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In English, we have a written as well as an oral form of the language. In songwriting, most lyrics are (or at least should be) written in the oral form. As you look at what you've written, it should read as though someone was saying the words. An important part of the job is to use words that sound familiar and common, the kind of words you'd use in casual conversation.

Lesson 1: Focusing Your Lyrics

Lesson 2: Writing Creative Lyrics

Lesson 3: Writing "Familiar" Lyrics

Lesson 4: Writing Melodies That Work

Lesson 5: Structuring Melodies

Lesson 6: Integrating Lyrics, Melodies


Lesson 7: Choosing the Right Chord

Lesson 8: Strong, Fragile Progressions

Lesson 9: Considering Form


It's time to take your songwriting to a new level of excellence.


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Writing musicA familiar lyric is one in which the songwriter has succeeded in pulling the listener into an imaginary world that feels completely real. The singer feels that the song is describing a situation that they've either encountered before, or could easily encounter in their future. Being familiar is being real.

Familiar text means that you try to word things using common every day language. In most languages, there is a "written way" of communicating, and an "oral way." And the way we write things is not necessarily the way we say things. Written text can sometimes have a formality that oral text doesn't have or need.

When you write lyrics, you may want to write them like they are poetry, and this can be good especially if you, as the writer, wish to maintain a certain emotional distance from the listener. But if you really want to snag the listener, and make them feel that the song could also be about them, you'll want to use more familiar, informal, emotion-driven text.

Compare these examples of formal, sometimes stiff, text versus informal, familiar text:

1. FORMAL: When I arise...
 INFORMAL: When I wake up in the morning...
2. FORMAL: My heart sings for your heart...
 INFORMAL: I love you!
3. FORMAL: It hurts me to know...
 INFORMAL: It tears me up...
4. FORMAL: It amused me...
 INFORMAL: I laughed...
5. FORMAL: I hope that you understand...
 INFORMAL: I need you to see...

Keep in mind that all the examples of so-called formal text are actually possible lines from songs that can work very well. But if you want to get to the grass-roots listener, opt for the informal rather than the formal.



If all you do is constantly tell your listener how you're feeling about something, you're going to leave the listener feeling empty. It's not enough to write songs about your emotions. You need to tell them a story, something that they can relate to. In very important ways, the listener needs to feel that your story is their story.

Do lyrics need to rhyme? Not always, but often. Rhyming is part of infusing a sense of form into the song. Form is vital. Form is what demonstrates a beginning, middle and end to your song. You can read more about lyrics and form in "The Essential Secrets of Songwriting."



1. Take the following "formal" text fragments, and write them in a more familiar way. NOTE: They don't have to rhyme... You're just looking for ways to loosen up some rather stiff language. Feel free to take what you're given below and write two or three lines if necessary.


1. FORMAL: I hope that you understand...
 INFORMAL: I need you to see...

i) I'm going through a difficult time: ____________________________

ii) I got on the bus: ___________________________________

iii) You and I get along so well: _______________________________

iv) My troubled mind kept me from sleeping: _____________________

v) The task is complete: _______________________________

vi) The turmoil was distracting: ______________________________

vii) Trust in me: ______________________________

viii) Alcohol is not the answer: _______________________________

ix) I miss the good times: ___________________________________

x) I'm exhausted: ______________________________

2. Write four-line lyrics that gets the following ideas across:

i) I'm trying to do my work, but I am distracted by the things you said to me last evening. Frankly, it's taking up all my time trying to sort out the issues in my life.





ii) I know you are feeling depressed, but you need to focus on the fact that better days are coming.





iii) I want to be a successful business person, and I know that that means I may have to abandon the things in my life that I love.





iv) Who cares if I've got lots of work to do - I want to just sit back and daydream about the nice times we've had together.








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Contact: info@pantomimemusic.com | Contact Gary Ewer: gary@pantomimemusic.com