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Title First                                    Concept First          
Verse                                           Prechorus                       Chorus                Bridge
Rhythm of Words                    Sound of Words
Point of view

Thoughts + Rhyme + Rhythm.
Lyrics connect you with people.


Story                         People listen to hear how it ends.
Love                          Celebration to suicide.    Apply any concept.
Current events       Positive or negative.  
Novelty humor       People focus on the funny parts.  
Gimick                      Write about anything.  The Beach Boys didn’t surf.
Parody                      Make fun of something.
Inspirational            Change the world.  Write about God, heroes, parents, etc.

Frailty of man          Drugs, greed, lust, hate, etc. 
Search for meaning
        Philosophy, deep thoughts.

See Hook strategies

Pop songs avoid confusing the listener.  
Keep your focus clear.
Pick a category and stick to the topic.

Rock songs thrive on confusing the listener.  
Be cryptic and mysteriouse.

Make your concept easy to relate to.
Start with a concept:     love, desire, romance
Make it personal:          I'll hold you tight, tonight

Contrasts in life have the most impact.
What we say,    vs.   how we feel. 
How you feel for her,     vs      how she feels for you.  

America, The land of the free....
      Has the most people in prison,
      Creates 10,000 new laws a year.

Write with a collaborator.       

They'll inspire you and add to your song.  
When a group of people improvise sections,  it makes the song stronger.  
It gives the song a natural, flowing quality.

See Jamming for Instrument collaboration  

A good lyric blends with melody.
Sing the song as you write it.


What matters to you right now? 

    A title might suggest a concept.
    An idea or concept might suggest a title.
    Any life experiences?
    Any cause you believe in?
    A storyline you’ve imagined or lived?
    A catchy phrase?
    A melody that suggests a lyric?

Write and read poetry 
Be like Jim Morrison.  Listen to The Doors 


Find a unique way to use the title. 
PIck a subject that's meaningfull.

If you haven't wrote any music...
Write the melody as you write the lyrics.  
Make the melody sound good without the music.

If you have written music...
Sing the lyrics over the music.
Improvise a melody.  
If any lyrics feel wrong, sing dummy lyrics that feel right. 

Move the title to different places in the song.  Sing it.

Title locations: 
Start or end of the verse.  Start or end of the chorus.
Put it as many places as you can.   

 “Let it be”   by The Beatles       The title appears 42 times.

Don’t force it.  
A good title can be used sparingly


What's the motivation for the song?  
Is this my experience or someone elses?
Why is the concept important to me?

Get specific.
Create a character.
What's the character thinking?
What are they feeling?
What's their problem, love or situation?
Is it present, past or future tense?

Write a lyric hook line.
Write several and pick the best.

Develop the lyrics    strategies                          LINK

Create a musical hook.
Improvise on your instrument.  
Find a riff or tone that feels right.  


Use a catchy opening line.
It has to grab the listener instantly.

The 1st verse tells us what the song is about. 
The next verses reveal more information.    

Start with a general idea and get specific in later verses. 
Or move from specific to general.  

Stick to the concept.

The verses set up the chorus.
Each line should move the verse along.

Use descriptive words and visual images

Write the chorus after you write the 1st verse..
It will suggest ideas for the next verse.

Try flipping the order of your verses.
The second verse might sound better first.


The pre-chorus sets up the chorus.  
It makes a smooth transition between verse and chorus.
Use non-specific lyrics if the verse is specific.    or vice versa.

It's often 2 - 4 measures long.  4 is average.

It can unbalance the song by adding extra measures.  
This creates tension that is resolved by the chorus. 


This is the lyric people remember and buy. 

The title line needs to sum up the verse.
It can be a few words, a deep thought or phrase.

The choruses don’t have to be all the same.  
If you have several choruses lyrics, use them.   
Keep the title in the same spot.  
Don’t change the title too much.

If the title is long, use a simple melody
If it’s short use an advanced melody.

If the verse melody is simple, make a good chorus melody.    or vice versa 

The chorus notes are often the highest in the song.

The chorus is often written first.  
It’s the most important part of the song.

The title line often suggests chorus lyrics and melody.


The bridge can:
      Sum up the meaning of the song. 
      Expand on the meaning of the lyrics.
      Provide something different     (an instrumental, etc.)

It contrasts the verse and chorus.
If the verse is fast, slow down the bridge    (deceleration).
If verse is slow, speed up the bridge           (acceleration),

You can change the key.

You can reflect on the verse or look ahead to a plot twist.

The bridge often occurs after the second chorus.

Bridges are often 8 measures or less.   
They average two lyric lines. 
They provide fresh chord changes. 

The Beatles: 
Paul or John often wrote the bridge for each others song.
This kept the songs fresh, and provided a lot of contrast.


Rhythm of the words is as important as the rhymes.

The biggest hits have a great word rhythm.
The words need to flow smoothly without music.

If the words don’t flow, change them.  
You want to be able to sing it fluidly.

Sing lyrics with a metronome or drum machine.  
You'll hear when it stops flowing.

You may have new ideas as you sing.  
Record them and work with them.

Word rhythm can be accelerated.
This adds excitement    (rhythmic acceleration).

Words can be stretched over measures.  
This is a romantic effect.
Vowel sounds are easiest to extend.

Good rhythm is predictable and unpredictable.
It's a balance between what's expected, and what's not.

Rhythm makes the melody more interesting.

Change rhythm patterns to make a lyric fit in a different section.
But keep them similar.

Each music genre has different rules.
Country and pop use the same word rhythms across sections.
It's easier for the audience to sing along.

Rap changes the word rhythms, the music depends on it.  

Rock songs change the word rhythm and maintain the song rhythm. 

Change word rhythms, but keep the chords and song rhythm.  
The listener won't get lost.


Words shouldn't sound awkward. 

Make it easy for the listener to sing along.

Use a thesaurus to suggest other words.
Use a rhyming dictionary to suggest rhymes.

Use lyrical and poetic devices.  See Poetic devices   

Write as if you're talking.

Ethical considerations:
To baby or not to baby, yeah yeah yeah.


1st person is the most personal, and popular.  (I, we, my)
Change 1st person lyrics to 3rd person, and see what the effect is.

3rd person       (his, her, they're)
You can address tough topics that are difficult in first person.  

An advice song.
3rd person helps you avoid being preachy.

Present tense:  It's here, now and immediate
Past tense
:        It's reflective, it looks back on a situation.

You can change viewpoints if you're careful.  
This adds movement to a story and moves the song along


If the song is for someone else, be aware of that artists image.
If it makes them look bad, they won't sing it.

Formal vs. Informal
If you're using simple words, don’t start using big words    (unless it's a gimmick)

Write songs that match your personality. 
Negative people don't write good positive songs.

Music style affects the lyrics.  
Country:     no swearing, crude lyrics or words like lust, sex, etc..  
Metal:         You can sing about murder, but not fluffy kitties.   


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