cookies don’t cut it
Published April 05, 2022
I’m asked from time to time what is the formula for a great song. Or what are the clichés that evoke a particular feeling in the listener. Or can you just give me the recipe that I can follow?
And believe me, there are formulas.
There are tried-and-true recipes.
And it is super-helpful to study those and analyze them to understand how and why we respond to songs.
But following formulas for songwriting produces songs that sound formulaic.
We’ve all heard cookie cutter songs on the radio or on the occasional insurance commercial, but if I asked you to sing me one such cookie-cutter song right now, you might have a hard time remembering one.
Because songs written in that way are not memorable. They do not make an impression. They do not have the emotional, spiritual, life-changing impact that is the real reason that you and I come to music.
I mean, I could offer a class called “How to Write an Album That is a Pale Imitation of the Unique Genius of Sgt. Pepper/Lemonade/OK Computer/Blue/Exile on Main Street/Fill-in-Your-Favorite-Album-Title-Here,” but I’d really rather not.
Instead, I want to study those exquisite works of art and learn from them, together with you.
I want us to integrate their wisdom, brilliance, techniques, and spirit into our very souls. (In fact, you’ve already been doing this more than you even realize by listening to them on repeat and singing along at the top of your lungs as you drive to work or school. Or you can level up your skills even more in our Theory Toolkit and Listen Up! courses.)
And then I want to encourage you to center the creative process on your own unique voice.
And to keep going, even when it gets challenging.
And this is the absolute magic of the way of creation and artistic practice in community that has developed at golden lotus studio.
If you want a more useful songwriting formula, how about this:
study + clarity of intention + inspiration + structure + feedback = a profound and impactful expression
By way of example, in Friday Afternoon Songwriting Club, we often start with prompts that have a blueprint of sorts that was inspired by an already existing masterpiece. And then there’s the structure of a 75-minute class. And the feedback of the community and the forum and the Song Circles.
But the instruction is always to follow the music and poetry where they lead. To devote yourself with rigorous passion to birthing the song that wants to come today.
And then, eventually, to share.
I am so profoundly moved, day after day, by not only the absolutely exquisite songs and compositions that people are making in such a nurturing environment for incubation, but also the truly stellar human-artist-prophets that are drawn to work in this particular way and to show up with and for each other.
Your expanded songmaking life is waiting for you.
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