Finding Your Inspiration
Throughout history, songwriters have used their lyrics to capture almost every conceivable feeling, subject and experience. But just how much really goes into finding the right words? On this course you’ll explore every element of the lyric-writing process – experimenting with structure, rhyming schemes, genre, storytelling devices and more.
You’ll analyse some of the most influential lyrics ever written, while developing and discovering your own unique voice. And you’ll do it all at your own time and pace, working your way through a series of fascinating modules created by real industry experts.
There will be many different writing tasks and exercises throughout the course, and we recommend trying all of them. After all, the only way to become a better writer is to write more and push the boundaries of your comfort level.
No matter the kind of writer you are, this course aims to help you bolster your tools as a lyricist to unlock deeper meanings to your songs and help inspire the creative writing process. Every songwriter’s intention for their songs is different and, of course, every listener’s reaction to those songs will be subject to personal taste.
The Art of Writing Lyrics
Lyric writing is often a very personal process, and your intentions as a songwriter will be very different to anyone else’s.
For example if you’re a folk artist, you might be less direct and leave more room for interpretation in your lyrics. While this would make your work less commercial, it also allows more space for the listener to inhabit the song and invest something of themselves in its meaning, making it more precious and leading to a long-lasting relationship.
If you were writing in a more conventional style of music however, you’d probably be less concerned with longevity and more with tapping into youth-led preoccupations – incorporating new slang and buzzwords and using simple concepts. Your aim would be to write something catchy, with universal appeal.
Think about singer-songwriter Steve Earle’s quote ‘art is about our similarities’. In a song, nowhere is this more true than the lyrics. It’s why there are so many love songs – because we all have some experience of that feeling. The difficulty comes in expressing that without resorting to clichés. Yes, ‘I love you’ is clear and succinct. But ‘I celebrate my love for you with a pint of beer and a new tattoo’ (in Billy Bragg’s ‘Greetings To The New Brunette’) is arguably a more interesting and engaging way of saying the same thing.
Broad statements can also be problematic. Saying ‘war is stupid and we need to find another way’ is doubtlessly true, but perhaps a conversational lyric from the point of view of a soldier in the thick of the fight might be a more emotionally-involving lyrical device, giving us a human perspective we can emotionally relate to as opposed to a slightly bland truism. Noticing a lover’s broken tooth or chipped nail varnish might be more interesting than a mere ‘baby, you’re beautiful to me’.
One thing is for sure though – for your songs to have meaning, the lyrics must be treated with the same care, if not more, as the music itself.