Go Back   UG Community @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com > UG Community > Archives Of The Best Threads > Songwriting & Lyrics Archives
User Name  

Old 01-17-2003, 07:10 PM   #1
Insignificant Writer
benjmc's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Girl's Dreams, (I'm allowed poetic license, ;)
Some helpful tips...

Right well. Why would I waste time doing this? Hmm...good question. 'Cos I'm not wasting time, . I'm just helping you budding songwriters explore the marvelous world of lyric writing with a little encouragement from me...this should cut down your threads saying "how do I write lyrics?".

So...the first question.

Why write?

1. It will help you release all excess emotion in a controlled manner. It will help you cope with difficult situations.
2. You have written a riff...simple; you need lyrics. So now...I'm going to tell you one very important thing.

1st Rule: Don't write for the sake of writing. Make it personal, make it meaningful.

Now, if i was a normal self-disciplined person like all you fine people are, then I would probably tell you what to write, or simply how to write it. But, this is me. So I'll get back to that. I just want to make an observation; there are lots of people who suffer 'writers blocks'. Now this is when the person isn't inspired, and has followed my first rule. So how do you break out of this? Well, you could **** up your personal life. That's sure to give ya something to write about, . But no, there are easier ways...though I will include that one.



1. You are having troubles in your personal life. This is one time when you can truly write what you feel and have it sounding pretty good.
2. Walk around, perceive the beauty of the world, the magnificence of people, the self-absorbed cruelty of people, the fake beauty that you?re likely to see all around you?look at the ?fake plastic trees? and always remember them.
3. Read. It doesn't matter what, just read. A newspaper - make a political song? Maybe a book that makes you think, maybe a thriller, **** who cares? At least then you'll get an idea of how to write WHILST also getting a plot/story for your lyrics. Want some good authors?...then ask me...hell I have a thread about them somewhere. A lot of "English is caught not taught"...

Now...the hard part. "I know what I want to say...but I can't say it." Sound familiar?...not to worry.

I'll take bits of various songs to demonstrate thoughtful/meaningful lyrics.

What Do You Want Me to Say? - The Dismemberment Plan

I lost my membership card to the
human race so don't forget the face
because I know that I do belong here

Go down the checklist let's see:
feelings are good dishonesty is bad
and keeping it inside is worse still

What do you want me to say?
What do you want me to do
to let you know that I still love you?

So just a simple extract there, but if you study it, you'll see wit and intelligence.

In Depth: Verse 1
First line shows how some people don't get accepted and are ostracised (they become outcasts).
Second & third line shows that he wants to belong and to be accepted, even if the people aren't willing to do this for him.

In Depth: Verse 2
First line, looking for the qualities that he needs to fit in.
Second & third line elaborate on what he's found. Basically, it could be about writing a song...so yea, that'll go there in tips.

In Depth: Chorus
The person in the song is anguished at not being accepted and what he has to do to get their love. It's simple, yet so unbelievably honest.
I believe that these lyrics could qualify as Emo...so now I'll slot in a description on how to write emo lyrics. Please note, below is not my own work but is courtesy of MarkMac...say thanks to him when you get the chance.

So you want to write EMO... okay, I'll share what I've come up with so far.

1. Load up on literature: You can't write EMO if you don't have a good grasp on writing in general. Regardless of how complicated your words get, you need to have a feel for all the different literary instruments like metaphor, allegory, analogy and even onomatopeia. If you don't have this, stick to writing simple, raw emotive lyrics like the stuff you hear from Blink182. Mind you, I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I think that "In Too Deep" by Sum41 is actually a well-constructed lyrical song for its genre.

2. Load up on your angst of choice: EMO's big draw, particularly to college and older listeners is that it bleeds. It's gut wrenching in an intelligent, melodic way and it deals with issues in a very open and honest manner. Also remember that EMO likes dealing with more mature issues. For example, you won't really find any EMO songs about rebelling against authority, while most teen punk is littered with such sentiments. "Anna Begins" by the Counting Crows depicts a guy waking up at night beside his girlfriend and wondering what they're really about. Coldplay's "Yellow" touches on how a girl has everything her way and how the guy can't seem to turn her his way.

