Let’s make up a melody.
For this particular exercise you will either just need your memory of a song you love, or a cordless music playing device playing that song and some earplugs (eg: your phone or ipod), AND a small recording device.
So, go for a walk listening or quietly singing along to this song that just brings you joy. A new found song, or an old favourite; do them all on different walks.
Go for a walk somewhere moderately private if you can, so you won’t feel like a crazy person walking along thinking people are watching you if you feel self conscious about that kind of thing! I hope you don’t too much, but I understand if you do! So, I’m thinking along a river or beach, down a suburban or scenic road or path. Just perhaps not the main street of town! Or just in circles around your back yard! There’s no right or wrong.
So, get moving, walk along, perhaps even at the pace of the song. If it’s really fast, either walk at half time or jog!!
I want you to think about why this song brings you joy. Does it remind you of someone, or bring back a nice memory, or maybe it’s just a darn good song. Also I want you to take in the surroundings around you. And by taking in the surroundings, I mean consider how all of your senses are affected: your sight, the sounds, the smells, what some things may feel like, or taste like etc.
Now keep moseying along listening to your song, thinking all of these things, and try to feel yourself letting go of the song in your ears and start humming along to the melody, but creating your own words. From your feelings about the song and the sensory-scape around you. Loose any need for it to make sense. Sense can come later. Right now you’re just improvising and playing a game with your thoughts. Maybe this game leads you to enjoy some things more than others. Maybe you’re enjoying describing your feelings, or the smell of the beach, or the feel of the sun. You don’t have to cover all the bases. Just do what feels right.
Keep trying, even if it’s only one phrase of the song. And slowly let the melody morph and change so it still may be similar to the original song, but some notes may elongate, or become shortened to emphasise your lyrics, your meaning. Let the most important words of the phrase be highlighted in some way. A long note? A short loud note? A whispered moan? A clear and powerful smiling note?
Record some of your ideas. Try not to let the fussing around with a recording device get in the way of your flow and your nice walk. Try to have your recorder easily accessible and easy to just press record and stop. Don’t get run over!!!! Watch your surroundings and take them all in. Don’t let them be blocked out by your iPod. At some point disconnect from all the devices hanging off you and just have a laugh at the sunshine. The laughing and smiling will open your throat and voice and let your notes sail out of you.
Somewhere towards the end of your walk, think about what your song idea is about. Try to put that in to words, really simply. Wether it’s sung or not. Just try to keep the intention of the song. Did you say something to someone, or feel a certain way. Was it good or bad or something else. Record yourself saying it. or try singing it!
This exercise has nothing to do with music theory or chords or any of that other stuff. It’s a nice way to just feel creative and not stressed about where your musical ability on five instruments leaves you as a songwriter. You don’t need a degree in music to be a songwriter.
I find that getting moving helps me create. If i sit down still and think, ok, “write something”, my brain is instantly empty. But often when I’m wandering around little sounds and phrases will jump into my head. Practising doing this will make you feel more confident at it. You might not write a hit song every time, but it will help you on your way to writing a song you’re really proud of.
And, really, don’t get run over.