Poetry and songwriting are undoubtedly related. But, unlike what many think, songwriting does not come from poetry or vice versa. The difference between these two lies in the fact that the first is created mainly for reading, while the second for listening. According to Writer’s digest, all the remaining differences are consequences of this difference.
‘I believe that the connection of songwriting and poetry is the effect they have on people. Very often, the effects are strong for both, the connection is unmistakable.’ – says Steven Hugh, content writer at Aussie Writings.
Knowing this, we can be certain of the link between the two, especially for a songwriter who uses poetry before they turn the lyrics into music. And many artists do this – first create the poetry of the song, then the song itself.
Poetry can help you shock the audience with your music and evoke strong emotional responses. Here are three ways you can use poetry to improve your songwriting skills:
1. Start with the Lyrics, not the Music
Poetry and songwriting allow you to do the same thing – catch a dream of yours. You can, of course, choose a general idea for your song, and create a dozen lyrics about lost love or endless love. But, whatever you do, the goal of songwriting is to catch your dreams.
Stop focusing on what is popular and what others do. You can make fantastic materials if you are a great songwriter, but true poetry always comes from the heart. If you at least try to turn your feelings and desire into a bit of a poetry, you will notice how easy the writing part becomes.
When you have your poetry in the form of lyrics, you have in front of you the things you really care about. This should be a motivation enough to continue with the rest – the vocal line, instrumentation and arrangement.
In the end, it all comes down to preference. Whether you will decide to make lyrics first or go with the music and then add these, it is up to you. But, if you do want to take advantage of the power of poetry in songwriting, lyrics come first. To improve songwriting skills start with lyrics first.
2. Read Poetry
Read as much poetry as you can to get your groove on. Some of the best ideas in the world are inspired by other ideas.
This sounds paradoxical to songwriters, because who wants to create something others had before them? But, we won’t tell you to steal someone else’s poetry in your songwriting. Instead, read as much as you can to get inspiration and motivation.
We all know that when you expose yourself to something on regular basis, you will unintentionally start using such approaches in your own actions. It is very simple – when you are constantly around a person who uses the same phrase in speaking, you are bound to start using it, too. In the beginning, you probably won’t even notice it.
The same goes for poetry. The more poetry you read, the better you can write it. Sooner than you may think, you will start using poetry in your songwriting without even having to try to do it.
3. Make a Habit of Writing Things Down
Did you know that you can actually PLAN to be spontaneous? Get 3 notebooks (or go electronic) and start writing down every single idea that comes to your mind. It does not matter if it seems like nonsense to you right now – it may just be the best idea for a song later on.
Your first notebook will be for ideas. The second is for lists of words and phrases. Did you come across an interesting word or phrase while reading poetry or talking with others? Perhaps you heard a song on the radio and it had something very intriguing in it, but you could not find what exactly? Make columns for nouns, verbs and phrases and write everything down.
Finally, the third one is for your poetry attempts. Just scribble on this notebook, but instead of doing the traditional scribbling, scribble down lyrics. Whatever comes to the mind!
The third book can use ideas from the first one and words and phrases from the second one. After some time, you will have a list of ideas and compelling combinations you made along the way. Who knows – maybe these combinations will make for the next greatest song of yours.
All it takes is a little bit of poetry. When you learn to combine poetry and songwriting, you are one huge step towards creating a song no one’s able to get out of their head for a long, long time.