Renowned Lyricist Pat Pattison recently held a workshop at JMC to assist songwriting students in getting the most out of their music projects and to help them ‘write better lyrics’.
Brisbane Songwriting student Jade Mills went along to listen to his advice and she let us in on a few tips that she learnt along the way!
What do we want out of the songs we write?
Some of the best advice that Pat relayed to us during his session was highlighting the overall goal of writing lyrics, being 'The goal as a songwriter is to make people feel what you are feeling.’
Now that we understand the key factor behind why we write lyrics, the next question is how do we accomplish it? Well, how do you build a house? Tools!
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There are no rules in lyric writing - only tools!
Pat believes that everything you want to sing about falls into two categories:
When you think about it, this sentiment does really ring true. If you are sad, lost, lonely, heartbroken or angry, these feelings are unstable. If you are feeling happy, grounded, in love or feeling warm, these feelings would be considered stable.
With that in mind, Pat equipped us with some simple practices that can really help in making a lyric stable or unstable.
How many lines we have in our verse, chorus or bridge. If this is an even number the section is stable. If it is uneven the section is unstable.
If every line is the same length or you have alternating lengths of short - long - short - long, the section is stable. If one line length is longer than all the other lines the section will be unstable.
This involves how many stressed syllables are in each line. Rhythmically stable lines are made up of the same number of stressed syllables – or follow a distinct pattern. Varying the number of stressed syllables among lines deviates from a pattern and can cause instability.
These examples make up just some of the many tools that we as songwriters have at our disposal. As Pat has said himself, the music is capable of creating a feeling just as much as the lyrics are themselves, so learn as much as you can, get feedback on your work and most importantly - feel!”
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