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The Songwriter's Journal: 52 Weeks of Songwriting Ideas and Inspiration Diary – January 19, 2007
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In reviewing songwriting books, it is important to ask the question: "Will this one help someone become a better songwriter?" In this case, it should make anyone a more prolific songwriter, which will provide the opportunity for improvement. It should help tickle a sleeping muse awake, and that can't hurt. -- The Muse's Muse, July 2007
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I guess the goal would be to start writing at least one new song every week, based on at least one of these ideas. Since people use a wide variety of things to get them motivated or inspired - starting with a lyric, a saying, a title, a story or news event, a melody, a chord progression or musical groove, by listening to and imitating other songs, etc. - the author provides a wide variety of inspirations each week:
* a song writing exercise or challenge (ex. write on a new instrument)
* song titles - titles can't be copyrighted
* a chord progression - he provides a progression and you use it any way you want
* word associations, cliches, expressions, slang, etc.
* quotes from great songwriters and lyric samples
* short bios and suggested listening
* melody note sequences - like the chord progressions, you're given notes and it's up to you how to use them to begin a melody
* songwriter's "toolkit" - short descriptions of useful items (software, books, websites, resources, companies, etc.) that may help you
There is no right or wrong way to use this book. It's not a course and there's no deep critical-thinking involved. The first part of songwriting is to just get to a source and let the ideas come out however they will. Censoring, editing and rewriting all come later, and there are other books for that. This book is only about getting some new ideas to flow. As such, it's good for writers at any and all levels and therefore would be a useful book to many more people. By contrast, skill-building/improving books are only good for people below a specific level.
This book does not promise to help you write a "hit" song - the author acknowledges he's written hundreds of songs without having a hit single - only to give you lots of ideas to get you writing new songs. It can be a great resource for anyone with writer's block or who feels like they're in a rut of repeating themselves and need some fresh ideas.
If this book works for you, you could buy another copy for next year and go through the process again. At the end of each year, you'll have collected a lot of song ideas together in one place that you can refer back to later.
If I spend $20 (or less) on something that inspires me to write at least one song, I'd say it was worth it. That's far cheaper than taking any course. I haven't read beyond the first couple "weeks" yet but I've glanced through the entire book and I'm sure it will inspire me to at least start several songs. Whether or not I finish those songs or write any "hit worthy" songs is another story:)
I found the scenarios to be in the blues style of songwriting; some people may like that, some may not.
Scattered among the nuggets of ideas and inspirations were helpful recommendations for best low cost acoustic guitar, best introductory music recording software, best drum machine, and a list of other recommended books (I already own one of those recommended books and found it excellent, which gives me confidence in the author's other recommendations.)
This book does not address what to do with your songwriting ideas and inspirations. It does not cover anything like song structure or how to turn ideas into actual lyrics. To be fair, that is not the stated purpose of the book.
I think this would be an excellent book for breaking out of writer's block. Then get a songwriting book (which the author kindly provides recommendations for) to turn the ideas into developed lyrics.
Most recent customer reviews
What disappointed me: there are pre-built song subjects for each week...Read more