Important to remember: you're also loading up on angst because you're going to need to sing with angst. EMO singers have notoriously depressing tones. Crows, Staind, Coldplay, Lifehouse, etc the voice produces much of the feel.

3. Now you're talking about saying everything you feel in a few, simple catchy phrases. This is accomplished by using those literary instruments I was talking about. Look at this line from Counting Crows' "Round Here" -

"Round here, we talk like lions, but we sacrifice like lambs.
Round here, it's slipping through my hands."

The sentiment of disillusionment just drips in these two lines. To achieve the same effect by using literal lyrics would take much longer, and won't have the same effect. Lyrics shouldn't be literally visual. You're not narrating a story, you should think more along the lines of imparting an emotion.

The problem with a lot of beginning writers is that they lock on too much to trying to depict an event. i.e. "I've known you for a while, I know everything about you, I do everything for you, you're amazing but you never notice me" is how a lot of starting lyricists would treat the subject of unrequited love. But I'm not talking about being overly flowery either. Coldplay's "Yellow" goes:

I swam across,
I jumped across for you,
Oh what a thing to do.
Cos you were all "Yellow,"

I drew a line,
I drew a line for you,
Oh what a thing to do,
And it was all "Yellow."

Your skin, oh yeah your skin and bones,
Turn into something beautiful,
And you know
for you I'd bleed myself dry

You might think these lyrics are terribly simple but the truth of the matter is that, coupled with Chris Martin's vocal style, it's very well-constructed. The repeating lines show to the urgency of his actions, the line "Oh what a thing to do" highlights the uselessness of what he's done. Then of course comes the required "thesis statement" which is, "For you I'd bleed myself dry". As you said, you can accomplish a lot with a few simple words and this song shows it.

Important: Note also the use of onomatopeia in these songs. Actually, I don't think I mean onomatopeaia in the strict sense of the word, I'm just saying you should use the correct type of sound at each portion of a song. Though it's not a song that's EMO, a song I use to illustrate this to people is Sum41's "In Too Deep". The line, "Maybe we're just trying too hard, when really it's closer than it is too far." The word "Maybe" produces the exact sound you need. Try singing it with another two syllable word, like "Perhaps" and it doesn't work because its not onomatopeically sound. You can't just replace "closer" either with say, "nearer" because even though they have the same syllables, the sound of the words are not the same. Be conscious of how your individual words sounds at the key portions of your song.

We could deconstruct any number of EMO songs in this way and I suggest you do because it'll give you an idea of what you need to do to build one.
Now...me (benjmc) again...


1. Over using rhyme. I do believe everyone will admit that people on UG tend to fall into this trap. Basically, if you have nothing to say, then using rhyme will probe you to say something, anything, to fill up the page. But this goes back to rule 1...if you've nothing to say, for **** sake don't make a song saying it. Unless that is your actually topic, and you do it in a creative and thoughtful way, So...basically, too much rhyme is alot worse than no rhyme. If you express all your ideas in a logical way, then no one should notice about rhyme anyway. And I know some of you may have got critiques saying "you need a certain rhyme scheme, don't wander" but that's just not right. Speak the truth, not some over rhyming piece of garb. Rhyme is often misused far too much. People don't understand how to rhyme without forcing a song. I'm going to have to go back to that sometime...so listen to me, listen to Pyro, listen to MarkMac, listen to Buzz...we all agree that you shouldn't rhyme too much. But...if you get to an advanced stage in your songwriting you will realise if your non-rhyming song works..and you'll realise how to use rhyme to it's full potential.

so, I hope you'll note this thread is nowhere near complete, and I shall fill it up with helpful tips from fellow UG people who offered their help in this very useful project. I just thought I'd give you a taster.
The Winter Romance

Leave well alone
benjmc is offline  
Old 01-17-2003, 07:35 PM   #2
Non Boxed
Sleeper Ship
Non Boxed's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Outside the box
Nice post.

I know lyrics are going to differ from genre to genre, but that doesnt mean punk and emo songs all have to be about your girlfriend breaking up with you. Get creative! You could write a song about the taste of pepsi.

