After you’ve been songwriting for a time, your brain gets accustomed to coming up with ideas on its own and gets in a system where is constantly churning looking for great melodies and great lyrics on its own. If you’re not there yet yourself, there are other things which you can do to kick start ideas for songwriting which I use frequently.
In this article I’ll cover 3 ways to come up with ideas for songwriting.
Specificity is Key
The first of these ideas for songwriting is to come up with a specific genre or micro-genre (as I like to refer to it) in which you want to write a song in the style of. If it helps, think of a specific artist whom you like and would like to write a song in the style of.
Once you have some ideas about who you want to write like or sound like for this particular idea, that will begin to open up some of the blockages which were holding you back to begin with. This way you are writing with a lot more structure as opposed to having an idea which could go an infinite number of different ways as in songwriting having too many choices can sometimes hinder progress on a song.
Focus on a Hook
Another one of my favorite ideas for songwriting is to plan to write a song which revolves around a specific hook. Think about what instrument will voice that hook whether that’s a guitar solo, a harmonica part, or more commonly a vocal part.
Once you commit yourself to developing a hook through a specific voice like that, creating a hook will be that much easier and from there the rest of the song can fall into place. Songwriting isn’t always about cutting corners like this method entails, but sometimes it’s just about getting started. Once you have a structure you can take it and make changes to it later on if you like. Just getting started on an idea makes transitioning into connecting parts of that song much easier.
Start With a Title
The last of these ideas for songwriting is a method which I teach people as being one of the most effective ways to start a song idea out of nothing. This method involves writing out a title for new song.
Come up with a creative title for your song, ideally something which lends itself to having a possibly interesting background with. “The End of This”, for example, is a title which I just came up with but which can branch out in any number of directions. It can be the end of a relationship, a habit, or any number of things. It can be a positive thing or more likely it can be very bittersweet, depending again on what it specifically is the end of. The title is a bit ambiguous and can intrigue the listener before they even hear the song.
Once you decide in which direction you want to take that title in terms of subject matter, use that title and subject matter to come up with a handful of lyrics for the chorus or use the words “the end of this” itself to come up with a vocal melody for those 4 syllables. Then pick out a key for the song and line some chord progressions within that key underneath of that melody.
This is a great way to make some progress on the chorus which makes it much more effective for branching out to the different sections of the song.