how do you all write lyrics?

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s_mcsleazy
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how do you all write lyrics?

Post by s_mcsleazy » Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:49 am

so me and my bandmate have some ideas for songs but we've never been good at writing more than 2-3 lines at a time. how do ya'll write your lyrics? how do you know when the lyrics are good? how do you know when the song is done?
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Re: how do you all write lyrics?

Post by UlricvonCatalyst » Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:01 am

You don't know any of these things, you feel them.

The easiest way to write lyrics is to wake up with a fully-formed song in your head. Failing that, go for a long walk, singing the song to yourself as you go. If the lyrics don't develop over the course of the walk then it hasn't worked.

I suppose it helps if you have an idea you want to develop over a couple of verses, or a desire to pour your heart out and a lack of embarrassment about doing so. I once heard a songwriter say he took his starting point - i.e. the lines that came first - and asked himself "How did I get here? What happened before those lines?"

This is a question with no easy answer, no formula. It's different for everyone, even from song to song, probably. And not everyone is capable of writing a good lyric.

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Re: how do you all write lyrics?

Post by mgeek » Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:09 am

Mostly, completely turn off my brain and see what words fall out.

Also recording myself doing that but on a dictaphone or something so it's not very clear, then trying to interpret what words the sounds (that may have not even been words in the first place) I was making might have been.

Those are the best ways for me. Sitting down with a piece of paper and TRYING to write lyrics is almost always a bust, though it's often how I get the last couple of lines of things I've written ^ that way

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Re: how do you all write lyrics?

Post by dinosaurkale-> » Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:12 am

i am shit at writing lyrics
but lately ive been going through some life shit
and all of a sudden all the wordless music i wrote, had lyrics coming to me

im not saying theyre good lyrics...but they are at least there, instead of not there
often times ill make the first and second verse the same, just to avoid writing another verse

they are mostly written on the spot and to match the timing of the song / pre written vocal melody

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Re: how do you all write lyrics?

Post by higgsblossom » Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:37 am

I use methods similar to cut-up, but with some online help.

So for example, I will go and say "I want the third sentence of the second chapter of the first row of books in my shelve".
I take the words and then I start to work with them via Text Mechanic: https://textmechanic.com/text-tools/all ... n-notepad/

Then I keep what I like and erase what I don't like.

Of course, this doesn't work if you want to sing about something. But sometimes, the results are very poetic.
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Re: how do you all write lyrics?

Post by parry » Tue Sep 08, 2020 5:09 am

Not saying I'm "good" at it, by any means... but what works for me is to live with the main chunks of a song for a while. Playing them alone and improvising it with the band. Letting it evolve. Things start to naturally reoccur, pop out and stick. Words, lines, etc. Once I start to feel like I'm about half way there (it's always different), themes start to emerge and it all comes together. That's the discovery stage - always my favourite. It's like.. "ohhhhhhhh! Thaaaat's what that's about!". From there, it's about fine-tuning. Maybe this can be accentuated more with some alliteration... punch up the enunciation/emphasis on that... this wording is better or gets the point across more seductively...

I think the reason that works for me, is that it helps me fight the urge to self-edit and be too self critical. "This is too direct, too obvious... not obvious enough..." etc. When I used to sit down and try to write, that part of the process would always bog me down. Probably the most critical element to this style of working (as mentioned before) is recording all of your attempts and listening back to them. It helps cement ideas and keep things moving along. Sometimes, they show up in a flash... nearly complete. Other times, they can take weeks/months. I have one that has been haunting me (us) for a couple of years now. I STILL haven't figured out what it's about.
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Re: how do you all write lyrics?

Post by stevejamsecono » Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:22 am

UlricvonCatalyst wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:01 am
You don't know any of these things, you feel them.

The easiest way to write lyrics is to wake up with a fully-formed song in your head. Failing that, go for a long walk, singing the song to yourself as you go. If the lyrics don't develop over the course of the walk then it hasn't worked.

