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How i write my songs or lyrics

posted on #1
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Hi all i thought it was interesting how many people say to me i can't write lyrics, so, I decided to put this up as a tips guide for people to have a go! It really isn't that hard !
It would be great if some other songwriters like Alice and Shi could also give a few tips.

Firstly i never start with lyrics always the music comes first for me and this is one reason i love wikiloops as there are plenty of great tunes to choose from.

a) Where do i get my ideas for lyrics ? There are many places to search for that !

1) I read a lot of poetry online - if I see a line that could be a good topic I write it down in my ideas book.

2) Current events ! Watching the news on TV will give you some great subjects to write a song about. For instance some of my songs The Bali nine , A bomb went off in France today and Australia bushfires rage all came from news coverage on TV.

3) Personal things that happen in your life - Australia I'm a lucky man was about my travels. Abeys story was about a young girl in our town abused by her parents till she eventually died from her injuries - I went through the Vietnam war and you will see a lot of my songs cover wars.

Im sure there are many other places you can find ideas so i won't ramble on to much about that !

Ok so once i have an idea what do I do next ?

1) First i will download a tune i like or i may have one i have written myself !

2) I will record the music and just one line ( sometimes three or four )from my ideas book and i will loop that section and play it over and over until I think of the next or another line which is recorded on a separate track sometimes i will have 20 tracks of different lines recorded.

3) Once i have enough lines written i then try them in different places throughout the song and singing them in different ways ! Once that is completed i write them to a word document print it out then sing the whole song !

That is pretty much it ! Easy hu ! And you will find it gets easier with every song ! SO HAVE A GO
Edited by onewholeft on 26-01-2016 12:46
posted on #2
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Joined: 22.09.13
Thanks so much for sharing. It was very helpful. I hope others will share their experiences.:)
Once in a life span is dying. I hope not because there is no beer.
posted on #3
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Joined: 27.09.14
Thanks Keith, nice to hear how you work. For me, I mostly start with the lyrics and afterwards fit the music to it... but having said that, I hardly ever do that now, I concentrate on playing and mixing :)
posted on #4
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Joined: 10.09.14
Hi guys, just to share some of my methods.

I generally start with a single lyric line or a title. I am always jotting down lines or ideas on the handphone or iPad or Gmail drafts to myself. Reading back through them at some later date, other ideas will strike (or not) and over time they seem to build themselves into verses and/or choruses. I mostly draw on personal experience and feelings since that is what I feel I know and can talk about. I try to listen to what the heart is (or was) saying and look to make some lyrical sense of it. If I am trying to capture a mood or a feeling, I will try to describe that mood or feeling in words and then look for possible lyrics that fit. Or create a character who is feeling that feeling and look to put into lyrics how I sense he or she is feeling. Much of the time, though, I never quite know where a song is going and I usually just run free with adding verses and lines and then look to edit and sharpen and structure. Listening to the wikijams often sparks a line or a title and then I'm off and running. One line sparks another which sparks others and suddenly you have a pageful. This was how "When It Rocks It Rolls" came together - someone hating his job (been there) and all the bullshit politics (also been there) and playing with words that rhymed with "Rolls".

Writing is one thing, but it's the editing that is the skill and craft. Looking to make the lines "sing" and looking to change ideas and word sequences that seem to sing a bit clunky. Look to cut all unnecessary words and condense as far as you can. Best lyric writing tips I got was to try and keep words under three syllables and avoid using "I" where possible - reasoning here is that listeners generally don't care about what you're feeling unless somehow they can relate to it.

For me, rhyme is very important though I recognise that it is not critical for every song. I just feel that rhyme helps to engage listeners more strongly. There also needs to be some theme, some feeling which you the writer want to communicate to a listener or some emotion you want to make the listener feel. I also look to put some movement in the lyrics. A song is often a story which needs a beginning and an end to resolve itself. That's why I love the blues and rock - their structures force you to concentrate everything into the shortest form to achieve a decent lyrical progression and result.

It won't all come at once, but small steps will get you there. Listen to your favourite songs but now look to analyse the lyrics and song structures. What makes it work for you? How and why does it resonate?