Now I'm not talking about writing:

Pepsi is the best drink ever
I love it with all my heart
Stop drinking Pepsi? Never
This soda and I won't part

It soudns funny, doesnt it? To me it sounds exactly like blink182 and most other pop/punk bands.

Why? Because they are both literal, and uncreative. Wouldnt it be more interesting to hear something like this:

refreshing soul and mind
within the sweetness you will find
i crave that energy burst
empty can of life is worst

Doesnt that sound more catchy? It grabs you, and actually makes you THINK about what the song is saying. In this case, it is about the great taste and sugar high of pepsi, and dissapointment when you are all out. It is still emotional, just with a whole new perspective.

Writing about pepsi the first way is definitely easier, but ask yourself this: Do you want to write a song easily, or write a song well?
Please check out my music!
Non Boxed is offline  
Old 01-17-2003, 07:44 PM   #3
Insignificant Writer
benjmc's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Girl's Dreams, (I'm allowed poetic license, ;)
Well...that certainly was enlightening (no sarcasm). You see, it is good to let your songs kind of drift so that they can interpreted metaphorically and therefore may be applied to many different situations.

Like...a recent song I wrote...it's about climbing up the ladder of success...

Cast it aside, I beg the pardon of the queen.
Don't ask me to wash away the pain,
I won't clean up the waste I see entranced by you.
I scream down to the hobo, "I wept like a fool, one time too."

You will notice that I never actually said I was at the top of the ladder of success. Instead I implied it through my condescending attitude to people who were at the very bottom of the ladder, and by showing how I refuse to let my hands be dirtied by the filth below me. Just a further elaboration onto his point...oh yea...and I'm not that big of a dick in real life. I was imagining a situation when I wrote that song...that's something I'll come back to.
The Winter Romance

Leave well alone
benjmc is offline  
Old 01-17-2003, 08:08 PM   #4
Non Boxed
Sleeper Ship
Non Boxed's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Outside the box
Yes. If you TELL the listener what to think, it is boring. If you leave it to metaphors and creativity, the listener has to actually listen and interpret the song.
Please check out my music!
Non Boxed is offline  
Old 01-18-2003, 01:17 AM   #5
monkeyguy629's Avatar
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Cold and Prickley Wisconsin With Fat People
Alright, ben asked for my help (actually I kinda talked him into it) so here's the tips on writing "Punk"


Punk is a fairly simplistic form of writing. Very easy. For the most part, it does not involve much metaphorical thinking. Punk is mainly split up into three sections: Pop-Punk, Normal People (Emo, etc.) Punk, and Hardcore Punk.


This would definately be the easiest out of... just about anything... it doesn't involve a lot of thinking, and really is not a "true" form of Punk, in my opinion, this includes things like post-Dude Ranch Blink, post Insomniac Green Day, and ALL NFG and Good Charlotte, although these bands have different genres in themselves. There aren't many metaphors involved, and a lot of it involves love songs and stupid songs.

Love/Punk Songs

Now, when Punk came about, let me tell you, this was not what they had in mind. This is stuff like the Blink song "Untitled":

I think of a while ago,
We might have had it all,
I was so stupid then
You needed time to grow
But now just as things change
As well my feelings do
In times things rearrange
I am so sick of chasing you

But what do I get
Cause I just seem to lose
You make me regret
Those times I've spent with you
And playing those games
As I wait for your call
Now I give up
So goodbye and so long.

Let me tell you one thing, it does not take a genius to figure out this song. It is just so... out there... so broad, so very simplistic. No metaphors. At all. And very easy to write, just start with a topic about a girl, write like a page of your thoughts on her, and then rearrange lines, is my helpful hint.

Normal (Emo, etc.) Punk

Now this is some good stuff, I'm just going to refer you to the first post (Mark's "Emo" description) because seriously, he did a REALLY good job with that. I mean that's one of the best desciptions of a genre that I may have ever seen. This includes a whole range of bands (the writing style, anyway) from like Jimmy Eat World to Weezer to Dashboard Confessional. All pretty good.

