Revered by experienced tunesmiths but often overlooked by novice writers, the bridge, or the middle eight as some call it (derived from its typical, but not set in stone, 8-bar length), is a songwriting device/song section that’s traditionally used to change things up mid-tune, breathing new life into the structure of a song.
As songwriters (and human beings) we all want to be heard, but we also need to remember that our output is only as good as our input. Our creative engines need the fuel of inspiration, and that inspiration can only be absorbed when we’re listening and open to receiving it.
When I first began writing songs, I pretty much felt new musical ideas could only be discovered with guitar in hand, sitting at the piano or, if lucky, via a melody I might have found myself absentmindedly humming. As time went on, I started to realize that little bits of sonic inspiration were actually everywhere, waiting for me to scoop them up, if I just kept my mind open to the prospect.
From its earliest uses as a primitive means of communication, to the party-down rave-ups of the modern dance club, it seems rhythm is as instinctual and natural to human beings as the pounding of arguably the world’s first beat box; our hearts. Harnessing that innate power of rhythm/beat as catalyst for inspiration can be very useful to us as writers (and a lot of fun, too). Here are a few ideas for using rhythm as a tool to help get your songwriting groove on.
If you’re one of many disciplined writers who keeps to a daily schedule, great, hold to it. But if you find yourself hitting a wall, rather than trying to muscle through for schedule’s sake, forget it, go do the laundry. Now you may ask, why the laundry? It kind of smells bad. Can I do my bills instead? The answer is no. Your bills will make you think too much. Never underestimate the head-cleansing power of performing mundane, household tasks such as doing the wash.
In this piece, I thought I’d share some thoughts on a few really simple tools I use on a regular basis to capture my song ideas. Let’s face it, inspiration doesn’t always strike when we’re sitting at home in front of the piano. The muse may call in the car, the plane or the Laundromat. As such, I find myself relying more and more on the only tool I always seem to have in pocket; my smartphone.
In this post, I thought I’d touch on the subject of performance rights organizations (PROs), what they do and why they’re important to us as songwriters. (I realize this topic might be a bit old hat for the seasoned songwriters among, us but stick around, fogies; there’s something for you at post’s end.)
This week's blog marks my first post about song structure, a recurring topic going forward here on Songcraft. These pieces will attempt to demystify song construction by dismantling popular tunes in various styles, taking a peak under the hood, so to speak, to see what makes them tick.
As songwriters, we settle into our own individual writing processes. Sitting at that piano late at night. Strumming that guitar, TV on mute and so on -- every process as unique and personal as the musical results they yield. Yet the one thing these exercises hold in common is they all usually center around the use of an instrument. What if, just to change things up, we took that instrument out of the equation?
Within the virtual pages of this new blog, I plan to delve into all aspects of songwriting, both inspirational and perspirational (Is that a word?) as well as any and all related topics along the way. Whether you’ve been writing songs forever or just starting out, I hope you’ll join me and take something away from this as we go that will inspire you to write better tunes -- or just to write. I kinda hope it’ll be fun too.