Look to get playful with words and try not to force things too much. It is supposed to be fun, so let the imagination run riot. Some songs take a long time to crystallise, others get done in ten minutes. I have lyrics that are still taking years. Sometimes the Rock just Rolls. Which is the title of an upcoming upload!!

Hope this helps - get writing!! :)
posted on #5
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Joined: 03.12.14
Some great tip there Gwailoah thanks for sharing mate
posted on #6
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Joined: 25.03.12
Ok, here is some view from the other side, that is from someone who would like to write lyrics but doesn't.. Of course i realize that in order to get good at it i have to start doing it, but it feels like some threshold.

Firstly i don't sing. Or i do, but it never felt as natural than expressing myself with a guitar. I have little problem coming up with a riff or a solo to almost anything. Finding a singable melody line for a given chord progression is very hard for me (again, lacking practice). And even if i have some ideas for phrases this absence of melody line results in that i quit before even starting.

Secondly, i'm extremely (self-) critical. There is always a little devil whispering in my ear that i should not waste my time doing things others do a lot better. Also i have no issues appreciating "naive" or "trivial" lyrics but when i'm trying to write, i shy away from then like they were tainted. That might be connected with the insight that it takes great skill to write something that seems naive or trivial but still has reach and meaning. Just as it is much harder to play a simple melody than shred away.

I'm pretty convinced that there are more people here sharing the same problems. So any tips for us to overcome these issues?
Edited by nilton on 27-01-2016 14:24
Pure fingerstyle
posted on #7
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Hi all,

For me it is a bit different. I let the music tell me where to go with the lyrics...99% of the time.
I listen to tracks, and when I find one that speaks to me, I begin...I start by looking at the title of the template/track and see if there is anything I can use. I will just start singing anything that comes to mind based on the feeling of the music. Some times it is nothing but most times it will start me in a direction and I will move forward. I look for tracks that have a structure to them, music that will help the flow of the lyrics.

For me it's all about telling a story or picturing a scene in my mind and I build on that. I try not to be too much of a perfectionist. I like coming up with something that feels natural not forced.

Lots of time the music will not be a perfect fit, so that is where I might add some dynamics and/or stretch/cut the lyric around the music...I feel that the phrasing of the lyric/melody is just as important as the music.

I try to look for a way to add a hook or recurring chorus. Something the listener will remember and be able to sing along to. Most of the time it will be quick and fun. If I get stuck too many times, I usually move on and enjoy someone else's contribution.

I need it to be fun! Feel free to check out some of my tracks.You will find many different styles. I am open for constructive criticism.

I hope this helps ...Thanks for wikiloops and all its fine musical talent!:)
posted on #8
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I always have lyrics that seem to fit songs and that is how I would go about putting them together. Problem is when I do sing I don't like what I hear so I don't sing.
posted on #9
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Joined: 28.01.14
Hello everybody,
This is a pretty interesting topic. I like all the different approaches to writing lyrics that are listed above. For me, a song could come about many different ways. I may have already written the lyrics years ago and found the perfect riff/feel that brings life to the words. I usually like to write the chorus first. I try to make this the main point of my song and write the verses around my chorus. I feel that my approach is a lot like Glen's. I like to let the music dictate the creation of the lyrics and melody. I will do the same thing that Glen does and sing nonsensical words over a track to work out a melody. This takes a little getting used to because sometimes it just sounds weird at first. Keep doing it until you work out a melody that fits the chord structure and the emotion of the music. Out of this nonsensical babble a phrase or two will usually come about that fits the feel of the songs. I will often build upon this to create the lyrics. Sometimes when inspired I can write a whole song within minutes... other times it takes forever. I will come back to it, rework it or simply leave it or bring it back to life 20 years later. lol

I feel that singing is like acting. You have to bring life... emotion to the words that you are singing. if you don't then nobody will believe what you are trying to say. Ever see a bad actor act? it's painful to watch. You don't necessarily have to have the best voice in the world, just make people feel what you feel when you wrote your lyrics and be transparent.

My two cents. :D
posted on #10
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Posts: 42
Joined: 08.07.15
Hi Guys, very cool topic here...

I really enjoy reading all you guys posts, and I wanna share mine too…

Me myself, like others using some ways to write the lyrics that I'm gonna sing,
sometimes music come first, and I wrote the lyrics, or using the lyrics from my notes.
I do like writing down my thoughts in a book or pad or phone, so i wont forget.

