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#16June 21st, 2005 · 10:27 AM
115 threads / 18 songs
1,414 posts
United States of America
i wouldn't say so much that i write the lyrics off of a riff. (although... when that does start to happen, i just use the riff for the vocal melody and then start over with the guitar.)  i guess i meant that i try to start with some underlying strumming part and then build off of that.. .that way i can turn something i like into actual chords

but you're rightm songwriting is both ambiguous and abstract, and there's certainly no formula for it
#17June 22nd, 2005 · 01:08 AM
3 threads
9 posts
im the opposite
all i can write is lyrics. 

but i love the lyrics i write, what i think about is how i truely feel like at the time. and write it down, and the words just are forced out of my poetic head and onto paper. i love expressing colours. i think of what colour im in (my mood), and just express it. its all about expressing your colours! the words are inside you, just express them!

p.s either put your fav song on while your writing, and that will help, or don't put any music on at all, because that will totally influence your lyrics!


**keeping music alive**
#18June 24th, 2005 · 05:51 PM
6 threads / 4 songs
19 posts
United Kingdom
WOW!! I started this thread thinking not many people would reply to it but the feed back has been phenomenal! This is obviously a subject that every one on this site has a strong opinion on in some form or another. Although there has been some fantastic advice from every one here I still can't write lyrics! Thanks for all the help though and keep the words flowing guys!
#19June 28th, 2005 · 11:16 AM
102 threads / 59 songs
204 posts
This has been a really good method for me recently. I've found that almost every chord progression or riff has at least one word or idea attached to it. In my band we'd often spend a lot of time jamming on riffs and chord progressions with no lyrics written yet until the song actually had everything in terms of structure but no lyrics, except for one or two words. For example one funk jam we played with for about a month before writting anything only had the word "Catastrophunkadelic" another one the words "Clark Kent". These words were really just something that someone thought of when they heard the song without the lyrics and because the music made us think this word the lyrics could match the music. From there, writting lyrics to Clark Kent was pretty easy because Clark Kent suggested a song about Superman, Catasrophunkadelic was a lot harder until we broke down the work and tried to fit it to a situation, so I give you the lyrics to Catastrophunkadelic, half rap half pure funk.

Now let me tell you 'bout the XY chromasome,
Straight from my brain right down to the microphone.
How does it seem from the female mind?
Pushing the clocks 'cause we're never on time.
Toilet seat up, our trademark move,
And on the sofa cusion we leave an ass-groove.
Basketball, football, it's all the same,
It ain't my fault I can't remember her name.
Belching, farting and bodiliy noises,
We're all the same, you ain't got no choices.
Open you're eyes and see what's really there,
there ain'y an inch of my body that ain't covered in hair.

Sing the blues, or sing some other song,
Don't seem right but how could I go wrong?
When my baby left me for some other chick.
Catastrophe? Oh no! Catastrophunkadelic!

Well my sweet girl well she left me today,
And when I cried oh girl now why don't you stay?
I looked in her eyes and I could see she was pissed,
She whirled around and through me a laundry list:
You lie, you cheat, you're bad with commitment,
You look at other women when you're supposed to be listening.
You never call when you say you will,
And when you do its the sleeping pill.
I told you once, I told you twice,
I'll never be your contraceptive device.
Now don't it seem strange that my baby has left me?
She's got a new man, and his name is Lucy.


But upon closer inspection, don't you know it came to my attention
that this swollen infection, caused by unweary protection
of my private section, and mixed signal detection
yeild's penile rejection.

So I says babe it's alright, if you strike out of spite,
'Cause I'll admit that last night, my intentions weren't right.
And I says honey be gentle, 'cause I know you're judgemental,
And I swear its accedental that my hand fell on her ass.

I write this to prove that a made up word as rediculous as Catastrophunkadelic can evolve into something bigger. Find something you want to say. Find what your music is suggesting and mix the two until you get good lyrics, it takes time but it comes eventually. The only other thing I can think to add is about rhyming. If you begin with rhymes you have to continue it for that chord proggression. Note also that lyrics in compound time or any other time will rarely match lyrics in simple time. There is one great time to break the rhyme and that is at the end of a proggression if and when you play a really deffinitive somewhat dissonent chord. Anytime you play a chord who's notes do not belong mostly to the key you are playing in and this chord is rare in your proggression it will make your lyrics more important and defined and is a great time to emphasize the messafe of your song without rhyming. Finally, if you can, write a chorus and title first. It really helps to understand what it is you want to say, but remember that a song doesn't need to have the standard structure of verse chorus. Have fun and good luck.
#20July 4th, 2005 · 05:59 AM
4 threads / 4 songs
31 posts
United Kingdom
the way i do it is write the music....and let someone else worry about the lyrics
#21July 5th, 2005 · 08:31 PM
10 threads / 8 songs
39 posts
Amen, Samuel.
Or better yet, write songs not meant to have lyrics.
#22July 5th, 2005 · 11:25 PM
3 threads
9 posts
lyrics are just important and beautiful as music. so let your descriptive poetic mind lead your pen on paper.
#23July 6th, 2005 · 03:51 AM
115 threads / 18 songs
1,414 posts
United States of America
(this isn't really directed at anybody specifically, i just thought i should say it!)

life is one big metephore, so don't overkill the use of them   they have their place, but too much is painful if they're not used well.  make the words do the work, and don't get sloppy.  if you've got to, just sit around and watch Friends until something hits you.  just don't go crazy-nuts with the over-used metephors... be original!!  that's what makes you stand out.
#24July 22nd, 2005 · 03:54 PM
48 threads / 41 songs
144 posts
New Zealand
re: What I find hard is ...
randomdave wrote…
My own personal hero (John Mayer)

Good call. He's an excellent lyricist. But even better is Ani difranco. I suggest you lisen to her. Songs like 'Grey' and 'to the teeth' always blow me away with their lyrical ingenuity.

