What SONGWRITERS Can Learn From PAINTERS

what songwriters can learn from other artists Mar 22, 2022

What Is And Is Not In Frame 

A painter will show exactly what is needed and beneficial, no more and no less.

If it doesn’t have a purpose being in the frame, it shouldn’t be there.

Similarly, in our songs, we have only so many words to work with. Most songs will be less than 300 words, probably averaging around 200.

We don’t have room for you to give extraneous information.

Make sure every detail matters

No time for side-quests, there’s no “frame space” for irrelevant details that don’t add to the song.

 

Sharpness: What Part Is Sharp and What Part Is Fuzzy
A painter has to think through when more detail is good and when less detail adds to the creation.

Sometimes making the person in the foreground blurry while the person in the background is sharp might make the most sense for a painting. Sometimes focusing on the person in front of the mountain range is the right way to go. Sometimes both being sharp is the way to go.

Similarly, sometimes your chorus needs to be kept just vague enough to add some intrigue as to how the story ends or to make it more relatable.

Sometimes your verses will benefit from being super specific. Some verses will even go so far as to describe every element of a scene and what exactly is said and done.

Often, being sharp and specific at the beginning allows us to be more vague later on. If you set the stage as an oceanside in the first verse, you don’t have to keep repeating beach imagery for the listener to still picture the song taking place by the oceanside.

But if you don’t mention the image of an oceanside until the bridge, the whole song was lacking the clear image of you walking on the beach.

The Illusion of 3d within a 2d medium

Most paintings give the allusion of 3 dimensions within something that’s technically 2 dimensional. 

They have to find a way to make one part of a flat object look like it’s way off in the distance compared to another part of the frame that may appear much closer.

In the audio recording space, we also don’t really have 3 dimensions.

A lot of what goes into the sound of a recording is volume levels and left vs right.

And yet we can make some instruments sound distant- we can sing a vocal that sounds intimate and being sung by someone right next to us.

But we also can give our song a “big” sound as if it’s being sung from the mountaintops.

Reverb, distance from a mic, and arrangement decisions can all go a long way to creating our 3D song within the Left/Right medium of audio recording. 

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