Blog Archives

The Escaped Lyric (Radio 4 series)

5 episodes of 11 minutes each – www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b082bk15/episodes/guide From teenage alienation to middle-aged loss and regret, lyrics from popular music can escape their song to become an anthem of our youth or a lifeline through loss and solitude. Nick Berkeley

Posted in Documentaries, Lyric writing

Finding A ‘Big Idea’ To Focus Your Song

Starting in August 2016, about once a month, I have been leading an evening workshop for Oxford Songwriters Meetup. We are gradually working through some of the main topics in my Oxford Songwriting Syllabus. The meeting on 25 Sept 2016

Posted in Lyric writing Tagged with: , ,

Poets of Tin Pan Alley (notes on Furia’s book)

This blog entry is part of the series on book summaries. It is the notes that I made as I read through: Furia, Philip (1990) Poets of Tin Pan Alley: a history of America’s great lyricists, Oxford University Press, New

Posted in Books, Lyric writing

Lyrics Checklist – good writers re-write

In The Craft of Lyric Writing, Sheila Davis writes: “Good writers are generally good editors, Any serious writer wil tell you that plays, novels, and poems aren’t just written – they’re rewritten.” (p.293) Here are some ways to analyse lyrics

Posted in Lyric writing

The lyrics of American Pie (Don McLean)

Don McLean’s iconic song ‘American Pie’ has a fascinating set of lyrics. These days, it might seem a strange and obscure collection of references and images that don’t speak to later generations. But he captured the hearts and minds of

Posted in Lyric writing

The Elements of Eloquence (notes on Forsyth’s book)

Mark Forsyth’s book The Elements of Eloquence: How To Turn the Perfect English Phrase (Icon, London 2013) is not likely to be on many songwriters’ shelves, but I think it makes a great contribution to any songwriter’s reference library. This a

Posted in Lyric writing

Putting the listener first – 4 useful tests for your lyrics

Jason Blume (who has some great tips on songwriting) makes the important point: “It’s been said that great songs are rarely written—they are rewritten.” This means that we need to have tools that will help us edit and rewrite. This

Posted in Lyric writing

Lyrics need to make sense – use simple language

Songwriters can easily fall into a trance about their lyrics, and not realise that the lyrics don’t make sense to the listener (that’s assuming the singer is enunciating clearly enough for the listener to make out what the words are …). The lyricist may

Posted in Lyric writing

Critique your song lyrics using Gricean maxims

Songwriters need to be able to critique, edit and rewrite their own lyrics. It is helpful to have criteria by which to test the effectiveness of a lyric. What is not working? Why? What could we do to fix it? As part of

Posted in Lyric writing

Sondheim on songwriting (2)

I have introduced Stephen Sondheim in my blog article ‘Stephen Sondheim on Songwriting (1)‘. This piece is a set of notes that I made on the book: Mark Eden Horowitz (2010) Sondheim on Music: Minor Details and Major Decisions (2nd edition), Scarecrow Press.

Posted in Books, Lyric writing, Music Theatre, Music writing / Composing