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10 Ridiculous Songwriting Techniques That Actually Work | LANDR Blog

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Songwriting
Techniques
That
Actually
Work
Just when you thought youd tried everything.
Googling songwriting tips will give you about 2
million results in 0.42 seconds.Thats a lot of tips.
And yknow what? Theres a good chance a lot of
them wont work. Thats because writing songs is a
personal process.
These tips are the special ones. The ones that put
you and your ideas first. The ones that open up
some time to really focus, experiment and make
your songs work.
Its all about getting back into yourself to find that
song gold (cue that warm, fuzzy feeling).
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They might cause people near you to ask if youre ok


They trigger some odd behaviour.
But they work. Because they put you and your
ideas first. Heres 10 ridiculous songwriting
exercises to get your songs on track.

1. PLAY 5 RADIOS AT ONCE


You might wanna do this one when no one else is
home. Or at least keep the volume low.
Itll definitely cause your friends to ask if everything
is ok.
But it really works! Tom Waits famously uses this
technique during his songwriting process. He turns
a couple radios on and then listens for the
interesting overlaps.

Youll find interesting


progressions and melodies.
Think of it like ear
sampling.
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This type of absurd composition is a form


of aleatory musicIts music where certain parts of
the composition are left to chance. Its the perfect
storm for song inspiration.
If it worked for Tom Waits its definitely worth
trying. So turn on all those radios, roll the dice and
listen for the interesting overlaps.

2. LOOK OUT THE WINDOW FOR


A REALLY LONG TIME
The small room that I make music in has a skylight
in it. The view is quite limitedjust a small blue
square with the occasional cloud, bird or airplane.
But I think Ive learned more about my own process
from that small blue square than any guide,
walkthrough, or manual could ever teach me. It lets
me think clearly.

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It doesnt even need to be a window either. Just


something silent to stare at. Like a tropical
aquarium, or a nice piece of art.
These days you have to actually rip yourself out of
the hyper-fast distractions that are constantly there
(computer, cellphone, etc.) to find some quite silent
time.

Once you do youll get


into a way better space to
write some songs.
Do you think Brian Wilson wrote Feel Flows while
he was replying to an email, ordering an Uber,
checking his plays on SoundCloud and tweeting
about the weather at the same time?
I dont think so.

3. DONT TALK FOR THE ENTIRE


DAY. JUST LISTEN
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Take a temporary oath of silence. Your songwriting


will thank you.
A whole day might be a bit much. Besides, you
HAVE to talk to lay down that earth-shattering vocal
of pure genius.
But Its no secret that silence is good for you. Even
an hour of silence is more than enough time to reset
your brain.

Whether you know it or not, talking is a huge and


complex task for your brain to carry out. Putting it
aside for a little while will put you in the right place
to write.
And during all that silent time all those deep
memories and feelings will have a clear path to the
top of your mind. Yknow, all those thoughts that
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make great songs.


So take a break from the chatting and try silence for
awhile. Let your brain do the talking and find all the
inspiration you need.

4. SET AN ABSURD TIME LIMIT


Guess what? Diamonds by Rihanna was written by
Sia in 14 minutes. She put the beat on and the lyrics
just flowed. It has gone platinum 5 times in the US
alone.
Time is a hard scale to balance. Too much and you
end up second guessing everything. Too little and
you get nothing done.

The solution? Set a time limit. Even better, set a


time limit thats way shorter than what you
normally write in.
Setting slim boundaries will help you focus on what
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matters, write more songs, and streamline your


entire process. And the more you do it, the better
youll get.
Try it out and make your songs shine bright like a
gold brick?

5. OPEN YOUR PIANO ROLL.


GRAB THE PEN TOOL AND MIDI
SCRIBBLE
My favourite feeling in kindergarten was grabbing a
handful of crayons and scribbling all at once. To be
honest, Im not sure why I stopped.
Well, I guess I didnt really stop necessarily. I Just
do it in my DAW now.

If Im stuck building a beat I often open my piano


roll, load up an instrument, grab the pen tool and
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just start scribbling down notes.


After Im done I play it back and listen for the happy
accidents.
Most of the time its 90% crapolla. But that
interesting 10% is super valuable for ideas. So grab
your DAW and channel your inner 5 year old every
now and then.

