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What Makes A Good Songwriter?

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Hey guys

Well the topic title more or less sums it up.... what makes a good songwriter? About time we re-started some debate in this forum! lol

I'm keeping the question as open as possible. I'd love to understand your perspectives, your take on this, and I would add one more supplementary question you can answer if you are brave enough ;) How do you think you measure up against the tag "good songwriter"?



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My opinion...practice, perseverence, the "it" factor.

A good artist, on the other hand, is open to suggestion and humble, but knows what his/her limits and boundaries are. They stay true to themselves. They also have a realization of knowing when you've written a great song when you have controversy over it, i.e. love AND hate email. I think a truly motivated artist will work hard to connect and build networks with others (not me cause I'm too lazy in my off time).

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a good songwriter

does it for the joy

answers inner urges

understands the craft

dreams of a better life

hopes he can inspire

thinks he has a chance

to know his work is worthy

of smiles and tears and pensive moods

from those who hear his song

Keep writing,


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To answer this question, I think you have to look at those who are 'Good' songwriters and analyze what they do. i.e. I would say that Diane Warren and Neil Sedaka are 'Good' songwriters. They are not my favourite songwriters, but they have produced some of the biggest hits of the day. If you look at the way they work, you'll see that they treat the process like a job. Working 7 or 8 hours a day working at songwriting. For most of us, it's a hobby that we do when we can afford the time, or have the inclination. I daresay if we were to treat songwriting as a job, and we were able to spend 8 hours a day doing it; we would either,

A/ Become Good songwriters. Or

B/ Become very bored with it and take up photography or needlework!

Like anything, to become better at the task, you need to practice. If you want to play snooker well, you need to keep practicing every day untill you perfect your style. Same goes for songwriting. Practice practice practice.

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wow what a question to ask on a sunday but i will give it a go

I think you firstly need to be honest in your writing, I write from personal experiences because thats a subject i know best

i try not to impress with phrases i dont understand

" I" as the writer need to have a clear understanding of what i am writing , the melody can be a bit tricky i allways feel whats right,

I would rather leave a song unfinished than add a chord thats maby just not right, to get the song done

listening to others like band members or you guys is really worth while, taking a piece and posting it on boards such as this is invaluable i know through experience it can make you look at your song in a different way

when i first came on here and posting lyrics i had problems with spelling, grammar, punctuation and it has improved

i have a better understanding of not mixing context in songs one song was all about me then in the chorus it bacame all about us someone pionted this out and i changed the song to include the listner in all the song and it's one that geos down well when played at gigs

Practice for me keeps me thinking not every song makes the grade and i need to remember that not everything i write is brilliant

I allways keep my feet on the ground and remember this is a gift and not a power to be abused

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Good answers so far... keep em coming!

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a good colaborator

Fair point MP

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned booze yet (or whatever mind altering substances there are out there).

Well I think it goes without saying that we are all as high as kites when it comes to writing. In fact, some of us have now gone 'beyond' actually writing songs, and are waiting for the rest of you to develop your extra sensory perceptions. :)

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What happened to my post? Have I been moderated?

Not by me. When was the post made Rudi and I can check the logs? Did you do something worthy of moderation? ???

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For my money (all 73 pence of it) essential songwriter 'kit' includes:

1) a soul

2) an ability to connect to the experiences of that soul and distill them to maximum potency

3) an ability to perform point 2 in a manner fully understandable and accessible to all

4) through mastering the balance between revealing and hiding

5) and thereby allowing the 'viewer' to 'paint' their own 'Mona Lisa'

6) using not much more than a few blunt twigs and an ashtray

I think that practice improves, but that ultimately you're either Michael Angelo, or you're not.

You either feel or you don't.

Example of fine songwriting? In my opinion something like "Christmas card from a hooker in Minneapolis" by Tom Waits.






Having said that I once 'wrote' a pretty good song by picking words randomly out of a hat.

Vodka generally improves my perception.

That and love.

Perhaps we can define a good song writes by good songs?

Any other suggestions??

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  1. Desire
  2. Discipline


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  • 2 months later...

  1. Desire
  2. Discipline

To my way of thinking, Lazz hit it square on the head. "A good song," to me, is a thing that is deliberately constructed. You can always listen to the thing and tap your toes to it and be entertained. But then (if you are so inclined...) you listen to it more closely and maybe with a better sense of "what to listen for." You start to notice qualities of the music, and of the production, that of course were sitting there all the time but not drawing attention to themselves. (They are, in other words, "that good.") The song didn't ask you to notice it; didn't explain why you did so. It doesn't reveal how it was made, nor how many torn-up sheets of staff-paper are in the composer's trash bin.

Edited by MikeRobinson
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