Category: Lyric writing

What is a Bridge in songwriting?

I looked up on the web ‘Bridge’ in songwriting, and was disappointed at the lack of good material on this. Much of what I found described – often in vague terms – what it might be musically. There seems to

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Writing better lyrics (notes on Pattison’s book)

This blog entry is a set of notes that I made on the book: Pattison, Pat (2009) Writing better lyrics: the essential guide to powerful songwriting, Writers Digest Books, Cincinnati. I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand,

The Escaped Lyric (Radio 4 series)

5 episodes of 11 minutes each – 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

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

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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

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

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

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

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

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