Posts Tagged ‘Song-writing’

How to Write a Song

Thursday, May 31st, 2012
How to Write a Song

People always ask, “What comes first when writing a song; the lyrics or the music?”

And my answer is …“Yes”.

I imagine it’s the same for many songwriters, though I should only speak for myself. I suffer from Muchneed Stimulousis, and the prescription is variety.  I need to have 12 different ways to approach a song so that when I’m stumped (which is often…and don’t ever think it should be any different), I always have a method to help move me forward.

I try to make sure I have a track, chord progression, lyric, or melody that I’m totally SOLD on before moving forward.  Don’t need all, just one. If I’m playing around with something mediocre, I put it down and move on. If it’s iffy or I’m stumped about how to use an idea, I’ll record it on my iPhone or handheld recorder (for some reason I still love using a handheld recorder) and then move on. Maybe in a different state of mind I can figure out why the idea came to my head. This happens a lot, so don’t scrap iffies.

Sometimes I…

Find the lyrical hook
Start with a lyrical hook phrase I love, find out the rhythm and tempo that the syllables naturally sound best at and try to solidify a melody. If I like it enough, I press record. If I can’t, I play around with a groove that compliments that rhythm and tempo.

Find a chord progression
Play around with a chord progression (including tempo and rhythm it sounds best at) on my main instrument. If I like it enough, press record.

Find a beat
What better way to get inspired than making your pants jiggle? I’ve found that if you come up with a truly amazing drum/bass track, it’s hard to end up with an awful song. Still quite easy to make a mediocre one, though.

Get off your instrument
I’m a fumbly piano player at best, but getting off the guitar and onto the keys forces me to create lines and progressions I never would on the 6 string. Do it.

Play with sounds
For the same reason just stated above. Using synth, organ, ukulele, bass guitar, and aux percussion all get me outside the box I typically stay in with just my guitar.

Because other people do have better ideas than you.

Jamming is kind of like co-writing, but more fun and with less pressure. I love getting with my drummer and bass player, and jamming on extremely rough ideas I have, or starting from nothing. Getting in front of someone else and creating is very inspiring. And other people often pick up on what you’re fiddling around with and add new ideas that lock in the good ones. Also, even though they say they don’t or can’t jam, if your musicians are any good at their instrument, they have amazing ideas floating around that would make great songs. Get them jamming, and they’ll show you without knowing it. It’s always good to trick your players.

Don’t trick your players
I was just joking about that. If you do it, you will be looking for new players and that sucks. Give them credit where credit is due. Bring them delicious fruit plates, cookies, or in my case Chic Fil A. My guys love Chick-Fil-A and they’ll do anything for it. I don’t think they read my blog, so I’m safe.

Listen/Learn other people’s music
My favorite artist, (& confessed man-crush) Sting, admitted to stealing artists’ chord progressions and other ideas from already successful songs. It’s not stealing when you make it your own…at least that’s what a good friend told me.

Walk with your phone off
Wow, do I do this a lot lately. When I sit for too long my thoughts become like a smelly catfish pond. For some reason, I come up with my best ideas when I’m driving. I would like to pass on the wisdom behind not writing down lyrics whilst driving, even if you have great leg steering-wheel control. Happy compromise? Make like an old person and take a walk. But turn your phone off for best results. Yes, it’s because of Words with Friends.

And there you go. There are 10 methods to the madness. Creativity is always available; it just needs to be…stroked? (Oh yeah, use a thesaurus)


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Eleonore’s Stuck, Listen & Download

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

This track was written early one morning amidst my friend Eleonore getting her car stuck on a rock. The night before, whiskey was had and we all slept on couches. Eleonore got up before everyone and promptly drove her Honda atop a rock in my yard. AAA yanked her down. Rich Brinsfield leads the song […]

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Tapestry, The Story of the Wool Merchant & Weaver

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

The very first song that was finished both lyrically and musically for my next album is a simple love story named Tapestry. I wrote it during my last cabin get-away in North Carolina. (I get a lot done at cabins) It’s about a rough man, the salt of the earth type, who works as a […]

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Cabin Fever [video]: The Going Mad of Justin Caldwell

Monday, March 26th, 2012

[tubepress video=”X0Hoj4bIX7U”] Filmed with iPhone and whiskey.

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“Gonna Get it Right” [Demo] (Story of the Fortune Teller & Inventor)

Monday, March 19th, 2012

[audio:|titles=Gonna Get It Right, Demo] Last week I wove for you the tale of the Fortune Teller and Inventor, part one. Here’s a rough demo I’m working on for the album. Check it out and feel free to comment below!  

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The Fortune Telling Gypsy That Stole My Musical Soul

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
The Fortune Telling Gypsy That Stole My Musical Soul

  Out of all the characters and relationships that we’ve developed for my next album, the most intriguing and complex might just be the Fortune Teller and Inventor. Lovers, born centuries apart, brought together by feverish visions and gyroscopic gears. In just a couple of days, you’ll be able to hear how their stories coalesced […]

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“Let’s Go” [demos], You Pick the Melodies

Monday, March 5th, 2012

[audio:|titles=Version 1] [audio:|titles=Version 2 ] [audio:|titles=Version 3] Here are some roughs for my newest song about a medieval cartographer that’s tired of just drawing maps and wants to see the world for himself. I’ve got three verse melodies for this song, “Let’s Go”.  Which ones your favorite?  Leave a comment below and help me write […]

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How a Hairy Prospector Gave Me New Album Gold

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
How a Hairy Prospector Gave Me New Album Gold

  DANIEL: “Ok, I have an idea. Give me a minute.” Daniel then proceeded to type furiously on his Mac. I sat on my couch across from him, pondering the scribbles in my notepad. It was summer. Nashville. 2011. We were spending the afternoon inside wrestling with the creation of my next album. Where should […]

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