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7 Steps To Your Brand New Song

Stuck? Lacking inspiration? Here’s a great way into a new song.

The recipe:

1) Pick a song you like and that you admire for its craftsmanship. Any style.

2) Get as familiar as you can with singing the melody. Hum or sing it with just sounds (‘la la, ah, mm mm’ etc.). Let go of focusing on the words.

3) Write new lyrics that sing as well or better with the melody than the current ones do. This is possible, believe me, though it might take a bit of doing. Replacing the old lyric with the sounds and situation/story of the new lyric means getting the old words out of your head.

Your new words have to fit the original melody, but what you’re writing about can be whatever you want. Probably the farther you get from the original lyric’s themes, the better. This will be become a lot easier when you:

4) Come up with a NEW Title (that you like a lot) that perfectly fits in the same place as the ‘old’ song’s Title. Be absolutely sure your Title fits exactly – hand in glove, tongue and groove – and sings just as well. The Title will give you a focal point for your lyric… just as the old Title probably did in the song you started with.

Note: Do not change any of the melody notes during this process. They are a given. Adjust your lyric to fit the notes!

5) After completing this new lyric, stick it in a drawer, real or virtual, for at least a month. Long enough so that, when you pick up the lyric again, the original song’s melody doesn’t come inescapably to mind. It’s now just a good lyric. Your good lyric.

6) Take your new, beautifully-structured-with-a-fantastic-title lyric… and write music to it. The style or genre of this new music can be – and it’s probably better if it is – different from the original.

I’m guessing you’ll be inspired by how musical and well laid-out your lyric is.

7) Enjoy your new song.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts, additions, disagreements in the Comments section below:

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5 responses to “7 Steps To Your Brand New Song”

  • Mark Permann

    Hi Tony, I like this a lot. For beginners especially, t’s useful to have a step by step method with which to structure creation, whose workings are indeterminate and hidden to us. Your method has a lot in common with how I developed one of the songs I boothed.

    As it turns out, I have been working on another song I wrote for which step 6 is where I’m at: the writing music part. I have a good enough lyric with a good enough melody, and now I want to add accompaniment, and at this I am most definitely a beginner with no specialized skills to apply.

    I am thinking my best next step is to choose chord progressions to back the singing. It seems to me that singing + chords is a well-worn path for demos and performance – like the singer songwriter who performs with just his voice and strumming. In my case, not knowing guitar, I would be playing with GarageBand for iPad.

    I have 2 questions at this point:
    1. Do you agree that this is a good next step? (I know there’s no one way, e.g. some people might choose beats next)

    2. Do you have any suggestions on how to get started with choosing chords? I know it’s experimentation with what sounds good to me, but how to start? For example, if I have a melody for my lyrics, can you suggest how that might guide me where to start? Something about knowing or choosing a key?

  • Hey Tony:
    That’s a pretty cool method!
    It’s not unlike a lot of the things I do if I’m trying to write in a certain genre. However, I would add a step #0:

    0) Get off the damn computer!

    Cheers,

    Jon

  • Joyce Rogers

    currently working on something with this assignment :)

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