The Ultimate Guide To Being Inspired For Songwriting
4th December 1971, sitting in the crowd of a Frank Zappa Concert at Montreux, was the popular music band Deep Purple. A flare gun was fired at the ceiling, and the concert hall was set on fire. Deep Purple moved to a restaurant from where they could look at the beautiful Lake Geneva. As the fire in the concert hall died down, a layer of smoke appeared on top of Lake Geneva. The serene picture of the smoke dancing on top of the water served as the inspiration for Deep Purple's Machine Head Album song, 'Smoke On the Water'.
This beautiful story of inspiration for songwriting arrived without any notice, just in the spur of the moment! The inspiration for songwriting can be hidden anywhere, in a cup of tea or a serene scenery. It is this nature of inspiration that can come from anywhere that makes it difficult for people to realise it. Since the inspiration for songwriting has no fixed source, it can become a seemingly arduous task to write a song.
How to find inspiration?
For some, songwriting is an innate talent, and it is no hidden fact that they excel at it. But everyone has the talent of songwriting; one just needs to discover their talent. Songwriting is a way of expressing to the world who you are. Often, you will find your muse or inspiration in the most unlikely places, but that is the beauty of songwriting. The inspiration for songwriting is like the fleeting wind that suddenly touches you and makes you feel like you are floating.
But we at Music Majlis have a few tips in our ultimate guide to being inspired for songwriting to bring you closer to this fleeting wind.
The number one rule for anything to work out for you is trying to make it happen. The same goes for being inspired by songwriting. Waiting for inspiration to hit you while you sit on your desk or wait in your bedroom is probably not the best way to get inspiration. You have to look for it. Get up and start searching! You could go for a walk outside, look at the empty streets, the trees around the block, or the cars and buses zooming past you. Maybe you don't even have to go outside! A cup of coffee, the room you stay in, talking to someone, flipping through the magazine; anything can be the source of your inspiration as long as you look for it.
Waiting for your songwriting inspiration to appear out of thin air will not get you anywhere. Rather you must look for your source of inspiration. Look for what works for you, and then keep writing new songs. The inspiration for songwriting is hidden in the places and people that we see all the time. Keep that in your mind, and keep digging for inspiration.
As we talked about earlier, inspiration can hit you anywhere at any time. Be prepared for it. Always keep a pocket diary or a mini notebook close to you. As soon as you find some inspiration, note it down. Maybe a few words or a few lines in a chorus, whatever it is that comes to you at that time, write it down. Then ponder over it and try to create a full song based on that bit of inspiration that you received. Many famous songs have come to reality only after the first figment of inspiration arrived at an unusual time but was recorded by the writer.
For example, Sir Paul McCartney, the co-vocalist, co-songwriter, and the bassist for the Beatles, once got the inspiration for a song in a very unusual manner. According to the biographers, McCartney had a dream one night while in his room at the home of his then-girlfriend Jane Asher at Wimpole Street.
In this dream, McCartney composed the entire melody of the song "Yesterday". He woke up, went straight to his piano, and played the tune he created while dreaming. That little act of playing the melody on the piano prevented McCartney from forgetting what would go on to be another hit song by the Beatles.
A single moment of inspiration can be lost forever if it is not recorded or noted down. The human mind is forgetful, and thus you must always make sure you are ready to note down whenever inspiration hits you.
Not every songwriting inspiration will be like Sir McCartney's and give you the entire song. Rather, you will just find enough to get you thinking most of the time. As a songwriter, you must build the habit of writing regularly.
Start small, probably just fifteen minutes a day, but ensure that you keep doing it every day. You may not complete the song on the first day itself but make sure that you develop the habit of writing daily. It would be best if you devote yourself to writing every day to ensure that you can get into the rhythm and feel of the new song you might be working on.
To start, you could place a recorder and record some chords or melodies. Or maybe get a pen and paper and jot down some lyrics. Wherever your starting point may be, be urgent in making it a habit of yours.
What is the one thing that sets apart all the great songs from the rest? They are originals. Songwriting is an expression, a way of showing to the world who you are. Thus all your songs must reflect your individuality. Every song should be born from the innate inspiration that you acquire. It must represent what and who you are.
