A songwriter is someone who writes the lyrics to songs, the musical composition or melody to songs, or both. That is to say, a songwriter is a lyricist, a composer, or both. The word 'songwriter' is however more commonly used to describe one who writes popular songs than to describe a writer of art songs.
Songwriters may perform the songs they write themselves, or may write for somebody else to perform. People who sing their own songs are nowadays typically called singer-songwriters, although the tradition of doing this dates back hundreds of years. It is often speculated that pre-historic man must have made up and sung songs, and judging by some of our heavy rock bands and rappers, that must be true (only kidding). More recently, the troubadours of the middle ages sang their own work, as did the German Minnesingers.
Nelson - On songwriting
Most songs are written for somebody other than the composer to perform, although it is known that Schubert often sang his own songs at private parties, and there have been a number of composers who were also singers and wrote for themselves, Carl Loewe being one example.
Many modern rock and roll bands have one or two songwriters, usually members of the band. In many cases, the lead singer is one of the songwriters.
WELL KNOWN SONGWRITERS
There have been quite a few popular songwriting teams such as the Tamla Motown team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland and the teams of Leiber and Stoller, Lennon and McCartney, Morrissey and Johnny Marr, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, George and Ira Gershwin, Jagger and Richards, Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway, Guy Fletcher and Doug Flett, Geoff Stephens and Tony Macaulay, Rodgers and Hart, The Bee Gees, the Jackson brothers, Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood, Ashford & Simpson and of course Stock, Aitken and Waterman.
Many songwriters also serve as their own music publishers, while others have outside publishers. Songs in country music are often written by staff writers; songwriters directly employed by music publishers. Legally, songs may only be copied or performed publicly by permission of the authors. The legal power to grant these permissions may be bought, sold or otherwise transferred. This is governed by copyright law. Songwriting and publishing royalties can be a substantial source of income, particularly if a song becomes a hit record.
Songwriters in the popular music genre often also work as record producers, commonly using the professional title Producer-songwriter.
SONG WRITING TIPS
In my experience there is no set way to write a song. The inspiration can come from any direction and unfortunately, at almost any time - which means a lot of ideas are lost. It can start with a catchy lyric, a beat, or a riff. A good story or event may inspire you, or you may feel strongly on a subject and want to vent some spleen. Song writers work in different ways and each artist will normally develop a method they prefer to use.
I would also say that mood is important. If you are not in a creative and relaxed frame of mind, it will be harder to write. Once I get an idea for a song, I usually set a beat to help create the mood and keep me in time - I don't like using metronomes.
I also prefer to work with a musician or producer. I am not a musician, but if pushed will work out a chord sequence or phrase on which to build a song. I'd rather a co-writer generated a sequence on the guitar or keyboards. Of course it has to be a nice sounding sequence. If the vibes are wrong to begin with, you may as well watch the tennis. From this sequence, I will generate a melody. The melody may come intuitively by simply listening to the sequence. The subject for the song may already have generated some lyrics, when they can be used to form the melody. By now you should identify with some of this.
I use the recorder (tape or computer) to get down ideas. Having settled down with some paper and a cup of coffee or tea, I'll immerse myself in the sounds and try to let go vocally, recording the result. After a few takes, there should be some form of melody ideas worth developing. At which point you may need to rewrite or arrange your lyrics.
You're saying something with meaning, right? You're not just creating background noise, are you? Then you need to grab their attention early or you'll lose them even before your song gets to the chorus.
THE 3 MINUTE RULE
I don't fully understand why, but three minutes is just about as long as a song should be. After that, I'm looking for a change. I need to hear everything in that 3 minutes. Two and a half minutes is too short and three and a half minutes is a bit long. The only exception is a dance track, when I'm on the floor. When sometimes 3 minutes seems a bit short.