Hardcore Punk

Now this isn't especially hard to write, considering a lot of it is fairly nonsensical, but its a lot of b***hing about things out of your control, such as the government, people, and the ever popular "The System". Mostly, and its pretty much the same as Pop-Punk in this sense, that I suggest just taking a piece of paper out and writing down all of your frustrations, pick the one you like the most, and then write about that. It comes pretty naturally, especially if you are an angry person.

Just my tips for the day.

Murderers! You're murderers! (We are not the same as you).
monkeyguy629 is offline  
Old 01-19-2003, 05:00 PM   #6
Non Boxed
Sleeper Ship
Non Boxed's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Outside the box
Sure punk and pop/punk is mostly non-metaphorical and simple, but that doesnt mean people should limit themselves to writing punk songs that are simple and uncreative. It is EVER so possible to write creatively about even love/punk songs..

I just thought of a better way to explain "Get Creative!"

Instead of TELLING me something, I want you to make me SEE it in my mind. Good lyrics will make you SEE and FEEL things. Strive for that when trying to convey your message.
Please check out my music!
Non Boxed is offline  
Old 01-19-2003, 05:07 PM   #7
UG ENGL Endorser
*Def*'s Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: The Netherlands
some lyrics can't be written with rules and guidelines, but this sure helps.

It takes me ages to finish lyrics, especially since I don't want to create terrible lyrics.

most of my stuff is emoish/hardcorish, I don't care about rhyme to much.

but I do want to thank you for putting this up, it will probably help me.
Gear Whore
*Def* is offline  
Old 01-20-2003, 03:37 PM   #8
Insignificant Writer
benjmc's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Girl's Dreams, (I'm allowed poetic license, ;)
Right well...The plan is to absolutely fill this thread with tips...and then organise them in a new thread. So people...do offer advice...I'm sure all of you know something...
The Winter Romance

Leave well alone
benjmc is offline  
Old 01-22-2003, 08:56 AM   #9
Don't call me white
Jerkee's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Utopia
Nice thread, thanks!

Question, have you got any tipps about connecting lyrics with music, and how they have to fit and stuff ?
Jerkee is offline  
Old 01-22-2003, 03:32 PM   #10
Insignificant Writer
benjmc's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Girl's Dreams, (I'm allowed poetic license, ;)
Originally posted by Jerkee
Nice thread, thanks!

Question, have you got any tips about connecting lyrics with music, and how they have to fit and stuff ?

I might do that, though I don't really know what the problem is. Maybe if you elaborated I could be more helpful. Plus, MarkMac is probably the best person to ask about this particular aspect.
The Winter Romance

Leave well alone
benjmc is offline  
Old 01-22-2003, 03:55 PM   #11
dear fraudster:
Pyr0's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Songwriting & Lyrics

This is all the stuff that makes a good song a great song. I've tried to give examples, but these things are hard to pin down, because of the deep psychology.

OK, here we go.

1. Turn of phrase or cliche's

You can use popular phrases or cliche's to your advantages by putting them in your lyrics but changing them. People will notice this... for example in U2's "One"

I can't be holding on
To what you got,
When all you got is hurt

The Cooper Temple Clause have a song called "Who needs Enemies When You Got Friends" - but CAREFUL. don't base a whole song around a cliche'd title.

2. Imagery and Similies

Really good imagery gives an image similar to the one the music behind it does. You don't think of clanking metal chains when you read the lyrics to Hanson, and you don't when you hear the way they play either. Check out 'Yesterday Went Too Soon' by Feeder:

i'm climbing high, up above the streets and rows of neon lights, i'm holding out my hand but i'm alone

a victim of regret, it glitters and it fades away like silver turning grey

3. Repetition of words in phrases

Only good if it makes sense..you'll see what i mean in Pet Name by they might be giants...

You said love was just a lie, but i could tell that you were lying

and in Aqualung's Strange And Beautiful:

Sometimes, the last thing you want comes in first,
Sometimes, the first thing you want never comes
I know, waiting is all you can do...sometimes.

