Monday, June 21, 2010

How to Come Up with an Idea for a Song - How Do You Approach the Blank Page?

As songwriters we have all been there - we sit down to write some new lyrics as the basis for a new song, but then draw a blank. How do you get around this readers? It seems as though that first verse or chorus is the hardest to write. Here are ways that I use to get the creative flow started.

1. Come up with a story to tell. The song "Heartbreak Hotel", written by Tommy Durden and Mae Borden Axeton, was inspired by a news story about a man who committed suicide. In the man's pocket was a note that read "I walk a lonely street." Tommy Durden came up with the lyrics. He said that he imagined the lonely man checking into a hotel frequented by those lonely broken hearts and this was the basis of the song. I once used an illustration from a tarot card deck as the starting point for a story.

2. Try changing your chord progressions, tuning your guitar to an alternate tuning, or adding chord color variations. New sounds can help you break out of the same old associations and evoke different moods that can inspire feelings and words inspired by such feelings.

3. A friend of mine says he often thinks of the title of a song first and then goes from there. I have written songs based on a memorable expression or a clever line - often something that has an element of humor.

These are just some of the strategies I employ. What are yours?

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