Important tips to remember for RPM...

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1 month 4 hours ago - 1 month 4 hours ago #201 by mattferrara
mattferrara replied the topic: Important tips to remember for RPM...
(I posted this last year on the old site and just found it in Notes, so I figured I’d just repost it here).

Lyrics are tough for a lot of people. If you are one of them, I hope some of what follows is helpful.

Rhymes
If you're stuck for rhymes, use a Rhyming Dictionary. They are cheap. You can also just download the RhymeZone app or go to their site.

Rhymes aren't always important, so don't get bogged down. Personally, I have gotten to the point where I don't think end rhymes are half as important as interior rhymes, and I kinda prefer slant rhymes to more obvious ones.

Look at Poetry for Inspiration
Sometimes what's hard is simply a matter of finding a topic to write about. I wrote a song for my sons after reading Kipling's "If." I didn't steal any lines (see below), but the message is essentially the same.

Look at Poetry/Famous Songs for Grammatical Structure
I know, I know, songs rarely have impeccable grammar. I'm not saying they do. But a great many songs and poems are built around a grammatical structure. Take the aforementioned "If." That poem is essentially just a series of conditional adverb clauses ("if you can dream--and not make dreams your master/if you can think, and not make thoughts your aim"). They all resolve when at last he uses an independent clause, the result of all those conditionals: "Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!" The If-clause is a great song device in general. "If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you..." "If I fell in love with you, would you promise to be true and help me understand?" "If I ruled the world (imagine that!)" "If you don't know me by now..." Etc.

But alter the conditional adverb clause to an adverb clause of time. Can you write a song where all the verse lines start with "when" or "after" or "before" and then the chorus is the independent clause? What about the opposite? A bunch of independent clauses that lead up to a repeated adverb clause. That's what "When I'm Sixty-Four" is. Adverb clause of contrast "Although"? Fleetwood Mac makes good use of it in "Sometimes." Adverb clause of cause and effect? "Because" by the Beatles, or "Because I Got High" by Afroman.

Noun clauses rather than adverb clauses. "I want to know/see/feel/etc...." or "can you tell me..." followed by a noun clause. Or "(X) is (noun clause complement)." ("I want to know what love is!"). Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" starts with a single independent clause "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness..." and then follows the initial statement with nearly sixty adjective clauses starting with "who."

Those are just dependent clauses as a starting point. What about tenses? James Taylor built a chorus around the present perfect vs. the future as seen from the past. "I've seen fire and I've seen rain, I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end. I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that I'd see you again." What about Modals? Passive Voice? You get the idea.

Steal Lines from Poems (or Entire Poems)
Speaking of Allen Ginsberg, They Might Be Giants took the first line from "Howl" for their song "I Should Be Allowed To Think." By all means, steal lines. But to be safe, I'd stay away from Ginsberg and any other more modern poets and stick to poems that are clearly in the public domain. Even a whole poem is fair game, by the way. Alan Parsons set Poe to music. Allen Ginsberg recorded musical versions of William Blake poems. The rock musical Hair has "What a Piece of Work is Man," which is a soliloquy from Hamlet. Natalie Merchant did Emily Dickinson's "Because I Could Not Stop for Death." Etc.

Use Creative Writing Prompts
Finish this sentence: Something I never told anybody is__________.
Write from the point of view of an inanimate object.
What does your dog dream of?
Write a letter to your eleven-year-old self.
Don't like those? Me either, to be honest. But don't worry, there are six bizillion others online. Try some of these: www.writersdigest.com/prompts Or these: www.creative-writing-now.com/creative-writing-prompts.html

Focus on a Word or Phrase and Build Outward
Think about Bob Dylan songs for a minute. He often has this phrase that is the spine of the song. For example, "The answer my friend is blowing in the wind." If you can come up with a line like this, the song's logic becomes clear: all the other lyrics should be questions, the answers to which might be blowing in the wind. How about "the times they are a-changing?" Well, if they are changing, then some invitations to/instructions on how to change along with them and/or warnings about what will happen if you don't change are the logical lead-ups to the phrase. Other examples of prominent central phrases that the verses feed into are everywhere in music.

