There is a plethora of ways how we start writing a song. Sometimes we have four lines, sometimes two lines, sometimes a little description, and sometimes, just a word or a phrase. While the song starts flowing at times, we do encounter the hurdle of not being able to expand the theme every now and then. From all the times I’ve conquered this hurdle, I’ll try to share and explain a few things that have helped me in expanding the theme of a song when I start writing it.
Note down everything you have
Pick up your notebook, it is a must. If it comes down on paper, it feels permanent to me; contrary to noting down on the phone. Write down what was the initial idea for your song – a word, a phrase, a few lines, the title, whatever it was.
A single line
Describe your song in one sentence. Like, “I want to write a song about the dream I had last night”; or, “The song is about how I spent a night roaming around alone in the town”. Skip this if your initial idea itself is a sentence that describes the song.
If the initial idea was a single word, or a phrase, like ‘caravan’ or ‘It’s alright’ or something, and you have no idea what the song is going to be about, start brainstorming. Write down the word or phrase that you have, then write down everything that comes to your mind related to it. You’ll figure out what your song’s gonna be about either during the brainstorming, or after you’re done. If it’s the latter, take a look at all the things you’ve brainstormed and analyse it. Try forming connection between multiple things, or pick up one single thing which can be taken as the theme of your song. Once done, describe what your song is about in a single sentence.
A short description
After the one sentence thing, try writing a short description of the song in form of paragraphs, or points. However you like. Don’t filter your thoughts. Write down everything that you want to, even if it sounds silly. Expanding the theme – the initial phase, isn’t necessarily about finding the exact words for your song. It’s rather more about absorbing the theme, preparing your mind so that words will flow when you finally start writing the verse and the chorus.
And then, move forward with brainstorming. What? Another brainstorming session? Yes! Well you don’t have to do it if you’re satisfied with everything that you have. But there’s a difference here because first you brainstormed a single word to figure out the theme, now you are brainstorming things related to your theme, and it can lead to different results. But it’s fine to skip it if you don’t feel the need.
Brainstorming is the key point in expanding the theme of your song. It is kind of a kick start to your brain so that it can travel and dive deeper into the theme. Start brainstorming from the sentence that describes your song. Write down every thing that comes to your mind. Doesn’t matter if what you deviate from the centre point. If something occurs to you, just write it down. Remember one thing, brainstorming is not necessarily done for things you’re going to use in the song, it is done to stimulate the brain so that it can open up to new possibilities.
Once satisfied with the brainstorming, you’ll probably have many words and phrases, but scattered. It’s now time to organise them. The above two steps – writing description and brainstorming can be done in any sequence. You can start with brainstorming first, or the description first. You can also skip one of them, as long as you have enough content for the song. And then, make the outline – what’s to be written in the verses and what the chorus is going to be about. If you experience a block, just doodle around, scribble anything that comes to your mind. Write down words, phrases, expressions like ‘ummmh’, ‘huhhhh’, etc. I mean to say, scribble whatever the hell you want! It really helps, I do it all the time. Once your head is clear and you are satisfied with all the description and brainstorming for your song, I’m sure you’ll easily be able to make an outline.
The chorus can be tricky at times, and one thing you can do is – sum the whole thing up. Sum up your overall description in a few lines, which can sound relevant after every chorus. That’s all you need, and you’ll have the chorus. And by the time you go through all these steps, the hurdle of expanding the theme will have had disappeared; without you even noticing!
Also check out : 10 ways to find inspiration for your next song