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Can't finish my lyrics
Old 15th March 2019
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
glasspipe's Avatar
 

Unhappy Can't finish my lyrics

Hello Everyone,

Apologies if a thread like this has been made. Anyway, I've been learning and making music for the past few years, released some albums, you guys know the story. I mostly make instrumental music and now I would like to branch out and challenge myself and write some lyrics. I'm not a singer but I'd still like to write some songs and find some vocalists to sing it. Problem is, I can't finish my lyrics.
I start out with a few lines, then after that, I hit a dead end. Been playing guitar most of my life so i have no problem coming up with harmonies/melodies. But my songwriting is way behind my instrumental abilities. I come up with music on my daw within an hour, then I hit a brick wall when I start writing lyrics.

Any tips you guys/girls can give me? I know it takes a lot of time and practice and I want to stick with this and I'm willing and want to put in the time. But how can i hone my craft when I run out of stuff to write?? When I listen to my favorite songwriters, they both inspire me and crush my spirit. Why are they so smart and witty!!! Anyway, I'll stop now before this turns into a mindless rant. Appreciate the help!!
Old 15th March 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
 

you might be...probably are...over thinking it. just write down whatever comes to mind next, you can change it later. just get something down to keep the flow. your mind is never blank, you simply reject stuff that comes to you

use a rhyme dictionary

read a few pages from a novel

take a walk

watch a movie or show episode

IOW, let your subconscious go to work
Old 15th March 2019
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
glasspipe's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave.R View Post
you might be...probably are...over thinking it. just write down whatever comes to mind next, you can change it later. just get something down to keep the flow. your mind is never blank, you simply reject stuff that comes to you

use a rhyme dictionary

read a few pages from a novel

take a walk

watch a movie or show episode

IOW, let your subconscious go to work
Thanks for replying. You may be right. I'll try not to over think and just take your advice. It just gets a bit frustrating at times. Especially if I'm learning something new.
Old 15th March 2019
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

I'll second the rhyming dictionary... Super helpful when you're stuck.

We've all struggled writing lyrics because it's hard, and yes the pro's make it look so easy. But even your favorite artist has some rhymie turds tucked away in his cupboards.

If you have a nice hook you can build around that all day long. But at first you'll end up doing a lot of moon, spoon and June lyrics. Sophistication takes time and practice, until eventually you can produce near rhymes where just the vowel sound will tie it to previous line(s). Words like 'sound' and 'clown' don't necessarily rhyme but they sound enough alike and can resolve the end of a line for you - things like that.


On this one (one of mine) the chorus goes :
Into the night, looking for lovers
among the broken hearts
We can't go on passing each other
the night is all we've got...


the words lover and other don't rhyme - but they work within this phrasing. Keep at it - and have an eraser handy!

Old 17th March 2019
  #5
Maybe you’re frustrated because you think it should be easy. It’s not.

Melodies and harmonies are easy for you because you’ve been doing it for years. Writing lyrics is hard because you’re just starting.

Imagine if someone came to you and said, “After years of doing X, I’ve decided to learn guitar. I’ve just started a few weeks ago, but playing melodies and harmonies is so hard. It’s so frustrating when I watch <fill in the blank amazing guitarist: Steve Vai, Hendrix, SRV> and he makes it look so easy! How do I do that?”

You’d probably chuckle and tell them it’s going to take practice and lots of hard work and time.

Don’t be discouraged and don’t think you have to knock it out of the park on your first (few dozen) attempt(s). If you write one good song out of every 20 songs you write, you’re doing great. If you write one amazing song in your entire life, you’re doing great, IMHO.
Old 17th March 2019
  #6
One more thing: always be on the lookout for an interesting turn of phrase, rhyme, idea... they can come from anywhere. Two songs I wrote came from conversations that I just wrote down. Another came from some evocative lines in a movie I was watching.
Old 17th March 2019
  #7
Gear Addict
 

If you're hitting a wall, perhaps you're trying to write lyrics for subject matters that you don't feel a connection with. If that's the case, maybe try writing about something you really care about, no matter what it might be. And if subject matter is the wall you hit, something else you might try is putting yourself in the shoes of someone who does connect with the subject you want to write a song about. Try to imagine their feelings and thoughts and write from what you imagine their perspective to be. Good luck!
Old 18th March 2019
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
glasspipe's Avatar
 

Some good suggestions here, so far the weekend has been productive. Been adding a bit of lyrics to my songs and trying not to over think. But please keep the suggestions going!
Old 20th March 2019
  #9
Lives for gear
A few tips I've picked up over the last 30 years of songwriting.

