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MaisyS's avatar

Can someone give me some tips on lyric writing?

Asked by MaisyS (527points) August 1st, 2019

So if you’ve seen some of my other posts you’ll know I write, or at least try to write, poetry. But the fact is for the longest time I have dreamed of being a songwriter. But my parents refused to let me get music lessons, and so I decided till I’m old enough to fund my own lessons I’ll dabble in lyric writing. But one of my teachers suggested I try poetry first. She said that that’s harder than lyric writing (I don’t know how true that is) and if I got a good handle on poems, lyrics for songs would come easily. I’m still not too great at poetry, I’m pretty much a novice even though I’ve been trying to improve for a while, thanks to my parents refusing to let me get poetry lessons either. As you’ve probably guessed they’re helicopter parents, goal driven and ambitious people who want me to enter a field of science because I’ve shown aptitude for science, biology especially.
Sorry about the tangent. Anyway, I’ve now decided I’m going to try my hand at lyric writing since that really is what my passion is, and put poetry aside for a while. If anybody has tips on lyric writing and can demonstrate to me exactly how lyrics differ from poems I’ll be truly grateful. I appreciate any advice and knowledge you will pass on.

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6 Answers

Patty_Melt's avatar

Lyrics may be easier to write. I don’t know if that is true or not. But, selling lyrics is tough tough tough.
Lots of artists pride themselves on writing their own lyrics.
Most writers, of poetry, novels, lyrics, need to have an agent. Without an agent, almost nobody will even look at their work.
One more problem, lots and lots and lots of people think they are genius song writers. Agents and artists get swamped with piles of that genius work every day.

I don’t tell you this to stop you from trying. Each of us must follow our hearts. I tell you so you don’t get your hopes up, then take it personally when the whole complicated mess starts to unfold.
If you have the tenacity to face all that, you should absolutely give it a real try. It is a painful road though. If you have a problem with handling rejection, then it is best to consider some other pursuit.
In the meantime, keep up the good work with your STEM classes. Science can be very much like poetry. I will pm some stuff to you.

I am in my fifties. I have only known one person personally in all that time to make any real money through fame or close to it.
She was six feet tall by the time she was fifteen. She had long thick hair. She bleached it. Her figure developed quite young. She repeated her sophomore year because she spent the year as a runway model.

If you just want to have your own wealth, you have a much better chance at that if you video yourself stabbing you with a pencil for an hour every Tuesday and put it on a YouTube channel. please don’t do that

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Ok yes sure I’ve been singer songwriter for a very very very long time. Just decided to start playing an instrument in January. So you don’t have to play music, or study music in order to write song lyrics. But you should consider it completely different than poetry.

I use, what I call, the archeological method. I believe the lyrics are already written. All I need to do is dig them up. Some might call it… tapping into The Akashic Records. I don’t know if I believe in all that… But it’s fun to ponder.

I have two different strategies.
1 – Start with an idea.
2 – Start with a melody.

Starting with an idea is more like poetry. It’s harder to form it into a melody later on. I find when I write from idea that the vocal melodies are far more simplistic. Not a bad thing necessarily. And sometimes you really want to get a specific idea across. I also like simple melodies so it’s not a problem for me. Good for short songs.

Starting with a vocal melody is much different because you consider the way the words are to be sung. Starting with a melody is more hypnotic for the writer. Like a tune that you can’t get out of your head. Nothing forced here. Repeat it like a mantra over and over and over again, and you may find a feeling emerges, and from that feeling, words form magically in the perfect place of the melody that you meditated upon. It takes me much much longer to write in this way. Sometimes years for one song. And the songs tend to be very long in the 15minute range.

If you don’t know anything about music, you can still boink out a melody with a free online keyboard. Then just get that melody in your head and repeat it over and over and over again. Just say la la la la out loud to the same melody. Live with it for days, and watch what happens. You’ll start to get a feeling emerge. And like magic, a word or two will pop into the exact spot that the notes are played.

Some of those words will resonate strongly with the feeling that emerged. Decide if they are strong enough to carry the chorus idea of the song, or if they are supporting the chorus idea in the form of a verse, where the story is told about the idea.

Most importantly, just start throwing words at the wall. Don’t worry if anyone might like it. Have a melody for them in mind. And know that whatever you come up with today, you’ll more than likely laugh at simplicity in a few decades.

Also, different than poetry, I tend to write the words informally, in the manner I would actually sing them rather than with proper spelling.

Well I’m known to be less than perfect
And I’ve been known ta do a lil’ bit’ foolin’
But these tired old eyes, they be learnin’ the lesson life is schoolin’
Just show a little bit of compassion, and share a good word with a friend
That’s all these tired old eyes have left to send

You’ll notice the second line “lil’ bit’ foolin’” is different than the third line “little bit of”. I would sing each line as written, differently from each other. The silliness of one line helps emphasize the seriousness of the other. That’s one luxury that vocal lyrics have over poetry.

Good luck! Have fun! Don’t be discouraged by anyone!

Rhyme everything you can, take every single chance. You’re soon to form a plan, and teach your words to dance.

MaisyS's avatar

@Patty_Melt money and fame isn’t the concern. I honestly couldn’t care less. What I really wanted to do was be a singer as well as a songwriter, and I’ve been teaching myself to sing as well since, you guessed it, my parents said no to that too. But I know that being a singer has too much spotlight that comes with it. And that’s why I’m only singing for myself, but trying to do more with songwriting. Because if I did become a singer and gained any measure of fame my parents would literally disown me. Same with songwriting except there’s less chances of growing truly famous. The only fame my parents will accept is through some scientific breakthrough or some business venture. So fame and money are honestly not the focus. It’s a passion that I have, a dream I want to follow. My family is an upper class rich old family anyway and I already have seen the benefits of money so making my own fortune isn’t what I’m thinking of either.

Patty_Melt's avatar

I misunderstood completely.
I did say though, if you can face the difficulties, you should pursue your dreams. I still believe you should not be down on those STEM courses. You can’t see then from now, so the future could present all sorts of strange changes to you. Get all that education you can. My studies in science gave me lots more to draw from when I’m writing. Also, geometry and physics are helpful when playing beer pong. :-P
I’m your fan. I want you to find your dreams. I just want you to understand how those pursuits can be heartbreaking.

I am a mom of a girl who just graduated high school this year. She hides much of her dreams and plastic from me because she thinks I will disapprove. I have always said she could drive a garbage truck, if that is what will support her and make her happy. I am super proud of her.
Your parents might be the same, not about the garbage truck
part, but the part about being proud of you and just trying to keep you focused on studies which could be a good fall back to keep you from failure.

I look forward to your first sold song. I will buy a copy.

Again, I’m sorry I misunderstood you.

MaisyS's avatar

@Patty_Melt no problem :) it’s fine. I get how you could’ve read into the post like that seeing as nowadays most young people really only venture into the music industry, or even the entire entertainment industry, only for the fame and fortune.

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