaborating with individuals outside of my band. It allows me to learn new things, experience new styles of music, of performance, and expands my musical vocabulary to communicate with new and interesting people (most of which speak different broken dialects of music theory). Working with new people also inspires me to be creative in ways I didn’t know I could be. For instance, I’d never considered adding a glockenspiel to a song before.

    7. How can you tell when one of your own song is really good?
    The exacting science to knowing if a song is good can be summed up by a few things… If you enjoy playing it, if people enjoy listening to it, and if you would end or start a performance/album with it. If the answers to any of these are no there’s usually a reason. If you can identify why your song is not in all of these categories that should help you figure out what needs to change. My biggest transgressions are making songs too complicated or redundant. Do you really need that extra chorus? Do you really need a second guitar solo in the middle of the song? Variety is the spice of life and it’s almost impossible to use too much.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter?
    I get music out of being a songwriter. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not. I will continue to write music until I’ve got nothing left in my head.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    I can only write when I’m inspired or when I push myself to tweak something I’ve started. It’s really difficult to come up with song concepts for me unless I’ve been somehow inspired by a theme, a story, a song I’ve heard, or even a time signature or bet. Once I’ve got a concept to work with I’m all set and before that I’m simply searching for inspiration.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    The greatest song I haven’t written is about a woman who’s been lost and forgotten. She’s tormented, stuck between this world and the next, calling out to her lost friend. The friend is numb to her call, her pain, and her anguish and is trying to get over the loss. The title ‘Game Over’ comes to mind as we’re a game-themed music group but I might go with ‘Lost Frequency’. It should sound very distorted on bass and guitar, have ultra high-reverb on the drums with more fills than consistent rhythm at parts. I also want to do something with the tone of my accordion to make it sound more haunting and bittersweet. It might also be cool to have the song blend right into a song I just finished, Psychoic, maybe write them in a similar key.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    Usually I have some sound in my head. I'll load up a sequencer and enter
    a simple 4/4 beat. I'll listen to it looping over and over until I hear
    a bass line in my mind. Then I'll enter some notes and play them on a bass
    sound. I listen on loop for up to an hour. Eventually a chord progression
    or a melody comes to mind, so I enter this in and listen to it all on loop
    for a few minutes. Then I might repeat this 2 bar pattern 8 times. Then I'll
    listen to this 40 second piece for several minutes. I'll keep doing this
    until I run out of ideas. Then I save this composition onto hard disk, and
    work on it some more in a few days time. The longer the 'rest' period – the better quality music I get. It's as though trying to forget how the song sounds kind of stretches my imagination.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    The best way for me is just save the song and come back to it a week later,
    once I've forgotten how it goes and forgotten what I had in mind when I
    started writing it, I can approach it with a fresh mind and fresh ideas. I
    don't know how it is possible to write a truly great song in one sitting.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    I write techno/dance music so I just envision my friends listening to the
    radio on a Friday night. I watch how people behave and respond to different
    type of songs. I play my new tracks to my friends on a Friday night, and
    pay extreme attention to their reactions. Sometimes a friend will walk up to
    the CD player and press "SKIP" [NOT GOOD!]. Sometimes they press [<- Back] to
    replay a track [VERY GOOD!]. I used to write slow techno tunes as well as
    fast upbeat ones, but the slow ones tend to attract a lot if SKIPs. If I put
    a slow tempo section in the middle of an upbeat techno track it usually gets
    skipped [Or complained about.]

    For my last album the final mix and song selection was chosen by me and a
    few non-musician friends. I made 7 different versions of the album all up, before we all agreed that it sounded right and sent it off to CDBaby. That was actually a very fun process.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    I have this one song I started writing around 2002. I played it on accoustic
    guitar to a few people. People started asking me to play it, but I only had
    a few lines of lyrics, so I'd play it and get the listener to sing their own
    lyrics. Over the past 8 years the story in the lyric has developed into
    something that I couldn't have made myself. It's nearly ready to record.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    I very often get the whole song at once; words and music. I write on the piano so When I get a song, I run to my piano, find the exact key it is playing in my mind and start composing. I play a line first then start writing and adding the chording as furiously as I can. When I have the complete song written down I run over it several times correcting spelling and cleaning up the lead sheet. I will play it over several times to cement it in my mind and then if I have my recorder, (I bought one of those little cheap hand held recorders,) near by I play it so I have a "shabby" copy to refere back to if I need to. Next stop is taking it to my band and we arrange it.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you? A song that takes me outside of myself is a great song. If the music removes me mentally and ultimately emotionally to a different place, I consider it great! It's that song I'll play over and over to get the "high" that it gives me. We all have those! Thematically, these songs generally take interesting chord changes that make me stop and say to myself, "where is this going? I want to go too."

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    I have very little formal training so on occaision I cannot make the chord progression work which slows down my process. There are times I have to literally write out the lines. (notes).

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    There are times I have to stop, go in the other room for a minute, then return to the piano sit down and just play, just GO!, and let my fingers guide me. My inspiration has to over rule my brain sometimes!

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    The effect is huge. I write Christian music for the Christian listener and the God we serve. So I do invision either God alone hearing it, or the listener in worship or being blessed by it.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process?
    Occaisionally. The body of the song, melody and words is complete by the time I talk with others about the song because I usually get the whole song at once. I have a close friend that I will occaisionally ask about chording. What is the appropriate name of the chord I am playing for example.
    What effect does that have on the writing process? None really as I know what I want the song to be, to sound like. It's the technical part that I might need help on. The creative process of building the frame has already happened.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good?
    This is a funny question. I call my songs my babies! I hadn't heard anyone else do that, but that really is how it feels. There is just something about the song, the words, where the chords change unexpectidly that makes me sit back and say to myself, "I can't believe this melody or those words just came out of me, they're beautiful!"
    How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    When I can hear the main part but can't envision the other parts in the band playing them. Sometimes the song will seemingly just stop at a dead end. That is a bad baby!!

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Joy, frustration, peace, it's invigorating really.
    Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever? I've been getting songs since I was about eight years old so I think that perhaps yes, I will. I sure hope so!

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    Inspiration outweighs perspiration for me. The persriration part for me is a joy most of the time. The end result is always such a gift that I can hardly wait for the next song!

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    Ooh! I was washing dishes one day and got this song, (one of my first as an adult,) all at once, I ran to my piano with bubbles on my hands and began frantically writing it out and creating the piano part. It was fabulous! It has been well received. The title is "Being Still" It is on my "Silent Partner" CD at CDBaby. It is lovely. It is about slowing down and recognizing that God is with you. I get a lot of comments, a lot of mail about it. You can see it on YOUTUBE under Being Still by Paula McGowan or One2live4. My other song which we are in process of recording right now is called "The Invitation" It is meditative as well.
    I do have some songs that are more Rock, but the slower songs seem to gain the most attention.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like?
    I usually start by thinking of a certain emotion or idea that I want to convey, often times both. I always try to mix in something that wouldn't be expected in my songs. This requires a lot of experimenting with different sounds and samples.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    My favorite songs are the ones that trigger an emotion in me, usually something sad. Tragedies can be the most moving stories. Venetian Snares' classical stuff is incredibly emotional as well as technically amazing. One of the great things about electronica is having the ability to program the song into EXACTLY what you want. Venetian Snares' programming is beyond tight and showcases an immense amount of thought.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    It is common for me to have trouble deciding what direction a song should go in. Often times I will begin working on a song, write a few different parts and then have difficulty deciding what should come next. It takes some time to think about the way I can add to the song without eliminating its cohesive sound that makes it sound like a single unique song.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    It requires a good deal of experimentation. Sometimes I will write an entire section for a song only to decide it isn't fitting and remove it. It's like having a set of keys and trying to open a locked door. Only one key will fit and you insert each key until one fits.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    It is sometimes helpful to imagine what someone might think as they listen to a song. I am trying to convey an idea or emotion so it's useful to imagine I am someone else. Does the song effect me the way I intended? If not, the song's not done.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    I enjoy collaborating and receiving opinions, but I don't do it all too often. It's nice and can be helpful to receive some input and suggestions as a song is coming along but I prefer to finish my songs before I "debut" them to anyone I know. As far as collaborating goes, I enjoy it but it's usually done more for fun than anything else, at least so far.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    I try to look at each of my songs objectively, as if I were someone else. I think about the song from a different point of view and deconstruct it. Does it effect me emotionally? Are there interesting ideas present? Is the song too long? Too short? Boring? It's only after answering these questions, while of course keeping my artistic idea in mind, that I can decide if my song is good or bad.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    I will never stop writing music. It is my greatest joy. It allows me to be creative in ways I never imagined beforehand. It allows me to express myself when it's hard to do so in other more traditional ways. Ideas and feelings can be heard in a song that would not otherwise be conveyed through speaking. On top of that, it is very therapeutic. The positive feeling of writing a song, and in playing a song, expressing my thoughts and emotions is overwhelmingly satisfying.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    Inspiration is what drives me to sit down in the first place and begin writing. An exciting idea will come to me and I will begin working on it. Then the perspiration starts. It can take a long time to finish a song but gradually adding to it and reworking it is a fun process.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    I imagine that my greatest song would be my most intimate release. It would allow every listener to understand my feelings exactly and be as moved by them as I am. It would create a deep connection between myself and the listener.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    I'm co-writing a musical right now (mostly music for the book writer's lyrics, but he's given me a few songs to write lyrics as well), so I'll sit down and write a sort of inner monologue about what I need the song to say, until I hit on a "hooky" phrase for the chorus & title. For my own original songs, sometimes it starts with a phrase, or just an idea of what I want to write about. A lot of times lines will pop into my head and I'll place them where I think they might belong, then fill in the rest like a puzzle.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    They say something universal in a way that makes me think, "why can't I be that clever?" Or they have an interesting twist to the melody & chords. I like songs with a lot of substance (like Paul Simon or Elvis Costello), but aren't pretentious. I also love the elegant simplicity of old country songs.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I usually can't just sit down and write on command, there has to be an idea first. I wish those came more often! It frustrates me if I can't come up with something fresh and original. Sometimes I'll write things and they just seem trite or clumsy.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    Put it down and do something else, like work out or go for a walk. I find ideas will pop into my head when I let my brain relax.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    I like to think that my audience is like me, and like the people I grew up with. I've been surprised sometimes by who responds to my music, which is always nice.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I've done that a couple of times and the results haven't been great. I've had people take the song in a completely different direction – which I was open to trying, but I ended up going back to my original ideas. I don't enjoy collaborating (with a few rare exceptions), because I hate to compromise on a lyric I feel strongly about.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    If I don't get a good response when I perform it. It shakes me up a little, because that's happened with songs I was really happy with. I also tend to neglect some of my "babies" because they were written a long time ago, when I was a different person. My views on life have been changed by my experiences, and I don't want to present myself the same way I did in my 20's.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I certainly hope so. Songwriting is one of the few things I feel I really excel at, and I want to take it as far as I can.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    First one, then the other. Once I've got a good idea I can work it until it's done.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    Harmonically simple and catchy. Lyrically interesting and funny as hell, but singable.

  • What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    For the past six years I've been writing songs for kids to sing in their concerts at the school my sons attended. I write with my young performers in mind. What do they want to say and how do they want to say it? I don't write 'kids' music for them, either. If I wouldn't want to sit and listen to it, I don't think they should have to sing it. I make it as interesting and complex as I can for their ages. You'd be surprised at what they can handle. They like the faster tempos, so the songs usually rock. I think the song MUST have a good melody; something the voice can really latch onto and know where it's going. I usually start with that and play with different chords around it. Currently, I write for a specific group of girls, ages 12-13, who record the songs. Yes, they are on CD Baby.

    Think of your favorite songs. What do they do for you?

    Well, for one thing, they make me want to write my own songs that are just as good. They make me think about how to say one thing or another, because writing is really just rewriting; finding new ways to say things. Emotions haven't changed over the past few hundred years. We just have to find our own way to say it. The same things Beethoven felt when he wrote the 'Moonlight Sonata' are felt today when someone writes a beautiful love song.

