Saturday, January 31, 2009

Songwriting: Inspiration or perspiration?

It's both. Even the tiniest impetus to write a song is inspiration. It doesn't have to be big, or about something important. It can be world hunger or toilet paper. Once that inspiration has passed - and it will, sooner than any of us wish - it's mostly perspiration. After you write down the lines you dreamed last night or the fragment of conversation you overheard in line at the checkout counter, it's all work. But that's the fun of it.

What inspires you? Do you wait for inspiration to strike, for Efterpi to descend and coax the song from your struggling brain? Do you take a drive? Walk? Run? Do yard work? Movement can be a good catalyst. Manual labor as well. A tired body often leads to an active mind.

Inspiration occurs any and everywhere. Be prepared to meet it halfway with pencil and paper. Otherwise you stand a good chance of missing the details. Using a small tape or solid-state recorder? That'll work, but it's easier flipping pages back and forth combining this verse with that chorus than trying to locate half-a-line on a recorder. But, admittedly, I'm a writing-on-paper kind of person.

Turn on the rhythm section of your electronic keyboard to a beat you rarely use (reggae? waltz?).

Try an alternative tuning. This link not only provides a sample list of songs in a particular tuning, but you can mouse-over the individual notes to help tune your guitar. A great help if you're new to alternative tunings.

Go on-line for tips. Bloggingmuses. Other muses.

Search your ancestors several generations back for an interesting name, turn it into a title, and take if from there. (My great grandfather was named Urban L. Jones. Surely there's a song there.)

Where do you find inspiration? I don't know. But go find it. And write a song in the next seven days.

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