Sometimes, some of my friends also asked me to write the lyrics first and so they can make a song from it, or sometimes I wrote something and have some idea for a song, and so i throw my lyrics to my friend and so they can make a song from it, sometimes I also give them a rough simple guitar, bass, ukelele, or keys…or just sing it.. to give a little picture of the melody that I have in mind. but sometimes it’s plainly a lyrics.

There is one other method that i also use to do, it will sounds a bit complicated but actually it's quite effective.

I pick the song that I like, and I mapping the song to locate where i want to draw my vocals.
and i will record it and sing the melody and do the gibberish (it will sounds weird), but this help to count the syllabus and how many words that i need for each line. it's also can give me the idea of words that I'm trying to say. I use this way a lot of time. It’s give me a feeling when I’m painting in a canvas.

About the lyrics itself..
It comes from personal life experiences, other people experiences, Imaginary things, something that I watch in real live or from some movie or other things, something that I read, or things that i hear from everything around me, everything that caught by all my senses. I also like to pay attention on what people doing and talking.

I think that’s all so far that I can share from my way on writing lyrics and song. would love to see more inspiration from others.

PS:
I believe in wikiloops, there are many of us that like to write, but don't want or like to sing it, but i think it would be cool if maybe there are a threads to post your unsung lyrics, and maybe ...maybe some of us can sing and fit it in a song, or something like that. Or sometimes I used to do this stuff like writing together with some of friends, so make some line, and asked other to continue to complete the story. something like that...it's fun. well it just an idea :)
Hi! I'm Alice ..Nice To Meet You!
Don't forget to be happy today!
posted on #11
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Posts: 334
Joined: 25.03.12
aleonz wrote:
There is one other method that i also use to do, it will sounds a bit complicated but actually it's quite effective.

I pick the song that I like, and I mapping the song to locate where i want to draw my vocals.
and i will record it and sing the melody and do the gibberish (it will sounds weird), but this help to count the syllabus and how many words that i need for each line. it's also can give me the idea of words that I'm trying to say. I use this way a lot of time. It’s give me a feeling when I’m painting in a canvas.


Great tip, thank you very much

aleonz wrote:
I believe in wikiloops, there are many of us that like to write, but don't want or like to sing it, but i think it would be cool if maybe there are a threads to post your unsung lyrics, and maybe ...maybe some of us can sing and fit it in a song, or something like that. Or sometimes I used to do this stuff like writing together with some of friends, so make some line, and asked other to continue to complete the story. something like that...it's fun. well it just an idea :)


I certainly hope that someone pick up up this idea
Pure fingerstyle
posted on #12
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Posts: 245
Joined: 19.08.13
For me it is nearly impossible to write a song without female persons I call "muses". Sometimes it is just a smile in a store. One time I only saw a girl with red hair in a newspaper, I picked my guitar and laid 10 verses down. 20 minutes to go. For other songs you may finish after 20 years. It comes to birth when the time is right.

Ideas never stop.

So how to do your "Desolation Row"? Walk to this place and tell what you see!
Was born in an analog world.
posted on #13
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Joined: 10.09.14
Just to pick up on what Rickplayer was saying - until only quite recently I also never liked the sound of my recorded voice. Flat bits, screechy bits, awful stuff. If you can, try recording using a decent vocal mic and pre-amp. These can add colour and find some good tones. If cannot, try some of the vocal presets in GarageBand. Also, I was singing what I loved to sing (big ass rock) rather than what my Voice love to sing. Had a breakthrough with (of all things) Achy Breaky Heart. Recorded the thing with harmonies in thirty minutes and got one of my best ever results. The voice clearly loved doing it! I still sing and record the songs I love, but country rock and blues seems to be what the voice prefers.

Maybe a bit off topic, but thought be useful to share cos is not the first time I hear about people not liking the sound of their singing voices.

