Innovation In Songwriting
It doesn’t take much to start a songwriting career. In fact, anyone who has the ambition to turn their thoughts into lyrics and melodies can, literally, enter the songwriting field with the stroke of a pen. But while there are not many barriers to becoming a songwriter, it takes much more to become exceptional at it.
Songwriters who stand out among the competition are those who are willing to do what it takes to get good at it. More than that, they are the songwriters who never settle into a rhythm. They keep pushing the envelope and taking risks, keep learning new tricks, and keep striving to reach new heights. They try to be innovative in their craft and, as with other industries, tend to stand head and shoulders above the competition because of their relentless quest to innovate.
Professional songwriters with ambitions of one day making a mark in the music industry should strive to be innovators. How do you become an innovative songwriter? Here are some pointers to set you on the right path:
Expand your genre horizons
As a songwriter, it is highly likely that you probably look up to – and learn from – successful music creators in the genre of your choice. But specializing in a particular genre does not mean you can’t take inspiration from others. For starters, it is possible to fuse lyrical and melodic styles from one genre into another. For example, if you are into rock music, you can implement the story-telling nature of folk and country styles into your songwriting, and vice versa. The same goes for the groovy vibe of R&B and the up-tempo nature of pop or taking cues from jazz to go with grunge or alt-rock. While not always easy, numerous songwriters have used this technique to switch up their sound over the years. Ariana Grande and some of the songwriters that work with her, for instance, have blended elements of hip-hop, soul, and even reggae with her pop sound. “7 Rings” and “Side to Side” are two examples. Taylor Swift has also worked with songwriters that helped her switch her traditional country sound to more pop-infused content in recent years. Bruno Mars, Max Martin, and many other notable songwriters and musicians have used this technique to keep their sounds fresh and edgy.
Create with others
There is a reason why most songs entering the Billboard charts tend to have multiple songwriters listed in the credits. If you are trying to be innovative in your songwriting craft, this is one of the easiest ways to create something unique. Collaborating with other songwriters and musicians allows for different ideas and perspectives to be shared, which can result in your work being multi-dimensional instead of stale. If all your previous songs seem to all sound the same or have similar themes throughout, listeners will become bored. In such a case, start looking for other music creators to work with. You can easily connect with songwriters and musicians online these days (this is actually what is recommended because of the pandemic). Collaborators can also be found by reaching out to local bands or even putting out ads. Also, since you are reading this article, it means you don’t have to look far for collaborators. You can connect with professional musicians, including producers and songwriters, right here on Tunedly.
Try unconventional stuff
Some of the most iconic songs have come about because of songwriters and musicians being willing to experiment and try things that they were not sure would work. Paul McCartney and the Beatles, for instance, showed innovation in various recording techniques (even using actual vegetables, according to some accounts) in a number of their biggest hits. Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones used a cylindrical piece of cardboard to add drama to “Billie Jean,” and Queen’s Brian May used his background in Math and Physics to turn “We Will Rock You” into an anthem. These are just a few examples of songwriting innovation leading to timeless music and proof that it is worth trying new things if you want to boost your songwriting skills. You can implement new sounds and styles by playing around with melodies, switching out keys (major to minor and vice versa), and even using non-musical household objects in the recording process.
Write without a care
Paying too much attention to the songwriting process can restrict your creativity because you may be subconsciously using a template. If you are looking for ways to diversify your sound, the last thing you want to do is get stuck in a pattern. One way to escape this is to sit down and simply write whatever comes to mind, regardless of whether it makes sense or not. Often, you can piece together the nonsense at the end of your session and derive something meaningful out of it. It is also possible that writing freely allows you to uncover several new topics that you can use to create multiple songs. Moreover, this style of writing is a great way to get the creative juices flowing when going through songwriter’s block.
Learn a new instrument
Another great way to add new dimensions to your songwriting skills is to learn a new instrument. Playing instruments can make it easier to come up with ideas and develop the structure of songs when writing. The guitar is a great option for beginners, but you can also take on the piano, drums, ukulele, or harmonica to expand your musical horizons.
Being a “natural” at songwriting is great, but such a quality is hardly ever enough. There are some technical aspects of the craft that you can only develop through intentional learning. Taking lessons on music theory, for instance, can help you better understand how to use chords to your benefit. Knowledge of songwriting techniques can also enhance your ability to produce effective lyrics and become more creative. There are numerous avenues you can use to develop your songwriting skills, including taking courses, watching tutorials, investing in recommended books, and reading high-quality articles on the topic.
Becoming an innovative songwriter is not something that can happen overnight. But taking time for new approaches, as well as different methods and styles, can help you become a more diverse and multi-faceted creator who produces songs people actually want to hear.