We met with Swedish songwriter Jörgen Elofsson:
“For me, it’s important to have a key that opens up the writing process. It’s a phrase that starts everything and becomes the reference point for all ideas. Once you have it, it’s easy to write. Those keys are important, and I’m constantly looking for them. That’s the reason why the life of a songwriter is a little special, because you’re at work all the time. I see the key when it shows up in a movie, in a commercial, when I’m reading a book, or when I’m sitting and talking to some- body. When that special phrase appears, I get the feeling: this one is for me.”
Guest Post from Songwriting: Get Your Black Belt In Music & Lyrics
Interesting phrases and nice wordings, they are keys for unlocking the songwriting process but also keys unlocking a song for the listener. How do you find them? If they’re not popping up in your head when you’re out walking, you can try one of the many methods for inviting the subconscious mind to play a greater role in the process. Try the word-wheel!
Work on a large paper. In the middle, write a word and encircle it. This is to be the hub in a wheel. Read the word and make a quick association. Write down the first new word that comes to your mind. Put it in a circle of its own right beneath the hub. Continue downwards until you have a spoke made of seven words. Create seven additional spokes.
The next step involves creating sentences by connecting all the words in the perimeter of the wheel by drawing a circle line. You will be putting in additional words (up to four) in between the already existing. You may exclude one or two words, but only at the end of the sentence. You may form your sentence clockwise or counter clockwise. Keep strictly to the rules! Keep forming more sentences by continuing inwards in the wheel.
Evaluate by writing the sentences on another paper. Most of them will be nonsensical and weird, but with a bit of persistence you will eventually stumble upon something appropriately unexpected and surprising, the key to a new song.
Read the whole interview with Jörgen and get more tips on how to get creative with words in the book: Songwriting: Get Your Black Belt In Music & Lyrics.