    What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I usually don't have much trouble writing the music, it's more with the lyrics. We all strive for the cleverest way to say the simplest things and sometimes simple is just fine. Every song can't be a work of peotic genius. I just try to avoid a lot of 'fill in' phrases. I hate them, like, 'you know what I mean' or 'baby can't you see?'

    How do you overcome frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    With the lyrics, I get ideas at the oddest times. Humming the tune while driving or walking around will often bring the phrase I've been looking for. Sometimes I get help from the kids I'm writing for. More than a few times I've asked them for ideas and they've really come up with great things. Plus, they love helping and seeing their words there in the finished lyrics.

    Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    Absolutely I envision the audience. When you perform on stage, the audience wants to like you. If they're there to see you, they already like you. You have give them a reason to LOVE you. Somewhere in the performance there should be a least some moments that make the audience say, "Wow!" Again, to use Beethoven, I try to imagine what the audience thought after hearing his fifth symphony for the first time. It opens with (I think) the most famous four notes in music. Can I give the audience that kind of intro to a song and sustain it to the end and then get that "Wow"? Can I give my singers that magic with which to perform?

    Do you collaborate or enlist the outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    Except for having the kids help with lyrics once in a while, no I don't collaborate. I tried that once or twice many years ago and I didn't like it at all. I have my own ideas and style and don't need any 'help' writing music. I know where I'm going with it. Everyone has their own way of doing things, so I'm not going to critize someone if they believe otherwise. Whatever works for the writer is fine, as long as it works. For me, I work alone and I never let anyone hear anyting until it's finished and I'm satisfied with it. Only on the recordings do I collaborate with my producer.

    Songwriters are known for loving most of their "babies" equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra "Kill Your Babies!" How can you tell when one of your own songs is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    What the heck is an artistic coach? Is that like a batting coach or a pitching coach? Babe Ruth hit a lot of homeruns and I never heard of any of his batting coaches. Unless I think a song is good it doesn't leave the house. The first test is do the kids that are going to sing it like it? I've been really lucky there. Kids don't sugarcoat things and so far they have loved everything I've given them. The ultimate test is the audience. Did you get that "Wow?" Polite applause is no validation to me. When people leave the concert they should be excited about what they just heard. Are they still talking about it days later? Then you'll know. Artistic coach!

    What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you'll write songs forever?

    Well, nothing lasts forever, but I can't imagine not writing songs. As long as the kids keep asking for new material, I'll keep writing. I'm having a blast! What I get out of it is pure joy. It's been so cool seeing my young stars singing and being successful. A newspaper story, a radio spot, an apperance on live TV, ("Good Day New York" came to their school on Nov. 2nd) and an invitation to perform in a Christmas concert with the premiere high school glee club in New Jersey. They just recorded and will release their own Christmas song. It's really good! How many seventh grade girls do you know who are working on their second album? It's very rewarding. One more point on validation; when tons of kids tell me they have the songs from the CD in their iPods, that says it all.

    What roles do "inspiration" and "perspiration" play in your writing process?

    It all starts with inspiration. I get all my inspiration from kids. Seeing things through their eyes, listening to them and getting a sense of what they really think about things. Their world is very simple yet so complex. The things they worry about, we adults have long forgotten. The hopes they have, many of us have long given up on. The perspiration is the work I put into their songs and preparing them to perform. It's my job to set them up for success.

    Imagine the greatest song you haven't written yet. Describe it.

    I haven't thought much about it yet, but it will be the song these girls sing at their 8th grade graduation in June of 2012.

  • songwriting part deux – another angle (sorry, I can't follow the precise questions):

    The completion of a song comes at a price – a difficult emotional and time-consuming struggle with the blending of lyrics and melody and harmonies and technology, such that, together, they merge to form an heretofore unknown discovery. In my struggles to create coherent and satisfying musical meanings, a melody usually emerges first, then a search for lyrics, and both are gradually forged into a song, sometimes initially resembling the awkwardness of an arranged marriage; but with hard work, the pair begin to form a loving relationship, as the lyrics transform into expressions of personal experience. The thematic content of a song often remains unknown, almost to the end of the creative process, for which even the songwriter, himself, is unaware of what manner of creature he is gestating. Interestingly, a simple adjustment of volume or reverb, or the addition or deletion of a few intruding measures, or a panning of an instrument or vocal, or the adding of an instrumental track that is felt to be lacking, may sometimes turn a mediocre tune into a highly valued one; a "final touch" that is often a last step that liberates the song from its author, so that the song can finally stand alone…pjs

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    I discover new songs almost exclusively by playing very stream-of-conscious music, quite often as a busker. Usually on days when the music is really playing in my head, I'll be feeling very experimental and I'll try something. I might stumble across a chord progression or a melody. Traditionally I never record my new ideas; though some might consider this wasteful, I feel it simply weeds out the riffs that aren't strong enough to stick in my head.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    Simply put, I like well-written music with unusual hooks. I gravitate towards music that is very inspiring and with a sound that is either vague, so ethereal you can't quite grasp it, or powerful and intense and very in-your-face.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    Sometimes I feel like I get stuck playing the same chords or progressions over and over, which is very draining on my sense of fun and freedom, which is imperative to my drive to write.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    I either take a day off and do some very illegal substances (kidding), or I take a long walk, think, write, completely relax and de-stress. Having laughs with my friends, cooking a new and challenging dish… I basically try to lighten up and have fun.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    I … can't say I do. I often write new material when I'm out in public and being who I am I'm very outgoing and enjoy people watching and listening, but I am always in my own place when I write, usually quite isolated in a way.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I rarely ask for outside opinion; I am not writing what other people want to hear, per say; I am writing for my own enjoyment and passion and desire to share a message that people may, or may not, enjoy. Not to say it's not an effective writing tool, but the only person I seek advice from is my colleague.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    …What? What's this about killing babies? I thought we were talking songwriting? Aha, alright well when I'm writing, I don't record my music and therefore I find that only the catchiest, most interesting rhythms and melodies stay in my mind. If a song or a part does not contribute, I scrap it.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I can't imagine a life in which I don't write. People have their own passions, and I'm a very blessed person to have discovered his passion so young. Being a songwriter, aka a musician, I'm very inclined to believe that I simply couldn't survive without music. Not in a world worth living in, anyway.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Inspiration is the main ingredient, the flame that heats the pan; without no heat, without the passion, there is no music in my world. It comes about unpredictably, but when it comes about, you make damned sure you're there to capture it, whether with pick or pen. Perspiration is in my humble opinion the difference between someone who can write one song, and one who can write many; someone who can tolerate failure, and one who succumbs.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    That is a difficult song to answer, but I suppose it will, like all songs I write, start off with a riff, a smile, and a question mark as to just how beautiful, just how far, can I take it?

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    –Find an interesting title
    –Strum my guitar until an interesting chord pattern develops
    –Receive an assignment, write the words, add the music, stir until done
    –Cop the chords from a favorite song and rearrange them or change the melody to create something new

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    –My favorite songs are ones that after you hear them there's nothing to add or subtract. Whether you laugh, cry, smile, clap or can't wait to learn it yourself, they say it all and say it perfectly.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    –Trying to be perfect every time
    –Being limited by the way in which I play guitar

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    –I try and finish something I've already started. Just finishing one song, even if it's terrible can get me over the hump.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    –No. First and foremost I have to like it. After that it's not up to me.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    –Generally not. I've done co-writes in the past with limited success. It requires a great deal of trust to sit with another person and open up enough to get a great song out. You can't be afraid to fail or look silly, which is difficult, but great ideas can come out of that.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    –I never "kill" any of them, but if after a few outings your song isn't getting the reception you'd hoped (or think it deserves), it might be time to put it to bed. On the flip side, once your fan base starts asking for the same song again and again, that's one you know is connecting.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    –The satisfaction of creating something out of nothing can't be beat
    –I'll be writing forever, but the motivation will ebb and flow. I've gone through prolific periods followed by months of nothing. But something always happens that makes me go, "hey, I should write a song about that."
    –I also love being an observer and listener. Every songwriter I know hears conversations differently from non-songwriters. They hear titles and stories, which is why they sometimes don't hear what somebody said 🙂

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    –I'm mostly perspiration. I've certainly had the occasional song come very quickly, but in large part I get a chorus, or maybe a few lines, and then I have to really work to see where it should go.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    –It's 3 minutes long
    –It's got a chorus/hook you can't get out of your head
    –It has a bridge that takes you away and brings you back perfectly
    –When you play it for an audience. They want to hear it again.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    There are a couple of different ways that it happens for me, but I can hone in on one. Sometimes I will start with something that is interesting in a 4 bar pattern on guitar. Usually it will be a chord based progression, but it can sometimes be a 4 bar riff with a variable riff pattern on bars 3 and 4. Once I get that down, I will find myself with a hook, or chorus type melody that will work being sung over the 4 bar pattern. Sometimes I let the song write itself. Meaning, I kind of feel for the vibe of what it trying to come out in the chorus part. Maybe its about a past relationship, I'm singing about. Sometimes its about something that is important to me that is going on in the world. These can be the sparks for really great songs. Once the chorus vocal is set, (meaning really good defined vocals) I move onto developing the theme of the song and verses around the chorus part. So basically I come up with a new part for the verses that is kind of more melodic. (Free flowing vocal) Once I have a guitar part down that I feel gels with the rest of the song, I get into the details of what each verse will be and how it pertains to the chorus part. Focusing on what will give the chorus the resolution that it deserves.

    Once I have a real solid first verse, I will go ahead and sing the song with 1 verse, and 1 chorus and repeat it twice like its a full song. Then after getting the vibe of it, I move onto writing that second verse. Something I find helpful at this point is to take the idea to the computer. Basically, open up some recording software, turn on the mic and do a quick scratch recording. Now after I have a verse and chorus recorded, I will goto the verses guitar part, and I will loop a 4 bar pattern while I sit and listen to the progression over and over while thinking about what the second verse should say. Sometimes, I will do the same as I did before and let the song feed me the second verse. Sometimes this comes really easily, and sometimes it takes work. Either way, you will find the song coming together. If the second verse is still giving me trouble. I will pick up the guitar again, and repeat the above by playing the song through a couple times like its a full song. I will also just listen back to the 1 verse and plan what I really want to say in the second verse.

