Yesterday Brian and I were going over our catalog of songs and it reminded me that some of you (especially other songwriters and poets) have wanted to discuss writing styles. What follows is a quick off-the-top outline of songwriting styles.
Emotional Lows:Possibly the most common trigger for people to do any creative writing is negative emotions or experiences…I know that’s how I wrote many songs in my teens. I still know people who only write when they’re depressed. The drawback to this is that you’ll need to create a bunch of drama in your life to induce your muse…or just not write for long periods of happiness. Political songs fit into this style, as generally do blues.
Emotional Highs:The flip side of this is writing when you’re joyful, in love, feeling great. If you listen to any commercial music you’ll usually hear more blue, sad or angry songs than joyful ones; and the reason is probably the ease of expressing frustration, and the need to express it…and sometimes when we feel wonderful we’re out enjoying it rather than working on tunes. Love songs and feel-good tunes fall into this style.
Visionary:Having worked on my emotional consistency and being strongly “self referencing”, I find that I tend to “have” my emotions rather than being ruled by them – and it makes songwriting easy nearly any time. I’m fortunate to be blessed with a great imagination and a pretty active inner life, so there’s always a song ready to take shape with just a little prodding. It hasn’t always been like this of course, but for the past years that’s where I am, and I love it! Writing from this space allows nearly any style of song to emerge, as there’s access to all emotional spaces, visions, and memories.
Intellectual: A fourth style is that of someone consciously striving to write a “hit”. Sometimes these songs can sound a bit contrived, but sung by the right person who can embody them with feeling, these songs can be great. Lots of popular songwriters could probably resonate with this style.
All styles are non-exclusive of course and are often combined. I’ve many times had investors or other “business” types encourage me to write something “more commercial” – and in the past, I have…using intellectual and conscious wording to hide some mysticism and implying “relationship style” songwriting to please the faceless crowds. No more of that for me, though! 🙂 These days I feel strong enough to sing from the heart and let people love or hate it.
Ah, yes, it’s all about self discovery, isn’t it? Both writing and listening… I’m really happy we can share this journey.