I hope i explained them all OK, its really just something you gotta FEEL, get inspiration for...but try it.
Pyr0 is offline  
Old 01-24-2003, 08:55 PM   #12
monkeyguy629's Avatar
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Cold and Prickley Wisconsin With Fat People
Writing Styles of Blink 182 (Examples included for only $4.95)

The Writings of Blink 182

Disclaimer: These writings are meant as a tool to help Blink-imitators out there, and contain many formed opinions by myself, Jacob. This is nothing more than an opinion article; do not take it too seriously. This also contains many of the (article) authors own formed ideas and thoughts on the interpretations on these songs, and most likely will not match how readers originally thought of them to be.

One of the most popular no-core ?punk? bands out there is Blink 182. With simple guitars and simple lyrics, they did not have to do much to get where they are, however, there are many local bands out there that try their hardest to imitate the rich-daddy California boys.

Cheshire Cat
Small time beginnings.

Their first release album, Cheshire Cat, was definitely their most musically talented record (as far as guitar and bass, which the bassist is still just a joke.) A 13-real, 3-crap track album, this sticks out in many of the true punk?s mind as their ?best? album. Lyrically, it is nothing special. They did not work very hard to perfect their lyrics, but it did contain some very interesting meaning and thoughts. Throughout the CD, at most there are some very weak metaphors (Touchdown Boy) but most are non-sensical, holding no true theme (Sometimes, Strings + Fentoozler.) However, in almost all songs they do try and depict some sort of a message. Here are a few examples.


I would do anything,
And that?s what scares me so bad
Don?t want to live my life alone
Don?t want to go back to what I had
Don?t want to spend my life without
All those special things
Don?t want to walk around being tied to
Anyone else?s strings.

These are the entire lyrics to the song, repeated over, an interesting method of writing the song, however though was basically an easy way out for the lazy man. The song holds a small metaphor in the sense of being a puppet controlled by an outside force, not god but perhaps a friend or girl that always needs to have their way. It is an interpretation of the writer trying to break free of a ?life of misery? which does not apply to Blink who grew up in the sunny state of California.

Romeo and Rebecca

(Verse Two)

We?ve all seen the bridge?
A broken seam and a girl on one side
You think your words will work
They only work when you lay down
And close your eyes
I thought up all the lines
All the right ones used at all the wrong times
But that?s alright
Depression?s just a sarcastic state of mind

This is an interesting song, and I think it?s pretty well written. It holds one of my personal favorite quotes, ?Depression?s just a sarcastic state of mind.? It?s so true? depressed people are always looking for attention. (But don?t get me wrong, for that applies to me, too, Mr. Depressed Depressed-pressed.) Personally to my thoughts, any song written about a girl are not punk, for punk was originally created to be rebellious, and a simple explanation for my thoughts here is, how can you be rebellious when you are singing about the same topic as N Sync? However, this song applies to everyone, the love song image, especially the ?I thought up?? part, kind of makes you laugh but you realize that it?s quite true. However, the first two lines in my opinion were searching too hard. Basically kids, if you are aiming to make a Cheshire Cat style song, just go off and b***h about whatever first comes into your mind.

Dude Ranch
The end of an era.

Their second album, 15 tracks long but goes by quick, is pretty similar to Cheshire Cat in its lyrics, but getting a little poppier in its use of special effect type things (echo, etc.)



Don?t pull me down, this is where I belong
I think I?m different, but I?m the same and I?m wrong
Don?t pull me down, this is where I belong
I think I?m different? this is where I belong.

The reason I only placed the chorus is because the rest of the song applies to everything that Romeo and Rebecca is. Also, take note that THIS CHORUS SUCKS! True, it has a very nice thought to it, but it is so simply written that my 8-year-old brother could do it (and I don?t have an eight year old brother.) I mean they wrote two lines (quite simple lines if you ask me) and chopped, diced, and repeated them. Now, if there is one thing that shows your lack of lyrical ability, that is repeating a line! I mean repeating a chorus is ok, it brings the whole song together, but repeating lines, especially that close together just shows you are lazy and can?t think of anything better that can explain what point you are trying to send across.

