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Can You Describe Your Songwriting?


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Hey

Artists are often asked to describe their music, not straightforward and it usually results in playing of the music...

With that in mind i thought it would be interesting to see how each writer would describe their compositions, their style etc. So imagine you don't know anyone, it's a songwriter conference and someone asks you about your writing, to describe it, what you do, why you do, what you hope to achieve etc....

If you have links to your music feel free to drop them at the end of your post :)

Cheers

John

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i'll have a go!!!

the answer is it depends - i tend to write on inner feelings. Now even songs which in the end don't have a natural connection to me - for example, i wrote a song which turned into a story about a man who killed his wife and then hung himself!!! feelings i obviously don't have!!! but the things that drove him to it, that made him feel that way I do, there must be something betterthan this, searching for more in life etc.

so i suppose there's always my feelings expressed in the songs even though sometimes they are expressed through characters and sometimes it may be feelings i had at a certain point in my life.

I like to think i write in different styles. Sometimes words come first, sometimes the music and sometimes i've written both together - cowboy angel blues was done together.

I try not to force it!!! I've read a great book on neil young - shakey!! which i got a lot of inspiration from.

if you're struggling leave it - then come back to it. I write down everything i like, phrases people say, lines in books i like etc. even if i write a song i think is terrible i save the lyrics and then sometimes re-use parts of them.

Dylan says that songs are there and songwriters are the vehicle that they come through!! I wrote another line, " the brave are wide open" you have to be open to your feelings and how others may feel and let it come through you.

this is difficult but i hope i've answered how i work. thats not to say my songs are any good!!! but i like them which is a start i guess.

andy

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Good topic! Of course whenever I'm asked this question I always find it difficult to give a good answer. I do give quite a bit of emphasis to the lyrics, so I supposed I'm a bit influenced by Dylan, Costello and other "wordy" songwriters, but I'm also a keen fan of melodic pop songs - especially of the classic kind. I also like performers/writers who are iconoclastic - who do their own unique thing - so I like people like Tom Waits or Warren Zevon or Joni Mitchell, even if their musical styles don't have have much in common.

Having said all that, I'm not much into people who "sound" like somebody else. If someone says to me, "You like Radiohead therefore you will like Artist X" then they are really talking to the wrong guy! I like people who are unique, not "more of the same".

I don't have any particular "method" for writing songs. I don't always start with the melody first and then add words - or with the words first, adding the tune and chords later - I just do whatever works. That being said, I find it a little easier to write a lyric to a tune, so if I don't have a melody ready to go I will improvise something, or even "knick" one just to set the lyric to (writing a new original tune later).

I like to work out the structure of the song very early in the process - I might only have half a verse and a section of the chorus - but I'll be planning to write three verses and a middle eight, with an extended variant of the chorus at end if that's the structure that "feels right". I find that songs are much easier to finish if I've got a good idea what I'm working toward - which doesn't mean I won't change my mind later about some part of the structure. Often when I start writing the lyric I might immediately think "This part would work better in the last verse" - so I end up writing the song backwards in cases like that. If I have a strong line in a verse I usually think "this should come at the end of the verse - as the climax of that section", so then I have something to build up to. So often I hear songs with a strong line followed by a weak line, or songs with a great first verse and then nothing of interest afterwards, which is what I am always trying to avoid!

--Paul--

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