I suppose it helps if you have an idea you want to develop over a couple of verses, or a desire to pour your heart out and a lack of embarrassment about doing so. I once heard a songwriter say he took his starting point - i.e. the lines that came first - and asked himself "How did I get here? What happened before those lines?"

This is a question with no easy answer, no formula. It's different for everyone, even from song to song, probably. And not everyone is capable of writing a good lyric.
Dang. I've never heard my own process detailed so well. It's always cool when you feel like someone else does things similarly.
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Re: how do you all write lyrics?

Post by eggwheat » Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:55 pm

I can’t write lyrics without a tune. The way morrissey or someone would have books full of pre written lyrics and fit them to marr’s instrumentals seems alien to me. I just mumble melodies over the top of a tune and phrases come out..then I organise and write more around those phrases and sometimes it makes sense...I think that is the most common method.

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Re: how do you all write lyrics?

Post by MayTheFuzzBeWithYou » Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:28 pm

Ideal-case: you got a melody in your head (either guitar- or singing-line) and the words keep popping out - and you're fast enough to either record that or to write it down.
More likely: I sit somewhere with lots of time and either an inner calmness to be able to write or so much anger/bitterness (broken heart or another deep emotion) - so the words help you cope with that. For our first album I wrote all the lyrics - as I did with the two bands before. But as my girlfriend has taken over singing duties - she also wants to use her own lyrics (and believe it or not, she actually has a book full of songs and poems and thoughts (in German though) that often make it to actual songs. We either translate them together or she writes down what she wants to express with it and I try to put that in a song structure and translate it (as a non-native englisch speakers often with a dictionary at hand to find some synonyms).

What I also do very often (maybe my little more "scientific" approach) is to define a theme that I want to cover - like "Liquid Thunder" is all about waves and Surfing - and the title song of our debut "Tentaculove" is about the encounter with a Kraken that actually has fallen in love with the protagonist and pulls him/her down to the deep sea - so I try to find as many facts (scientific and out of literature sources - and of course H.P. Lovecraft in that case) about Kraken and other Cephalopods and try to work them into the song. Some facts get lost of course as it's hard to actually sing them - like how many suction-cups a giant octopus would have on a single arm - but others get into it - and I try to give a more metaphorical meaning to some of the phrases to actual get some deepness. I like that approach very much. But as I'm not fully in charge of the lyrics anymore I developed some kind of writing-blockade at the moment - or I'm just doing too good that I got nothing to complain about that needs to come out urgently?!

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Re: how do you all write lyrics?

Post by UlricvonCatalyst » Wed Sep 09, 2020 4:01 am

s_mcsleazy wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:49 am
how do you know when the lyrics are good? how do you know when the song is done?
I suppose the answer to the first part could be when someone says to you "Hey that's a really good lyric". That may never happen at the level you and I operate at, though, so you just have to try and exercise your own quality control and hope closeness to what you've written doesn't blind you to some of it not being so good.

The second part is easier, though there are many twists on song structure, but you could either base the structure of your song on one you think works well, or else analyse the structure of the song you've written and see if you can find a bunch of other songs that share it. Or you could follow KLF's guide for a hit song in The Manual and base all your songs on their formula.

That said, one of my favourite songs has a highly unusual structure: three very short verses followed by three choruses, if I remember correctly, so, once again, there are no rules and whatever works works.

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Re: how do you all write lyrics?

Post by SadFuzz » Wed Sep 09, 2020 4:02 am

I collect lots of phrases that come into my head during the day, or things i overhear people say that stay in my head.
Films and books also give you great imagery to jump off from.
Deciding on a structure before you write sometimes helps.
I also like to use lyrics of other songs i mishear.
If all else fails i just describe something mundane that happened during the day.
Just experiment til you find something that works. All of these other suggestions are great too.
Good luck and feel free to drop a PM.
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Re: how do you all write lyrics?

Post by parry » Wed Sep 09, 2020 5:17 am

SadFuzz wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 4:02 am

I also like to use lyrics of other songs i mishear.
YES! THIS :D
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Re: how do you all write lyrics?

