On behalf of the Songwriters Association of Canada – Happy New Year! To kick off the new year, we thought we’d start a discussion to get your creative juices flowing.
Do you begin with music or lyrics when songwriting? The song “Yesterday,” by The Beatles began as a melody in Paul McCartney’s dreams. It then became “Scrambled Eggs,” before reaching it’s finished form.
For some, coming up with a melody is easier than the lyrics and vice versa for others. We interviewed some esteemed Canadian songwriters and discovered there is no rule, only preferences. Join the conversation by adding your preference below.
Bryan Adams: Usually it’s chorus or a verse idea. i keep a journal of lyrics which i go to occasionally when I’m stuck. sometimes there is a line in there that can inspire something, generally it’s from jamming, just jam a few cords and sing something over it…it seems to work for me.
Joan Besen: Different every time.
Blair Packham: Ideally, both at once. Failing that, lyrics first. I WISH the music came first and then brilliant lyrics followed but it doesn’t work that way for me.
Greg Stephens: Usually, the music.
Marc Jordan: Music.
Joel Plaskett: A little bit of both. Usually a phrase and melody appear at the same time and I get rolling from there.
Ron Hynes: For me it’s almost always the lyric. Sometimes I’ll get both at the same time but mostly It’s lyric and then the struggle to find the melody.
Jim Vallance: For me, the music comes first, although occasionally I’ll start with a fragment of lyric, like a title or phrase.
Emm Gryner: Music slightly before the lyrics. or all at once!