Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Songwriting Secret Formula

I have been writing songs for over 30 years and I will narrow this experience into this article for you to have. I didn't have a mentor and I certainly didn't have the knowledge we have today (or what I will share with you) to craft the kind of material that is required in the art of great songwriting .What has taken me years to find, I'll describe today . At the end of this article is a link to one of my recorded songs for you to listen to. It should speak for itself.

Songs can be graded as follows:                 Bad - Ok - Good - Great - Exceptional

Many bad songs are written. There are an abundance of (ok) songs out there. After numerous attempts and a dedication to songwriting, you can roll out some good songs. A great song is one for sure that people are talking about (and it isn't just your family and friends). You know it when you hear it. You want on the radio, then you'll have to have a great song. And of course..The exceptional song. The first major companies to hear it will strike war. To get past the good song, I have 3 ways to achieve this:

1. PRACTICE & PATIENCE. Songwriting can be frustrating and time consuming but completely rewarding to the inner self (and maybe even successful).  As a songwriter yourself you have most likely been down that road. Some songs can come quickly, but most must be honed, corrected and reviewed. Holding on to that "baby" is hard to let go. But that "baby" can grow and become bigger if you let it. I know this from years of holding onto songs that should have changed and evolved and had the potential to be stronger and more enjoyable to the listener. It might take you 50 - 75 songs to get a great one. But you really must learn how to write a great song. Practice!Practice! Most of us are in the working field and don't have the luxury of time that professional songwriters have to write song after song and hit after hit. So our spare time becomes valuable.

2. THE HOOK. How important is this! The hook is everything. You would probably buy your song, but would someone else? Listen to the hit songs out there in your genre. Learn how to write a great hook. Repeat that hook, but don't over do it. You want to leave them wanting more. The first 30 seconds of a song is major. That opening riff should already grab the listener to want more. Some songs jump right into the chorus for an opener. Don't drag the opening riff for too long and get right to the verse. Pop songs usually start with an opening lyric over light music and then kicks in. But don't be afraid to make changes all along the way. I've taken many angles to a song before I was finished. I try different melody lines. Lyrics changes. The riff and hook change and evolve. Don't be satisfied with the first attempt (unless you get fortunate with an exceptional song). Think of how inventors constantly change their invention to the end result. You would be amazed at that process! Your song is no less. Yes, it can take time, but you want a hit song right?

3. THE STORY. Some writers craft the music first and then place the lyrics to the songs structure. Others
will write a story and put music to it. For me it's the music first. The music must stand strong alone. Then comes the concept or story-line. The title really says everything. It needs to grab any potential listener right away. The title is the gateway to the song. Something really interesting should sit there. A title like " All there is to love" might sound common and uninteresting. But a title like " Love in the right hands" would temp the listener to want to hear more and draw them in. So after you come up with that awesome title, the story should follow. There are plenty of lyric writing books out there if you have trouble constructing a story. But I will assume that you are pretty good at telling a good story. Everyone has a story to tell. I tell stories of experience and even fictitious ones. I'll tell you this, Most of the great songs are written about love/hate. Not all of them will have the obvious title , but will make reference to it. The story has to make what I call "Country Sense". Most country song stories are well put together and make good sense. For years I just put words down that would work. but something was always missing. It's that wrap it up and make sense of it all that was needed to my songs. The end of verses or the pre- chorus needs to tie into the first line of the chorus or at least into the chorus. The chorus should resolve the verse.

And most of all, put that raw human emotion into every song you write!

I certainly am not claiming to be the all advising expert on this subject, but I have been doing this for many years and have some experience to share. Do a lot of research on the subject (as there is a multitude of it out there). Get your songs reviewed by professionals. There is usually a cost involved. But it would be money well spent to get professional opinions on your songs as well as constructive criticism. This is a must because your family and friends will always say it's great. These reviews have changed the way I write. I didn't use to get good ones. Yes opinions vary, but who better than a complete stranger to review your music. Sign up for songwriting workshops and seminars in your area. They are valuable to an upcoming songwriter. And if you construct that beautiful piece, that fantastic song, or the extraordinary hit song, there are artists that need it. A small publishing company that can attend to a more personal need would be a good place to start. Join Taxi ( A reputable song placement service). The workshops can help in not only with critiques, but a starting place for your songs.
Listen to my song ROAD TO MESA

Best wishes to you