By Wah Lok
The message is the most important part of your song. You want to communicate a message in your song. If you do not have a clear message, your song will not have an impact. A good melody without a good message is not sufficient.
Do you have a key phrase for your song ? A key and catchy phrase is very important to make the song good. Usually, the key phrase becomes the title. It is also repeated many times.
Trading my sorrows - Darryl Evans
Heart of worship - Matt Redman
Ticket to heaven. - Ng Wah Lok
Every Time I Pray - Ng Wah Lok
Tears in heaven - Eric Clapton
Candle in the wind .- Elton John
Wind Beneath Your Wings - Bette Midler
I like you just the way you are - Billy Joel
A song should have only one clear message. If you have many messages, no one can really follow your song. Set the person, place or problem as soon as possible.
Repeat the main phrase many times. This often becomes the hook that people will subconsciously sing.
Learn the techniques of repetition
First line of every verse - Just let me say - Geoff Bullock
First line and last 3 lines of verses - From a distance - Julie Gold
Second and fourth line of every verse - Jesus is my Rock - Ng Wah Lok
First, Second and Fourth line of chorus - Over and Over - Paul Baloche
Many repetitions on the chorus - God is good, Trading my sorrows.
Play with words and build your thoughts
Eg Just Let Me say - Geoff Bullock
Just let me say how much I love you
Let me speak of your mercy and grace
Just let me live in the shadow of your beauty
Let me see you face to face
And the earth will shake as Your word goes forth
And the heavens can tremble and fall
But let me say how much I love you
O my saviour my God and friend
|Just let me hear you finest whispers
As you gently call my name
And let me see your power and your glory
Let me feel your spirit's flame
Let me find you in the desert
Till the sand is holy ground
And I am found completely surrendered
To you, my Lord and friend
|Just let me say how much I love you
With all my heart, I long for you
For I am caught in this passion of knowing
This endless love I've found in You
And the depth of grace, the forgiveness found
To be called a child of God
Just makes me say how much I love you
O my saviour, my Lord and friend
The underlined portions are his backbone of the song and repeated in the next 2 verses. The variances are just play of words.
Similar techniques are used in the song "From a distance" and "Ticket to heaven".
6. Build your lyrics line by line.
Eg. Because you love me - Celine Dion
For all the times…..
For all the truth…..
For all the joy…..
For all the wrong….
For every dream….
You were my strength….
You were my voice…
You were my eyes…
You saw the best…
Eg. Ruler of my days
Ruler of my days….
Ruler of my nights..
Ruler of my heart I crown thee now..
Eg Once again - Matt Redman
Once again I look upon the cross where you died
Once again I thank you
Once again I pour out my life.
- Rhyming words
Rhyming is not absolutely needed but it does help a lot to make your lyrics poetic. Use a rhyme book to help you. This can be done at the editing stage.
Editing your lyrics
Editing is a very important aspect of writing lyrics. When you have your first draft, spend time thinking about your lyrics. Search the thesaurus for better words. Change words if needed. Change the whole chorus if you do not like it. Look for words you can rhyme.
After editing, the lyrics will improve considerably.
Do not cliches
Make your lyrics easy to sing
Make sure there are no tongue twisters
Eg . She sell sea shell by the sea shore
Pass your lyrics to a person with good English to check the grammar.
Title – Usually the most repeated phrase and also the main message of your song.
Lyrics and music must match in terms of moods. A good song is usually a good marriage of the lyrics and the music.
Try to use current lyrics which are easily understood.
Write lyrics for your melody taking into consideration all the above points.
Check your lyrics against the above check lists.
Edit your lyrics over a period of time.
About the author Ng Wah Lok
Ng Wah Lok has written over 100 songs in 23 years. His song "Every Time I Pray" written in 1981 is widely used in Asia. He has released 2 albums, "Every Time I Pray" and "Shining Stars". He has also co-written 9 songs in the album "Favored Chick" by Barbara Tipper. He can be contacted at email@example.com. You can visit his website www.tabernaclemusic.net to read his other articles on music and songwriting.
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