I have always had an ease in writing songs. Most of the time, they seemed to write themselves with little effort from me. I could be anywhere, any time, and the same process would take place.
First, I would start hearing a phrasing of a chorus inside my head. It was just a sentence or two. Much like when you hear a song for the first time on the radio, your brain retains certain elements of the song. Sometimes, it's a few words that you relate to at that specific time. Other times, it's the melody that seems to capture your attention.
Song writing was like that for me. Effortless.
The song would swirl around in my head much like as if I had heard it first on the radio. I would get one phrase, then another and the process would continue over a time until I had the entire song playing obsessively inside my head. There always came a moment where it took so much of my attention that I simply had to take a moment and sit down, record myself singing the song accappella on the voice memo app of my phone and write the lyrics down in my songbook. Then, and only then, would peace return within my mind and I could shift my focus to something else. Those moments were like tornados inside my brain that I couldn't stop.
For many years, THAT was my writing process.
I met a producer from L.A. The one I had hired to work on my latest album, "Suicide Kills". I won't name him because I ended up feeling like I had been scammed in a way when he wasn't able to deliver on all his promises. But, I will admit though that it was because of him that I learned a whole new way of writing my songs.
Up until that moment in late February 2020, song writing had been almost like magic to me. Something I felt I had no power over. It would happen on its own, very randomly and I honestly thought it was a sacred process I shouldn't question or challenge...until he made me.
This new producer, let's call him Joe, taught me a completely different approach to song writing that changed the way I perceived being an artist and gave me so much more control over the process. I must admit that it made me create some of my best work. "Suicide Kills" is not only incredibly rich in tempo and melodic but the lyric writing is some of my most profound yet.
This new way of writing not only made me a better song writer, it opened up a whole new creative portal that is accessible to anyone wanting to create their own music and that don't necessarily know how to play an instrument or write a song. I want to share this process with all of you out there who have been dying to write music but who, like me, aren't really musicians. I want everyone to experience the joy of creating music. So, try it out and let me know how you do.
Finding the tempo
The first thing you want to decide on is whether your song's tempo will be upbeat and happy or more of a ballad and sombre. Think of the subject matter you're going to want to write about. You don't have to have the whole lyric figured out at this point, just a general idea of it. For the sake of this post, I'll go along and do this with you and choose that I will want to write about being dumped and it's going to be a ballad "in the style of Adele".
Finding the song
My next step will be to go onto Youtube and enter "song ballad beats in the style of Adele" into their search bar. So, I just did this and got the following samples at this URL: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=song+ballad+beats+in+the+style+of+Adele These results are basically musicians/producers/songwriters who have created these songs for other people to purchase. Go through all these different songs until you find one that you like. One that moves you in a way that will inspire lyrics to pour through you. For me, this one song made me start singing lyrics right away...https://youtu.be/DdrqAUQfBF8
Finding the mood
So, at this point, you have an idea of what you want to write about, a tempo, a genre and an instrumental track you like that you will use to create your song. In order to inspire lyrics, a story, words, this next trick is simply precious. You will now go over to Pinterest and create a "mood" board" for the song. What's a mood board? It's basically a collection of images in a certain style, color theme and mood that evokes a certain type of emotion. Below is one of my mood boards that I created for my latest album, "Suicide Kills" for a song called "Gonna Find My Way". It had many other images than what you see below but you do get the general idea of the exercise. Once you hear some of the song at the end of this post, you'll connect the images and the lyrics right away.
Finding the lyrics
At this point, you need to write the story to your song. There are many ways to write lyrics, but the easiest is to adopt a standard structure that has been proven to work...in most songs. So, if you want to keep things simple, have a quick look at the following videos for quick and easy ways to create lyrics:
Putting it all together
Now that you have all the elements of your song ready to go, all you need to do is bring the song track into your recording program and record a vocal track of your lyrics into the project. I use PreSonus Studio 24C audio interface to record my vocal tracks and Studio One as the recording software. It actually comes with the interface account. It's a really easy "plug and play" system to use for recording newbies ;) The following videos take you through some cool tutorials on how to use the Studio One software to record your songs:
Recording in Studio One
Mixing in Studio One
Mastering in Studio One
Exporting your song out of Studio One
And there your have it!
This way of writing music makes it easy for anyone to dig into their creative juices and become a songwriter.
Although it was strange for me to write my new album in this way...mostly because I felt I was messing with the "song writing Gods", I found that it really brought out the best of me and helped me create one of my best albums yet.
Here is a sneak peek at the new album sound using the above technique...