Contrary to what many people think, song writing is not a joke, it is not easy to write a song that makes sense, because you will have to find ideas and write in line with the story the song intends to tell, it is just like you want to tell a story of a boy who lost his way at a tender age and you are passing the message in a way that you will like for every young boy to lose his way too, it does not make sense right? Of course it doesn’t. So in song writing, it is not just penning down words that sound the same, but rather, telling a whole story that is coherent in few minutes or sometimes seconds, you have to be precise, read the room, know your audience, and execute.
First, we have to think about some main components;
First think about an emotionally evocative word of phrase for your song
Secondly, think about your story arc
Third, throughout the entire process focus on the creative use of language to pass your message efficiently.
As to the first component, an evocative word of phrase, well first you obviously need something to write about, for me songwriting almost starts with a word or phrase that evokes some sort of feeling or emotion maybe joy maybe sadness love, heartbreak, something really has to grabs you emotionally. It could be loss, sadness whatever it may be you have to key into the emotional metaverse. For instance, there was a time I saw my son plan to get married, you know it is all fun and games until reality struck, my wife was literally pissed at our son unknowing to her, I noticed it but i never understood, things were about to change, we were planning a family picnic, and as usual my wife was the one doing the planning, I was just giving few suggestions by the side, Haha! Then I realized that my son will not be available, He was going to spend his time with his fiance and her parents, I could see the sadness on the face of my wife, but oh well, it is his girl he wants to spend time with, who are we to say otherwise, I mean my wife was once my girl too and here we are, he had to start his family, and immediately I felt the need to write about this bitter sweet experience. On One hand (from my son’s perspective) it told a happy story and on the other hand, we will miss our son so dearly.
The second component is Story Arc, what I mean by story arc us a phrase used in literary and theatrical writing that basically describes the journey your audience is going to take as the story unfolds, more like the sequence, there is no magic formula here, you just want to try to tell your story in a way that purposefully takes the listener on a journey whether it be literal, emotional, spiritual, whatever, the point is you want to end up somewhere different than the place you started. Personally I start with the assumptions that I will have 3 or 4 verses, maybe bridge, maybe a musical interlude or something like that, then I think about the verses like little chapters in a 3 or 4 part story and I try to picture each part as a short video that plays out in my imagination. Now in the previous example I gave, the song I wrote in it first verse I made it look like there is a woman who has known this guy for so long, they have been through ups and downs together and now the guy is just going to leave, sounds like a heartbreak right? Yeah! This is to captivate the listener, and then in the right before the second verse, I made the flow a bit different, the listener is aware of the change and then I presented the main message that this story is between a mom and her son, now the listeners mood will change from a sad mood to an ‘awwwn, her son is getting married’ mood, I have been able to pass a message in a very subtle manner and evoke the feelings or emotions of the listener.
The third component; Creative Use of Language, when you are thinking about how to tell your story, language is actually a key component, what I suggest is when you are writing some works, think well about the emotions you want the listener to feel rather than the words you want them to hear, if you focus on a specific run and meter and phrasing, you will miss opportunities to communicate on a whole level that will touch people hearts instead of just sending sounds to their ears. Words that commands feeling using simple metaphors are usually a better choice. It is usually not an easy task as an author writing a fiction can use 3 or 4 hundred words to describe a character or an event alone, while you as a songwriter do not have that leverage and opportunity, you have to hit the nail on the head as quickly as possible.
When we talk about song writing the major thing we focus on is emotion and language.
So, when you want to write your next work, no need to rush to write on your paper, you need to first get your ideas, make sure it makes a lot of sense, understand your story and then plan to write it. Listen to other songs to get inspirations for your own project, listen to as many as you can, then write them out in a language or in the space of meaning that suits your genre of music.