• Ernest Aines


I have a recipe for writing songs that not many people use... it involves fumbling and mumbling but it brings out what is inside without forcing anything. Here is the process:

Step 1: Prepare your space. Clean your area... grab a notepad and pen and whatever instrument you play and let's get into it!

Step 2: Press "Record" on whatever you have available. Voice memos are always good, but video is even better I find - you can see and remember what you actually stumbled upon whilst fiddling around with your instrument.

Step 3: Find new and interesting chords ... Don't just play Am, C, G. Be an explorer for new chords, try to use your ear and say "What do I want to hear next". Then either sing where you want to land and go find it... Or, fumble around until you find something interesting. Fumbling is one of the best ways to song write. It's like when you're fumbling around in the attic for some more forks or that old bike pump, you usually find something else of use... it might be a bridge or refrain etc.

Step 4: Be a listener Once you have a verse and chorus that interest you, re-listen to what you have just laid down. As a listener you now have freed yourself to sing along with the instrumentation. This is great because you've freed up all of that focus that you would have been using to play the piece. Now just being able to focus on the melody will help you mess around with timing, phrasing and inflection of your melodic creation.

Step 5: Just sing sing sing... Once again, RECORD!. If you only have your phone as a recording device, load it up to your computer so you can play it back and record over it. Or if you have a DAW (Logic, Protools etc) use that! You'll start a bit wonky, that's totally normal. But by singing through and trying to experiment as much as possible you will eventually whittle away toward the core melody. I often start with very complex improvisation and try to "Crystallise" the melody by simplifying it into something clear and which won't detract too much from the lyrics. Also, mumble... What does this mean? Just sing nonsense words... then you can listen back and get ideas through the feeling of the melody and the phrasing is a big part of how people hear the melody and how you best use your voice with that melody..

Step 6: Refine.. Listen back and take out the best bits. Rerecord them, keep messing around. Now the mumblings will help lyrics bubble to the surface and POP out to you. It was absolute gibberish you were singing until you heard it back. You may start to hear full sentences reveal themselves to you. This is what you're writing about now. It all came from feeling and experimenting...

Step 7: Work on it Keep going back through step 5 and 6 until you have a good firm grasp on your lyrics and melody...

Step 8: Song Structure, the AABABCBBB structure meaning (verseX2, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, middle 8, chorusX2-3) is a classic. But really songs can have any structure you want. So don't stick to one certain formula... Everyone's already heard those songs... Create your own path... Really change it up. Maybe the chorus first and then a verse. Or how about the middle 8? Or how about 2 variations of the chorus? It's totally up to your ear. Don't bore people by repeating stuff too often unless it's really catchy.

Step 9: Record the finished product!

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