Sometimes the central phrase that can be interpreted in several ways, which leads to different verses. Weird Al's parody of "Royals" by Lorde ("Aluminum Foil") is a good example: the first verse is how foil is good for keeping food fresh; the second turns the song around by talking about building tin foil hats to keep the alien mind control brainwaves at bay. Hah!

Think
If you're stuck, get up, take a walk, think about your topic. Sometimes the act of trying to write is the barrier. So, just think instead.

Don't Think
Just burn your song onto a disc or throw it on your iPod, play it in your car on repeat, drive around and sing nonsense to it. Sometimes weird but perfect phrases just show up on their own that way.

Record your Ideas
Sometimes you get a great idea when you are out and you think, "I'll remember that." No, you won't. Keep a notebook, text yourself, whatever you must do to save your ideas on the fly.

Get Help
If you are really stuck, reach out on the forums. I know I personally have tons of lyrics I have never used, and there are some RPMers who are lyric-writing machines.

Lyric Generation Ideas

Flip to 4 random words in the dictionary. Write a song using them.

Write three if-clauses and one result clause. Write one if-clause with three result clauses.

Write a list of absolutely true statements. Then expand those statements using "but," and other contrast words. i.e. "what goes up must come down, but..."

Write something nice about someone you hate. Write the worst thing you can about someone you love.

Imagine a fictional character interviewing your grandfather. What questions would he/she ask. Answer those for him.

Write a song about the last story someone told you.

Think of the worst things that could live in your closet.

Finish this sentence: something I've always been too afraid to say to anyone is...

Write a song from the perspective of a minor character in a movie.

Write a letter to someone you've fallen out of touch with. Covert the letter to song lyrics.

Go into your spice rack. Open spices and random and smell them. Any memories surface? Write them down.

Read plot synopses for TV shows you've never watched. Retell the story with different characters and setting, in verse.

Write a song in the first person from the perspective of a place or everyday object.

Write a song that references all four seasons.

Write a song where the chorus includes a series of numbers.

Write a lullaby.

Write a song in which you do nothing but lie.

Turn on the TV and write down the first full sentence you hear. Change the channel and write down the next full sentence you hear. Repeat a few times and then use these sentences in a song.

Write a song challenging the central idea in another song you've written.

Write a song where you include as many verbs as possible.

Write a song from the perspective of a superhero who has lost his powers, but don't make it overtly about superheroes.

Watch Jeopardy and write down any weird facts, phrases, incorrect answers or category titles that catch your attention and build a song around them.

Find a famous quotation. Paraphrase it. Make it the chorus of a song.

Write 10 sentences that each contain every letter of the alphabet. Build a song out of the results.

What would you say to your boss if you knew he/she wouldn't remember?

Open a scrabble board and make a sentence using every tile. Repeat a few times. Write a song around the results.

Write a paragraph. Then reorder the sentences so that the initial meaning is obscured. Then use the resulting paragraph as the basis for a song.

Write a series of conditionals (if-clause + independent clause) that are completely illogical (if the sun sets, I will forget your name.)

Look around the house and find 6-10 objects that are all the same color. Write a song that contains references to them.

Flip through a stranger's instagram and write a song about one of their pictures.

Write 10 different questions that can all be answered with the same phrase.

Find the lyrics to a pop song. Replace every adjective and adverb with its opposite. Paraphrase the new meaning of the song and write a new song with that meaning.

Write down 10 questions you hear in songs and answer them.

Write a song from the perspective of one historical figure talking to another from a different era.

Write a song where the last word of each line is the first word of the subsequent line

Think of a word/phrase that has multiple meanings. Write a song about it where each verse tackles a different definition. For example, Elvis Costello's "45" is about records, 1945, and turning age 45 (with a bonus allusion to a .45 handgun).

Print two or three pages of a story and dice it up using a paper cutter. Assemble sentences from the fragments.

Make a list of things that share a commonality.

Write an apology to your younger self. Write an apology to your older self.

Write a song that uses foreign words/phrases.

Write bonus verses to your favorite songs. Write a new chorus to your least favorite song.

