SONGWRITING: Sodajerker's Top Ten Tips
We’ve teamed up with songwriting duo Sodajerker to present a concise guide to successful songwriting. Simon and Brian of the Sodajerker podcasts have recently welcomed guests such as Alicia Keys and Paul Simon, they’ve put down their extensive and informed knowledge into ten ‘top tips’ for songwriting success:
Top Tips from Sodajerker
Having recorded more than 85 episodes of the Sodajerker podcast, we’ve learned a lot about the art and craft of songwriting. From those who write only when they are inspired, or when a project demands it, to those who adopt a daily routine, there’s certainly no single way to go about penning a classic song. Here are some of the tips we’ve heard time and again from world-class songwriters talking about their process:
1. Create a daily routine for writing and experimentation. Completing a significant volume of songs, even when uninspired, is the best route to penning that elusive hit.
2. Capture ideas before you forget them! Use a phone app like Music Memos or Hum. If you’re feeling old school, try a traditional paper notebook.
3. Adopt an observational approach. Look at the world around you and the things people say. Be attuned to inner thoughts, and even dreams, for potential song ideas or melodies. Be vigilant for what might make a good song!
4. Enforce limitations of some kind, be it the topic you write about, the time you allot to the task, the number chords you elect to use, or the instrument you choose to write with.
5. Engage with technologies. Try out a sequencing program or a drum machine. Does it help you to stumble across new ideas?
6. Keep your standards high. Is the work you have produced as great as it could possibly be? If not, rewrite!
7. Experiment with meter, rhythm and structure. What would happen if you started halfway through a bar, ditched the second verse altogether, or repeated that bridge twice?
8. Look for interesting melodic leaps or intervals that might produce a memorable tune. Altering the bass note of a chord can give your chord sequences more sophistication, and that can often lead you to a catchy melody.
9. When writing lyrics, try describing the images that a sound brings to mind and write those down. Remember, the sound of a phrase can often be more important than its literal meaning, so don’t hesitate to use lines that don’t make perfect sense. Lots of writers aim to be confessional in their songs and reflect on their real life experiences. Others just invent fictional stories and characters. Both approaches are valid.
10. When collaborating with others, listen closely and be open to change. The ability to recognise a good idea is as important as the ability to have one! Passion and enthusiasm are also essential characteristics for success.
A little bit about Sodajerker On Songwriting
Established in 2012 by Liverpudlian songwriting duo Simon Barber and Brian O’Connor, the Sodajerker On Songwriting podcast has welcomed guests including Paul Simon, Lamont Dozier, Johnny Marr, Suzanne Vega, Rufus Wainwright, KT Tunstall, Joan Armatrading and many more.