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Songwriting Workshop

Words and Music: © 2009 by Tom Smith
Every once in awhile I am asked about songwriting, and how I do it. Songwriting is, I've found, an intensely personal experience which differs for every songwriter. Except for the ones who use Mad-Libs -- or, as they say at marketing school, "The Ideal Customer Base".

This is the verse that sets up the premise
Of why you have written a song.
Say what you want, it's your song after all,
But do try not to make each individual lyric line too long.
Because it might not scan.
Properly.

Usually a minor chord goes right here,
To add drama to each word.
Try to be not confusing regarding on which beats
Your words are sung so you're heard.

In the next verse you expand on your subject,
Whatever it happens to be,
Adding some depth to your first basic premise,
And why it's of interest to me.

Be sure to add detail, engage our emotions,
That's what adverbs are for,
And try not to make a repetitive chorus,
It's wasteful of words and a bore.
And try not to make a repetitive chorus,
It's wasteful of words and a bore.
And try not to make a repetitive chorus,
It's wasteful of words and a bore.
It's wasteful of words and a bore.
It's wasteful of words and a bore.

Some songs have a bridge which tells of some conflict
In which the main premise is caught.
Sometimes it's as long as a verse and a chorus,
And sometimes not.

And so with the last verse you wrap up your premise
And what it means to you and me.
Explain why you love or despise or don't care
Whatever your subject may be.

The next-to-last chorus can echo the first,
Or say something new and profound,
Like "Live for the moment" or "All men are bastards"
Or "Don't eat raw eggs off the ground".

The last chorus sums up the whole thing at once,
Be clever and brilliant and nifty,
And that is my workshop on writing a song,
Please, that'll be ninety-nine fifty.

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