    When the second verse is nailed down, I will sing the song through 1 full time. Then I will begin thinking about how I can break up the song, and make it interesting. Like, what kind of dynamic thing can I do to make this interesting. Of course I am talking about creating a bridge part for the song, but sometimes you can do something simple like taking the verse chord pattern and creating variations of those chords for a bridge part. Sometimes, you might just throw a riff in that maintains the vibe of the song.
    Another method you might use to to vary the same chords that are in the verse, but in another order with a different strum pattern. These are ways to make the bridge have a uniqueness but to still maintain cohesive feel to the rest of the song. To shorten things up, once the bridge is defined and written with lyrics, I like to think about an intro and outro and how the whole song will come together. When all 5 of these parts are established I am usually feeling like I have a really good song and its ready to go live online and in my next performance.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck? I think one thing that frustrates me is not having that second professional opinion to bounce the idea off of. I have worked in the studio and at the house while working on a song and when handling all facets of the song you can get lost in making sure everything else is right. An example would be, you sit down to write a song, to adjust your levels, you record your guitar. Then you focus on the guitar needing to be perfect. Getting that perfect 4 bars, then doing the same with the chorus. When you focus too much energy on the details of a great recording or getting the song down that you can loose energy when the important part of the song writing is needed like making the melodies interesting and having variation. My advice to combat this is to say, don't focus so much on getting perfect music down but try and make sure that you get all of the song out, from the begining to the end. Sometimes, just using the acoustic guitar may get you past some issues with striving for perfection. The other way to combat the situation is to have the ability to work with that professional person who will move you through your writing process without trying to tell you exactly what you need to be doing.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    This part was answered above. Another way would be to go into a studio
    environment with a producer or experienced engineer and have them help you through the little bumps when you get stuck. Also, another thing I find helpful, it to just relax and take a short break. Go outside, and throw a football, or maybe play 1 round of a video game then come back and start again. This can be refreshing and help you to maintain the energy needed to get to the end of the song.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process? For the most part I really don't, except to say that I do write with other people in mind. Meaning I trying and put together a song that people can relate to, but I do it with the motivation of my own experience behind it. I do also tend to want to deliver a positive message and something that is encouraging and motivating to people generally. In that respect, then I am kind of writing for a certain audience and that is those people that want to hear a good message or something that they can relate to. The way it effects the writing process for me is to know that I am not the only one who has to hear this, and with that being said, I try my best to put something out that I know someone else will appreciate. At the same time it does add a little bit of stress in that you are striving to write a song better because you know eventually someone else will be listening to this.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process? This is kind of funny, because when I owned a studio we actually put out an album called "The Collaboration" The cool thing was it was basically a modern rock guy (myself), 2 R&B artist and about 4 or 5 hip hop artists coming together on 1 album. It to me, was more then your old Run DMC/Aerosmith collaboration, this was more like the modern day Black eyed pea's. Which obviosley there work has made it to the forefront before ours, however I am sure will we be there at some point, and hopefully collaborating with someone like them.
    But about the writing process, it really enhances things because it gives you other peoples takes on where the song can go. Instead of the very single minded approach you can get some really interesting flavors to come out in the studio and songwriting process. It may seem like I talk alot in these responces, but I am wanting to get the point across clearly and it is my hope that if I had the chance to work with a seasoned producer, I am sure the end result would be very great.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving? Well, I will tell you from my experience I have never wanted to Kill any of my babies. But what I will say is, if you have a song that you are feeling is not so hot. Don't can it right away. If you hold off, and revisit sometimes the song can come together. Also another thing to do, is to keep the basic structure, like same chord types, or same notes, and change them up until you are feeling something good from it. If the problem is, the lyrical babies don't seem to be flowing. Revisit the melody of the song, listen to it multiple times and try and find something that comes more natural if the first set or two of lyrics weren't serving the song. To up and throw a song away sometimes can be very pre-mature and sometimes it might be a mistake cause you never know if that could be the one that could put you on the map.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever? I love writing songs because its one of the best and coolest forms of self expression. Also, its a way to communicate to other people and tell them how you feel without beating them over the head with an issue or topic your passionate about. I love writing also because its one of the best ways to excersice the ability to create something. I love being creative and songwriting allows you to deal with creativity in a number of ways, everything from recording guitar and singing to sitting in the studio and working to get that perfect mix of sounds to convey the end result. I would love to continue to do so at least until I reach a level of comfortableness with singing, songwriting and performing on a professional level. Once really being submerged in it professionally for over 10 years I would consider taking a break. To let you know, I have been performing and playing since 1996 in my first band and I still have yet to have a hit on the radio. I will say though, I do feel like I am real close now to finally having that breakthrough, and if I do I will say I can dedicate at least 10 more years to writing music as part of my craft and gift.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process? Well, I love to hear new music. Fresh stuff to me is always the best. A good example right now for me is Gym Class Hero's. I have just been into Linkin Park, Red, Sevendust and heavier bands, but now getting to hear stuff like Gym Class in the mainstream it inspires me not to put a limit on the type of sound 1 artist can produce. Cohesive sound and vibe is important, but its also great to be diverse and still maintain some type of unity to all the things you produce. I am hoping that people can hear something I've done, whether it be Hip hop, Modern Rock or participating in a dance song collaboration and still know that Michael Hensen had a part in that track.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    Wow, it would be this killer dance style song with heavy guitars that is just infectious with really cool hooks and maybe multiple vocal stylings, like having me rap, sing melodically, and belt out heavy vocal parts. Something that moves people, makes people dance, be happy and enjoy themselves. This song would cake the airwaves for about 20 weeks until people everywhere knew the song. That would be a Killer song! And I'm now thinking about what song that could be. Thanks very much CD Baby, we love you and I speak for a good deal of musicians!

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    I start with a chord progression, a sentence, or even just a single word and build an entire song around it. I write many of my songs within just a day or two.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    I like high, lofty themes with swelling strings and belting vocals. Gives me chills.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    No real frustrations. I never try to force myself to write something. I only do so when I'm inspired and that comes in fits and spurts.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    See answer to question 3.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    Nope.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I usually bounces a rough cut of the song off my wife and a friend for their opinion. An even then it's mainly just to see whether or not they like the song as a whole and if the mix is right. I'll make changes based on their feedback.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    If I don't skip past it when it shows up during my playlist shuffle I consider it one of my better ones.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I like being able to share my feelings about things. I'll always write songs whether I sell them or not. It helps me to give voice to something I couldn't convey any other way.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Inspiration is the only way to go. I never force myself to write. If I'm not inspired, I don't bother.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    This is hard for me. Many times when I write a song I think it's my best yet. Until I write another…

  • What a cool survey! Here is my info and responses. 🙂

    Cate Song
    "Instrospective piano-based pop with a sprinkle of soul; like Sara Bareilles and Alicia Keys at a jam session."
    http://www.catesong.com http://www.facebook.com/catesongbird

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    Cate: I am an introspective person by nature so I'm always thinking about life and observing situations around me. I'll jot down thoughts that I want to remember later on, and many of those thoughts end up becoming the basis for lyrics. I'll do a brainstorming session to write down all the thoughts I want to convey in that song, then come up with the standard V1, Chorus, V2, Bridge and then eventually put a melody to the lyrics.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    Cate: Most (if not all) of my favorite songs are very honest and personal. They speak words that would not be easy to say in real life and emote a very honest feeling that we have as human beings. The song becomes a voice the voiceless.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    Cate: Cliche phrases. I can't stand cliche phrases and rhymes. It's really easy to default to them (i.e. love/enough/above, me/free/be) but I try really hard to try to come up with different phrasing. I think this also applies to melodic lines. Some songs end up sounding like another popular song that already exists, which isn't always bad, but hard to make original.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    Cate: I took a songwriting class a couple of years ago and the instructor said that one of the most important disciplines to develop is to just keep writing. Even if the song is bad, she told me it's important to just write it. Skills are developed by actually using them, so if I write 10 songs and I am satisfied with only 1 of them, that is a success in itself. I have one song that I like! So I now finish the song, even if it has cliche phrases or familiar melodies, and then either go back to it to try to improve it or move forward to another song.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    Cate: I am usually not thinking about the listener when I write, except for the fact that I write songs in the traditional Verse-Chorus format (but I do that for myself, also). Songwriting is cathartic for me and the fact that some of my songs get recorded and performed in public does not affect the songwriting process itself. It's a gift for someone else to identify with a song I've written, and that's when I realize this isn't just about me.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    Cate: I have never collaborated with other songwriters. This is a goal I have for the new year! I am sure it will be challenging, but definitely stretch me as a songwriter.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    Cate: LOL. Funny question, and really untrue for me. I have clear favorites. when I actually don't mind listening to the song frequently, that's when I know that I've written something worth listening to. After 100 listens, I'm still really digging that lyric or melody or vocal riff, that's when I know the song stands the test of time. There are definitely songs that I've written that I cannot do that with. Some songs are just plain bad and I'm not afraid to admit it. It's progress, not perfection.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    Cate: I've imagined myself writing songs since I was young (maybe 10 years old?) but I was afraid to until about 20 because I wasn't sure if any of the songs would be any good. Of course, they weren't in the beginning. Songwriting is my main mode of expression. When I feel any particular emotion strongly, I desire to write a song about it. As long as I'm feeling something, I'll be writing songs!

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    Cate: I think if we pay attention to what's going on inside ourselves, in other people and the world, there is no possible way that we could ever run out of inspiration. The world is our blank sheet music. So I believe there is plenty of inspiration to go around. Now, perspiration is a totally different thing. There isn't as much of it to go around and it must come from within. No one can force me to put in the work to write a good song. I have to develop that discipline and push through when I am feeling hopeless or at a wall. It seems like some songwriters can get away without much perspiration, but for me, that's almost all of it. Putting in the hard work to get a good result. And if I get a bad result, I can't say that I did not try.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    Cate: The song is timeless. Whether you listen to it today or 50 years from now, it is still relevant because the lyrics describe something that is common to man. It's a simple song, yet it touches the depths of the soul. It sounds so familiar and altogether unfamiliar simultaneously. The song will not be "discovered" by the masses but only those who set out to find it. And if I can make a living out of it, that would be an added bonus. Not a requirement. 🙂

  • #1. Composing a song starts with two things: 1) an image, either real or imagined, or sometimes a real image adjusted into an imaginary situation, and 2) the emotion that the image evokes. A draft gets written and from then on its crafting the song and, if needed, returning to the image again.
    #2. If its good, the song will provide either the release of a negative emotion or the reinforcement of a positive one.
    #3. Getting stuck with an incomplete song; I have to let it go and come back to it–this could take years (literally). The other, a more personal one, is that I'm limited by my guitar skills, it limits the chords I can use in a song.
    #4. Feed the "problem" to your subconscious, see if it will take over and generate an "answer."
    #5. Not initially, maybe later.
    #6. Not collaborate on writing the song, but after its "done" I might perform it for the local NSAI group to get feedback, and might ask individuals that I know for their opinions.
    #7. I don't know any songwriters that love their songs equally. To me a really good song is one I'll be sure to play or one I want as the lead song on my next album.
    Gotta go now; thanks for asking!

  • 1. I try to change things up to keep from becoming bored, but to ensure that there is enough content to a tune, I try to make sure that there are at least three major ideas in every piece.

    2. They elicit an obvious emotional response, though the reason for this is something I've had a hard time defining, I think it's a certain level of believable (melo-)drama that works on me. It's the "believable" part that makes it hard to explain.

    3. My main frustration is finding time to work.

    4. When I am short of ideas but know I have time to work, I use imagined or actual deadlines, and along with the "three ideas" rule above I can usually pry myself out of trouble. When I can't find time to work, I look for more portable ways to create music, which can even mean playing melodies in toys just to do it.

    5. No, as selfish as this sounds, I am thinking about what pleases me first. Thinking about the other listeners too much caused such a large psychological block in me in the not-too-distant past that I nearly abandoned music for good.

    6. Only if I'm having trouble with number 5. If an idea sounds mediocre to me, but not bad, I may test it for reaction, otherwise, if an idea sounds bad to me it is simply abandoned and replaced later.

    7. When I can get a positive reaction from someone that knows little about the process of making music. To date, I've only had a couple songs that do this. I do not think of my songs as if they are my "children," and by keeping output steady and consistent, it is actually very easy for me to abandon and forget ideas, for better or worse.

    8. I assume there may be a time when I can't find enough time to compose. It pleases me and gives me something peaceful to do outside work but otherwise it's not that important.

    9. There is no such thing as inspiration, only observation. Start working and keep working, then the ideas will come as you look at your results.

    10. I've surprised myself enough times in the past four years that I really can't imagine what I'd compose in the future, besides that I hope it will be more expressive and refined.

  • 1. When I compose a song, it always starts out with the music that I hear in my head, either triggered by events of the day, or coming to me in my dreams at night. I don't sit down and say to myself, "Let's write a song." Instead, I do what Neil Young once said, "I've learned to listen to the muse:)"
    2. My favorite songs provoke deep feelings and make me want to dance, or move in some fashion. If I don't get out of my chair and dance, then, it's a "B song." And sometimes, I hear the song in my head as an "A-side song" but I'm not able to successfully convey what I hear in my head to the engineer, so it ends up being a "B-side song."
    3, 4, 5, 6. N/A
    7. When I hear my song on commercial radio … still waiting …
    8. As a songwriter, I get to create and this is extremely rewarding. We are fashioned after our Creator Who loves to create, and so do I. I could NOT imagine stopping the flow! It's a drag that I don't have time to record all of the songs I have floating around in my head!
    9: Inspiration: Songs written by "Delilah" were birthed out of spiritual growth. As Devora, I continue to be inspired, and it will always be that way. Perspiration: Running around the room when I finally hear the cut above!
    10. The greatest song I have not written yet does not need to be written down, because it will come directly from my heart without pen or paper, and it will be spontaneous praise to the God Who created me. It will be Spirit singing, and I Praise You, Adonai Elohim!

