Do you want to write songs, but aren’t sure where to start? After you’ve asked yourself these two questions, it’s time to gather your materials and get to work. Read on for advice from Austin, TX teacher Gfire M...
Having started writing songs at age 11, then having studied with well-known songwriting teachers from Boston, LA, and Nashville, I have learned to keep three essential tools on my desk whenever I am developing a lyric. If you do the same, you will be able to add depth and originality to your songwriting — and it makes it more fun as well! Here are your three tools to help you as you write songs:
1) A dictionary
The dictionary helps you make sure the definition of a word really reflects what you want it to. Let’s take the word “love” as an example. The first definition on dictionary.com is “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.” That may be pretty accurate, but it is definitely used a lot! Which brings us to the next tool…
2) A thesaurus
A thesaurus gives you other choices for that word, which may be more specific to what you are trying to say. It also gives you choices that aren’t so overworked. With thesaurus.com (just a click away from dictionary.com), you can at least consider some synonyms for “love” such as “passion,” “crush,” “emotion,” and “flame.”
3) A rhyming dictionary
A rhyming dictionary helps you out of trying to come up with rhymes out of thin air.
“Love” is notoriously hard to rhyme (who needs another “turtle dove”), so check out the rhymes (try rhymezone.com) for “flame” and, all of a sudden, you have options such as “game,” “name,” and “same.”
Now we’ll try another well-used word, “remember.” First we will look in the dictionary. One definition is “to retain in the memory; keep in mind; remain aware of.” That sounds good, on to the thesaurus. Some synonyms for “remember” include “recall,” “look back,” and “remind.” Oh boy, this is starting to sound interesting — now onto the rhyming dictionary! For “remember,” the choices are quite limited: “ember,” “member,” “December” — these rhymes are not so hot.
BUT when you look up rhymes for “recall” — including “fall,” “small,” “wall,” and “long haul” — there are a lot more selections. If your song could use “recall” instead of “remember,” you will have many more ways to go with your lyric. With “look back,” we could use “black,” “crack,” “lack,” or “attack.” And rhymes for “remind” are cool, too — “blind,” “find,” “signed,” “aligned,” and “behind.” Having all of these new words to paint a picture will help you stay excited and interested in your budding lyric.
An Easy Exercise to Help You Write Songs
Pick a word from a song you wrote, are writing, or want to write. Plug it into the dictionary, thesaurus, and rhyming dictionary, and you are ready to play around with your lyrics to make them original and full of meaning for you and your listeners.
If you still find yourself struggling after adding these tools to your routine, consider working with a songwriting teacher. A quality teacher can help you improve your songwriting technique much faster than working on your own.
Get ready to express yourself in your own unique songwriting style! You deserve to have this creative outlet, and you can totally make it happen for yourself!
Gfire teaches music theory, opera voice, piano, singing, and songwriting in Austin, TX. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Music from University of Maryland, as well as her Master of the Science of Singing from Ernest George White Society. Learn more about Gfire here!
Photo by Alex Proimos