Just get on the mic and improvise melody and lyrics, free you mind, keep the tape rolling (so to speak) record everything, some of the time you will sing rubbish but don't judge as you go, just free you mind and let anything and everything come out.

I have gotten some fantastic song ideas that way.

Next, don't get stuck at a line, just skip that line and write the next, you will see how easy it is then to go back and fill in the missing lines.

Finally buy these books and study, study, study. I'm a committed student of music and still study all aspects of the creative art of music for several hours everyday .... that's after turning pro at 16 - 40 years ago! - I'm still as hungry for new skills and learning to hone my craft as I was when I was 12 years old when I started with music.

Book recommendations

Melody in Songwriting Berklee Press.

Everybook you can afford to buy by Pat Pattison his book Writing Better Lyrics is fantastic.

Let him teach you about Object Writing - it will really help free your mind.

Pat Pattison Home

Good luck.
Old 21st March 2019
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by thehightenor View Post

Just get on the mic and improvise melody and lyrics, free you mind, keep the tape rolling (so to speak) record everything, some of the time you will sing rubbish but don't judge as you go, just free you mind and let anything and everything come out.

I have gotten some fantastic song ideas that way.
I do this a lot. Sometimes garbage comes out, sometimes you get a few lines, and on a few very rare occasions an entire song has sprung forth.

Since I almost always (98% of the time) write music first, I end up w/a song with no words or vocals. Then to create a vocal line I sometimes just sing along and get some ideas. Then I have to go back and fill in lines. This can be a pain tho. So sometimes I give the song to a songwriting partner and she fills in the lyrics based on the melody. (she’s a better lyricist than I am).

However in the rare cases I already have lyrics (like when someone gives me lyrics), I like that better because I hate being stuck with 80-90% of the lyrics but you can’t finish those last lines.... argh....
Old 21st March 2019
  #11
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by glasspipe View Post
Hello Everyone,

Apologies if a thread like this has been made. Anyway, I've been learning and making music for the past few years, released some albums, you guys know the story. I mostly make instrumental music and now I would like to branch out and challenge myself and write some lyrics. I'm not a singer but I'd still like to write some songs and find some vocalists to sing it. Problem is, I can't finish my lyrics.
I start out with a few lines, then after that, I hit a dead end. Been playing guitar most of my life so i have no problem coming up with harmonies/melodies. But my songwriting is way behind my instrumental abilities. I come up with music on my daw within an hour, then I hit a brick wall when I start writing lyrics.

Any tips you guys/girls can give me? I know it takes a lot of time and practice and I want to stick with this and I'm willing and want to put in the time. But how can i hone my craft when I run out of stuff to write?? When I listen to my favorite songwriters, they both inspire me and crush my spirit. Why are they so smart and witty!!! Anyway, I'll stop now before this turns into a mindless rant. Appreciate the help!!

Write the lyrics first. Then it is easier to make the music to match.

Reversing that is very hard.
Old 21st March 2019
  #12
Lives for gear
Ive hired ghost writers to finish mine. Gave them a small percentage of the writing credits even.... but a good poet is worth it..
Old 21st March 2019
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noisewagon View Post
Ive hired ghost writers to finish mine. Gave them a small percentage of the writing credits even.... but a good poet is worth it..
I wonder how often this happens...

Writing lyrics is hard!
Old 21st March 2019
  #14
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snail View Post
I wonder how often this happens...

Writing lyrics is hard!
Writing great lyrics is hard.

Or more precisely - finding great original ideas to write about is hard - once I have a great original idea the lyrical part is a fun creative process that naturally flows out.
Old 21st March 2019
  #15
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by joe sixpak View Post
Write the lyrics first. Then it is easier to make the music to match.

Reversing that is very hard.
Elton John has never written a note of a song without the lyric first.

I tend to agree lyrics first is considerably easier, or at least getting the title and main hook working first really helps.

If I have a chord progression, I can improvise a 1000 melodies over it and all will sound melodic, how can one pick one over the other.

If I have a lyrical hook it then let's me shape and choose a melody then the rest of the song falls into place as the song now has a direction.

