Song Doctor Blog
Read about how to write better songs
3. Intervals and rests.
A word about what's actually not even there in songs. Space! Where will you put your nothing? The space vertically between notes is called an interval, and it can be up or down in pitch. The space horizontally between notes is called a rest and it can be a very short time or several bars worth. It's space that makes us wait and long for the next line or the next beat. Think about where you put nothing in your song. We need some of that too!
Try this exercise today. Here is a short lyrical phrase: I want you in my life forever
Use this lyric above, write and record the following variations a capella ( with no backing - super basic!) on your phone
1. An eight note melody that rises throughout the phrase.
2. An eight note melody that falls and rises throughout the phrase.
3. Try it at 120 beats per minute - an uptempo rhythm
4. Try it at 90 beats per minute - the downbeat version.
Feel the difference! Let me know how you get on.
ps Pleased to announce that the Song Doctor Mailer has been awarded one of the Top 75 Songwriting Blogs & Websites for Songwriters in the world. Well, fancy!
pps Preparations are going well for the upcoming Songwriters Retreat this Waitangi Weekend Feb 2-6, 2018. Thanks so much for all your bookings and inquiries so far - exciting! Prosody, and how to really incorporate it into your songs, is a topic we'll cover in detail on Monday Feb 4 ( first session) Retreat Day 3. Get into it!
To really connect with an audience, you have to be able to show them what you see, what you hear, what it feels like when you touch someone or something, how you move, what your surroundings smell like - jasmine scented flowers or a stale beer soaked carpet or what the wine (or his lips) tasted like. By using your senses very specifically in your lyrics, you are able to create a clear and unequivocal experience for the audience - so they feel or smell or see exactly what you do - very quickly. You will literally draw us in.
It's the difference between a car or a little red Corvette, a road or a dark desert highway, footwear or my blue suede shoes.
External details make powerful images
Often the words that will work extremely hard for you in your lyrics creating the details of a scene or describing a specific character are adjectives. Use your five senses (touch/taste/smell/sound/sight) plus movement to sharpen up your lyrics. And put the concrete images you conjure up in the verses, so we find out what's happening where to whom. This who/when/where trifecta gets us on the same page as you - the songwriter - very quickly. How you use verbs will also pump up the interest level in your song. Verbs create action in your lyric - it's the difference between get/do/be and stab/shake/race.
Internal details are what's inside
the hearts and minds
of your main characters.
The feelings and thoughts that motivate the characters in your songs are more intangible, harder to describe, but are the basis for your song's existence. They tend to make up most of the chorus, the emotions that songs can express so well from I Will Always Love You to You make me feel like a Natural Woman, from Unforgettable to She Loves Me (Yeah Yeah Yeah). Here's the place you go to town with expressing what your character is really feeling.
And because you've outlined what's going on really clearly in the verses, we'll be ready for your big moment. The title of the song often encapsulates it. And the more universal the feeling or thought is, the larger your audience will be.
Actively choosing to use this split between external and internal details within the lyric of your song may feel foreign at first. And you don't have to use all your senses all the time! What to leave out is as important as what to leave in, but this technique is a powerful tool to help you write better songs.
Talk more soon
pps here 's the Wanaka Songwriting Clinic crew being awesome
pps for those who have a whole lot more songwriting to do, join us next year on the Songwriters Retreat, Hanmer Springs Feb 2-6. Songwriting 24/7.