Inspiration / 30 May 2018

Songwriting: Five tips to finding that creative spark

“As far as songwriting, my inspirations came from love, life and death, and viewing other people’s situations.” Ed Sheeran

Everyone has a different approach to coming up with a beat, riff, a lyric, or a song idea – but there really isn’t a formula or one-size-fits-all approach to songwriting, and that’s part of the fun. But it has to start somewhere and it usually starts from a spark of inspiration often at times you didn’t expect.

Songwriting can be one of the biggest challenges musicians face. Here are a few tips that might help you kickstart your songwriting journey:

Record everything

Keith Richards’ famous story of how he wrote the riff of Satisfaction was one to learn from. He heard it in his dream, waking himself up he shot out of bed and recorded it on his tape recorder.

There’s nothing worse than coming up with an amazing riff or melody, and then forgetting it when you get back home to your instrument. Carry around a notepad and jot down any idea immediately, or even better, record the idea on your phone directly into the BandLab app – hum a tune, sing a couple of lyrics, it will serve as the starting point of something great when you get to your recording session later.

Steal

Pablo Picasso famously said “Good artists copy; great artists steal.” In no way are we advocates of plagiarism, but we can learn from some of the greatest artists who create masterpieces as a result of being inspired and influenced by their sources. Inspiration doesn’t appear out of nowhere. It is a direct result of your experiences, the music you’ve been listening to, the people you interact with. Hear a great beat? Reuse it, give it a twist and add your own personality to the beat, make the beat your own.

Iterate

A great song can be the result of many revised versions. Many songs started off life as a few chords on an acoustic guitar and singing, evolving into a more expansive one with many other instruments and parts.

On BandLab, you can track every version of your song right from the first recording. This is called Tree View. Every track you add, be it a new instrument, a new guitar riff or hook, will leave a footprint that you can revisit. This lets you experiment as much as you like, without worrying about losing any past versions.

Don’t force it

Every artist will have the dreaded creative block at some point of their songwriting process. If you’re lacking inspiration to write something, don’t force it. Some artists write in one sitting, whilst others take months. Take a break – get away from your instrument and do something else unrelated to your music. This gives you time to relax and take your mind off your music – the perfect time for you to have that musical “eureka” moment.

Try something crazy

Sometimes the weird and eccentric things lead to the best ideas. For example, write out a bunch of words that are on your mind, cut them out into pieces and rearrange them and see what sort of crazy ideas come out of it. David Bowie famously used this technique to write some of his biggest hits.

Recording on the mobile app lets you capture your inspiration wherever you are, and with real-time cloud storage you can then work on it further on your desktop with a wider range of creative tools at your disposal.

Got an idea? Record your first on BandLab.

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