Interestingly I read Sting writes like this.
Old 21st March 2019
  #16
One of the things I try to remember when struggling writing lyrics:
Not every song has to have lyrics that rhyme.
Sometimes I find myself getting caught in this - you start with a verse, it rhymes, and all of a sudden, you are locked in rhymes...
Old 24th March 2019
  #17
Gear Head
 
CupcakeKitten's Avatar
 

Personally I always write lyrics completely separate from the music - i'd rather adapt and edit lyrics and melodies to fit each other later than restrict myself to a melody, timing or rhyme scheme when trying to write lyrics. Else I always end up focusing too much on "does it fit?" rather than "is it good?"/"is it saying or expressing what I want?". I find it easier to kinda distill a solid 'poem' down to a verse than the other way around. Unfortunately it seems to show when rhyme schemes and timing have completely dictated the lyrics, and ends up reading/sounding a bit awkward and clumsy or completely generic IMO.

As far as themes go, I wouldn't worry too much. At the end of the day it's often the same sorts of themes and experiences that have been featured and repeated in various art forms all over the world for thousands of years - love, danger, grief, anger, excitement, sex, frustration, adventure, struggle, conflict, mystery... the list goes on. IMO it's all about your own perspective, and telling a 'story' of sorts from your own point of view. Even if it's just a small snapshot from a bigger story, describing a feeling, a moment, or a the start, the middle, the end, a full adventure. You could tell the full Cinderella story, or you can craft a song about how you think it feels to be dancing in glass shoes.

Once you've got your foundation theme, for sure, rhyme dictionaries can be really helpful. I'd also recommend a thesaurus - I find it really helpful in offering other ideas and alternatives, especially when a line isn't really working and I want to try to re-phrase and reword something that's sounding not quite right, or add another meaning or connotation. Sometimes it can trigger a whole new idea. After all your vocab is your toolkit! Don't be afraid to write whatever comes to mind and don't be afraid to cut lines either. That's just what works for me anyway! Best of luck ^^
Old 30th March 2019
  #18
Gear Guru
 
kafka's Avatar
Get a big book of song lyrics and read them. Something like this will do: The Lyric Book: Complete Lyrics for Over 1000 Songs from Tin Pan Alley to Today

Most lyrics, even great lyrics, suck when read without music. The reason why is that lyrics aren't poetry. They don't have to be rhythmically strong on their own, and neither does the rhyme scheme. They're generally not self-sufficient when it comes to presenting similarity between lines. Nor, by the way, should they be. That's what the music is for. The lyrics just have to fit. Use a rhyming dictionary, but play it loose with the consonants. Learn to manipulate the schwa. Those vowels can usually be bent into shape when sung. At a minimum, the right pulses at the right points can work.

Take a few singing lessons, and your teacher will show you how a singer phrases the lyric to make it work. Listen to some great singers. Take, for instance, Luther Vandross. That man could sing a phone book and it would still sound like music. The better singer you are, at least in the context of your own voice, the more you'll see what lines you can deliver effectively.

There's an old adage that verses show, choruses tell. Inexperienced lyricists make the mistake of trying to convey emotion by telling about it directly. Don't do that, or you'll just sound self-absorbed and trite. Instead come up with a lyric that says the same thing. i.e. instead of saying "I thought about you all day", say "Walked by your house 16 times today." Let the audience get the idea through an image.

Also, you don't really need to be very concrete in your ideas. You just have to be catchy at the right parts. Leave some ambiguity. Leave a lot of ambiguity. So instead of saying "Walked by your house 16 times today", say "Got to know your paper boy, your milkman, and your mail lady, too."

Edit repeatedly, like I just did. Start with the trite, embarrassing, self-absorbed idea. Say the thing you want to express. Put it down on paper. Then refine it, and then replace some lines entirely with images, and then go back and do it again. Eventually the song comes together.

Accumulate images and fragments. I have piles of notebooks filled with them. I have lines I've held onto for decades. One day the right song will come along for the better ones. Music first, lyrics first - I don't worry about it. Sometimes I take an old lyric and make it fit a song. Sometimes I have a specific idea for a track that I want to convey. Just edit them so they come together, and don't be too precious about it. What I don't do is try to write the lyric while I'm writing the arrangement. They're just different thought processes, and trying to do one is usually a distraction to the other. In the end, edit, edit, edit, and keep what's working, and throw the rest in the garbage.

