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Friday, April 16, 2004

Going through the motions


A lot of songwriting isn't as much as finishing a song as coming up with words,
phrases and sets of words that work well together. This is where the internet
can really help get your mind racing off in all kinds of directions.

For some reason you may like the word 'Essential'. You've written it somewhere
and looked at it. It's a nice word, it's nice to SAY and to SING, you haven't
really heard it used in any song that you know of before. It could be the start
of something.

This is a good time to type the word 'Essential' into Rhymezone which I have bookmarked on the left. Ryhmezone comes up with a few rhymes for 'Essential' but the one that seems to work for me alongside 'Essential' is 'Exponential'. So I write 'Exponential' down.

Then you could go to the OneLook Reverse Dictionary, which is a place where you can type in a concept and it will try and give you words based on that concept. This is good because it's not so literal as a normal dictionary. Amongst other words that caught my eye were "Neccessity', 'Essence', 'Fundamental' and 'Lifeblood'. I liked 'Lifeblood' because it's a visual word.

So then you keep on going, pushing these ideas around the page, connecting other words to them, wondering if they're going to turn into anything. More often than not, they don't. But when they have accumulated to half a dozen words and perhaps phrases you can ask yourself, what's this about? What's 'Essential'? Is it somebody you love or know, is it knowing that there's a God (or isn't one), is being miserable 'Essential'? What's it all about, this 'Essential-ness'? As you start trying to figure out what this is, writing these new ideas escalates the amount of words on the page until you have a sprawl of claptrap.

And then, from nowhere, you write down an altogether unrelated idea for a song which is much better than anything you've previously written and is nothing to do with the word 'Essential', and this new idea is so strong that you forget all about 'Essential-ness' and quite quickly finish this new song idea.

Sometimes if you want to dance with inspiration, you have to court her first.

07:32 PM in Mental Gymnastics | Permalink


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One thing that's been helping me come up with words, is this: I load MP3s of my finished music (sans lyrics) into my MP3 player (or cd player, etc) at work, and listen to them with headphones on while I do my job. I don't force myself to write, and sometimes I ignore songs entirely, playing one all day long and focusing on it only, etc. The point is to just go with your gut feeling. But I find that ideas are *always* flowing through my head, even if I'm not trying or even actively *listening* to the songs, so when everything comes pouring out, it seems like magic. Also, its an efficient use of time, if you have that kind of job...

Posted by: Grubgoat | Apr 17, 2004 4:22:42 PM