Songwriting

Text & Music: an important songwriting question

I often find writing second verses difficult, particularly if I’ve written the first without having first planned out any kind of structure. It sometimes feels that words are being forced or shoehorned in, and can easily sound unnatural or dryly didactic. The inspiration of the first verse can be difficult to replicate.

When we set words to music, the aim is to create something that is stronger than either the words or the music would be on their own. Our goal is that the words and music would, as Luther put it:

join to move the listener’s soul

Simply getting the right number of syllables and the correct emphasis does not necessarily mean the lyric is good. Looking back on a number of my own songs I can see how I had an idea of what I wanted the verse to say, but the execution was awkward; the music did not add to what might otherwise have been perfectly good and true words.

It’s helpful then, when writing songs, to keep this question clear in our minds:

Does my setting of a this text grant the words more ‘power’ or something ‘more’ than they would have without the music?

There are, of course, numerous other considerations when writing lyrics, and songs, but this synergy of text and music is something that seems so obvious, but can be easily overlooked.

What do you think?