Posted Dec 06, 2010 11:48 AM
Hello my dearest guitarists ;D
Today's lesson deals with some songwriting problems.
Many guitarists (mostly the ones, who have awesome skills) have difficulties concerning lyrics.
What's the reason of this lesson?
The guitarist of one of my bands Luke one of the guitarists mentioned above. Yesterday, he just composed and introduced a new song idea to us:
The song is not finished yet, but its melodies remind me on Dream Theater a bit (i.e. not too easy, but just beautiful !).
However, he presented a little demo version of it via Guitar Pro and we were fascinated. But still one thing was missing: the lyrics. He just told me that he is "not quite a good lyric writer", so I've taken the chance to make the lyrics since I love poems and lyrics as much as I love music. Well, almost ;).
The content of this lesson is NOT compulsory! It's not a typical "How To Write Awesome Lyrics In 10 Steps"-lesson. Instead, this series of lessons simply tells you a few ideas and aspects that could improve your lyrics.
Some examples might manifest that new ways of thinking for you. On the whole, just lean back and read this lesson. I am 100% sure by just enjoying it, your lyrics WILL DEFINITELY improve a bit :)
#1 The difference between meaning/story and idea
The first thing I noticed when I started songwriting was, that there is a huge and important difference between the meaning of a song and its idea. A song often tells a story about common things in life and every story has one big idea as its specific background.
The biggest mistake you can make is giving the song a title before starting with the lyrics. If you do that, you force your mind into a "find lyrics that support the title"-task.
Instead of doing that, let your mind flow and find the idea, not the story. Let's take a classical motive: love.
In some way you want to express that love means lots of hope, but in the end turns out to be just an illusion or a big lie. You want to express how much a person desired that one girl/boy and - after some time- realized that there are other lovely girls / handsome guys.
Finding the story (wrong start):
Most likely you'll start by describing a scene, a depressed boy or girl. You want to inform the audience why he/she is so depressed and start explaining that his gf /her bf left her. That the partner found someone better, someone more attractive, someone who has more money than the narrator.
Then, you would probably switch back to the present where his/her mind is working for a solution. He/She is depressed, lonely, tired, he/she is crying, screaming maybe even hurting him- or herself!
In the end, the narrator overcomes his problems and faces real life: "It hurts, but this is life. So stop crying and start enjoying life again, you douche bag!"
Now start singing that song and name it for example "Without you", "Loneliness", "Unloved" ...or even better: why don't you just call it "Some Random Love Song" or "Big Pile Of BS" because this is what you finally will have!
A typical idiotic piece of bad lyrics. An ocean of scenes that only make sense because you attach words like "lonely", "painful" or "love" to them. You now joined an anonymous mass of millions of people. The song might even be "quite ok", but you won't reach the people, because this song is just like a million other songs.
Finding the idea (correct start):
You take the idea (in this case love) and let your mind just flow over it: You do NOT concentrate on single aspects, descriptions or causal constructs. What we want (and need) are DIRECT EMOTIONS!
Nobody cares about the name of the narrator. Nobody needs the exact position and the concrete reason why his gf/her bf left him/her! In the end, even the gender is not of interest.
All those things mentioned in the "wrong start" deal with INDIRECT EMOTIONS, i.e. backgrounds and decorations. The more you are explaining and describing details, the more you drift away from the essence of the song ("love is painful, but life goes on").
Instead of forcing yourself into things BELONGING to love, you should totally get away from them and find completely other things that REALLY WORK as METAPHORS! So you won't explain that the narrator is only wearing black clothing because he/she is that depressed, but you will try to DIRECTLY mediate the EMOTIONS to the audience. You don't want to work with DETAILS, but with SHORT and SOFT HINTS of what your trying to say.
"Lemon Tree" by Fool's Garden (example for #1)
I won't repeat myself at this point so it's up to you to check that song for metaphors and hints. I'll just give you a little check list of things which are particulary supporting #1:
- the chorus and the title "Lemon Tree"
(Honestly: You would have never integrated a citrus into your lyrics!)
- your associations with "lemon"
(What is also popular though it sometimes tastes bitter ? Yes, it's love! Great example of "giving a hint")
- the gender
(the only thing that gives the audience a clue about the narrator's gender, is the line "Baby anyhow I'll get another toy" you see: even the gender doesn't matter a lot)
- boring room, rainy Sunday afternoon
(it seems dumb, but you exactly know how this feels)
- Driving too fast because you had a bad day
(... and you also know how that feels)
Listen to the song and think of the points mentioned above.
Always keep in mind that your lyrics must NOT INFORM, DESCRIBE or EXPLAIN your idea, the story and every single aspect must just be ENJOYABLE!
Have a contemplative Advent ;D
P.S. Feel free to post your very own lyric problems in the comment section or ask me via pm, I will answer my inbox within 1-2 weeks usually.