by Marty Dodson
Jun 24, 2016
I am primarily a lyricist. I contribute to melody on my songs, but that’s not my strength. So, I try to stay with my strength and put most of my energy there.
Often, I hear people say “I’m only a lyricist”. Some of those people tell me that they don’t write to any melody or feel in their head. By definition, a lyricist is someone who writes the lyrics (words) for a song. If you write without any regard for how those lyrics will work musically, you are a poet, not a lyricist.
I can’t build a car part without any regard for how and where it will fit into the car. I have to work hard to make sure MY part fits into the car and works with the other parts.
So, if you only write lyrics, here are some things I would suggest.
1) Write your lyric to a “dummy” melody in your head. If you can sing your lyric to a mediocre melody, a great melody person should be able to write a beautiful melody to it as well.
2) Work with melody people. Don’t stay isolated. Working with good melody people helps you learn how important phrasing is in a song and gives you valuable insight into crafting better lyrics.
3) Try writing lyric to a drum beat. That will help you make sure your lyric can work musically.
4) I know writers that speak their lyric rhythmically as they are writing to make sure the phrasing is good and the words can be understood.
5) Study lyrics from great songs. Pay attention to the way the lyric lays in the melody naturally.
6) Try writing a new lyric to an existing melody. Get a karaoke track of a song you like and write new words. Then, give the lyric to a melody person WITHOUT telling them what you wrote it to. This guarantees your lyric is singable.
The more you learn about melody, the better your lyrics will become, so challenge yourself to get outside your box every now and then to play in the melody world!
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