I?m Sorry

Don?t bide your time
?Cause it is almost over
And I know you?re down
I?ll see you around
And I know it hurts
But you?re just getting older
And I know you?ll win
You?ll do it once again

Awwwww??? this is really a beautiful song in my opinion. From the guitar to the lyrics (to the sound of Tom?s shrill shrieking) it is all around one of Blink?s most emotional pieces. I mean you can tell that he really meant what he was saying, and it all flows together too, all the lines fit in with each other. Very uplifting, kind of depressing but it really gets the purpose of the song across. Truly amazing, if you ask me, that this would come from Blink *rolls eyes*.

Dude Ranch is a very talented Lyrical album, but I only have space for 5,000 more characters, and this is mainly just to show you what not to do in songs. We now enter the Poppy McPop Pop phase of Blink.

Enema of the State
The beginning of a slow death.

Filled with computer-generated everything, a so-so guitarist, an amazing drummer and a s**t bass, Enema of the State was the start of their downfall from sort-of Punk to screaming poser state. Need I say more??

All The Small Things

(Chorus-Verse Bridge)

Na na na na na na na na na
Na na na na na na na na na na
Na na na na na na na na na na
Na na na na na na na na na na.


What more do I have to say? The lack of creativity is just astounding, the poppyness is over the edge, and this little part of a song in itself is what caused me to hate Blink as people. I mean I seriously don?t know what to say? This is so bad there are not words to describe it. You?re just doing to have to pretend to understand my bitter anger towards this song, which the rest of the song, also sucks, all about a girl and NOTHING MORE! No metaphors, similes, creativity or anything.

Take Off Your Pants and Jacket
A hot, steaming pile of s**t.

Now, on this CD, I have no choice but to let my personal feelings toward the record be introduced into this section of an article. As a listener of (real) punk, this album was so disappointing that I had to but a copy just so I could throw it a few times (not really, but you catch my drift). I feel that they sold out. Now many people will disagree with that (duh) but in my opinion, those people either are not punk or are teenybopper a-cup screaming girls. This album is just so against the true meaning of punk, the anti-america, that it was truly a disappointment to have to sit through. Keep in mind that it?s not all bad, there are a couple a nice songs, the anti-conformity Anthem Part II, and the classic description of the high school lifestyle Reckless Abandon, but they are muddled behind the pop-love songs First Date and Rock Show (this may sound familiar to any of you that read my review of TOYPAJ (all four of you.))

What Went Wrong

I can?t forgive
I can?t forget
Can?t give in
What went wrong?
?Cause you said this was right
You f**ked up my life.

Meh? I really hate to drag on this song because with the acoustic, clarinet and the way Tom used his voice, this is truly a beautiful (music-wise) song, not to mention the fact that it was the only song they did right at the Pop Disaster Tour, but lyrically, this song is pretty rancid. First of all, it?s a whining song. No one (me) don?t like to hear a song whining about how a girl screwed with Tom?s brain, considering how much his voice on it?s own whines naturally. Now some may argue that songs complaining about how messed up the government is could technically be whining, but they don?t mean it to whine, they mean it to make a change in society. This isn?t aiming to change anything; this is just a song in which he wants to whine. Not to mention the fact that the lyrics themselves are not well crafted either. This section of the song really makes no sense in itself, its just really explaining what goes on in relationships and yet lacks any explanation at all. ?You f**ked up my life?? That?s nice. But it doesn?t help any, it doesn?t explain any, and it does not appeal to many people.

I have a theory though. Blink never really went through tough times in their life, they lived in California, and everything was handed to them on a silver platter (disregarding the entire divorce situations of the families.) I guess what I?m saying is that Blink lacks the life experience to know what really goes wrong with society, and that would be fine if they didn?t call themselves punk and write songs contradicting that. But I do hope that there was some part in this article that helped you either write or not write like Blink 182.


(Feedback on this article, either PM me or e-mail me at monkeyguy629@aol.com, screen name monkeyguy629. It would be muchly appreciated. (Not including ?f**k you, Blink kicks you?re a**? responses, of course.)
Murderers! You're murderers! (We are not the same as you).
monkeyguy629 is offline  
Old 01-26-2003, 05:27 PM   #13
Insignificant Writer
benjmc's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Girl's Dreams, (I'm allowed poetic license, ;)
So much helpful advice here...this is bound to get everyone started. Ah well...keep it coming...and sticky this or something.
The Winter Romance

Leave well alone
benjmc is offline  
Old 01-26-2003, 05:41 PM   #14
Can't Stop The Signal
Slut's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2002
Read and write poetry.

