Whoever wrote the song originally comes together

Write lyrics

Writing lyrics starts with an idea, a line, a hook or just the desire to write your own lyrics. In this tutorial you will be introduced to writing lyrics step by step so that you can write your first lyrics or improve your skills in writing lyrics.

Learning to write lyrics: Do you prefer to start with the lyrics or with the music? There is no better or worse. It's a matter of taste.

From Sebastian Blum

Content: Write lyrics

Writing lyrics: Detached from the music?

Text poetry has a long tradition in Germany. The separation of composition and text has been common for a long time if you look at the past 500 years. The “Ode to Joy”, for example, originated from a poem by Friedrich Schiller which was set to music by Ludwig van Beethoven. Later folk songs also come from several authors.

With the industrialization of pop music, systematic songwriting picked up speed. At first there was a distinction between pure lyricists, composers and producers. Pure lyricists are now becoming less important, as nowadays poets are required to have at least melodic skills. The opposite is the case with composers and producers.

If your band writes the songs together, you are probably not looking at the music in isolation from the lyrics. Every band member knows at least a rudimentary knowledge of writing lyrics.

Learn to write lyrics in 15 minutes?

If you dare to write your own lyrics for the first time, this article offers you an excellent guide. Unfortunately, you won't learn to write lyrics in fifteen minutes - no matter what some blogs and authors promise you. Writing lyrics is a craft that requires practice and many hours of training.

First of all: I start with a creative streak. This guide does not turn those who are completely talented into poets.

Different creative techniques have become established among lyricists. You start at the point where there is a problem. There is no one-size-fits-all plan that inevitably leads to success. Creative techniques and text writing workshops should always be understood as helping people to help themselves.

Also read: Song writing tutorial

How is a song text structured?

  • A song text usually consists of a chorus and several stanzas (verses).
  • The chorus should represent the climax of the suspense. It is repeated at least once and last but not least ensures a lasting memory for the audience.
  • Lyrics should be catchy, easy to understand and not too long. Strong words, language images and metaphors help to make the chorus catchy and catchy.
  • The basic message of your text is placed in the chorus. This is fed with words and images that best underline it.
  • The stanzas build up the tension and lead to the climax in terms of content. Why is what is said in the chorus said what is said? The verses should answer that.
  • Optionally, you can use a bridge when writing lyrics. The part, often colloquially called the C-Part, also changes the perspective in terms of content and often gives the text a surprising twist.

Song arrangement

A song consists of several important elements that are often identified with letters. If the stanzas are designated as A and the chorus as B, then we are talking about a C part in a bridge.

Reading tip on the topic: Write lyrics at Klangkost

How do I start writing my own lyrics?

Everything starts with a brilliant idea. It forms the foundation of the whole song. How is this continuing? It depends on what kind of lyrics you want to write. Do you want to write critical, ironic or emotional lyrics?

Even if that sounds unsexy: Critical and political texts have to be prepared. Certain topics and facts need to be researched and put into context.

Ironic texts are seldom written down in a slide, but scream for a lot of space. A large collection of ideas is the first option.

Emotional lyrics are often the most honest.

The best tip for writing lyrics is to rely on your own emotions. When it comes to addressing the listener, a feeling should come across that they identify with. Emotions such as fear, love, worry, pain or longing are universal and are inherent in every human being.

I myself love to write socially critical and ironic texts. But I always get the best feedback on my most emotional and perhaps most honest songs.

If you write honestly about your own feelings, or at least put them a little way into your text, the chances of reaching the listener are good.

Also read: The 13 Ultimate Songwriting Tips For Better Songs

What does your own lyrics describe?

Learning to write lyrics means above all to give space to your own ideas. If the brilliant idea doesn't come up by itself, it makes sense to first define a rough topic.

Your topic should deal with something that you have experienced yourself or that concerns you yourself. The millionth love song doesn't get more exciting just because everyone does it.

Your texts will (as a rule) only be good if a piece of your personality lives in them. If the audience has already made your experiences and can build a connection to your text: Jackpot!

Create a song plan

Especially at the beginning it is useful to plan the whole song a little bit. Even when you are in a state of flux, such a plan is useful if you no longer know exactly what you actually wanted to say. Lyrics should get to the point, they need a common thread.

The next time you try, try a song schedule, also known as a song schedule.

The idea behind this is to describe the content of each W-question or each part of the song with a sentence (Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? What for?). That leads to a better structure and more popular songs with the audience.

Song schedule for the lyrics

  • What is the subject of the song?
  • Who is telling something?
  • Who or what is being written about?
  • From which perspective is the story being told?
  • What do I want to say in the individual parts of the song?
  • And in the chorus?
  • In the first verse?
  • In the second stanza?
  • In the third verse?
  • In the bridge?
  • (…)

Also read: Song structure in the charts

1. Determine the subject of the song

In one sentence, describe as precisely as possible what the song should be about. Be brief and avoid details.
Example: The subject of the text is Marie, a pretty and interesting woman.