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    Process? Who said anything about a process? My "usual" process is I'll be halfway through taking a shower when a line or two will pop into what's left of my brain. By the time I'm ready to towel off, I'll have half a dozen verses and the chorus ready to roll. By the time I get to a pen and paper, half of them will be gone, but I'll have enough to get to work.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    It really depends upon the song. For a song to be a favorite of mine, it has to move me. Technical prowess is important – but secondary. Something about a favorite song has to hit a chord within me, or it just lies there – on the outside, never reaching me. That goes for musicianship as well as songwriting.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I am constantly interrupted, often for lengthy periods of time, with mundane trifles such as earning enough money to survive, etc. This frequently disrupts the creative flow. I absolutely hate being on the road, working up a song, but I can't find a place to pull over long enough to write it down, or I must be at that meeting in 15 minutes and can't afford to stop. Damn!

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    Rum, mostly. But then I'm in a pirate band. Also, anything inspirational helps unstick my creative process. Our annual tours in England are so uplifting that they keep me going for most of the year. Just don't make me fly Delta again…..

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    I don't really think about who the song is for, just how I want the song to make people (in general) feel. Realizing everyone is different, I mostly just try for the song to be engaging, whether it's just a fun romp or an emotional tug.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    For many songs I write, I work with others in the band, especially to refine the musical components. Sometimes, someone in the band will have a completely different musical take on the song than the one I began with – and it's usually better than mine – so we'll just run with it. I love working with a creative crew, and I really enjoy watching their talent at work.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    I take a Punch & Judy approach toward the babies. If it bawls too much and is a brat – then out the window it goes! If the band isn't feeling it, then we'll mess with it for a bit, but then if they still aren't feeling it, we'll set it aside. Sometimes it just needs a little something – a structural change, a bridge, etc., but sometimes it just needs to go out the window!

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I love writing songs. It's fun to create something out of nothing. I've written songs for the better part of the last four decades, so there's probably no stopping it (though some may think that's a shame).

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    If inspiration isn't there, then no amount of perspiration will make something happen. If perspiration isn't there, then inspiration tends to leave it halfway undone. You need both.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    Ah, that one's easy – the love song I'd like to write for my wife Delphine. She deserves a song that is far better than anything I could ever create, but I still get the nagging suspicion that I should try…
    Also, I'd really love to write a song that could bring together all the conflicting emotions I have inside about our youngest son's death, along with the love I still feel for him, and the lasting impact one day in August has had on a lot of people's lives, intertwined with the lasting impact he had on so many lives.
    If I can write those two songs, I'll be the most satisfied songwriter out there. But they're the hardest two to write because they mean the most to me personally. I can write pirate ditties all day long, but these two songs are the most daunting.
    I'm working on them though.
    – Shanghai Brown
    There Be Pirates!

  • 1. I'm often on the road alot, so I don't have a guitar or piano handy, so I compose usually with a melody in mind and I visualize the fingerboard for the chord arrangemnt. I then modify the melody/chords when I have the instrument in hand. Most of the times, the song works and everything falls together. It
    is typically the chorus or hook that I start with.

    2. I'm big on lyrics and stories, so words that are poetic and are intermingled with musical overtones and touch my heart with chills.
    For me that is a sign of great song.

    3. Finding the right chord arrangements that can dovetail with the melody and the words.

    4. If I get stuck, I put it down for a couple of days and work on another idea.
    I repeat it over & over in my head,till I fall asleep, usually when I wake up
    any wrinkles in the song, it seems to work out. Another approach, is I listen
    to classical music to free my mind.

    5.No, I don't envison an audience, I love to preform, so I play the with my heart to empty chairs or standing room only. Believe me,I have done both.
    It does not effect my writing process at all. I write for myself and what's in my heart. I don't preform to compose.

    6.Sometimes. It does effect my process, because it can break you out of the shell you encased yourself in, by preventing you from writing in similar pattern.

    7. That is difficult, I just happen to like some songs better the others and preform them more often then others. If, someone requests, I will play the song. Some, are just fun to play. While others are emotional and connect with the audience. You need to read the audience.

    8. Songwriting is life for me, I will write till I die. I say what I feel in a song and I love telling stories. It's hard to express the feeling i get when I write. Music alone is not has rewarding for me has discovering the lyrics from a newspaper article or a one line statemet or tagword.

    9. Inspiration is the motivator for me in crating a song structure and the writing process. If I'm not inspired, nothing happens, the song is flat.
    Perspiration comes later when I finalize the song.

    6. The song of all songs. A love song that touches your heart, fills your eyes with tears and sends chills up down your body. The words may be simple, but will express a common thread that connects everyone, when listened to. The song will be a beautiful piece of arrangement that can stand alone as an instrutmental or sung. The closest song written so far to my dream song is "Annie's Song" by John Denver.

  • 1. I simply live life and listen to whatever music I love at that moment, as well as keeping in mind a theme and structure template for when I do write. When I write songs, things I’ve done or absorbed (including what I’ve been listening to) will come out. Great songs are like wine or beer in that they must ferment before they are ready to be written, you write them when they come to you and ask to be written (not necessarily when you want them written). So, let the emotion, situation, ideas evolve sufficient in your head before you officially write it, don’t force it.

    2. They inspire me mentally and emotionally, where I can’t resist grooving to it in some fashion. It has to be fun, bold, vibrant, often loud & noisy, interesting music & lyrics, and often with a fast tempo.

    3. Not all great ideas/lyrics/topics pan out in the end, such as the frustrating inability thus far to write a record-worthy charming, romantic love song. I can get stuck when I’ve exhausted a particular topic/idea/lyrical phrase/inspiration.

    4. I take a break from songwriting, enjoy just listening to music, focus on other arts/passions and just live life for a period of time. With time, I inevitably do get re-inspired to write, again.

    5. I do to an certain extent, it’s important that my audience enjoys my output. But, I make sure I personally love what I write, and that it fulfills my vision and my standards.

    6. Maybe a person or two who I’m really close to, but for the most part, I don’t. I just know what sounds good and what my vision is for the project I’m writing for.

    7. When I get an idea, I analyze the beginnings of the song in my head to judge if it’s worth writing. If it feels uninspired, less than standard or stale, I’ll kill it before it’s written. After that it must pass demoing, repeated listenings, gigs and the passing of time before it has a “chance” to get on a final record. Thus, every song on my records are well-tested and proven to be good.

    8. I just simply love to write songs, it’s something I’m naturally inclined to do, it’s art. I might or I might completely shift my efforts to visual art eventually, as long as I’m doing art.

    9. There’s a lot of inspiration and perspiration involved in equal measure. I plan and start writing for a record long before I officially record and release it. Furthermore, a record (and the songs it features) must feel inspired for me to write, play and release it.

    10. It’s that ultimate “hit” alternative-folk song, that fans will hands-down identify me and my music by.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    Generally I start with a chord progression on ukulele or garageband and just star mumbling and skattin to it until a particular melody, lyric or vibe hits me. Sometimes a hook with pop into my head while doing something else and I'll go put chords behind it and flesh it out. This may get me into a bit of trouble but I will sometimes write to a pre-existing piece of music, an instrumental from another group or artist. This is a very common practice in reggae and hiphop but can be useful in most genres.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    Most of the time there is a moment in the song that mimics something in life that is so on point and accurate that it couldn't be any other way. It could be lyrical or musical. Every now and then a song makes you experience a "eureka" or "aha" moment. On average, I am moved more by lyrics or overall vibe than specific technical skill. Technical skill is interesting up to the point that it makes one a better musical communicator, but if what's being communicated is not that substantial then it is more like a great speaker mumbling.
    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    Like you said, sometimes the muse isn't there. I find that my inspiration comes in waves. Light or heavy but rarely steady. I try to get it all out when it's flowing but sometimes you just hit writers block. Sometimes I'll be into a song and then I just hit a spot where I have no clue what comes next. I try to let the song write it's self and I just pay attention and help it along. I think it happens sometimes when I know I'm onto something good and don't want to go in the wrong direction. I'll stat second guessing myself and getting trigger shy.
    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    Sometimes I'll just step away from that project and work on something else. Or I'll just get out of the house and go find it, what ever it may be. I try to put my attention on something else so I can get a fresh perspective on life and the song. There are times when I don't write for a month and there are times when all I do is write and record. If your a songwriter, your always a songwriter. 24/7. Songwriting is a much larger process than simply sitting down with a guitar and a notepad and banging one out. So even if your waiting in line at the DMV or sitting in class you are still stocking up artistic ammo to use later. So I guess I find comfort in knowing that I'm always writing, always working.
    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    Sometimes. I like to reflect on it during the writing process but not write from that space. I try to let the song write it's self and listen back to it with a more detached ear. I try to think of how others will hear and experience it and under what settings.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    I love to collaborate and work with other artists. It's a great way to grow as a songwriter. Working by myself too much leads to writers block for me. Working with others can help open some new doors. With that comes some sacrifice of your ideas sometimes. But it's music. You can always do your own version of a track. The more versions the better. If anyone wants to collab hit me at markoallthelove@gmail.com

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    Sometimes you just know. Some of my favorite and most successful "babies" where written very quickly and effortlessly and I knew right away that they would grow up to be doctors or lawyers. The quicker I start dancing to it the better. With other "babies" you get to a point in the writing process where you start to realize that maybe it will turn out to be a dead-beat, or even a musician. Just kidding.
    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    I love to write and create music. It's my favorite thing to do. If something during my day jumps out or inspires me I can put it in a song. It's sort of like a series of inside jokes with myself. I've only recently started to entertain the notion of identifying myself as a songwriter. It's just been something I've always done. I think that I will always write music. I really hope so. I am really thankful that she chooses to speak through me.
    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    They are both very important and relevant. I've heard many musicians say it's 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. In the end, for a song to make it to some form of "release," this is not far from what I have experienced. Like I said earlier some songs come almost instantly. But recording demos, arranging, showing musicians the parts, jamming on the parts, rehearsing tracking final versions, mixing, mastering, not to mention getting people to hear it is all hard work if your really going for it. It's a lot of work but if your passionate and dedicated it is the only thing you can do. It's really fun too. I never approach the actual writing process as work. It's more like a party. The phrase that describes my songwriting approach is "get it how you live." Pay attention in your life, song ideas are always jumping out at you. Not all songs have to make it all the way through the pipeline to iTunes or the stage. So I try to get out all ideas. If half are good that is success on that level. Some you edit, mold, and shape into your next opus, and some are for the vault to be released after you die.
    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    Oh man, it's really dope! I'm not really even supposed to talk about it, legally. No just kidding. I really don't know. No idea what genre it may fall into. I don't think I will write it any time soon though. But even that may not be true. It will show some aspect of life that is so simple and real and universal. It wouldn't need to be some really serious or sacred, holy meaning or point. Just something really pure. Probably about a girl. Not sure. But it will be available at cdbaby as soon as possible.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    I usually find a beat that I like first. Then I start to think of topics. If one doesn't come to my head then I just start writing as Mcees would call "Bars". After Im done with
    writing the first verse or second verse thats when I start the hook. When it comes to hooks I go right into the booth and start trying different rythms until I find one that would fit perfectly with the beat. I usually take that listen to it and come back and finish writing the verses, bridge and outro after I get a chance to hear where Im going with the song.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    Music can bring out several emotions. I think I have a favorite song for almost every emotion. I think passion strikes me as my favorite quality.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I need material to write about. Some times I just gotta live life and not be making music. Sometimes I will write and make music for 5 months straight and usually after I make an album I feel like theres nothing left to write about. Once
    I get over that writers block its back to the grind.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    If I cant think of a hook I will just keep writing verses. If after that I still cant think of a hook I will lay the verses only. Then Ill go home and listen to the song for a while and come back and lay the hook later. Sometimes I need to not hear the song for 2-3 weeks then I can come back to it with a fresh start. Thats how I did several of my bigger songs.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    I like to write about my life and also the things I see, hear and have been part of. I do realize that I have an audience but I still try to be myself. I think a lot of people respect what I do because I dont pertend to be something im not. I realize the audience wants great stories that are true and thats what I give them

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    Most of the time I only let maybe the engineer give me some kind of feedback. I do like to make great music and collaborate with great artists and producers sometimes. Then once the song is made and finished then I start showing it around and solicit opinons from the general public.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    I usually make batches of songs every time I go to the studio. I listen to the songs over and over and usally wind up cutting one or two off. Then I keep recording til I get about 30-40 songs that made the cut and then trim it down even more. I did this on both of my albums. I usually still put the songs that didnt make it on mixtapes anyways. There are only a few that never see the light of day. Those songs have been burnt and disposed of.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    As a rapper people dont expect you to be able to be 40 years old and still writing rap songs. Well I love music and I will be making music until I cant make music any more. If anyone listens thats their decision. When Im no longer a rap stud I think Ill get into writing for other artists down the line.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    I can make good songs with out inspiration but I make my best songs with Inspiriation. I love when I can listen to a great song or album and be inspired to write my own great music. I think thats why I got into music because I was ispired to.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    With my luck its probably gonna be a song that I wont like but the rest of the world does.

