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What Music Does to the Power of Your Words

It never ceases to amaze me how music can add so much depth and meaning to the words you use. Or sometimes even without words the music itself can strike deep into the emotional core of the listener.

A good example of that can be seen in this video… it shows the opening scene of “The Lion King”, with different background music. You can easily feel the difference in how you react to the scene based on the character of the music that accompanies it:

We also witness the power of music when we hear a motivational speech where gradually some uplifting music fades in and powers up the message. Movies and television shows do this all the time.

As a songwriter, it’s important to know this, and to think long and hard about the music you write to accompany your lyrics. You may be saying something important through the words you choose, but are they being properly supported and hopefully enhanced by the music you write?

One good way to check the effectiveness of your musical choices is to do this:

  1. Read your lyric simply as a poem, and make note of the emotions those words generate.
  2. Then sing the lyric as an unaccompanied melody and see if the emotions you pick up from the music seem to match (at least in some way) the emotions of your words.

Doing this is a simple experiment, but it gives you the opportunity to find those moments in your musical choices that might be leaving your lyrics floundering when they could be feeling more powerful.

Sometimes the changes you might make can be simple ones. For example, you might find that transposing your song into a higher key can be all the boost that’s necessary for generating more excitement for your lyric. Or perhaps moving the tempo faster or slower will make a surprising change to the way the meaning of your words is perceived

All this is simply to say that good songs are a partnership of components. No one element of your song will act in isolation from the other elements. And to use an expression you will already know very well from your own life lessons: a song is only as good as its weakest link.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary EwerFollow Gary on Twitter

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