2. Who is telling something?

Who is the person in a possible network of relationships? How is there a connection between the narrated and the narrator?
Example: I am telling you as Marie's ex-boyfriend.

3. Who is being written about?

When writing about another person, briefly describe who it is. The clearer your idea, the easier it is to come up with descriptions. So state your idea as precisely as possible, but briefly.
Example: It's about a school friend who, after years of abstinence, is now back in contact with me and my friends.

4. What is the perspective?

Are you part of the story or do you describe it from the outside? And who do you want to tell something? Every perspective is conceivable. In times of the black-red-hot summer fairy tales, the we perspective has gained in importance in German popular pop. Classically, the direct you address is used in love songs.

But it is also conceivable that you tell your best friend the story about the one (as in "The Company - The One" or "The Fantastic Four - The Da!?!"). Marie is addressed directly, in a very classic way.
Example: I'm writing about you, Marie.

5. What are the individual parts of the song about?

So that nobody gets confused while listening to your lyrics, you should pay attention to a stringent plot or narrative sequence. This plan will later set the framework within which you can be more specifically creative.

In our example the different opinions and relationships of me and my friends about / to Marie are to be described.

  • Chorus
    The catchy punchline belongs in the chorus. This consists of the core message of the song. Reduce the main message to a single sentence. The story about our mutual friend Marie reaches its climax here.
    Example: Marie, you complete me.
  • Verse 1
    Why is the topic so exciting? In order for the chorus to be understood, it should have a good introduction in the first verse. Your story gets the space it needs to develop here. It can describe a course of action, observations, properties and much more. Our exemplary lyrics are about different perspectives within the circle of friends.
    E.g .: Marie, the others see you as a crazy, difficult, hard-to-believe person.
  • Verse 2
    The second stanza is found by many lyricists to be the hardest part. Most of the time you think you've already said everything and don't know what is to come next. In such cases in particular, raising awareness of the content through a song plan can help.
    In order not to bore the listener, the content should not be described by the answer to the W question in the first stanza. Or, to put it simply: I would like to tie in with the first stanza, but avoid repeating the content of the first stanza.
    To continue to describe Marie from the perspective of the others would be too easy.
    More exciting: Marie, for me you are a bright, humorous and empathetic person.
  • Optional: bridge, further stanza (s)
    Most pop songs get by with two verses. If your lyrics strive for a third, go for it. Again, make sure that you don't repeat yourself. Our example text does very well without an additional verse.
    If you still want to get rid of something in the sense of a twist or a counter-view, the best thing to do is to do it in the bridge. Marie has already been described from my point of view and that of my friends. The opinion of another person should be found in a third verse at most.
    A change of perspective could combine the friends' point of view with the personal characteristics of the self.
    Example: Marie, you may be different from the others, but so am I.

Also read: 10 songwriting tips for breakthrough

Creative techniques can help you if you have difficulties writing lyrics.

How to get ideas when writing lyrics

Sometimes an idea comes on its own and the text writes itself as if by itself. Within a short time, the lyrics are as profound as they are rousing. How nice it would be if writing the lyrics was so easy every time.

The reality looks different and often there is a problem at some point, you get stuck. Creative techniques can help here.

1. Let your mind wander

Grab a blank sheet of paper and start writing. Bring creativity into the flow and don't let anything distract you. Just write down everything, one after the other, that you can think of about the topic you have previously determined.

Give every thought a chance. At this point in time you are not giving a rating.

Don't put the scribe down until your paper is full or ten minutes have passed. Changes of subject are also possible. If one thought leads you to the next, which in turn leads to the next and you jump around between topics, let it happen.

2. Take a breather for a moment

Give your mind a break by taking a few minutes to distract yourself with low-level occupation. Take your dog for a walk, do the dishes, shower or cook, and enjoy a cup of tea. Try not to think about the topic and what you wrote down earlier.

While the first step was to tickle your unfiltered creative thoughts on the chosen topic, this step serves to gain distance.

3. Evaluation of your lyrics ideas

Button the piece of paper with your thoughts. You circle particularly good and moving ideas. They serve as ideas, hooks and fragments for your later text.

If you don't like certain ideas at all, you can cross them off. It is important, however, that you do not erase anything or remove it with an ink killer or TipEx. The thoughts that were initially found to be less good could please you later and / or serve as an impetus for further lyrics.

Usually there are several "feeders" on the sheet - ideas and sentences that lead to the exciting thoughts. You can cross them off or in brackets as well. For me, half of the sheet is almost completely eliminated.

4. Rearrange thoughts

During the entire writing process, make sure that you have enough free space on the paper or notepad. Too little space leads to a quick assessment, often before a thought has been thought through.

Do you want to organize your exciting ideas from a vortex of thought even better? Do it! When writing, everything is allowed that supports your creativity and the process and that is conducive to success.