6. WRITE AS FEW LYRICS AS


POSSIBLE
Heres a really good tip if your stuck: GET TO THE
POINT .
When it comes to songwriting simple is always
eective. But its hard to pull o. You have to be
ruthless with your approach.
Just ask the Beatles. Their song Love Me Do has
exactly 19 unique words in it. But its still one of the
most iconic songs of all time.
Simple is a skill that every songwriter should
master. It keeps your songs relatable, engaging and
catchy. Who doesnt like a good sing along?

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The Beatles - Love Me Do [Lyrics]

7. PUT A LID ON IT
Infinity exists. The only proof you need is a blank
DAW. Theres infinite VST plugins, infinite eects,
infinite processing.
But infinity isnt always a good thing. Sometimes the
best way to better your songwriting is to set a gear
limit.
Start with a strict list of what youre gonna use.
Limit your ideas to your gear list. Ideas will take
shape much faster than having to constantly decide
between a million options.
It might sound weird but limitations can actually
make you more creative. Because you have to work
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with what youve got and bend it to your sound.


Plus keeping yourself limited will give you a deeper
understanding of the tools you work with
because youll have to push them all to the limit.

8. CUT YOUR LYRICS INTO A


MILLION PIECES
Author William S. Burroughs created the cut-up
technique to help with his own writing. Except he
wasnt writing songs. He was writing books.
But his concept is super eective for songwriting
as well. Its pretty simple. Just write out a bunch of
words that are on your mind, cut them out and
rearrange them into ideas.
It doesnt even have to be words either. It can be
chords, notes, melodies, pictures or anything else
that works for you.
David Bowie famously used this technique to write
some of his biggest hits. He explained his own cutup technique in this BBC Documentary:

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Cut up techinque- David Bowie

9. SET UP A REWARD SYSTEM


When Brian Wilson was struggling with his own
songwritingamong other thingshe was
reportedly rewarded with cheeseburgers for every
song he wrote.
Brians system was pretty extreme. But the concept
is really smart. Writing songs is tough.

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Reward yourself when


youre finished.
If theres a piece of gear that youre eyeing, or a new
studio toy you want, tell yourself that you have to
write 5 songs before you even think about buying it.
This will give you something to work towards
beyond the satisfaction of being finished with a song
which is a pretty great reward in itself.

10. THE MOZART EFFECT


No, Im not about to tell you to listen to Mozart and
then do what he did. That would be cheating right?
But there is another reason to listen to Mozart.
Listening to Mozart has been studied and proven to
have a positive eect on your focus.
It aects your spatial-temporal reasoning. Which is
basically a fancy word for concentration. Starting
your session with a bit of Mozart will put your brain
into high-gear.
Perfect for pumping out some quality songs.
Copying a few of his phrases and melodies cant
hurt either Just make sure you make em your
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own!

GETTING STUCK HAPPENS


Songs dont always flow.
Sometimes you have to take drastic measures
to make them work.
So think outside the box and and get in touch
with your best possible resource for writing songs:
Yourself.

Scott Parsons

Scott Parsons is a full-time music


enthusiast and semi-professional
pinball player. Editor at LANDR.

3 Comments
Tony Griffin

20 . 06 . 16

Here are a couple of more tips: (1) exaggerate words to the point of being absurd.
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Then, ask yourself, What can I do to this word (phrase) that seems right to you, that
fits other parts of the song: (2) Do whats called a random entry. Pick a word or
object that has nothing whatever to do with the rhyme, or word, or phrase youre
trying to fit to the song. Ask yourself, What are the qualities or features of this object
might apply to this song? Remember the oject must not be related in any way to the
object youre trying to fine-tune.
REPLY

Daan Andriessen

17 . 07 . 16

Set up a synthesizer with a sample & hold modulator in the filter cuto. Play one note
and listen to the sound from the other side of the door.
REPLY

derek richardson

18 . 07 . 16

have foreign films playing all the time, with the sound o,then when you get stuck for
a lyric, just write down whatever it says on the t.v. south east asian horror or sci/fi
works best for me.
REPLY

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FINNISH SUPER-

7 TRICKS TO CREATE

DOS AND DONTS OF

PRODUCER JORI
HULKKONENS TOP

HEADROOM AND
HOW IT WILL SAVE

DEMO SUBMISSION:
HOW TO GET YOUR

7 TIPS FOR MIXING

YOUR MIXES

RECORD SIGNED

The Finnish Know How to


Finish

The most common problem


we see at LANDR is a lack of
headroom.

During my eight-year tenure


at Turbo Recordings, I
would guess that Ive
received over 50,000 demos,
and personally listened to a
total of about 200,000
songs.

CREATE. Well Do the


Rest.
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