Where Do Songs Come From
We’re going to begin by looking at the big picture: where do songs come from? Put another way, how is it that songwriters come up with ideas? Where does their inspiration come from?
Ask this question of any songwriters you know, and you’ll find you never get one “set” answer from any of them! Some writers like to sit down and compose song lyrics first, without any thought to how the music is going to sound.
Others prefer to create the music first and/or simultaneously along with the lyrics.
The point I’m intending to make here is that your songwriting IS affected by how “musical” you are, whether you play an instrument, and which instrument you play.
A song that you write on electric guitar is likely to be much different from one you write on piano. There are ‘habits’ one picks up from each instrument.
So, if you ever find yourself having difficulty with a particular song, I recommend playing your idea on as many different instruments as you can, even if you just pick out the basic melody by ear.
You might discover a different mood or meaning or potential in the song, then you can go back and adapt that work to the instrument of your choice if you desire. This helps you break free from ingrained ideas about the “typical” style of song composed on your instrument.
More reading: http://www.guitarplayerworld.com/songwriting/
The Brainstorming Session
Another thing you might want to try is a spontaneous ‘brainstorming’ session. In this case, you don’t sit down with a specific song idea in mind. Instead, you just start playing and improvising as you go along, and make up some “filler” lyrics to help guide you towards a good song structure.
Quite a few popular rock bands do this. U2 comes to mind as an example. Bono usually just “scat” sings over whatever melodic idea the band is working with at the time, then creates a finished set of lyrics later down the line.
It is important that you avoid getting too locked-in to one way of doing things. If you always write your songs the same way, you’ll eventually find that all your songs sound the same.
So, let creativity strike you when and where it may, and make sure you’re armed with the skills and knowledge you need to turn your ideas into full-fledged songs!