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Looking for a way to see how creative your songwriting mind is? See what you can do with the following challenges:
Write a song:
- that uses only three melody notes. (You can change octaves.)
- that uses only one chord (both verse and chorus).
- that only uses the following words in the lyric: time, passing, follow, here, there — plus any other word comprised of 3 letters or less.
- that uses a 2-bar melody, repeated at least 8 times. (change chords, change lyrics, but melody stays the same.)
- that uses the same 5-letter (or greater) word at the start of every line of lyric (verse and chorus.)
- where the chorus is one whole tone lower than the verse.
- where the first 3 words of every line of lyric is randomly selected from a favourite book. (Open the book, put your finger on the page, start a line of lyric using the first 3 words of that sentence.)
If you feel so inclined, feel free to record what you’ve come up with and post a link in the comments section below.
Challenges like this aren’t meant to necessarily give you the best possible song; there is another purpose. In a normal songwriting situation, your brain is creating ideas that tag onto other ideas that you’ve just come up with. In that sense, your creative mind is being pulled in a variety of ways as new ideas nudge you in different directions.
To train your brain to respond to these ideas, it can be very edifying to limit yourself in some way: to create a melody that uses only 3 notes, for example. Once you’ve been limited like that, your musical imagination needs to find other ways to make your song feel satisfying and complete.
And that’s the challenge: take a limitation, but write a song where the audience is not aware in the least of that limitation.
If you’ve found other songwriting exercises to be useful, please feel free to post your ideas below.
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