The 'Rate - Limiting Step'
NERD ALERT! In chemical kinetics, the overall rate of a reaction is often approximately determined by the slowest step, known as the rate-determining step (RDS) or rate-limiting step. If we apply this concept to songwriting the "rate-determining step" in my process is writing the LYRICS!
Words do not come naturally to me. Trying to express how I feel does not come naturally. Trying to formulate a message in a coherent yet simplified way does not come naturally. I am a message and concept writer. The songs I write are rooted deeply in heavy subject matters and often times (more so in my earlier works) it is very difficult for me to find the right words to convey accurately what I want to say. Like writing the music, I go by feeling, Personally I do not think there is a right or wrong way to write lyrics. Others may not like your lyrics but you cannot tell the creator that it's wrong. Nevertheless, this is not to say that the courses and workshops that are offered at post-secondary schools does not have value! In today's blog, I'd like to share how I approach my lyric writing and hope that it can assist in your own process and not become your Rate Liming Step!
1) JUST WRITE
This is something that I struggle with and a skill that I need to improve on. Journaling is a great way to put down all your ideas in an imperfect way! Throw out all you know about sentence structure, grammar and spelling! Don't force rhymes or any rhythmic patterns. Use your 5 senses to describe a particular feeling to help bring your listeners into the same experience! Choose a small moment that happened in your life and write about it!
2) Listen to Other Artists' Lyrics
This was one of the main strategies that improved my overall songwriting. I started noticing how simple and direct lyrics actually were! I noticed repetition and how clean and clear ideas were made! What is the main message you want your listeners to walk away with? This will be your chorus. Are there any experiences that influenced or lead up to this message? This will form the basis of your verse!
3) Write As You Speak
In my previous blog I talked about being more in tune with my voice and learning what is means to "sing as you speak". Writing as you speak is a similar application because it focuses on our natural daily conversations we have with our friends and families! Although we may get caught up in wanting to write something enlightening, abstract and poetic, it may actually detract from your message and quite frankly lose your listeners' interest!
4) Short, Sweet and To the Point!
A hard lesson to learn but one that made all the difference in my writing. Lengthy and jam packed lyrics causes confusion. if you want your listeners to remember your song and you want to create an "ear worm", the way to do so is to write simple, short and repetitive lyrics that will make it easier for both you as the writer and your listeners to groove to!
This is a strategy that I would love to experiment more with! As a singer-songwriter I tend to be very territorial with my work and like to prove to myself that I wrote and created my tracks. Nevertheless, collaborating is the best way to grow and share knowledge with other artists! This way you'll start to realize that you have good ideas and learn how closely related lyrics and melodic rhythms are to one another!