    Thanks,

    Mav of sol camp

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    I can't sing and I don't write lyrics, so typically I will write all of the music for a song and then try to figure out what it's about and who I should get to sing it. If I have a strong vibe I might give the lyricist a song title or a general idea of what the song is saying to me, and let them run with it. Normally I will hear the entire song in my head as a finished piece and all I have to do is "write" it down.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    Hard to answer because it's intangible. My favorite parts of songs are usually the mistakes, because that's when the cool stuff happens. With modern recordings, you lose a lot of that – it's too perfect.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    The #1 biggest problem that I have as a writer is that I can't sing at anywhere near the level I play guitar at. I just can't express myself that way very well. So I always need a partner to finish a song – I can't just do it myself when inspiration strikes.

    #2 would be the long dry spells that I get where nothing comes.

    #3 is when you get one really cool part that you know is a winner but you can't find anything else to put with it.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    I haven't really found a good way to deal with it. I'm open to suggestions!

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    The best songs that I've written were written entirely for myself.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    Normally I'll write the whole song before seeking out a vocalist. I don't write by committee very well. I also won't play it for anyone until it's done.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    It's a gut instinct thing. I think even a parent knows when their baby's ugly! They just can't admit it to themselves. I also find that the easier they are to write, the prettier they are in the end.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I don't feel like I have a choice. It's not something I ever studied or set out to do.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    99% inspiration, 1% perspiration – which I know is backwards from most people. Hearing it is hard – catching it is easy.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    I'll know it when I hear it.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    Songs usually come from tinkering around with riffs, at least the good ones. My wife asks me how I can play the same thing over and over again with really no end but the repetition not only refines the part but also allows me to “hear” things that are there in my head. The trick is getting them out of my head. If my brain had a USB port I would be set but this struggle of translating the mental realm into something that everyone can hear is what I would call songwriting. It has eased with time but the long repetitive practices in the solitude of my apartment are the best way to wash it all out. It’s like panning for gold I guess, it takes a little motion and a good amount of time.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    I love Saves The Day’s “This is not an exit”. The lyrics have such strong imagery in them, when he asks you to “walk across the stage, take a bow, hear the applause” I end up doing so every time in my mind. The music is perfect for the story as well, it swells and bursts, plunges and flows, the song really takes you on a ride as you float belly up to the clouds.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I get stuck when I think about the end product too much. Just like a good song is a journey, so is writing, I can get bogged down in my ideas. I feel like they either run like a faucet or are as dry as a desert.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    Reading.

    Also, when I am frustrated with songwriting, I hate listening to music. Like it is laughing in my face because I can’t seem to get my music right. Nothing sounds good when I am having songwriters-block. This is where the tinkering comes in though; my best songs took refining and I think the good songs I have yet to write will need this as well. I don’t know what it would be like to have to produce music. Maybe I should try it sometime and make myself write music for a few weeks straight. I would be interested in what comes out.

    Thinking with a pad of paper helps. Not just typing on a screen but actually moving my fingers to create the letters of my songs and thoughts. It makes it easy to organize what I want and I won’t feel the need to stay too long on one idea for fear of forgetting it because I already have it written down. The dullest pencil is better than the sharpest mind.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    I hardly ever do. Sometimes when I write something that might have a political or philosophical message behind it I think about “how” to say what I mean but the substance of the message is usually what is on my mind, what is keeping my up at night. For me, songwriting is almost therapeutic; a way to make sense of the world around me while doing something that takes my mind off life, which is playing my guitar.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    Yes and no, I perform the songs with a girl I grew up with. Mostly, songs will already be written when one of us brings a new one to the table but Garageband and email has enhanced our song writing and really made our band possible. We are pretty spoiled in our day and age to have a digital scratchpad whenever we need it.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    It is really hard. CD Baby sales reports really help ☺. Playing them live do as well. We are planning to record a new album soon and recently played the first four songs of the new album at a show. The two I though people we going to like where never mentioned when I talked to the audience afterwards. In fact, they loved the one I had doubted since I wrote it. This made me reevaluate the recording that is coming up and allocate more recourses to the song. My favorite songs are not our top sellers but when you write from personal experiences, you will surely bond with the songs for other reasons than being a catching tune. It is like 3rd grade when you had to pass around your story for peer review. You don’t need to take everyone’s opinion as fact but a fresh set of ears is incredibly valuable.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    Yes. As busy as my life has become, I would not do it anymore if I did not enjoy it. In fact, when I sit down with my guitar, I don’t want to play other peoples songs anymore, I want to play mine, I want to play the one that has never been played before.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Inspiration has a big role. Though it was not initially, I have learned the truth behind “writing what I know”. My songs can’t just happen by deciding I want to write a song, it is more like I find myself planting a seed by scribbling on a napkin while out somewhere. Nature is big too, I have spent a lot of time in northwestern Wyoming as well as the wild portions of Uah and have found that bring in a place that I feel is “inspiring” leads to inspiration. As for the perspirations, my wife mentioned that I need some new deodorant, ha.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    My perfect song would be like climbing a tree, starting with a solid trunk, supportive yet bare and simple. As you move upwards, the branches would expand, bearing fruit and flower, knotting and swaying with your grasp. Though there would be repetition wood and the basic framework the same, change would be key to making the song engage you, wanting to know where it goes. Finally, you’d be at the top, having a little different perspective and maybe slightly raw hands from what just happened. Good art takes you somewhere that you were not before, maybe even somewhere you have never been. I want to move people.

  • 1. Usually it starts with a seed such as a hook, a concept or a chord progression. Then I pick up my guitar and the seed starts to grow. Sometimes I start with lyrics, sometimes with a melody… sometimes the entire piece forms on its own.

    2. My favorite songs are always very emotional and meaningful… "Imagine," "The Circle of Life," "Please Don't Leave Me." These are the kinds of songs that really move me.

    3. My biggest frustration is when I have a melody and I can't figure out a chord progression / arrangement for it.

    4. Whenever I get really stuck I just put the song down so I can go back to it later with a fresh perspective.

    5. I usually don't visualize an audience… I usually visualize the story that the song tells. Sometimes I start imagining a music video while I'm working on one of my songs, lol!

    6. The audience is my best collaborator. I test new songs at my shows and I watch the reaction closely. I also pay attention to listener's comments after the show. The audience always knows what works and what doesn't.

    7. I defer to the audience. Some of the songs that my audience likes the most are songs that I thought were total duds.

    8. I write because I have to. When I receive inspiration I have to ride it through. I'm sure I'll continue writing as long as I'm alive.

    9. Inspiration gives me the seed, the magic from which the songs grow but I'm a craftsman, I work very hard to build a piece that is meaningful, moving and accessible. I study the song structure of pieces that I love and I'm always learning more about the craft from my favorite writers.

    10. My greatest song: a kick-butt rocker that gets stuck in the listener's head!

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    -I sit with my guitar, often with my cat watching, and I play what i feel. If I stumble across something I like that starts the ball rolling. other times I am messing around in the studio and use it as my insturment.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    -They move me emotionally. rarely is the technique involved important.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    -Frustrations are that I don't make a living at it. I rarely get stuck although sometimes I move on to other works only to come back to one when the time is right. It's all serendipitous (spelling?)

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    -There is no real frustration. I just go where the muse tells me so to speak.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    No
    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    No

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    -I will write whatever comes through me. I 'just know' which ones will be on a future album and which ones won't. Then there are those that might if the recording turns out good!

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    Sanity…. seriously. and yes I will always right so long as I am physically able.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    -Inspiration comes at its own pace but I find that going to my instrument everyday allows it more opportunity to find me.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    -perfect lyrics, perfect melody, perfect accoompanyment and chicks dig it!!!

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    It's usually always the music first, then the lyrics. A melody or chord progression will generally pop into my head and then I'll experiment with adding lyrics.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    My favorite songs involve good melodies that make my ears perk up almost immediately and also the emotion behind it. Queen's "Who Wants to Live Forever" is one of my fave songs ever. It's a wonderful marriage of awesome music and well-fitting lyrics.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    My most common frustration is that I get stuck on lyrics pretty easily. Sometimes I'll only make it through the first verse and chorus and then it's like I've run out of steam.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    I usually let the song lie for a while, maybe come back to it a few days later. Or months or years later. Coming back to it with fresh ears helps. Also, I sometimes make myself do creative exercises, like writing SOMETHING every day for a month…could be one line or a whole verse or whatever…just as long as it is SOMETHING. If anything, it helps my gears start moving again.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    Not every time, but sometimes I do envision an audience. I would describe the audience as a group of 20-30-somethings who probably watch Grey's Anatomy and love Starbucks. (I don't know why I think that…but that's what picture for some reason.) I think it does have an effect on the writing process…it makes me think, "What kinds of lyrics do they relate to?" I definitely write for myself, don't get me wrong, but I also try to picture what I'd feel like when performing it in front of a crowd.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I've only collaborated once, and that was putting music to someone else's fully written lyrics, so I don't have much experience there. But I do ask for friends' feedback. If I don't get a great response, it's usually a good indicator that I may have to change some things. Conversely, I've had a few songs that I started and wasn't too interested in until I played what I had for friends, and they loved it and insisted I finish them. So I'd say outside opinions are important to me. HOWEVER, there are just some songs that you just need to write, if only for yourself, and hang what anyone thinks about them.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    I usually rely on other people to tell me if a song is good or not. But if I like it, then there's a fair chance that it might be decent. I can generally tell if a song is bad if I'm not excited about it.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I get a great sense of release and satisfaction. It's an important outlet for me. I do hope to write songs as long as I'm alive.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    I think inspiration is the ignition but perspiration is the fuel. I know that when I try to force myself to sit down and write a song, the result tends to be pretty lame. But I also recognize that songwriting is also hard work and getting better at your craft. So, I'd say inspiration is the kickoff point but perspiration makes me sit down and finish the darn thing.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    It changes someone's life.

  • Songwriting can be a rewarding, yet frustrating, process. Sometimes the ideas just flow and the song almost seems to write itself. Other times I'll obsess for weeks to find just the right word or phrase to convey a thought or an idea. In any case, I always start with a melody and then add the lyrics. Melodies often come to me out of the blue. Once in a while they will come to me when I'm just playing my guitar freestyle, but usually they'll pop into my head at odd times, like when I'm driving to work or mowing the lawn. When it happens, I'll run the tune over and over in my head to try to memorize it so hopefully I don't forget it when the mood passes. I try to think of a popular song that is similar to it to help me remember the beat or the chord progression, or I might try to come up with some make-shift lyrics to help cement the tune in my head.

