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So I was looking through all my completed lyrics, works in progress, and tablescraps (you know, the stanza you can't match with anything), and I realized that only three out of my fourteen completed songs are really PERFECT. I'm a perfectionist and I feel ALL of them need to be perfect. I kept looking for ways to connect all my started and finished songs with each other and tablescraps, so I did this one manic day. I don't know if anyone else has tried this, but I'll share just in case it's actually a discovery!

So write down your 'setlist' (even if you don't have names for them all, call them tablescrap #1, #2, etc.), one per line on a piece of paper. Then, organize them in charts (or Venn diagrams if they work for you) by things they have in common. I use 'similair feel', 'similair subject', and 'similair tone.' [Edit: you can use anything you'd like, perhaps if certain makeups are to your preference, like 'two verses', 'three verses', 'has/will have a bridge', etc.] The two boths and the all section apply here too. Be sure to list them in order of completeness, so tablescrap #6 would come before "Four Quick Seasons," a tune my band has written.

Once you see it all out like this, it's shows you better what works with what. So you can go tablescrap #4 goes well with 'Lock me In' and then work around both songs to get them to fit, changing a little phrasing, a word here and there, rhythm, and POV. You can use these tablescraps, along with parts from incomplete songs to make other incomplete songs complete, and make complete songs stronger. Complete songs with TOO much in them can be used to do the same. I did this, and in three hours went from a whole lotta random stuff to 4 very tight songs.

Tell me what you think or if you do something similair!

Edited by skyyeline
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  • 2 months later...

Sounds like scientific method meets artistic intuition....

I agree with you on one point for sure. Don't throw anything away. Keep everything in a readily accessible pile somewhere and go through it every year or so.

Some of the poetry I wrote in my youth would bring back powerful images/memories many years later. An intuitive leap could pair (old) words and that latest musical idea you've been playing with. Just don't force it (at least it doesn't work for me).

Another thing with my personal process is that I've found that it stays on paper until I'm ready to record. I keep an engineering note pad (green, with graph markings on the back side for those that don't know) and two pens at my desk. Ideas are jotted down, then I grab the guitar. If the two seem to click, I keep the lyrics/poetry near the top of the pile. If not, it goes in a tray to be revisited when I'm in a different space.

Putting it in Word is somehow final in my mind. Minor tweeks are acceptable at that point, but once in Word, it's mature enough to morph into a leadsheet.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Sounds like kind of what I do, with your idea of keeping lyrics/riffs that click in the top pile. I have a small tape recorder that I keep cassettes in (old school at 16, chyeah) and keep the cassettes and tablescraps together and out, and put away the ones I don't feel like I like a ton or the ones that just aren't top priority.

One question I have though is when you have lyrics that you put away, how do you decide to work on them at a different time? Is it a mood, if the same thing happened to you again (like heartbreak, a fight, etc), or do you just occasionally look through them to see if they spark again?

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One question I have though is when you have lyrics that you put away, how do you decide to work on them at a different time? Is it a mood, if the same thing happened to you again (like heartbreak, a fight, etc), or do you just occasionally look through them to see if they spark again?

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