Gary Ewer
Music Teacher, Clinician, Composer and Arranger. Author of "Gary Ewer's Easy Music Theory," and “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting" suite of e-books

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Lesson 1

Focusing Your Lyrics

LESSON 2: Writing Creative Lyrics

Being creative would seem to be a given...

...but you would be quite astounded to see that it's not necessarily the creative way you word things that will capture an audience - it's how real you are being.

But creativity is a nice touch. A sense of creativity in the way you word things can hold your song in higher esteem. A creative turn of phrase can make a lyric feel smoother and demand a bit more attention. Check out the following:

SAMPLE 1

I walked along the winding road

Thinking about my life...



There's nothing wrong with that as a lyric. And as unremarkable as it is, it really depends on what your melody is, and what you really want to focus on. But you could try something more creative:


SAMPLE 2
My mind wandered like the road
As I thought about my life...


It's not possible to say if the second example is a better lyric, because good lyrics need to be judged along with the other two major components, melody and chords. But it's a slightly more creative way of saying the same thing.


BEING "TOO CREATIVE"

Though being creative is very important, there is a point at which songwriters can become too creative, where every thought seems to require an innovative way of phrasing. So be careful - there's no need to be overly creative. Going overboard with descriptive language has the effect of pulling focus from the more important emotions.

Sometimes, when I am writing text (whether song or prose) the best editing I do is when I remove unnecessary words. It results in a shorter text, but something far clearer and far more succinct.

Here are some great examples of concise, clear, creative lyrics. They use a mixture of great emotional descriptions and clear everyday language:

What if I got it wrong
And no poet or song
Could put right what I got wrong
Or make you feel I belong

(Coldplay, "What If?" from "X&Y")

You fill up my senses like a night in the forest (John Denver, "Annie's Song")

All for you I give it all
Cause when I'm thinking of you
When I'm flying above the world
How I wish I was drowning in you

(Dave Matthews, "Up and Away", from "Some Devil")



ACTIVITIES for WRITING CREATIVE LYRICS


1.  Phrase Rewording.
The following lyric examples are, generally speaking, a bit too wordy, and not very creative. Take each sample and rewrite them into something clearer and more concise. Don't worry about beats, phrasing, rhyming. Just come up with creative ways of saying the same thing.

EXAMPLE:
  Under the sky that was lit by the moon.
POSSIBLE REWORDING: Under the moonlit sky

a) Stay with me for the rest of my life.

POSSIBLE REWORDINGS: ________________________________________

________________________________________

________________________________________

b)  I'm descending into a life that is too complicated for me to figure out.

POSSIBLE REWORDINGS: ________________________________________

________________________________________

________________________________________

c) I'm trying to tell you that I love you very much.

POSSIBLE REWORDINGS: ________________________________________

________________________________________

________________________________________

d) My job is keeping me from focusing on you.

POSSIBLE REWORDINGS: ________________________________________

________________________________________

________________________________________

e) The ocean waves made me think of my life with you.

POSSIBLE REWORDINGS: ________________________________________

________________________________________

________________________________________



2. Finish the Thought
The following phrases are the first line of a pair of phrases that complete a thought. Write a second phrase to complete the following thoughts.

Try this exercise in various ways. Try rhyming, then non-rhyming.

EXAMPLE:
  In journeys of the heart and mind,  you're the one I knew I'd find.

a) I walked the walk of every man, _________________________________________

b) You're my every day and night, __________________________________________

c) Open hands are hard to find, _____________________________________________

d) Come into my eyes ____________________________________________________

e) I want you, need you, in my life __________________________________________



3. Start the Thought
The following phrases are the last line of a pair of phrases that complete a thought. Write a first phrase to start the following thoughts.

a) ___________________________________, and held your hand in mine.

b) ___________________________________, tomorrow will soon be yesterday.

c) ___________________________________, with my mind falling down, like rain.

d) ___________________________________, ease the pain of letting go.

e) ___________________________________, what is wrong with me tonight.
 


Proceed to Lesson 3 - WRITING "Familiar" LYRICS


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Lesson 2 Writing Creative Lyrics
Lesson 3 Writing "Familiar" Lyrics
Lesson 4 Writing Melodies that Work
Lesson 5 Structuring Melodies
Lesson 6 Integrating Lyrics with Melodies
Lesson 7 Choosing the Right Chord
Lesson 8 Mixing Strong and Fragile Progressions
Lesson 9 Considering Form