Although real-life is often more interesting then fantasy "you won't believe this", sometimes a true story is too complicated to fit in a 3-minute song unless you write about just one aspect. Whatever you do, have a clear vision of what the song is about. Because if you don't, the listener isn't going to figure it out for you. We all live fast lives and there just isn't time.
The hook is the hard sell. It's the catchy part of the song. It's the repetitious part that's implanted in your mind after hearing the song just once. Or that's what it's supposed to be. It's the words that everyone remembers, the melodic line you can't get out of your 're walking down the street, and suddenly that tune just comes from nowhere - that's the hook.
Everyone's ears are conditioned to listen for a song's hook. And since everyone's waiting to hear it, it's best not to make them wait too long. Typically, a song is structured with the hook as its chorus, and many song titles are lifted from the hook. Remember the purpose is to reel in the listener, so utilize your hook. When song writing, the trick is to generate the hook, then concentrate on developing the hook. The hook is what will sell your song to the music executive and it will ultimately sell your record to the public.
RADIO and TV
I like most popular music on the radio or tv, which means I'm totally open to writing songs in any genre. What you hear and see via this medium, is the standard o music you should aspire to - whether you like what they are playing or not. A good way to understand what makes popular music tick, is to pick apart the hit songs. You will find that most of the top tunes have a familiar structure, catchy lyrics and or music or, amazing production. Hype by the labels will get a song on the radio, but it won't keep it there.
SHORT and SWEET
Going back to the 3 minute rule, the radio generally plays short songs (2 1/2 - 3 1/2 minutes). If your song is longer then this you are drastically reducing your chances that radio will ever play it. There is nothing to stop you having a longer version on your full CD and send radio a shorter edited version (that's what the big labels do). But unless you can afford to do different version of your songs, keep it short. The same holds true for getting publishers, record companies, producers or almost anyone that matters to listen to your song - including fans. Where do you suppose the saying "Get to the chorus, don't bore us" came from. The quickest way for them to jump to the next tape or CD is to not grab their attention right away and then keep it.
Inject a sparkle using a turn-about on a cliché, as in Diane Warren's "UnBreak my Heart". Tell a real, honest to goodness story and make people believe it. Don't repeat words in the same line, and don't be afraid to use sound-alike rhymes instead of exact rhymes.
Although a lyric and poem share the features of words, rhyme, and meter, the two should not be confused and often are. The differences between a poem and lyric: A poem is designed to be read, it's length can vary, and it can be complex in its language. Readers have time to stop, re-read and mull over a poem. Not so with a song, for unlike a poem a song is time dependant.
For this reason a lyric on its own is an unfinished product and only a part of a potential song. The meaning of the lyric should be instantly clear and must understand as it is being performed. A lyric is designed to be sung, and every word should sing. So you can't afford to waste a word and each word must be carefully selected to get across your message the most effectively.
Each line of a song should build on the previous one. Anyone should be able to read your verses and have a general idea about what the chorus will be.
SPEAK YOUR MIND
IF AT FIRST...
Sometimes, all it takes is a fresh mind to put your creative flow back into motion again. Never be afraid to revise your songs or start them completely over. Very occasionally a great song is captured in minutes, after that it takes patience to perfect work. Great songs are generally rewritten until technically perfect. No one writes a song perfectly on the first go. Good material has always been revised and fine-tuned by the time you hear it.
This sorts the men from the boys. It's easy to have the idea and get it down in the rough. It takes dedication to work through and perfect the song. it also takes a high degree of skill and technical competence. NK
Recording artists: We have a number of songs available for you to perform, purchase or otherwise negotiate rights to. All monies raised from this site is to be used to send a message to world leaders that there is an alternative to Petrol Wars and Nuclear Power.
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Organ builders and installers in Northern Ireland, started in the garage adjoining the home of Christopher Gordon-Wells in 1966 then expanded into an old schoolhouse at Stoneyford north-west of Lisburn. Present Gregg Street workshop, was purchased in 1971 and has been steadily adapted and adjoining properties acquired for larger voicing shop and pipe store.
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