    Sometimes a song idea will hit you when you least expect it. One time I had rented a house at the beach, and I was sitting on the front porch listening to the neighbor's wind chime blowing in the breeze. Almost instinctively my mind started composing a melody based on those four random notes, so I grabbed a notepad and started jotting down lyrics about what I was seeing as I sat there. By the end of the day I had written the song "Wind Chime" which is on my debut album.

    Once I come up with the melody, I'll begin working on the lyrics. Sometimes I'll just play the tune in my head or on guitar and listen to the "mood" of the song. What is it trying to say? Is the mood playful? Serious? Sad? Excited? Sensuous? Once I determine the mood, I try to find lyrics that fit that mood. This is often the hardest part, because after you determine the subject matter the rest is just a matter of conveying that idea in an interesting way.

    One trick I like to use when I compose a song is writing lyrics that may have multiple interpretations. In other words, I don't try to tell you what the song means to me, I want you to tell me what the song means to you. Sometimes my lyrics can have vastly different meanings, depending on your perspective or point of view. Or there may be a "main" point to the song, but there may be other, less-obvious points or interpretations that I'll throw in for you, the listener, to discover and ponder.

    Next, I determine whether the song needs a bridge, and if so, if the bridge should be instrumental or lyrical. This is often a matter of personal taste; some songs need a bridge to provide contrast and to keep from being too monotonous, while others sound better without in order to maintain their "flow". Sometime after the bridge (if there is one), usually about three-quarters into the song, there should be some sort of climax to the song. This can be a high note in the lead vocal, a dramatic pause or break in the drum beat, or it can be the bridge itself. Just something to convey the "high point" of the song. Afterwards the song should begin to wind down, unless the climax itself is at the ending.

    Finally, I determine how the song will end. Again, this is a matter of personal taste. Sometimes it can be an artistic choice, such as fading out the song at the end to convey the idea of an unresolved or open-ended issue, or it can end suddenly to convey conviction or decisiveness. But sometimes it just sounds better to end it one way or the other. If the song begins with a riff or intro that is different from the rest of the song, you can sometimes revert back to that riff at the end, to tie the song together and bring the song "full circle". But don't be afraid to be creative. My song "Wind Chime" begins with random notes of a wind chime at daybreak, which soon blend with and become a part of the song. When it ends, the song fades away except for the notes of the wind chime, which become random and fade away on a warm summer evening with crickets chirping in the background.

    I hope this has been helpful to you. Good luck in all your songwriting endeavors!

  • i mine my guitar for harmonies like a miner 4 silver and gold… when i find a decent vein of sounds i tend 2 pluck them over n over so as to commit them 2 memory… never using a pen or needing any paper… if it is something i can use then it is important enuff to demand memorization…

    if it is worth writing its worth committing 2 memory from the start…
    as i play it over and again a 1st verse may come forth as i develope a workable melody… i will sing that one verse time and again committing it 2 memory tailoring out the melody…

    now as i concentrate on the one verse, practicing hitting the emerging melody with the emerging lyric this keeps my mind focused so my subconscience will is then free 2 let slip a next verse and rhyme…

    again i play , sing those words in2 memory never stopping this process 2 grab a pen…. or 2 stop and try 2 dream up lyrics… my subconscience can do more on accident then my active mind ever could…

    playing what i have so far keepsa my conscience mind active balancing meter and committing 2 memory what i do not wanna 4get…. if it is worth writing it is worth memorizing and writing straight to the mind… paper and pen at this point breaks my continuity interupting the creative process so 2 speak….

    hard copy 4 me is when i leave the studio with a wave file or cd…

    its best when songs find you… but writing a song by request, or based on a cool cliche, a cool subject , or just a melody are still welcomed…

    one of my favorite songs is based on a book, "9 years among the indians"…

    oh and don't 4 get songs of love and heartbreak… and its always about cool licks and sweet melodies that end up in complete harmony…

    so keep ur hands on ur guitar, ur mind on the meter and words, and leave the pen and paper for the school boys and girls, LOL, a lot… or cry!!!

    just try not 2 smash ur guitar even if u did miss an appointment with willie nelson, LOLOL

    redeyecarl

    round and round i will sing the verse or verses until

  • As a retired Army/Guard veteran of Vietnam and a combat medic of Desert Storm, my perspective as a performing tunesmith will never be "normal", mainstream or radio friendly. Only about 10% of any audience I perform for actually "GET" this music.
    I write honestly, frankly and without insulting the basic intelligence of the people gracious enough to buy one of my "pariah" CDs. The subject matter some of my songs cover isn't sexy, seldom cute or funny. Having said all that, ANY time a majority of the audience actually applauds when I'm done performing one of my original tunes, I am humbled by their response. Acoustic soloists are treated like background white noise in a lot of the venues that I have performed in over the years. The few listening clubs around keep me from quitting altogether.
    Integrity, honesty, accuracy and longevity are more important to me than
    becoming rich and famous. My music reflects all that and I still like to have
    fun when I perform and write.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    My songs usually come about in one of two ways: 1. I mess around with different synth sounds until I find something that inspires me. I mess with that a bit and then maybe start adding some other synth parts with different sounds, or maybe I'll start programming in the drums. The vocals usually come later, but there's no one exact order in which things are done. 2. I'm in the middle of another project and start writing something that doesn't fit in the song I'm working on, but sounds like it could be it's own song. This is usually the most common way I write because I have so many different songs I'm working on at one time, I rarely ever make it a point to just start a new project and write a new song. I have hundreds that need to be finished before I purposeful go start more. But if the inspiration is there, I'm not going to just stop and get back to the other song. I'll take the new part, work with it until it seems forced, save it as another project and go back to my other song.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    My favorite songs connect with me in every way a song can. On a purely musical level, it will simply sound good without even analyzing the actual lyrics, if it has any. Generally, I like music with good grooves, heavy bass and enough changes to keep me from getting bored.

    If there are lyrics, they will mean something very personal to me.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    At times, I seem to have a knack for writing nothing but choruses. I try to write songs that are always interesting, but a lot of songs have verses that are really not that interesting, but it's often necessary to less interesting verses in order to create a dynamic landscape. I just have a hard time keeping it simple, so I'll often write two parts, both of which could be choruses, and then, I'll have a hard time figuring out whether they should be two different songs, or if I should make one the verse part.

    Another thing is lyrics. I'm extremely meticulous when it comes to writing lyrics. I often hear lyrics in songs and just shake my head and how simple or dumb they sound when you really think about them. Because of this, I can take an extremely long time writing lyrics.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    Two basic ways: 1. Take a break and go work on something else. Maybe my brain is just getting overworked on music and needs to go do something else, or maybe it's just my brain on that song and I need to work on another song. I'll find myself coming back to songs that I haven't touched in weeks or months and coming up with great parts within seconds of hearing the unfinished song. 2. Just keep pushing. Keep messing around until something sounds right. It's probably best to do #2, and if that doesn't work, do #1.

    As for coming up with lyrics, I'll sometimes just start writing out my thoughts about what it is I'm trying to say. Maybe I'll summarize what I've said so far in the lyrics and then try to figure out where I need to go from there.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    It depends on what part I'm working on. I'm very self indulgent when it comes to writing the instrumental parts. I'm not thinking, "gee, will people like this?" I'm thinking, "this is freaking awesome. I love this."

    When it comes to the lyrics, it's more about the audience. I want to influence/help people, so I try to write in a way that will best do that while still being interesting to listen to.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I don't. I'm usually really strong minded (pig headed) and know what I want when I hear it. I also just like the idea of pushing through this on my own and not having other people help me. This is why I'm a solo musician. Sometimes, it might be a good idea, though, as I can get overwhelmed when I come up with multiple possibilities for a part and have to single one out. In the future, if I simply can't make up my mind on which part to use, I will problem encourage fans to vote for a particular version of a song. Sometimes, it really does pay to have someone outside of your head listen to something of yours to get a different persective.

    For me, I write songs that I'm going to record/perform myself. I don't write to sell my songs, so I'm more concerned with being genuine than making a popular song that will sell. Business has absolutely nothing to do with the creative process. If you're writing to sell your songs to others, then getting a lot of feedback is obviously important.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    I guess it's just sort of like being in love. "When you know, you know." You can sit there and analyze it, but in the end, it's simply about how it makes you feel and you can't just program a certain criteria into a computer and have it anaylyze which ones are the best. Likewise, you don't always know why you fall out of love with something – you just do.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    Right now, I get the pleasure of self indulgence. I'm about the only one who has heard my music so far, and I've got a lot of pleasure out of simply writing and then listening to my music without an audience or fans to think of. But I also get hope, and I think that's what's most important. Hope for a better future; hope for bringing change to my life and the lives of those who will listen to my music; hope for being a force for social change; hope of building something bigger than myself and leaving behind a fire that burns on in others. I'll probably write for as long as my mind works…maybe longer.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    A lot of the overall instrumental ideas come fairly effortlessly for me, but it takes a lot of work to fill in all of the gaps and tie everything together in order to create the big picture. The initial song idea is usually pretty easy to come up with. My brain latches on to something and just gets swept up in it and it's just a matter of letting it out. But then, there are the rewrites where something just doesn't feel quite right. Maybe it's a drum pattern or simply the samples being used for the drums. Or maybe it's coming up with a bridge and tying it into the rest of the song. At some point, there will be a lot of persperation to keep that creativity going, but once I find it again, it's back to just flowing fairly effortlessly.

    And then, there's the lyrics, which are usually a lot of work. I have to really focus myself and stick at it. It's not as easy as just playing random chords and notes on a keyboard until something sounds right. It takes a real intellectual mindset.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    The greatest song I haven't written yet will open people's eyes to something they're never seen before or never really deeply thought about. It will make them aware of a social movement and inspire them to be part of that movement. The most important thing about my music is not the money or the fame, it's the idea that it can bring about social change – that it can be used to create something bigger than myself and have a real impact on the world in some way. That is the true definition of success for me as an artist.

  • Karen McCurdy

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    Because all of my songs are very personal, I usually come up with the lyrics first because it's generated by some person, place, event that's happened either in the recent past or even a long time ago.

    As the melody comes second to my head, I need to adjust words to "fit" the rhythms.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    Music always stirs emotion, momories, etc. for me. I really appreciate songs that have a great life story to tell….. things that I can relate to easily. And, I love to laugh at songs that put a humorous spin on life!

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    I get totally stuck if my life is outrageously busy. I need to be peaceful "inside" to let the creative energy flow! Words aren't usually my problem, it's the melody that hangs up………. eventually I find myself humming a melody that catches.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    I have to set song writing aside for a while if priorities outside of music are high. It's WAY too frustrating to "force" the energy. I also like to find some "alone" time on a regular basis. That is what recharges my batteries.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    My "mental" audience is a late 30's + group who have had enough life experiences to appreciate my story in the lyrics. I love to tell stories, with or without music. Almost always, I introduce a song with the "story" behind it…. details that most people would find interesting, can understand and/or relate to. When people react with smiles, laughter, even tears, I know that they "got it".

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    If I do this, it's usually with my family. They're honest enough to to do a good critique. At first that was very hard to do because I think that, as musicians, we really "bare our soul" in front of the world when we share our music. I can quickly find out where I need to add/remove dynamics, vocal inflection, even change my facial expressions. I needed to grow the confidence in what I'm doing/saying to ask for critique. In the end, I realize that it's a very valuable tool.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    Yeah, I too love everything I do because it's SO darn personal for me. Obviously, the audience reaction is the judge. The reaction will definitely let me know that it's not as cool as I think, which is always painful…… then it goes back to the drawing board or in the file for a while.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    Oh man, I get GREAT personal satisfaction in sharing a little of myself with the world around me. It's VERY satisfying to tell the stories that means so much to me. I'm not prolific in my song writing but people and events REALLY move me at times. That's when the words flow easily. I am hoping that I'll never lose that awareness of life around me to inspire my creativity and ability to preserve these meaningful people/events/places in songs forever.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Inspiration is everything to me…. When the "inspiration" is there, there's not much "perspiration" in what I do. I refuse to "perspire" during the creative process. For me, there is no joy in that. If I have to work that hard to create a song, I set it aside until my head is where it needs to be. When I'm in the "zone", I can feel my heart and soul going to the pages. That's when I know it's right. Sounds corny but it's true.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    That's a tough one…. Looking back at life through the eyes of a child moving forward into the present. I want a great melody without dreadful sadness and lyrics in a chorus that people could quote every day in their life!!! Lots of emotion for most people who would hear it.