Don't skimp on paper because it's your tool. After all, the carpenter doesn't skimp on wood either.

You are also welcome to make lists with pairs of ideas or synonyms. If you can think of metaphors for your ideas, write them down right away. A pictorial language with lots of metaphors often makes a song text into a good one that is easy to remember.

5. Form keyword pairs

If two or more keywords can be brought together sensibly in your creative chaos, combine them on a list. For example, it is possible to establish a context between the keywords “kilometer long run” and “tired”.

6. Find synonyms

Sometimes it happens that you don't like certain words. Be it because of the number of syllables, the sheer impossibility of finding a rhyme, or for a direct aesthetic reason.

You can build synonym lists on the questionable words, from which you can use accordingly. Sometimes isolated synonyms lead to another idea.

7. Draw a mind map

A mind map is seen by many songwriters as the best preparation for writing lyrics. You can use it to organize your thoughts and go deeper step by step.

To do this, take a blank piece of paper and write the main topic in the middle and circle it. Then you collect subtopics all around, which are connected by lines with the center circle. From the sub-topics you can in turn leave sub-topics.

This creates a network of different ideas on your topic. You can now use this for storytelling and “work through” one point at a time.

You can also display mind maps digitally and visually in a simplified manner. Simply use points and sub-points for the subtopics.

Exemplary subject: travel

travel

  • Solo trip
    • Relaxation
    • head free
    • Reset
    • Time out
    • lonliness
    • boredom
  • Travel as a couple
    • romance
    • Relaxation
    • red wine
    • Wellness
    • reliability
  • Vacation with friends

8. Look for metaphors

You can use the same principle as with the keyword and synonym lists to search for metaphors. Such a list will not be that easy for you. But maybe you can think of 2-3 good ones.

metaphor

A metaphor is a pictorial transfer of a linguistic expression. The word or group of words is transferred from its actual context to another.

Example: “Finding a needle in a haystack” is a metaphor for something that seems hopeless.

An indispensable method for many lyricists: the mind map

Also read: Learning to write lyrics: This is how it works

Problem solving when writing lyrics

Sometimes you have finished a song text, but you don't really want to like it. So what to do if ...

... too accusing or too complaining?

Try a change in narrative perspective. If your text sounds too plaintive, switch from I to you. If you are a socially critical person who denounces grievances with his words, maybe try to formulate them from the we perspective. Perhaps this will make your text less instructive and less intimidating.

When the chorus doesn't kick right in

If the chorus doesn't really kick in, there can be different reasons. For one, you should check your rhyme scheme. Couple rhymes are more catchy, but also seem simpler than rhymes with crosses or embracing. Feel free to experiment a little here.

Often not too much attention is paid to the number of syllables and accentuation. The respective rhymes should come from lines with the same number of syllables and the same emphasis. Example: The water is blue - I know exactly.

When the rhymes don't work

Do your own lyrics seem too ordinary? If you use too many simple rhymes, this can happen quickly. On the other hand, it shouldn't be too extraordinary, because your audience should understand you too.

Among the most famous lyricists there are ardent proponents of rhyming lexicons. They understand it, just like the creative techniques, as helpful tools for their professional work. On the other hand, there is the fear that the rhyme determines the content.

In a rhyming dictionary you look for the word ending for which you need a rhyme. Below you will find a list of many suitable ending rhymes.

Personally, I can highly recommend Willy Steputat's dictionary of rhymes, as I work with it myself.

When writing lyrics, it can happen that the rhyme determines the content. If this is easy to hear, you can hide it with a simple trick: simply swap the two rhyming lines. Since the focus is more and more on the end, the dominant, content-giving part is now emphasized.

E.g.:
I'm looking for words
in all places
But I can't think of anything
then that's how it should be

In all places
I'm looking for words
It should be like this:
I just can't think of anything

Also read: Songwriting Basics

Helpful tips on writing lyrics

  • Write, write, write. No master has fallen from the sky yet. Writing lyrics means years of practice and each song involves hours of strenuous work.
  • You don't have to reinvent the wheel. If you like the word acrobatics or a certain imagery of another author, you can take inspiration from them.
  • In general, use pictorial language to create strong words.
  • Bring your own feelings into the lyrics.
  • Let yourself be inspired by experiences. Hundreds of stories are hidden in your everyday life. You just have to sharpen your senses.
  • You can also find inspiration in books or on social media. In the latter in particular, communication is often highly emotional.
  • Small notebooks are good for collecting ideas on the go.
  • When it comes to work, you need a lot of space. It should at least be a blank A4 page.
  • At the end, read your lyrics out loud again. If the text cannot be read fluently and if you start to stutter here and there, it is advisable to improve it again.

More recommendations for writing lyrics

Books for writing lyrics
Helpful songwriting workshops
  • Workshops and individual coaching by Musenlust (Edith Jeske)
  • Celle School (GEMA Foundation)

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