Also Nilton, I also got that inner critic saying "that's crap! You useless! Why bother?" I slowly learned to set the voice aside. Our lyrics are like people - some good, some bad, but none perfect. It is often our expectations of ourselves and people and by implication our songs that can often kill them before they start. Sometimes you got to tell the voice to shut up for a while and give your songs a chance. Can also maybe try singing your solos to find melodies? Have a listen back to George Benson. By the way, I totally envy people like you who can express themselves easily on lead guitar. Have tried over the years, just didn't come easy enough for the time I could give it. Like you say, we all got our gifts :) so good that we have Wikiloops where we can share them!!
posted on #14
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Joined: 26.07.12
I always start with music. I let my fingers wander on the guitar and let my feelings do the work. When inspiration comes, I record the template and then I do the melody. This is the easiest part.
After that I listen many times and write the lyrics. I write what the music tells me, inspired by my life experience. It is sometimes hard for me because french is my original language.
Besides that, I write ideas and sentences I read or hear in a little in a little note pad I carry with me.
Sometimes, I record on my iphone ideas of music and words. I've got full of that. Later I listen and try things on my guitar.
I also have many loops on a loop machine that I can use.
In the end, composing for me is a full time search.
:o
posted on #15
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Posts: 16
Joined: 31.08.15
Neronick wrote:
For me it is nearly impossible to write a song without female persons I call "muses". Sometimes it is just a smile in a store. One time I only saw a girl with red hair in a newspaper, I picked my guitar and laid 10 verses down. 20 minutes to go. For other songs you may finish after 20 years. It comes to birth when the time is right.

Ideas never stop.

So how to do your "Desolation Row"? Walk to this place and tell what you see!


James Jamerson came up with the bass line for "Aint Too Proud to Beg," while walking behind a fat woman, and watching her ass move.

As for me with ideas. I just write or play whatever I might be thinking or feeling at the time, and try to roll with it.
Edited by Sith Lord on 30-01-2016 07:54
"If that's a groove, the Grand Canyon's a ditch." - Geoffrey to Uncle Phil on the "Fresh Prince of Bell Aire.
posted on #16
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Joined: 06.11.13
The way i write lyrics is to look at the title of a wikiloops jam and then write a list of words associated with that title which then gives me my starting point. i usually write the lyrics and sing the melody immediatley ,constantly playing and re-winding the track back to the beginning until it's finished.
posted on #17
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Posts: 245
Joined: 19.08.13
This is such an open topic that I like to come back a second time.
Writing lyrics for a song is like painting a picture, e.g. "when the ship comes in". Can you see it? Lyrics are the description of a picture, not of a story or an emotion. Concentrate on one motif. Don't mix two ideas in one song. The message is one picture - with foreground and background of course.

Often I need to delete verses or obsolete sentences in my songs to make the picture clearer.
I do not want to write 1000 songs but only one. All I have to do is to give it 1000 tries for my one-hit-wonder... And now and then I will continue for fun.
Edited by Neronick on 01-02-2016 13:20
Was born in an analog world.
posted on #18
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Posts: 48
Joined: 25.01.14
TEE-KWA wrote:
The way i write lyrics is to look at the title of a wikiloops jam and then write a list of words associated with that title which then gives me my starting point. i usually write the lyrics and sing the melody immediatley ,constantly playing and re-winding the track back to the beginning until it's finished.



My way of writing is very similar to TEE's. I also create a list of words that rhyme if needed.
But it's important I feel to deliver the lyrics in relation with the music...this is far more important than structure. :)
posted on #19
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Posts: 17
Joined: 11.07.15
aleonz wrote:

There is one other method that i also use to do, it will sounds a bit complicated but actually it's quite effective.

I pick the song that I like, and I mapping the song to locate where i want to draw my vocals.
and i will record it and sing the melody and do the gibberish (it will sounds weird), but this help to count the syllabus and how many words that i need for each line. it's also can give me the idea of words that I'm trying to say. I use this way a lot of time. It’s give me a feeling when I’m painting in a canvas.



Alice...the singing gibberish and sketching is old school. Its a great way to flesh in vocals. Mick Jagger and the Beatles did it. When I sang , I used to do it so I understand what your talking about "LALALA Something Something...HMMM HMMM Saturdayyyyyyy!!!!!"
Edited by Relativity on 06-02-2016 05:46
posted on #20
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Joined: 06.11.13
Another method i use to use was...i would get a sheet of paper and a pen .....and as i listen to the song i would make lines on the paper where i thought the syllables should go
////////
////
/////////
////
Then write my lyrics to the number of ticks.....Simples:)
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