  • What does your song writing process look like?

    First I pick the track and I listen to it and I try to pick the best possible concept for the song.After that I'm listening for the first line,sometimes I get it right away then sometimes I'll just have to ride to the music for awhile.One thing I never do is force the lyrics I write and I never second guess it I try not to think at all when I write.Once I get a good flow going before you know it I'll have a song. The best advice I would give anyone is to not overthink things and just let the music be as organic as possible…

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    I always write by how I feel that day. I don't have a same way to write for every songs, but it always connect though

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    I have a lot of favorite songs, but if I ever had to pick one. "I Gave You Love" because it was my first song ever fully written, and it always brings me back to what me and my ex went through

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    sometimes I have way too many ideas to put in a songs and I have to cut to a lot of good parts to fit the song standard

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    I let it go for a minute then when I come back it is all clear

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    Yes you have to envision the listener, but I always leave that at the end.. unless I'm writing about my audience.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    It happened to one of my songs, I would like to collaborate more though, it sounds exciting and challenging.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    I'm never fully satisfied because I always want to go back and do more to the song, but you have to draw a line where the song is perfect & a song who is too perfect

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    I've been writing songs, poems, articles. Writing is a part of my life so of course.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    Both goes togheter

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    It will be soon available on CDBABY when it's done!!

  • When I am aware of the moment I will notice a pulse in the flow of life.A persons gait as they walk , the dance of the wind on some surface will conjure a beat.It seems for me like catching a wave that is available to all of us at any given moment,and staying with it to the end of the ride. There is no going back later to try an re-capture a wave that has come and gone.
    2. I am often moved by {quote] simple songs.
    3.Finding the key that best suits the song or editing to much.
    4.I try to remember the universe's humor and not take me too seriously.
    5.Somtimes, often remembering the we or all of us and our common threads.
    6.I have done both, co-writing a musical a few years ago was an easier task than I envisioned once I started.I was writing to a subject which was different for me.
    7.The audience will tell me by their response to the song or performance.
    8.I get to tell a story.I get to try and touch the human experience out loud.I hope I write as long as I live.
    9.Inspiration is big in my process ,and yes I have to do the work of crafting the idea into the final piece.
    10.It is simple in the pulse so that many can feel it,the lyrics are honest and not contrived and they connect with the
    best in all of us, done in a key that many can sing, when I catch a great wave and ride it confidently.

  • We usually write our songs seperately coming up with parts, then when time for rehearsal we pick and choose and put stuff together. Sometimes it's great to write songs while pooping because it's the easiest time to think.

  • buddy hart

    a phrase or hok line will hit me unexpeckedly ! (is that a word)well it has to mean somthing to me, then i build a story around it. singing the hok i develope a rythm and cadance which i then repeat with differant words keeping
    to the story and timeing of the cadance once i develope a complete verse i generally develope a chorus or bridge, musically i take it in a differant direction.heres a hok i developed into a song (who's gonna fly their flags)
    or( i met her on the internet)or (one worm and a twelve pac)or (trucken Truckers)i start with a line and let it roll, if it makes sence we develope the the music. i feel you must be true to what you know and develope a ryme
    to fit what you are trying say. the music will tie it all togeather ALBUD PUB.

  • My songs come from ideas, mostly lyrical ideas, sometimes musical.
    Usually I think of what I am trying to say and then build a song around it.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    I've written songs in a myriad of conceivable ways, but most commonly I've started with a piece of intriguing new music and absolutely no clue about any potential lyrics(!). I've always found that inspiration favors the prepared, so even if you only have a tiny germ of an idea you can use what you've gleaned from the great songs about form and flow to build on your idea from there. So my typical workflow starts with a piece of music, which I try to make interesting and hopefully a touch innovative, but still accessible (I suggest developing an affinity for upper level harmony chords such as 7ths, 9ths, and 13ths, inversions, "slash" chords, suspensions, anything different than the overflogged, ubiquitous "open chords" that permeate much of our music). An interesting chord progression or melodic riff can more easily suggest a potential vocal line. A rhythmic melody will come, which will then suggest congruent phonetics (vowel sounds and consonants), which ultimately insinuate themselves into actual words and concepts. I favor this method because it actively engages your subconscious, or the collective unconscious if you're lucky, drawing up images and metaphors from deep within that can make for intriguing lyrics.

    This method worked great while the vocalist and lyricist in me were still finding their bearings, but eventually they sorted themselves out and started picking up the slack when the music composer found himself a bit short-handed. In a profound way, this is the polar opposite of the aforementioned approach. These broad-sweeping lyrical concepts started suggesting themselves, giving me the germ of a great unifying idea (oftentimes the basis for the chorus), which spawned lyrics with the DNA of a rhythmic and melodic feel, which finally suggested a underlying harmonic structure in the form of chords.

    Every once in a while you fall out of bed with a "Yesterday" (well, one aspires), a completely formed blast of pure inspiration that seemingly required no effort from your conscious mind, but to depend on this as a normal occurrence would be folly.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    My favorite songs all have a compelling rhythmic imperative (i.e. groove), sublime melodic and harmonic material, and fantastic lyrics rich with capricious wordplay and embarrassingly pregnant with universal metaphor and open to myriad interpretations.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    The main frustration is the dearth of time in which to hammer out ideas. I can really crank out the songs when I'm unemployed(!). Also along these lines, not having the time to follow an inspiring idea through at its inception; I hate losing good ideas to the ether because I'm not always in a position to notate them when they first hit. And of course that sensation of just being empty of any inspiration. I guess you could file all of this under writer's block(?).

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    You hit the low resistance areas, whatever weak link in the fence will let you into the enlightened inner sanctum and set your momentum rolling. Like most of life, songwriting really is a numbers game; you have to have several ideas going at once, so that if one creation is being cantankerous you can just hop over to another germ for a while and come back to the problem child later. You simultaneously go out and live, seek out things that will trigger the inspiration response within you, like new books, music, movies, architecture, whatever excites you (and whatever you can afford).

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    It's an abstract audience that couldn't care less about you and your music and don't have time to besides, so you try your best to align your aesthetic choices to reflect some basic entertainment value, and you try to give them a taste of some unrecognized part of themselves in what you do, if at all possible. You can write in your bedroom all you like, and there are plenty of songs I've written I will never play live (much less record), but if you're going to share something with the general public I believe it should somehow embody the novelty of being both entertaining and enlightening. So I try to be as universal and timeless as possible (to reach the most people in the widest possible age range), innovative so it carries the distinction of sounding a little new and different, and I try to embody the catchy pop ideology that will enable any audience to REMEMBER the experience of hearing your music long after the show is over, so that it sticks with them even if they don't buy a CD.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I've got that creative-based, other-oriented sensitivity that lets me anticipate (and sometimes only imagine, unfortunately) how people will react to my songs. I've got a couple people whom I trust to give it to me straight, but I don't really collaborate when it comes to my songwriting, because my "vision" is pretty all-encompassing (I play all the instruments I need to record my material) and it's a very personal process for me, like a kind of therapy, that doesn't seem right to impose on another writer (this is just for my own music, though…I have derived much enjoyment from past collaborations).

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    It's pretty instinctual for me. The question I ask is whether or not it's resonating with me, first and foremost, and then I examine an audience's reaction–friends and strangers–to see if it's resonating with them. It's tough because sometimes a song can actually be great but your own perception of it is skewed and it detracts from your delivery…or you can be surprised by an audience embracing a song you thought was rubbish(!). Some songs you follow through to the end, dutifully and faithfully completing them in accordance with ideal standard practice, and they just don't work. And you will know because there will be an untenable problem with flow, too many rough edges sticking out even after all that revisional sanding. The song will feel too awkward and pointless to perform, will contain too many cliches, won't resonate. That's not to say you should "Kill your babies!" On the contrary; I developed this policy with my writing I like to call "No song left behind," wherein you see each song through to its ideal completed form, even if it ends up on the scrap heap. I find this a crucial practice as it keeps my chops up and gives me the gratification concomitant with the completion of something new. And you never know; I've had songs totally redeem themselves after years on the shelf when new inspiration granted me the rosetta stone to bring in a recycled outside riff or make a clutch change to a lyric that gave the song a new lease on life.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    Well, no one can write songs forever because eventually we all have to die. ;D But while I'm alive and able, I will continue to derive a replete satisfaction out of this theraputic creative process that combines so many things I truly love and excite me–singing, playing music, and writing lyrics–into one exquisite form of personal expression. If other people get anything close to that out of what I do, that's gravy, but nevertheless another key benefit.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    For me it's probably 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration, but the difference is they're both equally as gratifying because I've trained my perspiration to flow through my own academic songwriting conventions that help me dictate that flow where I might otherwise wander aimlessly and squander energy. I think those percentages change depending on the song as well; sometimes an idea will be so weird that I have to just give carte blanche to the inspiration and let it dominate.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.

    It would groove like hell, have a killer guitar riff over a melodic-in-its-own-right bass line, and have a ripper of a monster-hook chorus people will still sing in 100 years, and yet somehow not be a personal embarrassment to the artist(!)(like Brown-Eyed Girl or Moondance have become to Van Morrison).

  • In 1966, I wrote a song for Dave "Baby" Cortez entitled 'Happy Man'. Forty years later, it was sampled by Christina Aguilera without my knowledge. I was alerted when I read an article on the internet recognizing the similarity. I sued the label and was granted 25% of the multi-platinum grammy winner, AIN'T NO OTHER MAN.

  • 1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    Typically, I write lyrics, I am also a poet. I then come up with music and try to make it fit. I always end up tweaking words here and there to make everything fluid and over time I really get to know the song and it becomes as comfortable as an old pair of bluejeans.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
    A song that sticks with me does one of three things and sometimes all three…
    draws raw emotion out, creates a vivid picture, has a melody or beat that gets stuck in my head and will not go away. Beethoven said that music was written to make people feel….a certain formula will subliminally create emotion in the listener. Good music will quiet a crowded and noisy bar or bring silent and proper listeners to their feet in a roar of applause.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    I play by ear and am sometimes frustrated that I am not a better read musician. Sometimes I hear it in my mind but cannot produce it with anything other than my voice.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    I let it rest for a bit, maybe look up some new chord variations and eventually come back to it and figure it out.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
    No….it is all about my emotion and the story I am trying to tell. I don't really think about the audience until they are sitting in front of me.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    Sometimes I ask my sons for their opinions. I have yet to collaborate but would like to do so one day.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?
    I definitely know when one is better than another and I do show favoritism without restraint.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    Music has been a part of me from day one and I will always write and sing.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
    The muses sometimes come out of nowhere and I have an instant song. Other times I can't reel them in and I have to just play scales to the metronome for a bit until they grace me with their return.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    I write the songs I need when I need to. My life has been a mixture of tragedy and unexpected good luck. So far every song has been great because it has helped me make it through and then has moved on to touch another. It does not get any better than travelling the great journey of life and crossing roads with others.

  • (1) The process often begins, guitar in hand with a riff or progression I can't get out of my head. That's bad news because then one is compelled to contrive lyrics that fit the tune. A better start is by thesaurus or rhyming dictionary and a catchy phrase or 2. Metered verse transposes well into music.

    (2) If I really want to sing and play that song, it has arrived in every way. But that doesn't always happen. There ain't enough hours in the day. (3) It's really a craft thing. (4) Put in the hours and those walls will fall.

