It's been a while since you've written anything, huh? No judgement here! I know the feeling and have some ideas that may help. I've updated my running list of songwriting prompts gathered over the past year (gasp - I can't believe it's been over a year already!) from my songwriter group. Hope these help!
- Using a different melody, write an additional verse to one of your favorite songs...and then finish your song with new verses/chorus.
- Write a song with an unusual form (for example, start with the chorus! or if that's not out-of-the-box enough, go even crazier - I challenge you!).
- I love this idea but feel free to take elements of it and make it your own since it's a bit more involved. I call it 'Picture Plot': Using a series of photos (which you can collect from any source you like - internet, garage sale, walking around, your camera/phone, Instagram, etc. etc.), arrange them into a 'story' and use that as the basis of your song plot. Happy photo-ing :)
- Write a song as if you were a specific artist of band. For example, pretend you are Metallica and write a song that sounds like they wrote it. Get it? Awesome. PS. You don't have to choose Metallica.
- Write a song using, or inspired by, 'found sounds.' What does that mean, you ask? Feel free to interpret in whatever way is useful, but here are some examples: Record different sounds throughout your day and then compose a song using your audio software of choice with clips from said recorded songs. You could also record and/or jot down notes based on sounds heard throughout the day and use them as your song inspiration (i.e. you heard two people discussing a family argument and use that as the subject matter, meanwhile, a sound clip heard at a nearby coffee shop forms the basis of your melody, etc. etc.).
- Write a song inspired by a proverb. What exactly is a proverb, you ask? Well, it's a short pithy saying, stating a general truth or piece of advice. For example, 'the pen is mightier than the sword' or 'when in Rome, do as the Romans.'
- Write a song about outer space. Awesome.
- Use a different instrument OR use a non-instrument (i.e. physical object or computer-based) OR use an alternate tuning (for stringed instruments).
- Pick up any book or magazine, open it up to a random page and chose the first sentence on that page. Make that the first line of your song.
- Choose a song or album at random (shuffle on iTunes or grab an actual CD/record, etc.) and write a song inspired by that style/genre.
- Write a song without using any pronouns.
- Choose a phone number out of your phone and write a song using the chords from the number. Pick any key. If you want to limit the number of chords in your progression, choose a number with a few zeros. You can decide to keep the chords in the same order or mix it up. For example: 508-243-5454 in the key of C, would be: Gmaj - (skip the 0) - Cmaj - Dmin - Fmaj - Emin - Gmaj -Fmaj - Gmaj - Fmaj
- Finish an unfinished song!
- Try an online random prompt generator. Some examples include: Creativity Portal and Learn How To Write Songs
- Write a song in which the chorus is one verb repeated as many time as you like.
- Take an existing song and 'turn it on its head.' It's up to you how you want to interpret that - you can remix it, rewrite the lyrics, rearrange the music, change the style, you name it! But don't be afraid to take it in another direction completely and ultimately create a brand new song out of the exercise.
- Write a song in a style (or genre) that is different from what you normally do. For example, if you typically write pop songs, try a ballad or narrative - or go classic rock!
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