I think a good song should be poetic, and to be
a poetic song you need poetry.
So read and write poetry.

I make alot of my songs with lines from my poems,
like Kurt did, I steal from my poems.

Look at art.

Art is a great inspiration, drawings, paintings, etc.
You can see a picture and write about it, just like
writing about whats out your window.

Listen to songs with lyrical talent

Originally Posted by noxiosimitator
I play guitar long then half the people here .. and I suck double as much

EDIT: on the guitar
EDIT EDIT: in playing with my guitar
Slut is offline  
Old 01-28-2003, 10:12 AM   #15
I wish to be fluent...
Join Date: Dec 2002
My biggest tip: If you start on a song, finish it. It'll give you the discipline necessary to be a good writer.

Thing about creative people is that we all have one thousand ideas. In fact, if you don't have one thousand ideas, you're probably not cut out to be a writer.

But getting an idea, a catchy melody, an interesting lyric is easy, it's a dime a dozen. The men are separated from the boys once you get the ability to see the idea through to its logical end, and not just a hurried one.


Since many have already touched on lyrics, I'll touch on melody writing. Now I will admit up front that I write with a sort of pop sense in my head. If its not catchy, I don't care. I've met folk singers who deliberately sing monotonously and out of rhythm because they say that in this way, the lyrics come out more since there's no melody to dominate the tune. One common criticism I get from these people are my melodies are "too strong", I have to remove the catchiness from them. Well, to hell with that. I never liked wearing black and hanging out in Starbucks anyway. Plus though I won't eat tuna, I won't write a song about it.

Alright, so you've got a progression and you want to make a song. First thing to do is listen to it. Does it already dictate a melody? Can you already tell that it should have a high, lilting line rising above the intrumentation, or is it gruff and near discordant?

Now I play with an acoustic guitar and one of my first rules with prgressions is that you always have to make it sound interesting, even without words. Take your progression and see if you can use alternate grips. I've always said that you should know three different ways of fingering the same chord, that way you can really create feel with different holds of the same chord.

Only difference with electric and acoustic with regard to this practice is while with the acoustic, I prefer having more open strings so they ring more, with an electric, you can actually use three strings and mute the rest. Pedal effects will give you fullness.

Once you've got your progression straight, commit it to memory then you can start making a melody line. My advice to the beginner is always to just hum or better yet, create nonsense words. I use only L, H, N and T with the vowel sounds sometimes to explore melodical possibilities.

Generally, I like to imagine myself writing classical music. You know, no words but just notes that impart the feeling you want. Sooner or later, words (or even gibberish) will just flow, don't mind first if it makes sense or not. What you're trying to do is build stanzas that properly "catch", and a chorus that properly "releases". Usually, your chorus needs to be the point where the emotion comes together and this should reflect in your melody.

Even as you're eventually finding words, keep changing them to find the vowel or consonant sound that works best. Also, just keep talking and singing, you never know when you might just stumble on to the perfect line that is perfectly connected to your melody.

So there, just start mouthing off melodies but feel the emotion that you want. You'll soon get what the correct onomatopeic sense of your song is. If you're making a punk song, just start screaming but make it sound right and you'll be able to eventually fit in words that will carry that correct screaming sound you want. If you're writing EMO, just let yourself fall into your angst and mumble whatever, but mumble it melodically. Later on, you'll fill those words in correctly too.

And don't be afraid to use simple words to say big things. Don't listen to people who say that talking about your girlfriend, or your heartbreak, or your family problems are boring and cliche. These are the themes that have held true to people for thousands of years and will continue to hold true for thousands more.

You have to write what you know and keep at it. To create lyrics about arbitrary matters simply for the sake of using flowery words is a mistake. Just be one of those wordsmith poets. If you feel your lyrics, you'll feel a melody as well. This is why the best writers are all tortured in mind in some way, shape or form because they bleed for what they do. And even those who write simpler pop, still have the ability to connect to an aspect of themselves that lesser writers don't.

