Songwriting Q&A Highlights

On November 22nd our team hosted a live Q&A about Songwriting in our Facebook group. We received a lot of good questions and insightful answers from Soundtrap users around the globe. Below we highlight some of the questions answered by your fellow musicians and members of the Soundtrap team.

Thanks to everyone who participated! Next Q&A will take place on December 21, and we are going to discuss “Dubstep and electronic music”. So tune in and don’t miss our next Q&A!

Since the whole session was in a form of a conversation, we kept individual messages largely unedited to keep the original tone.

What topics would be good to write about? I’m a rapper.

Mustapha Kamel: About your life, things that happened to you personally, or the things that you see are bad or good.

Jonas Lundquist: Great advice Mustapha Kamel! An as a fellow rapper, I know it’s always really hard to come up with a good topic! When I really can’t come up with anything, I just force myself to write even though it doesn’t sound too good. After a while, it gets easier and suddenly a whole verse is written. Also, sometimes it’s easier to be creative when you don’t think too much what the song is about and just let yourself go, soon a topic might crystallize :)

Mustapha Kamel: Yep bro it’s all about that feeling when it comes to acting differently, but tbh don’t follow that! just be you and try to explore your imagination (the real you) as a singer-songwriter that really helped me a lot

Joakim Persson: When you don’t feel like writing about your own experiences you can try putting yourself in someone else’s shoes! Write about a friend, family member or someone you know…or make someone up from your imagination and tell their story. A lot of great songs have been written as stories about others.

Townsend Jacquelyn: I love that

Vanja Steinholtz: Also not maybe topic wise but an easy way to find a format for your lyrics; zoom in (metaphorically) during the verses, and zoom out in the chorus :) That is, describe details and the small things in the verses and try to capture the bigger picture of the situation in the chorus.

Andrew Graveman: One thing I do that works well is I just don’t think at all but just feel. And then whatever comes to my mind I just to try to keep extending or keep it going without sounding too repetitive or drifting too far off. And always sing or rap about what u know or been thru and etc. sometimes you can stretch the truth a bit but if only it feels right for ya. The best example I could give is to direct you to this flow I put down a bit ago.. I’ll tag you in it in a second

What are some tips on setting the mood of a song?

Bella Sohlberg: My tip is to find inspiration from video/pictures! Find a video on youtube that you like, mute the sound on it and listen to your own production while watching it. Do that a couple of times along the way while producing! It’s good to not just stare at the tracks all the time while working on the song :)

Joakim Persson: Great tip!

Vanja Steinholtz: I love that advise Bella! I do that all the time with photos :)

What does your pre-production process look like?

Jonas Lundquist: I tend to “pre-produce” along actually creating the song. Meaning, I’ll write the song in a music program, and preferably program any instrument I can’t play myself using MIDI. Then I go through everything with the musicians I want to record and make sure it’s playable before moving on to actually recording it :)

Vanja Steinholtz: I usually pre-produce together with my band – I prefer to do it together with great people rather than alone :) And probably as little as possible by the desktop and as much as possible in the rehearsal room. That makes the recording process so much more enjoyable for me :)

Alan Cameron: Lots of scribbled notes on paper, besides a piano.

Joakim Persson: As often is the case, that depends entirely on the situation. Sometimes pre-prod for me means that I set up rules for myself. Producing music means applying your taste to it. Your taste is ultimately a set of rules (even though you might not be aware of all of them, and they might be hard to put into words.) If you decide on a palette of sounds and instruments before you start producing, your project will have a direction right from the get-go. That’s probably the one thing that has helped me most being productive and creative!

Bella Sohlberg: It depends on the situation, but often I create the song and then I decide which sounds and the feeling I want to add to it. Sometimes I pre-produce while I create the song!

Usually, your creative process begins with a specific lyric line or with a musical one?

Joakim Persson: I used to always start with music, but the more songs I wrote, the more I realized that the trickiest part was always not to run out of words, or to solve the puzzle of fitting the right word into a predetermined number of syllables. So nowadays I really like to start with lyrics. It helps me focus on them and assures that I will apply enough criticism to them ;)

Jonas Lundquist: Hi Fabiano! For me personally, it’s usually a musical idea, maybe a rhythm or melody, or just an idea of an emotional state. Sometimes, though, I come up with a cool title of a song and get tons of inspiration from that.

What are some good ways to help come up with something original?

Jonas Lundquist: I like to combine the things I like the most from my favorite artists, regardless of genre. Say for example that I heard a guitar riff in a metal song that I liked, I might go “what if I use this kind of rhythm but with a synthesizer instead? or if I rap this rhythm?”

Also, I’d say try not to kill your ideas too early – even if they sound really strange! Get them down, and then you can tweak it afterward to sound better/more unlike anything else!

Alan Cameron: Work with a variety of people if you can, and that might spark off new ideas and approaches

Jonas Lundquist: Very true!

Joakim Persson: Give yourself the freedom to really experiment – stop caring about the result for a while. Sometimes too much attention or concentration will only bring out what you already know or already have tried in the past (the opposite can do that too, however…) Try creating a new creative scenario for yourself: a new sound, a new instrument or prevent you from being able to do what you usually do in some way. If you play guitar, for instance, try a new tuning, or tell yourself that you can only play every other string on it :)

Hannah Alexander: I always find myself singing a short part of a song or piece and then will make up the second part to go with it and keep adding until eventually it’s completely changed from that tiny fragment I borrowed. I always get better compositions that way rather than starting afresh!

David Fuller: I’ve found that to be a very effective creative tool also. Everything is built on what came before anyway. There’s no getting around it. It’s like language, you learn what you hear. Some of my best riffs evolved from taking someone else’s idea in a different direction. Nothing is 100 percent original but God. Everything else is an original take,arrangement, or interpretation of something that came before.

See you at the next session on December 21 and for now — happy producing and songwriting!