Here’s an idea that might help you get a clear picture of the kinds of songs you like to write, as well as making it easy to identify other characteristics in your songwriting style: make a chart.
There are probably lots of ways to do this, but here’s one that is easy, and can be an important step for you if you’re looking to improve your songwriting technique:
- Draw up a chart of musical characteristics, or download this one and use it as a template for your own. As you can see in the sample chart, there are spaces to write in the song name, topic, key, form, time signature, melodic range, and the chords used. If you go with one your own design, you can track any aspect of your own songwriting output.
- Fill in the chart with as many songs of your own creation as you can. The more songs you chart, the more useful it is.
- Keep descriptions short. In other words, in the “Topic” field, it may seem overly simplistic to write “Love” for a topic, when your actual song might be more intricate and involved than that. But simplifying it to being a “Love” song may be what others see it as, and that’s important.
So why are you putting your songs in a chart like this? It’s not just bookkeeping; it’s a quick and handy way to see if you’re overusing certain keys, song designs, time signatures, or song topics.
If you find, for example, after listing and quickly analyzing your last ten songs, that all of them are love songs, or most of them are in the key of A minor, you have identified a similarity that might be making all of your songs sound the same. You may not have noticed that fact otherwise.
You can take this design idea and modify it to suit your purposes. Let’s say, for example, that you find you use too many clichés in your song lyrics. You could add a column that requires you to identify all the cliché words and phrases you’ve used in your lyric.
And the real benefit of this kind of chart is that you can see everything at a glance. Diversity in your songwriting style is an important ingredient for building a strong fan base. If you find that many of your songs use similar characteristics, you’ve probably also identified a reason that people might be moving away from your music: they feel that they’ve heard it all from you before.
Ideally, you’ll look down the chart and see a good, healthy sense of dissimilarity between songs. Adding each new song you write to this chart is a great way to keep an eye on that.
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