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  •  The EvO:R-Pedia Musicians Tips Section

    Welcome to the EvO:R Tips Section. We call this section EvO:R-Pedia because it is like a complete reference library for Indie musicians...Just about every tip has been used so you won't find false promises and a series of books to buy after reading each tip. This section was put here by musicians so that people that followed can take this knowledge and use it's power.

    Breaking Songwriting Ruts
    By Nancy Moran

    Whether you're a beginning songwriter or a seasoned professional, at some point in your songwriting career it will happen: your melodies all start to sound the same, your lyrics all have a certain familiar theme, you constantly use the same song form, and you can't seem to break out of the key of G-you've fallen into a songwriting rut!

    If any of this sounds familiar, it's time to shake things up a bit.  You've found a process and a pattern that work for you and you've used it over and over again.  It may be easy to write this way, but it's certainly not inspiring.  So, what's a creative songwriter to do?

    Here are 10 ways that you can break out of your songwriting rut and re-energize your songwriting muscles:

    1.  Change your songwriting process - Do you always start with the lyrics first? Then, just for fun, write a melody first and put lyrics to it later.  If you typically start with the melody first, then do the opposite.  Write the words first! It may seem difficult, even awkward, at first.  But it will also help to stretch your songwriting muscles.

    2.  Change your environment - Do you always write in the same room of the house? Maybe you have a studio or an office that you've set up just for that purpose.  Well, just for kicks, write somewhere else.  Go outside.  Go to a park.  Go to the library.  Try the basement or the attic.  Anywhere that's different for you.  A change of scenery may do you good.

    3.  Vary your time - Many people write at the same time every day.  While this may work well for scheduling purposes, it also limits your songwriting perspective.  If you always write first thing in the morning, try writing at night before you go to bed.  Conversely, if you're a night owl and always write late, then write something when you roll out of bed in the morning.  Or try writing in the middle of the day, perhaps during your lunch hour.  You may come up with ideas you don't think about at other times.

    4.  Learn a new chord progression - An easy and fun way to do this is to learn to play some new cover tunes.  Current radio hits, classic rock anthems, a local band's dance tune, Broadway's finest numbers - it doesn't matter what you choose, as long as it's different from what you normally do.  Learn to play these new songs.  Then use the chord progression to write a brand new song.  Or use the new chords in a totally new pattern.  You'll be amazed how a couple of new chords and patterns can spark your creativity to write songs in a whole new way.

    5.  Change your instrument - Do you normally play acoustic guitar when you write? Try sitting down with an electric guitar instead.  Or use a nylon string classical guitar.  Each instrument naturally has different overtones and lends itself to different styles.  For a more radical change, try writing on piano.  If, on the other hand, you typically write on the piano, try an electric piano, organ, or vibraphones.  Switch to guitar.  Or -

    6.  Use no instrument at all! - I find that I write some of my best songs in the car while I'm driving.  One reason is because I'm not restricted by what I can and can't play on the guitar or piano.  I can sing any melody I want.  I can envision an entire band or orchestra in my head, if I want to.  It's liberating! If you always write with an instrument close at hand, you might want to try this approach.  Put the instruments away for a while and see what naturally comes to your mind.

    7.  Start with a rhythm track - A "groove" is an excellent way to establish an emotional feel, even before you've got a melody or lyrics.  And with today's technology, you can play a variety of rhythm "loops" on your computer to help set the stage for a new kind of song.  If you have trouble writing those elusive "up-tempo" songs that publishers are always asking for, try this approach.  Starting with an up-tempo rhythm track might be just what you need.

    8.  Co-write - If you're used to writing by yourself, co-writing can bring out a side of your songwriting that you didn't even know existed! Look for a co-writer whose strengths are your weaknesses and vice versa.  If you co-write a lot already, but are still feeling stagnant, maybe it's time to find a new co-writer or two.  Try co-writing with someone in a different genre - i.e.  if you're a country songwriter, look for a co-writer who typically writes R&B or dance music - the results can be surprising.

    9.  Break habits - If your songwriting's in a rut, maybe it's because your life is in a rut too.  What other habits can you break? Little things-like driving a different way to work, shopping at a new grocery store, taking a shower in the guest bathroom-can make a big difference in your creativity. 

    10.  Stop and Recharge! - Stale songwriting may simply be your brain's way of saying it needs a breather.  So, take a break from writing! Live a little.  Vacation with your family.  Go see a movie with friends.  Take a nap with the cat.  A little down time may be all you need to revitalize your songwriting. 

    Don't wait until your songwriting gets stuck in a rut.  Use these ten tips to get out of the doldrums and keep your songwriting muscles in top shape!

    Reprinted with permission from www.songwritersconnection.com 


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