Post by UlricvonCatalyst » Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:15 am

parry wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 5:17 am
SadFuzz wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 4:02 am

I also like to use lyrics of other songs i mishear.
YES! THIS :D
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Re: how do you all write lyrics?

Post by starflower » Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:29 am

Good thread. Mind you, I'm usually a "complete the arrangement first" kind of guy before I often think of words, but some work themselves out in parallel as well. Here are a few that come to mind...

Things that hurt and incur an emotional response are moments not to be wasted, no matter how much I don't want to write when being jabbed in the heart. Be honest and verbose in your drafts, and see what ties into a theme that can be linked to some clever pokes at the object of your whoever or whatever is making life suck. It's a moment to milk your pathos of concepts that may not otherwise come naturally.

If I'm purposely going thematic, then I'll do what my very prolific friend on FAWM does and start with brainstorming the core theme, then spend a lot of time shooting out bubbles of related terms with subsequently as many decent words that work from a rhyming thesaurus. Taking time to develop what pairs well doesn't happen right away, but at least you'll have good set of tools to work from.

Go full-tilt on contrast and see where your heart leads: Scream or whimper out random happy thoughts over a minor progression, or spill your guts of despair on the cheeriest of melodies. The process can be rather cathartic if it works.

Be aware of your surroundings and have a notebook on hand in case of a spontaneous explosion of creativity. I'll often spot someone on the metro who I can tell has a story that's certainly not my own. Give them a trope and see where the narrative leads.
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Re: how do you all write lyrics?

Post by shadowplay » Thu Sep 10, 2020 2:32 am

Firstly I wouldn't be too intimidated because 99.999999999999% of rock lyrics are utter shite, so you can walk under the rock lyric limbo bar without even cricking your neck.

I'm much like Ulrichs head radio thing generally but I've always written stuff down and collated ideas; notes, phrases, drawings, scribbles, stories, anecdotes, that I'll revisit after an idea strikes.

I'd also say to know your limits and IMO most people should stay away from humour and sex. IMO again VERY few people can pull off funny in a song, even funny sarcastic, it's usually a fast track to bottomless cringe. (explicit) Sex is the same, especially when a man does it but generally it's a world source of floppy cocks and Gobi desert vaginal dryness. I mean lets go topical with that lame Cardi B pish that's roughly as sexy as varicose support tights and tawdry not bawdy, if it's even tawdry to be honest.

My prescription for you Mr Sleaze is to read a lot of poetry, now I've told you in the past that lyrics aren't poetry but it's going to help you see words out of a musical context and teach you a lot about what makes a good topic.

Also read fucking everything from 'real' newspapers to novels, to lots and lots of non fiction books and like they used to say on Blue Peter; 'keep a pen and paper handy'.

Taking something historical and lyricising it is often productive; see OSG favourites Wolf People with their song Night Witch which is about the Nachthexen a female Soviet bomber squadron and quite lyrically elegant . It's also a good example of music and lyrics in synergy where the music is suggestive of the subject while still staying on the flightpath of an actual song.

Another option is to do the comparing thing. So you're out on your bike and you see something (canal, duck, cars, sky, rain, junkie, old lady, rubbish etc) and you compare something to it like an emotion. This is a poetry perennial.

if you want to sharpen youR lyrical storytelling, I'd look at traditional Child Ballads and Rouds, many of which are filled with dark, surreal and violent themes and also beautiful lyrical musings on love. Tales of infanticide, murder, rape, revenge, shapeshifting, etc that would keep Tipper Gore up at night.

I'd also say, you've lived, you've been through stuff...write about it, not as lyrics so much but just write, you've got the time, so just write and hopefully you'll end up with a bunch of topics.

Another option is to subcontract your lyrics to someone else or just put it out to your cadres, cohorts and sundry hangers on that you'd like to look at their scribblings.

Inspiration can strike anywhere, I was Brambling yesterday gathering foraged berries to make jam/preserve (which I just had for breakfast and it’s MAGNIFICENT) with and i came up with a bit of a folk horror idea based on the activity and the memory of this amazing podcast on Brambles.

D
Gott in Himmel!

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