The 5 Most Valuable Lessons I Learned Working with a Songwriting Coach — That Sweet Roar

#3: Think about how the shape and emphasis of your words sound.

One thing I hadn’t taken into consideration when I wrote my first songs, was the vowel and consonant sounds of the lyrics I had written and the way that they flowed together or sat within the rhythm of the music.

This was something that has changed the way I write.

As soon as it was pointed out to me, I could hear that some words just didn’t sing as well as others. The shape of them didn’t flow or sound quite right.

Sometimes it was a small closed vowel or word on a long note (as in the word “it” if you tried to stretch that out and hold it on a long note), and sometimes it was the opposite, a broad longer vowel sound crammed into a very short note.

Sam goes for the rhythm and melody emphasises words or parts of words. A big jump up to a high note on a word that isn’t that important tends to sound odd for example.

They can be subtle changes that actually make a big difference to how it sounds.

#4: Patterns are important.

The words “catchy” and “repetition” made me bristle initially.

I didn’t want to write repetitive bubblegum pop. I wanted to create something innovative and unexpected. But my coach reminded me that people need patterns in order to be able to recognise and memorise the song.

One of my favorite artists released their second album a few years ago and I remember finding it frustrating to listen to.

After a while I realised that it was because I didn’t know where the melody was going. I couldn’t sing along even after about five listens through the song because the melody was so convoluted and swerving around the place.

Luckily I remembered this experience during my songwriting session, so I was more open to exploring patterns or “hooks” and changing the melody to be more accessible for the audience.

It doesn’t need to make it boring or repetitive, it makes it more enjoyable and comfortable for the listener to experience.

#5: Mix up the way you write.

Ever since I was about seven or eight, I have written lyrics or poems.

This is the way I’ve started almost every song I’ve ever written.

The problem with this is that I don’t write it with the end goal in mind (to be set to music).

This means that my lyrics may have often sounded like (and I quote my songwriting coach) journal entries.

As much as there is something nice about this because it’s very personal and raw, it then makes it very difficult to create patterns with catchy rhythms and melodies.

Reworking my first song was a pain in the butt for this very reason and I’d never do it this way again.

My coach gave me some homework – to write a song based on the rhythm first.

This was very new to me, but also quite liberating.

I realised that so many songs that I love are based on really interesting rhythms that get in your head and into your body.

The track I wrote based on rhythms, was much easier to edit or rework than when I went from lyrics that were more of a stream of consciousness than a structured song.

I know songwriters each have their own method and process of song creation, but I have enjoyed experimenting with new ways of pulling a song together.

Coming up with a chord progression before writing lyrics, was also foreign to me, but is proving to be just as interesting.

OH AND ONE MORE THING!

Start with an intention in mind.

If you know what kind of song you’re writing it’s much easier to say yes or no to ideas that crop up.

You might find a melody you like but decide it’s too “musical theater” for your rock anthem.

Or a line that has too many syllables might mess with your sparse ethereal track.

So there you have it, the nuggets of gold I gained from working with a songwriting coach that have given me more clarity and more confidence when working on my music.

I know I’ll get better with every song and every misstep I make, but for now, I’m having ALL THE FUN exploring the possibilities.

TELL ME: Have you ever tried your hand at song writing?

If so, tell me a little bit about your process and any insights you have.

If not, why not? And can I help you get started?

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