What SONGWRITERS Can Learn From POETS

what songwriters can learn from other artists Mar 15, 2022

Read Your Lyrics Out Loud

Poetry readings are an important element of poetry. Reading out loud is often the single best way to ensure that the poem flows. 

Often poets like to have other people read their poetry to see how well the poetry flows. 

In general, the best way to check any writing for natural word flow is to simply read it out loud.

We should do the same with our lyrics

OK lyrics can work with a great melody and music to elevate it.

Good lyrics can work with a solid melody and music.

Great lyrics can work being simply read out loud.

 

Word Painting

Poets are painters. They just utilize words rather than colors.

They use evocative words to paint pictures for those who read their poetry.

So we should focus on words that paint strong imagery. 

Show don’t tell.

Lyricists have the crutch of instrumentation and melody. Poets don’t. 

We should write our lyrics as if we don’t have the crutch of instrumentation and melody.

 

A Focus On Precision and Lyrical Efficiency

We aren’t writing a novel. We can’t afford 100 pages of exposition (not that we like authors doing it either!)

So we need to have lyrical efficiency.

What is lyrical efficiency? Fitting in as much meaningful information and impactful imagery per syllable as possible.

If laughs/minute encapsulates the humor efficiency of a stand-up routine, lyrical efficiency is packing as much meaning into every line as possible. 

This often comes from precision in words.

What’s the difference between “Pain” and “Ache”? Or “Love” and “Adore”?

“Ache” and “Adore” are much more specific and precise. All “Aches” are a form of “Pain”, but while “Agony” is also pain, we wouldn’t consider “Agony” the same as an “Ache”. 

Same with “Love”. I love my wife, Star Wars (most of it…), the Denver Broncos, and Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream. 

I “Adore” my wife. I don’t “Adore” Star Wars or the Broncos. That would be… weird. 

So “Adore” is a more precise, specific, meaningful word than “Love”. 

Think about how you can deliver more impact and meaning in your words- we only have so many of them, so make sure they all count!

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