Last edited by kafka; 30th March 2019 at 01:15 AM..
Old 1st April 2019
  #19
I read this about Tame Impala (taken from their Wikipedia entry) and it is interesting in light of this thread and the question of music first or lyrics first:

“Parker's process for making music is "I’ll have a sudden, spontaneous vision of a song, have all the parts mapped out in mind, and do my best to record it as quick as I can. I’ll find my eight-track and do a quick demo of just the riff, or a verse or a chorus. The song will go for like 30 seconds. I’ll have a whole bunch of them [demos] and then I’ll just choose which ones to make into full songs".[75] For Parker, the music comes before the lyrics, "I usually write the lyrics after the melody and its timing have been decided. But the words have to be meaningful. I try to synchronise certain words with the best parts of the melody, but it can be really difficult and does my head in. I like to keep the meaning pretty open and ambiguous so that it’s not just me that gets something out of the lyrics. I usually write lyrics from a persona rather than tell a specific story."[79] Parker also said "Usually I am sufficiently motivated to think of new songs everyday, but I usually forget them. I seem to get an emotional kick out of sensing feelings of general desperation or hopelessness, whether it’s me or someone near me or someone in a movie or anything. It’s really difficult to sit down and force yourself to write a song, and that forced nature usually comes out in the song so I just have to wait until they come to me."[79]”
Old 1st April 2019
  #20
Lives for gear
 
s wave's Avatar
If you are hitting a brick wall then write about hitting a brick wall. Sometimes it is as easy as that. If you are stuck write about being stuck. If you want to be happy write about being happy.
Old 19th April 2019
  #21
Lives for gear
Isolate your theme (I.E Getting laid)

Envision it like a movie (I had sex with my camp counselor)

Get a title: (I.E "What I did last summer...")

Brainstorm all associated words, organize them into groups that rhyme, include your title.. Make a big list, (I.E Bang, Poontang, Thang, ****y, Sucky, Lucky, VD, He-she, Summer, Cummer, Bummer, Lumbar, Under, Camp, Vamp, Amp)

Slap that **** together:

V1:
Unlucky with the Buffy's, game was sucky at the fat camp
He-She's rocking VD's couldn't see me on a cat-scan
Summer camp, damp pant, left-hand bandit
Then councilor Betty got my dorm bunk slammin'

CHORUS:
What I did last summer
Deep woods dirty n' bliss
Oh I'm still a good scout mother,
But I ain't getting no badge for this

Easy....get on it!
Old 14th June 2019
  #22
Here for the gear
 

I know this is an old thread, but if you're still having trouble try lyrics websites like www.samplelyrics.com
I use this site to help with my songwriting.

Cheers!
Old 14th June 2019
  #23
Talking

Quote:
Originally Posted by terrible.dee View Post
Isolate your theme (I.E Getting laid)

Envision it like a movie (I had sex with my camp counselor)

Get a title: (I.E "What I did last summer...")

Brainstorm all associated words, organize them into groups that rhyme, include your title.. Make a big list, (I.E Bang, Poontang, Thang, ****y, Sucky, Lucky, VD, He-she, Summer, Cummer, Bummer, Lumbar, Under, Camp, Vamp, Amp)

Slap that **** together:

V1:
Unlucky with the Buffy's, game was sucky at the fat camp
He-She's rocking VD's couldn't see me on a cat-scan
Summer camp, damp pant, left-hand bandit
Then councilor Betty got my dorm bunk slammin'

CHORUS:
What I did last summer
Deep woods dirty n' bliss
Oh I'm still a good scout mother,
But I ain't getting no badge for this

Easy....get on it!
Have you recorded this yet?
Old 19th June 2019
  #24
Deleted 5cc4b50
Guest
Just keep pushing through. As noted, don't let drawing a blank on one line hang you up. Get everything you want to say down and then fill in the blanks, or rearrange stuff to close gaps. It took me a while to develop this mindset for work, but remember that everything is a draft until it is published and out in public. There is nothing that you write that can't be removed or reworked. Like Hemingway said, "the only kind of writing is rewriting."

