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For some songwriters, starting the song is the easy part; continuing the process after that is the hard part.
For others, just getting started is the hard part. But it shouldn’t surprise us the different songwriters have different strengths and weaknesses… different parts of the process they find easy or hard.
One common fear, however, relates to how long it takes to finish a song. Most songwriters have an instinct that tells them that the longer it takes to finish a song, the more likely it is that there is a problem with the process.
Does this describe you? Are you a slow writer? Leonard Cohen famously took several years to complete his “Hallalujah”. And a slow process isn’t just something songwriters deal with: Brahms took up to 10 years to write each of his symphonies.
In general, how long it takes to write a song isn’t an indication of anything important. It may come together in minutes. That doesn’t make it a gem. It may take years, and that doesn’t make it a dud.
The only reliable indicators of quality relate to the actual musical components:
- Does the melody partner well with the lyric?
- Does the lyric say what you want or need it to say?
- Is the melody interesting and memorable?
- Do the chords provide a proper foundation for everything else in the song?
- Do the rhythms of the melody use the natural pulse of the lyrics?
Assuming everything is working, how long it took you to get the song sounding like a complete musical journey should be more or less irrelevant.
Written by Gary Ewer
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