7 Steps to writing a song you’re proud of.

Playing iive at the Bunkakaikan in Japan.

There are 7 factors that I require when writing a  song that makes me happy and they are:

1) Emotions: The best place to find these are through the turmoils of your life.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  They are the driving force behind wanting to write something in the first place.

2) Catchy melody: Usually my songs start with some sort of chord progression on the guitar but not always. Then a vocal melody wrapped around the chords in an interesting and satisfying way. If you interviewed most famous songwriters, they’d tell you most of their best songs seemed to channel through them in an almost effortless fashion. If I look back on the songs I’ve written, I’d agree that my stronger songs were the ones that seemed to write themselves.

3) Strong lyrics: If you put strong lyrics with a very catchy melody then you’ve got something to be proud of for sure. Don’t ignore the importance of lyrics.  I’ve only recently realized that they are the “icing on the cake”.  A great melody gets you far but if you have lyrics that connect, they you’ve made a fan or two.  Write from the heart.  Write about something we all can relate to but do it in a way that you feel hasn’t been done before.  For example, write a love song without using the world “love”, or write a happy song with “minor chords”.  Whatever you do, make it ‘yours‘. 

4) Re-writing: This is where a lot of people fail miserably. They’re always too damn proud of their first take and are afraid to throw away something to make the song better because they really like one line.  Don’t be afraid to trash a line even if it was your best line.  If it doesn’t fit, save it for something else.

Changing Chords and melody can lift a song too. Sometimes for example, you can replace the root chord with a minor 6 and give it some mood.

5) Play it live: Play your song to your friends and ask for honest opinions. Don’t let the negative vibes get you down either. A lot of the time, you’re friends won’t know what they’re talking about- but a good song is pretty much universally liked and you’ll be able to weed out the good from the bad and generally get a sense of what is strong.

6) Write lots: You’ll get different opinions on this but for me, writing a lot of songs just makes me a better songwriter. It’s like learning to play the guitar. If you practice every day, you’re going to be much better than if you play it once a month.

7) Sleep on it: It’s weird but often I’ll wake up in the morning and play the new song again and it doesn’t have the same impact on me. That’s a sign that perhaps it just wasn’t the hit song I was planning on retiring on.

But I’m sure I’ve got one in me ready to surprise the world.  It’s just around the corner!  🙂

Good luck fellow songwriters.

In Melbourne Australia with the legendary Greg Arnold.


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September/2009 Hey everyone!

September/2009
Hey everyone!

blck-wht-Kell-w-CameraHow are you doing? It’s been a while since I sent a newsletter out and I am surprised how quickly the time has past by. For most of you its summer and I hope you’ve been able to enjoy it. I was very busy the last two months and I performed over 30 shows. Half of those shows where at my reliable Theme Park where I’ve been gigging for years but the other half were made up of a wide variety of venues. One of my favorite places to perform is in a town called Kusatsu. It’s a beautiful place with many natural hot springs and visited by many Japanese throughout the year. I did a video blog while staying in my hotel there if you want to check it out.

I also went to Tochigi prefecture and shared the stage with two other bands at a cool place called Nemu Nemu. My good friend Hibiki and I drove there from Gunma and it took about an hour but it turned out to be a fun night. I played an acoustic set and tried out some of my new songs I might release on my next CD and the response was good.

On August 23rd I did a show at a new venue called “JHK”. It used to be a place for weddings but the owner converted it into a really funky place to perform live. After the show the owner turned on the Barbeque and poured ice cold beer and we all sat around sharing stories.

September has been really busy. I’ve got a foot inside the door of a bunch of projects.  For starters my friend Mark Clay and I are working on a very cool song he sent me called, “Dunkirk Spirit” that has a Celtic vibe to it. He also helped finish off a song of mine called, “What Have I Done”, and recorded his take on it with just a couple of acoustic guitars. Mark is generous enough to offer it to you exclusive on my website for free. You can find it here. Down the road I will attempt to record my version of it, too.  I’m also trying to finish up a song and  enter it in an annual songwriting contest that takes place in Japan.  I must have that song complete and submitted by the end of September.  I best buckle down and get on with it!

October 16th, a friend of mine Simon Smith is coming to visit me in Japan. He will be here for 5 days and is flying all the way from England. Some of my loyal supporters might know him from our small community. I’ve got a few  small shows lined up that I’ll be dragging him to. One of them is a venue I’ve never gigged at before so we’ll both be checking it out for the first time. (Simon, I hope you’re ready for a culture shock)

Aside from my music career, I’ve been cycling and training often. I road over 2500 km during the summer.  It’s getting dark earlier lately so I’m not able to ride as far. But ice hockey has started again and so now I’m doing that 2 to 3 times a week, too. If you want to go on an 8 minute bike ride with me, click here (but I warn you, it’s not too thrilling unless you like that sort of thing).

OK, I’ll sign off now. Sorry for the long delay from the last update. Hope you’re all well. Feel free to email and fill me in with what you’re up to. I’ll be sure to get back to you.

Until next time, take care.
Kelly

May/09 Newsletter

May/2009
Hi!

Too cool for school - not.How is everything going? I hope spring is in full bloom and you’re able to get outside and enjoy some decent weather. It’s been fantastic weather here in Japan and it’s nice to put winter behind me for a while.

I want to give a big thank you to all of you who have joined my mailing list and my eteam. As you might know, I’ve posted a couple new songs on my site for free download. I’m really happy with how many came by to grab them and leave comments as well. The newest song “What Have I Done” as you know, is a really rough demo (recorded in my bedroom live). It needs a bridge, and the lyrics need to be moved around, axed, or altered. But the feedback on the song makes me think I might just re-record it when I’m making my new CD. Hopefully in the upcoming months I’ll post some other ideas I have so that I can get your honest feed back. I really want the songs on the next CD to be for you. Meaning – while I always write from the heart, I write often and sometimes it’s hard to know which songs will end up being the most universal. Your opinion really matters to me.

May was a great month for gigging and it was nice to play on a regular basis after a fairly quiet winter. Hands down, playing live is where I sell most of my CD’s. It goes to show there is nothing more captivating than a live performance. To me, a great CD and a great live performance are completely separate from each other. A great CD can have all the bells and whistles and be polished to perfection but doesn’t always show the true artist. I wish I had a chance to play live in front of most of you on a more regular basis. If I get enough support and a healthy budget I am planning on doing that after the release of my next CD.

I would really love to know more about your music interests. What do you like in a good CD? What do you like in an artist? How I could better myself? How can I better my interaction with you? If you have any questions or comments please email me or join my forum and share your thoughts. Again, I’m looking for ways to improve in all areas of music. After all, it’s not called the music business for nothing.

Don’t forget to join me on facebook or twitter or myspace.

I hope to see you around and thanks again for your support!

Kelly