Songwriting Tips

Featuring Brian Doerksen Posted on April 3, 2010

Document your inspiration when it comes, for it will not come again! I believe that a song starts as a seed—a clear single idea that contains the “songvision” of the song. It’s the “one thing” of your song. Make sure when the inspiration comes, when the seed falls into the soil of your life, you plant it! Write it down, record it, and take a mental picture of playing the melody on the piano. Invest in something that makes documenting the idea really simple.
Repetition is good; actually, it’s more than good—it’s great!

Think of the way “Come, Now Is the Time to Worship” repeats the word come. I keep on sounding that simple, clear invitation. If you are working on a song, look for the key word that you can repeat.

Make sure you have a strong melodic hook to build on. This song starts with a very clear, strong melodic hook on the third note of the major scale. A good hook is memorable and easy to sing. (Of course, coming up with a fresh hook is always very difficult and is a gift every time it happens!)

Don’t waste time. Come right out of the gate with a strong melody and the key thing you want to say lyrically. It’s amazing to me how many times writers think they have all day to noodle around with indistinct melodies to “build momentum.” You only have momentum if you have something clear right from the start!

It’s okay to be unique, to put your personality stamp on your song. One of my key melodic signatures is found in the way the melody is pushed on the last word of line one: “worship.” Both of those notes are pushed; they fall on the “four and” before the downbeat. (Of course, I have heard many churches straighten those out, which removes personality and energy from the melody to my ears.) I love melodies that are pushed. What kind of melodies do you love?

Hallelujah (Your Love Is Amazing)

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Your love makes me sing
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Your love makes me sing

Your love is amazing, steady and unchanging Your love is a mountain, firm beneath my feet Your love is a mystery, how You gently lift me When I am surrounded, Your love carries me
Your love is surprising, I can feel it rising
All the joy that’s growing deep inside of me
Every time I see You, all Your goodness shines through
And I can feel this God song, rising up in me

Brenton Brown and Brian Doerksen, “Hallelujah (Your Love Is Amazing),” © 2000 Vineyard Songs (UK/Eire). Used by permission.

Tags: , , ,