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Tips for Writing Two or More Songs at the Same Time

Most songwriters I know are well able to keep two, and often more, songs on the front burner at any one time. Working on several songs simultaneously isn’t really all that hard to do, as long as you follow a few basic tips.

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One of the benefits of having several songs on the go is that you’re probably writing more songs per year than if you stick with one song until it’s completed. But if you find it hard to write several songs at the same time, here are 5 tips to keep in mind:

  1. Make your simultaneous song projects as different as possible. Work on songs that have a completely different tempo and different basic feel. That makes it easy to switch mental gears when you change from one to another.
  2. Experiment with different time signatures. If all the songs have the same time signature, it increases the possibility that they’ll start to sound a bit too similar.
  3. Try different instrumentations, both to compose and possibly in your final version. You don’t need to be an expert on an instrument to use it as a composing aid, so try writing one on guitar, one on piano, perhaps even try one on mandolin. Composing on a particular instrument doesn’t necessarily mean the finished product has to feature that instrument. But it will help you come up with new, unique ideas.
  4. Go for odd keys. Again, you don’t have to keep your finished song in the key you used to write it. But choosing radically different keys (especially contrasting major and minor) makes it less likely you’ll use similar chord progressions. Singer-songwriter Randy Bachman of The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive mentioned recently that he purposely wrote “No Sugar Tonight” in F# major to prevent the musical muscle memory that comes with writing in more commonly-used keys.
  5. Take a short break when switching from one song to another in the same writing session. That short break gives you a chance to get the new song in your head, and makes it less likely that you’ll drag ideas from the first song into the second one.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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