Published on March 3rd, 2013 | by Tom0
5 Steps to Better Songwriting – Step 5 – Realisation
Previously in this series, we’ve looked at:
The last, and most important step in the songwriting process is realisation.
Why do I say it’s the most important? Because this is the end of the process. This is where it pays off, where you can say you’ve finished a song. This is the achievement stage. And it feels great! If you don’t get this far you won’t experience the satisfaction and fulfillment that this art form offers us.
You realisation will probably take the form of a live version or a recording.
Live versions change – the song might not find it’s final form in the first, or even fiftieth performance. But nevertheless this is where you’ll realise the song. Thrashing it out in the rehearsal studio, teaching the parts to the band, and finally playing it at a gig makes the song real.
For me this is the place a song really becomes finished. I’ve been slowly developing my recording skills for about 15 years, ever since I borrowed a tascam 4 track recorder from my secondary school. I’d advise any songwriter to start developing their recording skills sooner rather than later. You might not ever get to professional standard, but getting things down even in a rough way let’s you finalise your ideas and set things in stone.
It’s during the recording you finally hear the entire arrangement for the first time. It’s here you might realise that the first verse is too long, the last chorus really needs extra vocal ad-libs, or the second guitar part just doesn’t need to be there at all.
Tips to make realising your song successful
1. Listen back. Whether it’s when recording a demo or during rehearsals, stopping and listening really matters. These days everyone’s got some sort of recording technology, even if it’s a very low quality audio or video recorder on your phone. That’s all you need to let you listen back and make decisions.
2. Cut. The most important thing here, particularly if you’re thinking about live performance, is groove and pace. Does any section go on too long? Cut it!
3. Change. Does anything repeat exactly? Change it! Every repeat should be slightly different, even if it’s something subtle like adding a vocal harmony in the second verse.
4. Extend. Just as bad as something going on too long is a section being too short. Make sure the audience gets the emotional journey they deserve.
The most important tip for realising a song is the point I made at the beginning – Make sure you do it. Every song needs to get to this stage if at all possible. This is where you finish and oh my it feels good.
You’ve finished a song, you get to call yourself a songwriter!
What now? Two things
1. Share the song with the world.
2. Start on the next song!
- 5 Steps to Better Songwriting – Step 4 – Editing
- 5 Steps to Better Songwriting – Step 3 Arrangement
- 5 Steps to Better Songwriting – 1. Sketching