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Advice For A Beginner

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I'm sort of new, and sort of not new to songwriting. My problem is that for some reason I can't finish my songs. Like I'll get a stroke of inspiration and I'll write and organize all my ideas, but then when I start the actual lyrics process, the rhymes and rhythms get lost and messed up. And as I work out all the technicalities, my lyrics get lost and I never actually say what I want to say. So it always turns out that my songs just don't get finished. Like I have a notebook full of ideas and two lines of a chorus.

My second problem is that as time goes on, for some reason I find it difficult to tackle the actual music aspect of the songwriting. When I do finish the lyrics and get them in a place that I like them, I sit down with my guitar or at my piano and my mind goes completely blank. Then when I have an idea of a general thing I want the song to turn into, I can never get it to work out or make it sound like it does in my head.

I'd really appreciate some help because I don't know how to improve as a songwriter if my songs never get finished!


Thank you so much for you help, every topic I start I come out a better writer, thanks to all of your help!


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Hi Mary

There are several issues you have brought up.

One is development of ideas. One other is writing the melody.

I recommend you take the free on line music course at Berklee, there should be one coming up in a couple of months.

In the meantime If you go to this thread http://forums.songstuff.com/topic/31137-im-doing-a-course/ and scroll down to post number nine you will find my lecture notes on song idea development. Basically you have three boxes. You write an explanation of your idea including what the hook is. You decide what the perspective will be. Who is talking to whom. You decide on a developement engine. The simplest ones to start are time line and point of view.

Lets say you choose time line. In box one you write this is happening in the past. In box two this is happening now and in box three this will happen in the future. Or i hope it will. So now in box one you say this is my idea it is set in the past. You then go to your five friends. Their names are:






Now why is the main dude he goes in box three. So just write a paragraph of why your idea has happened.

Now in your past and present box ask what happened in the past to who where did it happen.

Do the same thing for your present and future boxes.

Now you can just go ape write all sorts of things because you can refer to you boxes and say am I on message. This gives you the freedom to write without fear of getting lost.

If you go to this thread the first post is my assignment on song developement.


Now between this planning stage and melody writing there are several lyric writing steps and decisions you need to make and things you need to do.

If you do all of these correctly the tune will almost write itself. It is essential to have some sort of DAW simple is ok and a cheap midi key board.

Even if you are writing on a guitar. This is because there are specific notes that need to go in specific places and when you strumm and sing you gravitate to the three notes of the chord you are paying. So you need to be able to see the notes on piano roll or stave if you read music.

Because this is a process there is no point in going into it all here, but if you want to give it a go sometime I am quite happy to take you through it step by step. In the meantime get on to coursera website and book in for the next Pat Pttinson course.



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Awesome thank you guys so much! To Tom, I guess I haven't exactly tried to branch out and try different processes since the one I was using was working for a while. I will try my best to open my eyes to the options I have! And to Gary, I'm very interested in the online music course from Berklee, so I will definitely check that out so thank you! I have also read your lecture notes, and they are very informative and I will be going back to them many times!



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I actually find that form as my foundation works better. 


A common problem when just messing about is that...Either it's just to much fun to move on and/or you lose sight of the endgame.

John has a few great articles here -





Writing from form saves me a lot of guess work and sets me up with a plan to finish what I start.  Okay I've got X amount of verse to fill and x amount of chorus to fill and x amount of solo and or bridge.


If I focus on the form I'm less consumed with how much I can/could write for a given section.  I devote a specified amount of time to it and then move on.  I'm not really qualified to speak on lyric content or quality as instrumental music dominates my personal efforts..  There are artists I know who slave over it and those who are willing to let instincts and handle things.  Personally, If it doesn't have a good story with enough specifics as to the why's I lose interest in listening or reading very quickly.  Which is why I'm more reluctant to contribute to the lyric forums.

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