The terms ‘Lyricist’, ‘Songsmith’, ‘Tunesmith’ or ‘Wordsmith’ are used to describe an individual who writes words, prose, rhymes or poetry. These may be performed vocally, spoken rhythmically or accompanied by music for the listeners pleasure. The author has the ability to create imagery through their words and may have little prior knowledge of music and are not required to play a musical instrument, although to be successful the lyricist should learn as much about song construction, alliteration, rhythm and timing plus find suitable composing partners who share their passion to collaborate in creating songs.
There are many collaborative teams who have become famous for their teamwork like lyricist Bernie Taupin and composer/singer Elton John or Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber who follow the tradition set by other great partnerships in creating songs that will be remembered for years to come.
Lyrics are just as important as the music which accompanies them, they convey to the listener the story or theme of the song. Although it’s true that there are certain ‘formats’ that are used to create hit songs, these should not be allowed to limit the lyricists expressive nature. The writer should endeavour to explore all styles and not just aim to write commercially orientated songs as writing for pleasure helps to expand the writers understanding of the creative process. Many lyricists and songwriters have written hundreds of songs before they find a pattern that suits their writing style and appeals to a commercial market.
Every lyricist has their own prefered way of writing and may explore several methods until they find the ones that suit them. It doesn’t matter wether the music comes before the lyrics, or the verse is written before the chorus or the arrangement needs to be changed before it flows as a song. The method is far less important than the end result, how you create is individual to you and any partners you work with, so long as it works – nothing else matters!!
There are various songwriting tools that every budding lyricist should have in their possession. Other than a pen, pencil, eraser, paper and small tape recorder, no serious writer would be without a Dictionary, Thesaurus and Rhyming Dictionary, all of which can be found in the Songwriting section along with tips on how to start, free software to aid in songwriting and essential books to help you create songs.
The ultimate songwriting tool provides online file copyright, chord charting and editing, chord wizard, programmable text styles, database storage, album categorization, spell checker, thesaurus, rhyming dictionary, file export, email and media file launch and multi document interface. This commercial software is available for PC & Mac and retails for $39.95 plus shipping.
Writing Better Lyrics
Pat Pattison is a professor at Berklee College of Music, where he teaches lyric writing and poetry. His books Writing Better Lyrics, The Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure, and The Essential Guide to Rhyming are considered definitive in their genre. His former students include Grammy winners John Mayer, Gillian Welch, and Rob Hotchkiss (Train).