- Chester
#25July 23rd, 2005 · 04:02 AM
10 threads / 8 songs
39 posts
For lyrics I have to go with Bob Dylan.  Dylan's lyrics are impressive just by volume, but even though I'm not a huge fan of his music, I have to respect him as, I believe, one of the greatest lyricists to ever grace this planet.
#26July 26th, 2005 · 07:46 PM
31 threads / 1 songs
434 posts
United States of America
you need inspiration first, if this is a chord progression, a song, a beautiful sunset, a big phat doobie, whatever it is, get some and write from the inspiration. emotionally turbulent times (those times when you're extra happy, extra sad, extra angry) are especially good for writing lyrics.

use imagery... think of a picture, visualize it, describe it in once sentence... think of another related picture, do the same... see how fast you can flow the pictures together one after the other, and see how interestingly you can describe them, eventually you'll find yourself rhyming without realizing it and it'll be cool...

and then... write the music to the lyrics... also, keep at it. i wrote a lot of cheesy lyrics when i first started... it does take a while to get the feel of it.

lyrics then music - perhaps the best way to actually produce songs... i'm sure it's doable the other way, but it always seems to me that lyrics happen first and then music happens after... i dunno... often i have to have some sort of music to write the lyrics by, and then i change the actual music the lyrics are sung to later. but the point is that the end product usually comes from the lyrics, even if the lyrics came from a different song or source...
#27July 27th, 2005 · 02:33 PM
11 threads / 2 songs
69 posts
United Kingdom
I have to say, lyric writing for me is the one i don't want to do. I've been told that i'm a good lyrics writer, but i normally spend least amount of time on them. What i tend to do is write the whole song and perfect it, then look at the lyrics. Mainly i look at problems around me, i wrote one song on homeless people, which i will put up on here shortly. Once you have written the lyrics, leave them for a while, then go back and analyse. Look at what you think sounds stupid or doesn't go with the "feel" of the song, eventually you'll have a good set of lyrics. Hope this helps anyone who can't write lyrics well.
#28July 27th, 2005 · 06:06 PM
31 threads / 1 songs
434 posts
United States of America
ahhh yes, revision, this is the key to a writers mastery

writing lyrics can be studied in the same manner in which writing anything else can be studied. if one studies classical english concepts and rhetorical techniques, writing can become a very pleasant quick and simple task.

however, always always always revise. i don't know that i have ever written a song i did not ultimately, later revise. sometimes i write a wicked good song, and then i realize that i just said the exact same thing in slightly different ways in two different spots, so i take the best of both parts, eliminate the excess fat around the edges and then put it all together to acheive a much nicer more cohesive result...

sort of like comping from a vocal take
#29July 28th, 2005 · 06:21 AM
115 threads / 18 songs
1,414 posts
United States of America
i have this habit of writing a boatload of lyrics, and once i try to write the music for it, it typically doesn't fit very well.  that's where i usually run into my revision.

revision is exactly what it says... you visualize again.  take another look at the scene and try to clarify stuff.
i realize that i just said the exact same thing in slightly different ways in two different spots
that's what you've gotta do to keep the listener interested, because even if the two spots have their differences, the listener is always going to be tuned into the song slightly differently than you unless it's absolutely clear about what you're saying or feeling, even if the feeling that you're conveying is one that is an unclear feeling... 

play with melody too.  that's always the hardest part for me, but try to keep it varied.  too many pitches that are the same or close to eachother can be fairly redundant.  keep the listener interested.  if you've achieved that, you'll know it, and you'll be smiling to yourself when you give the track another listen.
#30October 31st, 2005 · 04:55 PM
1 threads / 1 songs
13 posts
I started writing lyrics in September, 2003, when I simply fell in love. To this time I've written one hundred lyrics and now I think I can say something in this topic

The basic thing is an idea, an inspiration. I try to listen to as much different music as I can, to read different books, to know various people from the past.
Sometimes I write in strange places (toilet, classroom) because I don't wanna loose an idea. Sometimes I write small pieces of words that sounds good or funny, and after several days I collect them into one song.

I always try to compare something I write about (love, hatred, violence) to other things: animals, plants, illnesses, historical events. The last thing is grotesque: I put different things together to make a contrast and I make them look more blunt, more painful. I try to write controversial and violent lyrics, so they make a big impression and force people to think.

Here's a sample lyric that I wrote when I was late 15. It was dedicated to a girl that I liked very much. I wrote some music too and I even tried to record it, but it failed :/

Adam (Man From Hell) (Goodnight All Good Children)

There was a good man in this world
There was a woman living with him
This story had a beautiful cover
But some day it became scratched and dark

There were good people in this world
Mother T would applaud them
There was a Nobel price waiting
But Eve and Adam lost everything

Count down from ten to one
Look at the angels running down
The apple pie gets infected
This is the time when Adam falls

Dear Eve, could you say it once again:
"We're naked and proud, we'll never stop
Travelling around the Eden island
No need to worry since the evil's gone"

The heaven is so near
But I'm a hundred miles away
How could I be so dumb
To run away from there

Count down from ten to one etc.

Dear Eve, you killed us
The island is gone from the atom bomb
1,000 happy songs are deprecated
The march of death is our anthem

The King is crucified
And we're playing rock'n'roll
Our children birth as deads
In the name of Father

Count down from ten to one etc.

Dear Eve, how can we tell our kids:
"I'm sorry, you wear the evil's badge
The package of sins is on your back
You're gonna wear it for the whole life"

The gun is now my toy
And I let my children kill
They ask me what is love
I have got no answer now

Count down from ten to one etc.
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