by: Paul Tellefsen
Musicians, songwriters and artists, we recently caught up with Graham Bronczyk from Newport Worship. We asked him to walk you through some songwriting lessons he has learned.
For the rising songwriters out there, can you give three tips to writing a great song that works?
The very best advice I can give to someone wanting to write songs is write lots and lots of songs! One of the greatest things you can do as a songwriter is just to spend some time everyday creating. So create often!
A couple other practical things would be
1. I have found free writing to be very helpful when you get stuck and don't know what to say. Instead of trying to edit as you write your songs or trying to think of the perfect line or thing to say before beginning, simply let the creativity flow and don’t judge what is coming out. Then at the end of it go back and improve what needs to be improved upon, edit what needs to be edited.
2. Start with an intended goal in mind. If you aim at nothing with your song you will often hit nothing. So if you start with a theme, story idea or an intended audience you will more often achieve those goals. I love the quote that Mel Gibson says in the movie “The Patriot” when he tells his son as they are going to fight against their enemy to “aim small, miss small”. I think the same applies to songwriting. When we aim at too large a target, we often hit no target at all. But when we aim at a very specific thing and develop that small idea more fully, we will more often hit the bull’s-eye!
3. I would say, pay close attention to the patterns and structure of your song. Every great songwriter knows the rules of songwriting and that there are patterns you need to use to make your song cohesive. An example would be, If you use a particular rhyme scheme in verse one of your song, then don’t deviate from that in verse two and three. The same applies to the bridge of your song or chorus. If you have two sections to your bridge and you set a certain pattern in the first section, then stay with that pattern in the second section. Now this isn’t a hard and fast rule but it is a good place to start! Also keep it simple. Don’t get too complex with your writing or with your patterns. Only the most skilled songwriters can write in more complex patterns and have it come across as simple and clear to the listener. Often times even the most skilled songwriters, when they set out to write a very simple song, find that those songs end up being their biggest hits. When we try to accomplish too much in any given song we often accomplish very little.
4. And here’s a fourth one just as a bonus! Edit edit edit. Editing is such a huge part of songwriting. I feel like so many of the songs I hear out there sound like a first draft idea. Although some songs do come out right the first time, those are few and far between. Most of the songs that you hear that you really love have been worked on over and over again. Don’t be happy with just a first draft. Again, most great songs have been written and rewritten and rewritten again and again. Don’t settle for average. Work on your songs over and over again until they are perfected. Develop a taste for great songs and don’t be satisfied until you have put your all into your song!