Sometimes you need to hear your own music before you know what your song is actually about. There’s something about the chords you choose, and then the melody that gets created above them, that implies a kind of musical meaning.
But occasionally it’s hard to get going because you can feel the melody starting to flow, and everything’s clicking, but… you get stuck with the lyric. The words aren’t happening quite as easily, and it’s frustrating.
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Not only is it frustrating, but getting stuck on words can make you feel as though nothing is going well.
In those cases, I’d advocate for… sing anything. Any old sounds will do.
Nonsense syllables, otherwise known as “gibberish” or just plain “garbage,” allows you to keep the music flowing. Especially at those times when the melody and chords are coming together really well, there’s actually something to be said for holding off on the lyrics.
Audiences, whether they realize this or not, pick up musical meaning just from notes alone; they don’t always need a singer to tell them what a song is about. That’s the essence of good instrumental music.
And you will find the same thing happening to you. As you improvise a new melody above a chord progression you’ve chosen, you’ll find that the way the notes move — the up and down of the contours — start to tell you what the song is about.
So at those times, if specific lyrics aren’t happening, sing anything. Oooo… bah bah biddy bah bah bah… will do nicely.
As you sing gibberish, you’ll start to see that actual phrases of words will pop out. Great! Keep the ones you like, and build the rest of your lyric once you feel the melody/chord process slowing down.
Singing nonsense syllables is a great way to make you feel productive, because it releases you from the responsibility of feeling that everything must come together at the same time. You’ll find that, in fact, most of the time, song elements appear at different times and at different rates in your process.
So blather away! Grunt out any old sounds that keeps your process moving forward.
Even if you don’t have a background in music theory, there’s a lot about chord theory you can discover and use! Several eBooks in “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 10-eBook bundle (plus the free “Creative Chord Progressions”) show you exactly why chords work the way they do, and then show you how to use them in your own songs.