If you’ve read a few posts here and there, you know that I love writing a little bit every day. But sometimes when I’m in the groove and finish many songs in succession, I listen back and realize they’re sounding similar. This especially happened when I’ve honed on writing in a particular genre.
It’s great to work on branding as an artist or songwriter, but it can be disheartening to discover if you’ve written similar sounding songs. While this isn’t inherently a bad thing (it might be great for particular projects), you might want to change it up and step out of the box. You may have to start consciously thinking about what you’re writing.
Here are a few suggestions on where you can change up your songs.
Think about your Melodies
Are your melodies ascending, descending, a combination or stagnant? Do you use straight or syncopated rhythms? Do you start before, on or after the beat? Listen carefully to a few of your songs that sound similar and try doing the opposite of what you normally write.
Change the Starting Notes
Most of us tend to begin certain sections in a certain range. Do you jump up in melody for all your Choruses? Try ascending up instead. Do you start your Verses in your low range? Try starting higher and then jump down.
Change Your Time Signature or Tempo
This can be a little tricky if you’re not used to picking your tempo or time signature. Try to consciously write a song much faster or slower than you’re used to, perhaps by using a metronome when you first start your song.
You can change the rhythm of your accompaniment by using a new time signature or simply a syncopated rhythm in a familiar time signature. Practice changing your accompaniment by playing the new rhythm over and over until you’re used to it. You can also record the accompaniment in a program and loop the track to write a melody over it.
Change Your Key/Move Your Capo
We tend to stay in keys that are comfortable for our voices. Try changing the key and sing higher or lower than you’re used to for a different emotional effect.
Borrow Chords from Another Mode
Even the simplest pop songs don’t just stay in a major or minor key. Try borrowing a chord from a mode or using a dominant seventh. Some of the most popular chords are:
IV- (minor fourth chord)
V- (minor fifth chord)
V7/vi (dominant fifth of a minor sixth chord)
bVII (flat seventh chord)
Conscious writing can feel more like work than writing how we feel. If it feels that way for you, try to separate the two modes; write the conscious parts first and create a skeleton for your song, then come back to the emotion later in another session. Hopefully, you will be writing new sounds without sacrificing the heart of your song.