The Anatomy of My Lyric Writing Pt. 1
Noshi here. This post gives a peek into my process when writing lyrics.
Disclaimer. This is definitely not a masterclass in lyric writing. In fact, depending on what you're trying to do, I would barely take this posting for anything more than just a thought piece. See because my lyric writing can be a bit questionable to conventional and practical industry standards. And man, I guess that says a few bad things for my music and my collaboration with the band... But I'm just being honest here.
Also, it may come off pretentious, but anywayz~
I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston with some of the most talented creatives out there. Most people in this squished "metropolitan" area of Boston had multiple talents, and creative writing was abundant on so many levels. Little did many of you know, but I actually entered this school with the intention of taking every compositional major there was including "Songwriting" which housed several courses that specialized with lyrics. Such a major sounds crazy, but I don't know,. Learning the rules to be a hitmaker sounds pretty logical to me. And with that said, I had joined the Songwriter's Club.
Since I was a writing major (Contemporary Writing & Production and Classical Composition), I was really searching for something that helped me with words and putting my poetry - my spoken word into the context of the music of which structure I was being taught. Songwriter's Club opened my eyes to many things, but in retrospect, the most helpful indicator of lyrical acceptance was ease of understanding. In the industry, if you have to explain it, you're not doing it write. At least, that's what I got. Note the disclaimer. New disclaimer: By this definition, I wasn't doing it right, half the time~
Ever since I was a child, I loved grandiose a complex metaphors, similes, referential prose and poetry. I even liked the languages the writers 'invented" to convey their meaning. And when I discovered Impressionism, I self-identified as a young impressionist. So on top of the many layers of things to be decoded in my written language, I even used pronunciation, structure, flow and other tools to mimic otherwise natural forces. In the series of creative writing projects that gave me my name ("Noshi" isn't my given name. More on that later.), for example, There would be pages of one to four word sentences spaced out line by line during a scene of darkness and confusion where the character didn't know where she was and had no bearing of direction.
I write in a lot of ways, but here's a summary of how I wrote the lyrics to our song "Bridge of Sighs".
Something inspired me to think deeply and learn something new (especially for the band).
I used my everyday surroundings, stories and people to put together two messages: an obvious one and a hidden one.
I thought of my bandmates and other artists, how they perform and how they convey their emotions to piece together an impressionistic way to tell the resultant story of 1 & 2, forming the "style" of writing for this song.
Tying everything together, a general metaphor was chosen. In this case, I learned about the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy.
With all my mental research, I wrote out key sections, phrases and ideas to present to the band using phone recordings, my piano and an explanation of my process.
After a few playthroughs, I re-visited my lyrics and edited so that each line was strongly presented in the context of the music including phrasing, accent and so on.
(And I know this is pretty weird.) I first practiced speaking the lyrics in the form of spoken word/slam poetry then sung them in the mirror.
Bridge of Sighs was born and ready for performance.
I think this method took about a week of alone-time and maybe two rehearsals with the band. I mean, I have to point out that I sometimes become very obsessive and do nothing else. This was definitely one of those times. But there you have it, a peak into my mind palace.
If you're interested in the exact detailed analysis of my process for Bridge of Sighs, check out Part 2 of this article, that I'll hopefully write immediately after publishing this post.
More later? Ciao.