Excerpt from Pat Pattison’s Writing Better Lyrics: Generate Ideas Through “Object Writing”
Today I took a deep breath and finally accepted that I have no talent as a songwriter.
And now, having accepted that I have no talent, I’m more excited about songwriting than I’ve ever been in my life.
Let me explain. [Read more...]
Played a short set at the Harvest Hoot in Camden, Maine today. Afterward a lady came up to me and said, “Wow! Weird hearing such a powerful voice out of such a skinny body!” Thank ya, ma’am.
Hope you’re all having a great weekend. Write some songs! –Nick
Got a lyric that needs to be set to music? Here’s a simple way to get started.
Fortunately for we songwriters, all language contains hints of melody that a sensitive ear can uncover. Every time you say even so much as “hello” to another person, you’re actually singing to them. And every time you listen, you’re being sung to. [Read more...]
I try to make my music joyful–it makes me joyful–to feel the music soar through the body. It changes your posture, you raise your chin, throw your shoulders back, walk with a swagger. When I sing, my face changes shape. It feels like my skull changes shape–the bones bend. ‘Grace’ and ‘Eternal Life’ are about the joy that music gives–the probably illusory feeling of being able to do anything.
— Jeff Buckley
Welcome back! In the first part of this series, we talked about what a rhyming dictionary is, how it’s organized, and how to find both true rhymes and oblique rhymes that fit your song beautifully.
Taken together, the techniques laid out in that one short article can multiply your rhyming possiblities fivefold. In this post, part 2, we’ll talk about how to cover yet more ground–because sometimes you have to dig deep before you strike a vein of gold. [Read more...]
Edited the post How to Use a Rhyming Dictionary Without Sounding Like a Tool to correct the term near rhyme to oblique rhyme.
Somewhere, buried deep in the pages of this rhyming dictionary, an entry waits like a tiny seed that could suddenly take root, erupt through the earth, and push that song that’s been stuck for months back into daylight. Or–better yet–it could sprout something entirely new and green and unexpected.
Whether or not you can unearth these new connections depends on your skill. Handled well, a rhyming dictionary infuses your writing with brilliant new imagery and ideas, helping you nest the perfect word in the perfect place. If used clumsily or hastily, though, a rhyming dictionary will reveal only the same old predictable rhymes.
Let’s make sure you’ve got every possible chance of uncovering something beautiful.
You may have heard the phrase “Music is a language.” The inverse is equally true: language is music.
Have you ever spent time listening to a language you don’t speak? The cadences, the sounds of the consonants and vowels, the inflections…I could listen to French, for example, all day. Go find a French girl, give her a big stack of legal fine print to read aloud, and put a microphone in front of her–I’ll buy a 10-disc set of that. I don’t understand a word of French, so it all sounds like poetry to me.
And actually that’s what poetry is all about: the sounds. The rhythms. The cadences. The beauty of language itself.
As songwriters we share whole horizons of common ground and history with poets. There’s a long tradition (we’re talking centuries and centuries) of classical composers setting poems to music. The word “sonnet” literally means “little song”. The word “lyric” itself originally referred to short, personal poems starting about five centuries ago. More recently, Leonard Cohen published several books of poetry before ever releasing his first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, in 1967. And this is just skimming the surface.
There are countless intersections between poetry and lyric writing. The two art forms are simpatico.
As a songwriter, anything you can learn about the craft of poetry will put you at an advantage in writing lyrics. Even the simple act of reading poetry will dilate your sense of what’s possible in lyric writing far, far past the limits of mainstream music. It’ll infuse your mind with fresh images, connections, and ideas. It’ll trigger memories and ideas that are uniquely yours.
All that, yes—and aside from all that, reading poetry is a joy in its own right. [Read more...]