In the end, it's just a matter of being able to say what you feel. But the fact is, most people cannot do this.
Good writers imitate. Great writers steal.
MarkMac is offline  
Old 01-28-2003, 06:32 PM   #16
Insignificant Writer
benjmc's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Girl's Dreams, (I'm allowed poetic license, ;)

Basically what was just described is the Paul Simon technique (obviously he's not the only one to do it...but he's the best example I can think of).

You just sing a melody, hum whatever. Then you find the right beat/syllable count/meter. It will then all work it's way into proper English...emotional English.

There is a good article about this...somewhere...this link below...uses Radiohead as an example.

Melody Writing

I'll post techniques pretty soon...
The Winter Romance

Leave well alone
benjmc is offline  
Old 01-28-2003, 09:15 PM   #17
I wish to be fluent...
Join Date: Dec 2002
One more thing you'll want to do as you start writing songs: Figure out your strengths.

Take a good long look at you, or your band, and be very honest with what you have to work with. What your band likes to play should definitely dictate what you write. If that's not what you want to write, then you should really think about going to another band as this will only create turmoil if you keep writing stuff they don't like.

If your guitarist is good, then make stuff that gives him room to create strong arpeggios. If your drummer and/or bassist is good, make stuff that is beat-driven. My own band has a really talented fiddler (he got into Julliard) so a lot of times we let him dictate the instrumental movements and I don't make melodies that are too rough as to counter the symphonic power of a violin.

But most important is to study the voice of the singer. That will dictate your overall sound. Is it rough and grating? Then you'll sound heavy. Is it mellow and melancholic? Is it happy and fun? Your singer's voice will also determine much of your instrumentation. You don't want to drown out a singer with a soft, warbly voice inasmuch as you don't want to hamstring a belter with quiet undertones.

I like to think that its songs that look for certain singers so its useless to force someone whose voice doesn't fit the melody to sing it.
Good writers imitate. Great writers steal.
MarkMac is offline  
Old 02-04-2003, 03:24 PM   #18
UG guitar tech
phobeus's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Somewhere over there---->
Ok that's it I'm sick and tired of people saying that there are rules to wrighting lyrics. The truth is there are no rules. thats what makes song writing so good. I can be about personal problems but no one wants to hear a punk sing about " just how bad or good life is." put some real feelings into it. I don't care about your day or an old freind. I'm not a heavy metal junky but as an example Mudvayne's lyrics are extraordinary. But they talk about the end of the world and abondoning all hope. that doesn't mean the world has ended for them... in fact life is good for them. they play those songs because its there style and its good. and Kid rocks new duet with country sound. He hasn't cheated on any wife to say its just an idea that produced a great song. The lyrics in these forums are lacking. This is a challenge to all you writters to try different things with your lyrics and post them. Hell my lead guitarist is from napal so we sing a song in napoli and damn do they have a great language.
phobeus is offline  
Old 02-04-2003, 03:46 PM   #19
Insignificant Writer
benjmc's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Girl's Dreams, (I'm allowed poetic license, ;)
There aren't rules...but there are guidelines...and that's what this thread is about. Like you said...


*put some real feelings into it
*try different things with your lyrics

Maybe slightly obvious, but still good tips/guidelines...
The Winter Romance

Leave well alone
benjmc is offline  
Old 02-04-2003, 08:51 PM   #20
Join Date: Feb 2002
I think the best advice is to write and see what comes out. Then write some more. And more. And more. As with anything, practice can only make you better. And you only get out what you put in. Your first song will be rubbish. Your twentieth song will be a lot better.

Also, try recording yourself singing your songs, and listen to them. It won't be pleasant at first, but pretty soon you'll realise how you can make your songs better.

Lastly, ignore every single piece of advice you've ever been given on how to write a song. The world does not need another Blink 182, another Nirvana or another Camper Van Beethoven. The world needs a new you.
"If God made man they say
Sam Colt made him equal"
jackpot is offline  

Thread Tools Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 02:35 AM.

Forum Archives / About / TOS / Advertise with us / Customer Support / Ultimate-Guitar.Com © 2016
Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.