Dear Resonate Community,
I’m a musician and songwriter in the SF Bay Area and wanted to know if any other songwriters up here would be interested in sharing experiences, techniques, ideas, processes used in writing songs. I can add my own experience for a start.
Lately, I’ve settled more into a process where I’ll sit down for a “session” with my guitar and just experiment. Playing riffs and different chord progressions. Not yet trying to actually write a song per se. I’ll record those on my phone and/or jot down the chords and riffs on paper or in a text file (if I can’t record and then record them later).
After a few times I wind up with a collection of musical “things” - not very long, maybe just a few bars. I’ll listen to those at some point and let them “sink in.” Basically what this does is the tunes buzzing around in my head or the diddy I wind up whistling during the day is one of my own. After a day or so I’ll get ideas about those diddies. Or just like a came of Post Office they change and evolve.
So at some point, separately, I’ll delve into topics for songs. This for me is a specifically writing function. Like writing poetry of just words that I like. I can do this at any time the thoughts occur to me, but just like the music diddies I can return to them and reread them and look for other ideas or develop them.
Finally, I’ll get the urge to actually produce a song, but when that comes, I find I’ve got a whole library of things to choose from. Kind of like spices in the kitchen that you’ve stocked up and then you finally decide to cook the meal. I’ll mix and match chord patterns and riffs and find words I’ve already started to write and try matching them up.
Another thing I’ve found myself doing is taking some time with the melody. I may have words, and chords, and structure (verse, chorus, etc.) worked out. And then I’m belting out a vocal melody over it. This might be just very visceral or heartfelt, but I’ll come back to that and play with the movement of the melody. There are so many options there, and it really turns out to be a place where making a note by note change in how the melody is sung makes a big difference in the song (of course, right), but I just write that to indicate it’s a conscious effort or step I’ve been taking.
Anyway, I hope this little write up is of interest and I would love to hear what other folks do and share and develop ideas along these lines.