This does not mean that you stop listening to other music. Listen to other artists, and gather inspiration from them. But when you sit down to write the music, make sure you listen only to your inner voice. Your inspiration is inside you. Your inner voice will help you realise what you want to tell the world. Use this inner voice as much as possible as it is the only actual source of inspiration that always works.
When you wake up and have not even started your day, you are free from all the responsibilities and stress awaiting you. Your mind is not cluttered with social media or replying to texts or something yet. It is fresh, and a fresh mind is the best place to start songwriting.
The most important task is to ensure that you utilise these morning hours to their maximum potential. Cultivate a habit of writing songs early in the morning as it will be easier to tap into your inner voice too. With a fresh and free mind, you can also work on the little figments of imagination that you receive throughout the day.
It is also a good time to ponder and try to complete song lyrics that you are stuck on. In these morning hours, your inspiration is true to yourself, and it is easier to transfer this raw inspiration from your mind to a recorded form.
Music is made up of rhythm, melody, chords, and lyrics. The easiest of these is the melody. Often when starting, songwriters start with creating the melody. The melody is the base of any song, and it is easier to write lyrics on top of it.
Therefore, whenever you doubt where you should start creating your song, think about its melody. When looking for inspiration, most of the time, you might start humming a melody randomly. Keep a recorder close by, usually the recorder on your smartphone, and use it to record this melody as you hum it.
Later on, you can listen to this melody and develop a song on it if the melody appeals to you. When you have a melody, you also get a basic idea of what emotion or feelings you want to convey through the song. With this, creating the lyrics, deciding the rhythm and the chords in the song also become easier. The melody can further inspire you to create more songs.
Inspiration is ethereal. It cannot be contained or captured no matter how hard you try. You do not know when your inspiration for songwriting is going to come. But you also do not know when it is going to disappear.
Often, when you are writing songs, you will start with a mind full of inspiration, but soon, that inspiration just disappears. No trace is left in your mind about what you had started working on. Inspiration is finicky and completely depending on it is not an ideal way of writing songs.
Yes, being inspired for songwriting is important, but that inspiration for songwriting should serve as the starting point for your songs. Try to complete as much as possible when the inspiration is still alive in your mind. This will allow you to have something to go back to and rework when you are out of inspiration.
Around us, there are a lot of phrases and words being spoken. What is a song at its core? A series of musical notes and words. When looking to be inspired for songwriting, listen to your surroundings. People express themselves using words and expressions. These words and expressions could become the lyrics of your song.
Some of the most prominent examples of common phrases becoming popular songs are "You can't always get what you want." by the Rolling Stones and "That'll be the day" by Buddy Holly. Buddy Holly came up with the song "That'll be the day" after watching the John Wayne movie, The Searchers, where John Wayne's character uses the song title repeatedly.
A simple act of listening to your surroundings can give you the perfect songwriting inspiration you need for your new song. If you are lucky enough, who knows, you could string together common phrases to make a song!
There are countless examples of songwriters being inspired for songwriting and creating masterpieces. But there are also examples of songs written based on inspiration but do not go on to become hits. That is the world of music.
For every hit song, there are thousands of inspirations that never make it beyond the paper. But do not consider these songs as failures. In fact, no song can be called a failure. Each song that does not come out as you want it to takes you closer to creating a song that will become an absolute classic.
Inspiration for a song does not guarantee the song's success, but it does guarantee you experience as a songwriter that will help you create better songs. Eventually, a song will come that is born from the inspiration within you and is loved by the audience you create it for. Till then, you have to persevere and try to mould all your inspirations into true and original songs. There is no failure when you are songwriting; only experience gained unless you stop writing!
A Crucial Tip
After nine tips to help you become inspired for songwriting, we want to share a special tip that surpasses all the other important tips - Having the willpower to keep doing what you do! It does not matter if you cannot find songwriting inspiration every day. But what matters is that you keep writing day in and day out. You have to ensure that you keep trying to fashion and mould whatever moments of inspiration that you get into songs.
As long as you keep writing songs, you do not have to think about failing. There are times when you will fashion your songs in just a few minutes. But there are also times when it will take days and even weeks to create a song. Persevere and keep writing songs, and you will eventually create a masterpiece.
Always start searching for your inspiration instead of waiting for it to come to you. Inspiration is the start, but your willpower will take you to the finish line. Focus your energy on listening to your inner voice, and it will help you create a song that reflects who you are to the world.
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