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


As much as we wish we could do it, it is impossible to condense songwriting down to a formula that wins every time. If we could, I believe songwriting would become a boring, predictable exercise that would barely hold our attention.

Not only that, you can do "everything right" in songwriting, and still come up with a song that doesn't really work.

Consider this: A very good football team can do "everything right," and still lose the game. To win a football game takes talent, technique, practice, and a measure of luck: the ball needs to bounce your way, as they say. And to write a successful song requires a good melody, a good lyric, a good chord progression, and then that "magic" that happens when all of those things seem to really click together: the ball just bounces your way.

Once you've got that song, trying to use that same formula to create a new song will often result in a song falling flat on its nose. So, as much as we wish we could apply it, the formula for a killer song needs a healthy dose of basic creativity and ingenuity of the writer in order to ultimately work.

Thus, there are things you must do as a songwriter that are crucial to making a good song. Things that go beyond developing and using a songwriting formula. There are ways to structure a melody that makes it more likely that people will click with it. Ways to word things that really connect with a listener.



This is a companion course to the book, The Essential Secrets of Songwriting. I gave a lot of thought to how to put into written format the way I help students with their songwriting projects. Could I actually do that in this online format? It's not like teaching music theory, where most of the time you are looking for that one right answer. It's... different. It's a creative process, where the result will differ from person to person, from song to song. And anyway, we aren't looking for right answers; we're looking for good songs.

How I help students is to look at the actual song that they're writing, and give them advice that pertains to that song. It may not be the same advice at all that I would give to someone else for their song. But that's difficult to do in an online course. But there are things that we can do in this sort of setting.

This course works by proposing a series of activities, organized into lessons, that are designed to help you in the following ways:

Expand your imagination and develop your creativity.
Expand your understanding of form and structure.

The ideas found in this course are quite easy to follow and complete, and are meant to be as fun as they are useful. Creative training needs to be enjoyable. It's hard to be creative when your brain is being taxed trying to complete mundane, uninspiring tasks.



If you are doing this course, it means that you are serious about improving your songs. And if that's true, then I highly recommend that you begin that process of improvement by doing the following:

  1. Listen to a lot of music. Try as much as possible to expose yourself to as many genres as possible. The more music your creative brain experiences, the more eclectic your ideas will be.
  2. Read as much as possible. You need to experience how good writers phrase their ideas. And you need to learn how good writers control pacing, drama, and the general presentation of ideas.
  3. Don't throw anything out. As you work on songs, fragments of ideas will pop into your head. A bit of lyric here, an interesting chord progression there. You may find that a lot of ideas don't work their way into your song. But they could find their way into a future song. So keep a book for your ideas.
  4. Set aside a regular time every day for writing. If you're a student at school, you may have to be a bit creative with your schedule, to accommodate your class schedule. But try to be as consistant as possible.
  5. Prepare your mind to try different methods of composition. Most good songwriters would tell you that they try many different ways of writing. Sometimes they work on text. Other times they develop a chord progression, or base a song on a bit of melody. Try to be open-minded and creative with your songwriting process.

If you're ready...

...on to Lesson 1 - FOCUSING YOUR LYRICS

Check out the songwriting articles at The Essential Secrets of Songwriting website. Click here.

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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