Solving Your Bad Songwriting Habits
Original article from: http://www.secretsofsongwriting.com/2016/08/31/solving-your-bad-songwriting-habits/
Anyone who composes music — songwriter, lyricist, arranger, film score composer — is a creature of habit. You are a songwriter, and you know that this is true. You probably have your go-to way of working on songs. Those are probably now habits, and that’s fine.
Or is it? The problem with habits is that they tend to keep us in our established comfort zone. And that’s a problem if you’re the kind of songwriter who wants to branch out and do something innovative or unique.
So what are your songwriting habits? How can you tell the difference between a good habit and a bad one?
Here’s a list of some common habits that, on the surface, seem fine, but might result in stifling your sense of creativity. Take a look at the list and see which ones might be handcuffing your musical imagination:
- You’re always using the same instrument to compose your songs. Remember, you don’t have to be a good pianist to use the piano to write songs. If you’re always using your guitar, try something else — a mandolin, your old high school saxophone, Uncle George’s old fiddle — anything that keeps you from always playing the same chords, and always coming up with the same-sounding melodies.
- You’re always seeking approval. It’s common to want to know what others think of your songs, but this can be detrimental to stimulating creativity. Yes, it’s good to get opinions from musicians that you trust and admire, but going on Reddit and posting a link to your latest song, asking what everyone thinks of it… What’s the purpose of that? All that does is scare you away from doing something truly creative. Remember, most people won’t understand your creative approach, at least not right away. If John Lennon had been able to ask an online community what they thought of “Bungalow Bill”… Well, I’m glad he couldn’t!
- You work on one song at a time. Having one song on the go is a recipe for writer’s block. It’s best to have 2, 3 or even more songs in various stages of completion. That way, once you get stuck in one, you can go back to work on another. When you come back to your first song, you’ll happily discover that your musical brain has been working, and the ideas will begin to flow again.
- You don’t ever change your songwriting process. You start all your songs by strumming a few chords on your guitar. Or you always write about your latest break-up. So if you’re a chords-first songwriter… stop doing that! Work out some lyrics first. Or create a bass line that you find catchy, and build a song on top of it. Or concentrate mainly on a hooky melodic shape. Do whatever it takes to break out of your standard songwriting process.
- You never listen to music outside your favourite genre. It’s time to branch out and open your mind to something new. There is good music in every genre, and even if you think you can’t stand country, or metal, or ska, or whatever else, there is much to be learned. If you don’t know what to listen to, do an online search for “best country songs”, “best metal songs”, etc.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.
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