Additionally, some times you have to let great ideas go if you can't get them to fit. It happens to me all the time, I'll write of a really stylistic lead or a series of paragraphs, but it steers the article into a territory that is diverging from the purpose of the work as a whole. Just cut that part out and put it somewhere to use later. There have been plenty of times I dipped back into my well of pieces and parts and found something that really sets a piece off. I keep a notebook of jokes and one liners that come into my head for just this purpose.
Old 20th June 2019
  #25
Lives for gear
 
s wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRealSPH3 View Post
Just keep pushing through. As noted, don't let drawing a blank on one line hang you up. Get everything you want to say down and then fill in the blanks, or rearrange stuff to close gaps. It took me a while to develop this mindset for work, but remember that everything is a draft until it is published and out in public. There is nothing that you write that can't be removed or reworked. Like Hemingway said, "the only kind of writing is rewriting."

Additionally, some times you have to let great ideas go if you can't get them to fit. It happens to me all the time, I'll write of a really stylistic lead or a series of paragraphs, but it steers the article into a territory that is diverging from the purpose of the work as a whole. Just cut that part out and put it somewhere to use later. There have been plenty of times I dipped back into my well of pieces and parts and found something that really sets a piece off. I keep a notebook of jokes and one liners that come into my head for just this purpose.
Drawing on great writers like Hemingway (man he could say so much with small anglo saxon words in such small space and precise) and the opposite end of Faulkner... to Poe they are great blocks busters. And my fav... Ambrose Bearse... Read his short story wow - Psychological Shipwreck...(short story) sounds like a story written today... a father of spirit mind and sci fi prose http://www.online-literature.com/bierce/2025/
Old 20th June 2019
  #26
Deleted 5cc4b50
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by s wave View Post
Drawing on great writers like Hemingway (man he could say so much with small anglo saxon words in such small space and precise) and the opposite end of Faulkner... to Poe they are great blocks busters. And my fav... Ambrose Bearse... Read his short story wow - Psychological Shipwreck...(short story) sounds like a story written today... a father of spirit mind and sci fi prose http://www.online-literature.com/bierce/2025/
Not sure why I didn't say that before, but reading is easily one of the best ways to springboard writing ideas. Cormac McCarthy is good for that, very similar to Faulkner. Kerouac if you're in a lighter mood or searching for some wild construction.

"If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or tools to write." —*Stephen King
Old 21st June 2019
  #27
Lives for gear
 
s wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRealSPH3 View Post
Not sure why I didn't say that before, but reading is easily one of the best ways to springboard writing ideas. Cormac McCarthy is good for that, very similar to Faulkner. Kerouac if you're in a lighter mood or searching for some wild construction.

"If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or tools to write." —*Stephen King
It is funny how many great writers were relevant in their day... and some weren't. I love reading contemporary pop writing and contemporary progressive... and trying to analyze, is the next wave coming from the "in" or the "edgy".

Other stuff... Kerouac yes... and lets add Brautigan - he has some absurd comedy mixed in. Runyon great short stories like 'Blood Pressure'. LOL
Old 21st June 2019
  #28
Deleted 5cc4b50
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by s wave View Post
I love reading contemporary pop writing and contemporary progressive... and trying to analyze, is the next wave coming from the "in" or the "edgy".
I could never get into modern fiction. Not sure why, most likely I just assume it's sentimental or derivative crap. I'm probably missing a lot of good stuff. Recently finished Visit From The Goon Squad (it's about record excs, label owners, producers and people that float around in the music biz, so I'll say it is relevant to the forum), very good and the way the writer builds the story is phenomenal. I only picked it up though because it won a Pulitzer. Kind of weird, because I search out and enjoy the most obscure new music, but when it comes to books I'm super vanilla.
Old 21st June 2019
  #29
Lives for gear
 
s wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted 5cc4b50 View Post
I could never get into modern fiction. Not sure why, most likely I just assume it's sentimental or derivative crap. I'm probably missing a lot of good stuff. Recently finished Visit From The Goon Squad (it's about record excs, label owners, producers and people that float around in the music biz, so I'll say it is relevant to the forum), very good and the way the writer builds the story is phenomenal. I only picked it up though because it won a Pulitzer. Kind of weird, because I search out and enjoy the most obscure new music, but when it comes to books I'm super vanilla.
The only modern fiction I have read is Dick Francis. Biographies are good. Progressive prose is not necessarily fiction. In fact these are some of the books I enjoy most.
Old 21st June 2019
  #30
Deleted 5cc4b50
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by s wave View Post
Progressive prose is not necessarily fiction. In fact these are some of the books I enjoy most.
Can you throw out some suggestions? Always love book recommendations.
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