Write a love letter from one random creature to another in the Monster Manual.
Last Edit: 1 month 4 hours ago by mattferrara.
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1 month 8 minutes ago #206 by ali_kilpatrick
ali_kilpatrick replied the topic: Important tips to remember for RPM...
Saving this post for this year's album - I'm awful with lyrics, thanks Matt!

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4 weeks 2 days ago #208 by onewordheadline
onewordheadline replied the topic: Important tips to remember for RPM...
I actually have a real tip: It's January 20 as I write this, which is a good time to stress test your setup if you don't record regularly throughout the year. Open four browsers and your DAW, play a YouTube video or two while trying to record a scratch track. See if you can get any gremlins to come out software-wise in the process.

Plug in your capture device and make sure you can get sound to your workstation of choice. Try a few varied setups you don't think you'll need. This way, you'll know if you're short any cables, adapters, power, whatever. You still have time to get something shipped or replaced, so better try to break it now than get stuck halfway through February.

To that end, I'm going to start another thread to serve as the hardware/instrument/what-have-you needs thread so we can share the wealth if we should be so lucky to have any.
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4 weeks 2 days ago - 4 weeks 2 days ago #213 by Dweeb
Dweeb replied the topic: Important tips to remember for RPM...

mattferrara wrote: Look at Poetry/Famous Songs for Grammatical Structure


Reading Paul Fussell's Poetic Meter and Poetic Form helped me with my lyric writing. I am still writing nonsense, but counting Metrical Feet instead of syllables and watching out for those misplaces Spondees really helps the flow.
Last Edit: 4 weeks 2 days ago by Dweeb.

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4 weeks 2 days ago #214 by mattferrara
mattferrara replied the topic: Important tips to remember for RPM...
I can’t recommend that book enough! Got me through grad school.

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4 weeks 1 day ago #220 by A Beautiful Scene
A Beautiful Scene replied the topic: Important tips to remember for RPM...

angiefightscrime wrote: don't forget the first rule of fight club, there is no fight club.



First rule of Fight club is: don’t talk about fight club. It exists just fine...shoot I broke the first rule as well....

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4 weeks 5 hours ago #255 by DirtySpirits
DirtySpirits replied the topic: Important tips to remember for RPM...
More Tips....
-When you are saving files constantly, change your file names every time. Even if you are just adding a number to it. i have lost files after re saving an updated version under the same name.
-If you are working in a group, be as fair as you can. But taking things into your own hands is the best way to go. There just is'nt time to be that democratic. I always tell the guys if you want your vision completed you have to fight and be ready for huge compromises.
-Don't get tunnel vision on any particular song. The one you think is the best usually is only third or forth best. Let them take on a life of their own. My favorite part of the month.
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3 weeks 5 days ago #273 by L17Tim
L17Tim replied the topic: Important tips to remember for RPM...

DirtySpirits wrote: -Don't get tunnel vision on any particular song. The one you think is the best usually is only third or forth best. Let them take on a life of their own. My favorite part of the month.


THIS RIGHT HERE.

10 turds, then polish. Don't polish the first one for 26 days and then wonder how you're getting 9 more.
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3 weeks 5 days ago #274 by klandry
klandry replied the topic: Important tips to remember for RPM...

L17Tim wrote:

DirtySpirits wrote: -Don't get tunnel vision on any particular song. The one you think is the best usually is only third or forth best. Let them take on a life of their own. My favorite part of the month.


THIS RIGHT HERE.

10 turds, then polish. Don't polish the first one for 26 days and then wonder how you're getting 9 more.


Yes, this is EXCELLENT advice. Remember, there's always time to polish those turds to a mirror shine in March! Here, by the way, is my musical advice on the subject:

alonetone.com/keithlandryacoustic/tracks/twenty-eight-days

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3 weeks 5 days ago #280 by Dweeb
Dweeb replied the topic: Important tips to remember for RPM...

L17Tim wrote: 10 turds, then polish. Don't polish the first one for 26 days and then wonder how you're getting 9 more.


I have also used the "10 turds, then give up and send it in anyway because it's February 28th" method.
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