    (5) Feel what you are doing and the target audience will follow. If you can relate, and it's not jaded, stale or contrived, you can share that vibe with your brothers and sisters out there. Then the Heavens open up!

    (6) My only collaborator is fear. Try not to create a train wreck. I've been down those tracks before. (7) They are my children, yes they are. Step-children, black sheep, first born, favorite son, and bum-of-the-month. Never forget that. A great tool is to maintain your "circular file" long term. It makes a great reality check and yardstick.

    (8) Being a songwriter is like having fingers and toes, eyes and ears, a voice, and that other special part that transcends them all. I can do it only as I exist. When I cease, part of me will cease to exist. (9) Inspiration is only a hint of a direction to go. The creative process is your imprinture on the world's soft, sweet voice of inspiration.

    (10) That great song is a picture, memory, or watercolor that speaks and sings. It has a physical form and shape. I see it as well as hear it. But mostly I feel it.

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  • Heidi C.

    My songwriting comes for a sort of etherial place almost. It is not on a cognitive level that songs come to me. I rather, discover my songs as I play the piano or guitar:) I am as if flying and navigating a path where I find the most interesting and creatively satisfying way to go. As i come upon each melody and lyrical line, I decide where the next one will go 🙂 sort of like Life …..
    It is always a journey through self discovery for me, and always resolves a big earthquake under my emotional earth …

  • Diana Winkler

    Please, be sure to leave your name, artist name, and URL.
    Diana Stimmler Winkler
    http://dianastimmler.com

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

    I am a beginner songwriter. I first come up with an idea or a concept. I write a bunch of random sentences about it. Like brainstorming. Then I try to come up with lyrics and rhyming. The last part is the melody.

    2. Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?

    I like lyrics that have a lot of meaning, that are real. I like a lot of high notes, sustained notes. An addictive beat. Usually I like piano or guitar music.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?

    It is hard to get started. But once I do sit down and make an effort, the ideas come. I get stuck on coming up with a good melody line. Anf I get all distracted about the rules of songwriting, whether I’m breaking them.

    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?

    I listen to my favorite songwriters. I sometimes get help from other musicians.

    5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?

    The song I’m working on now has three listeners. Each verse and chorus is targeted at each one.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?

    I would love to collaborate more, but my music friends live far away, and we don’t have the same schedules. I wish I had someone to collaborate with.

    7. Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

    Well, I’ll tell you what gave me a wakeup call, was when I had my music reviewed by a professional. He had some good things to say, and then some not so good things. I was pretty proud of my music until that day. I felt pretty rotten about it for a while, and then I resolved to do even better next time.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?

    It sure is a lot cheaper recording your own songs instead of paying for someone else’s music. It gives me a platform to speak my mind. It is another creative outlet for me. Leaving my imprint on the world. I am still going to sing cover songs, but I won’t be afraid to write anymore.

    9. What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?

    You can have all these pie in the sky inspirations, but if you don’t know how to put them into a tangible musical form, then it doesn’t do you any good. It is a lot of hard work.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    Lots of tear joking lyrics, high notes, low notes, cool guitar solo, top 10 radio list.

    (now go write it!)

  • I’d like to answer the 3rd question, I get frustrated when I tend to forget the thoughts on my mind and therefore fail to write those. I get stucked when I face personal challenges.
    music marketing

  • Thanks for sharing! Best of luck with the tunes.

  • Wish I could say my songs come from some deep place but I just don't know. I truly do try to come up with a title first. It seems to make the whole process much easier. Sometimes it starts with a simple chord progression and then I will try different melodies over and over to see which one I like best. Sometimes the melodies come first and then I will find the chords that go with it. The key for me is to record just about everything, even if it is just 10 seconds of something. I am always finding myself going back and finding parts that I can fit with other parts. I am a guitar player so all my songs are written with the guitar in mind first and foremost. It is strange but sometimes things just come instantly and seem to be perfect. After I have written something, I usually put it away for awhile and then come back. I usually find that it was just not as good as I thought and forces me to keep working. Also, I have written things that I thought were just not any good and then friends will say its great. And other times I think I have written something great and no one really responds at all. So the lesson here for me is to do it, get it done, and get it out and hopefully some of it will stick.

  • Howard_seibel

    I'm a. duummer who writes on keyboards.My. song "She's Afraid To Show. Him How She. Feels" has really struck a chord (sorry) with everyone who hears itt.After. 30 years. of making music maybe I wrote a tune that that will be a hit.. My favorite bands are The Beatles Rolling Stones, Tom Petty The. Noisettes (with the black girl from England) and Justin Bieber not really.I get lyrical ideas. from movies, conversations, newscasts wherever life existsd.Musically I'll punch out a melody to coincide with the chords and write from my heart.

  • J Devens

    I received a real good tip long ago that has been very effective for me. I always try never to use the work "like" in describing something. I think it's the lazy way out. "The sky was like a painting", "you are like a mystery", etc. Example: The future in the distance was like a beacon in the night. Better: Their future in the distance was a beacon in the night. By the way it's copyrighted.

  • Nick

    1. My songwriting process has changed a lot over time… I used to write lyrics first, because that was the part I made the connection with, and the part where the story behind the song lies. But after I had written a near-perfect song, I wouldn't be able to find just the right music to accompany it. I like to just mess around on the piano, guitar, etc., until I hear something I like, and then I write my lyrics over it. Occasional happy accidents? Yeah.

    2. I am constantly inspired by all the music surrounding me… its often difficult to choose which influences to utelize when I'm putting together and album or EP… (diversity is nice, but not so diverse that your listeners have no idea who you are as an artist, or where you're coming from). For example, while I love the spacy and spiritual elements of songs like "Dog Days Are Over", I also am in love with the driving power of bands like Sleigh Bells, or the contralto and jazzy sounding artists, like Amy Winehouse or ADELE. When I listen to music, I constantly hear the emotion coming from the writer, and the effort that was put into the piece. That's what inspires me most.

    3. Oftentimes I just won't be able to get the right first line, or the right closing line, or I'll reread it and find that it's lost all meaning to me, and I just need to scrap it and start over. It's upsetting, but I'd rather have a work of mine that I am proud of be finished and have money spent on it, than to have a half-hearted meaningless song recorded.

    4. Frustration obviously comes with every part of songwriting, whether it be that you need to find the perfect bridge or verse or the like… For me, songwriting is about perfection, or at least near perfection. Knowing that there is always new music and new styles to experiment with and be influenced by is a comforting feeling… That way I know that if I'm stuck, another idea will always come by soon.

    5. Of course, I like to have a balance of commercial and power ballads that my audiences might secretly enjoy. I like to envision where my audience is listening to my music, and how it can add to their setting. Are they taking the morning commute? Are they cleaning the house? Or are they taking a walk through Times Square at night? You never know. I want to make sure that my music is accessible to all kinds of listeners.

    6. The majority of my earlier compositions were written on my own… I've started to experiment with collaboration, and it has changed my writing process drastically. Everyone has new great ideas, and new twists they can add to the music. Two heads really are better than one in some scenarios. My writing process changes to fit the mold of the other writer's style and ego.

    7. It's really just a gut feeling. If I wrote a song that I felt comfortable with say, a year ago, chances are that I might not feel the same way now. If I don't, why continue to foster something that is meaningless?

    8. I imagine writing songs for as long as I live… it serves as a venting and coping device for me. I like having certain parts of my life available to decode, but not necessarily just handed to my listeners. It helps get things off my chest, or just get over things more easily.

    9. I can't ever force myself to write a song. I have tried over and over and over, and I am never satisfied with the final product. I need to be inspired by someone or something, or I just can't do it. It's as simple as that. Inspiration sparks my whole writing process in the first place. Without it, I'd never write.

    10. I like to use dramatic metaphor upon dramatic metaphor as much as I can… my favorite songs are usually the power ballads. Most of my emotions are portrayed through those, so I suppose it would be something like that. I guess I won't really know until it happens!

    A Censored Sunlight.

  • K_krunoslav

    Hi all and let the Music be the King
    You are never too OLD to be writing good tunes and awsome lyrics. I am approaching 60 and I've started to compose music about 3 years ago. As a kareoki singer , I've was forunet enought to develop great sounding vocals and I've reached the plateau in singing, where you cannot go any further in that business. I thank my son Josh for enduring lesons at Music Coservatory. I helped him, in writing some lyrics with the material he was working on, we clicked. At that point , I started to write my own tunes and frequently I go to open mics to get the crowd reaction. It was an amasing feeling to hear the people praising , and motivating you on, that the songs are great. Presently, I am using a home recording studio to capture the moments when I am on. I have joined the MY SPACE and decided to share my music with a larger audiance. Thank you Kruno Kunej

  • Daniel Dowd

    1. What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?
    I love this question because friends have given me a great deal of flack for not composing the “right” way. I write electronic music and music and vocals tend to grow up along side one another and complement each other and challenge each other. The tracks that tend to be the most popular are those about which I angst the least and just write and let the music and the vocals play and come together naturally.

    3. What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
    4. How do you overcome the frustration? How do you get un-stuck?
    Often a track will have a feel that is not right for the style of music I’m writing. I’ll be working on an industrial project and what comes through in writing will be vocal trance. The two are close enough cousins that a slight modification here and a different instrumental voice there will sometimes sort the problem out. Other times, I simply have to shelf the track and work on another idea entirely in hopes that one of the three or four that are begun in one session will bear fruit and become a track worth sharing. Getting unstuck for me is listening to other music. It might be some other genre that provides inspiration or a rhythm in a favorite track by another artist that stokes the creative fires and gets things moving again.

    6. Do you collaborate or enlist outside opinions during the writing process? What effect does that have on the writing process?
    I have a handful of people to whom I will offer up songs in their early stages for critique. There are others to whom I will not expose a song until it has been well and truly polished and is very nearly ready to be placed in the folder of tracks that will be on the next album. I tried collaborating early on in my first forays into electronic music but learned that there needs to be a common goal and vision for where the music is going to go. If there is no common vision, then the music will not come together as it ought.

    8. What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
    I get the satisfaction of knowing that I have expressed something to someone. Oddly, it is enough for me to know that a song has touched even one person and every difficult moment, every tribulation gone through to bring that song to completion is worth it. I will continue to write songs until there is no way to do so any more.

    10. Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
    The greatest song I have not yet written is the industrial track that manages to hook in fans of rock and club music alike. It is danceable enough that rabid club-goers will bounce and groove to it while rock lovers are caught enough by the hooks and musicality of it to listen whether they move or not. The more philosophically-minded music lovers will be intrigued by the depth of thought expressed and those who just want something fun can get a catchy tune and driving rhythm to keep them satisfied. I am in constant search of this song.

  • Cool. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kruno Kunej

    Hi
    I’ ve been a composer / lyricist , since knee high to a grasshopper. I just never knew how to get things started. When my kids were small, once a week I sent them to get music lessons at ” Music Conservatory of Canada. ” It was a true pleasure to see them grow as become accomplished musicians, especially my son. He was a natural. When he would create a riff or parts of the song, he would record it right away. Sometimes later, he released a great instrumental CD, and I was always there to learn from him. I started to create lyrics to few of his songs and they sounded awesome, so we decided to frequent the open mics.
    Now , I create my own tunes. Most of the time, I write a poem , add few basic cords to it and with continuous playing and in few days, the song is born. I am approaching 60 and it is never too late to start writing / performing my own tunes and enjoying the talent God has given me.
    Right now , I treat my talent as a hobby. If a right opportunity comes, I am ready to take to the next level.
    U be the judge : I am on ” My Space ” and my act name is : ” Krunos ”
    Enjoy my tunes Kruno

  • Tony Vice

    Two things: One. If you have nothing to say, don't say it. Too many people write ust to be writing. If it's not a good idea, it won't be a good song.

    Two. Edit, edit edit. Five verses is probably way too much. The essence of poetry is to say a lot with a little. Distill. People drink whiskey, not raw corn squeezin's.

  • Will Moffett

    I copied meatloaf song in 2009 so what every one does it without there knowing.