Over the years, I’ve been asked a lot about my personal approach to the songwriting process and, more often than not, the first question I get is, “do you like to start with lyrics or melody?”
My go to answer in the past had always been “melody” but, over the past couple weeks since I’ve gotten back in the studio, I’ve noticed my approach changes with every new production because, for me, the creative process has become more about the journey, not the destination.
For instance, I used to go into the studio and sit down at the piano or pick up my guitar and play around with different chord progressions and rhythms until I found something that caught my attention and would start to craft the story and lyrics from the emotion conveyed through the music.
Now I find myself sitting in silence until I start hearing a melody or lyric in my head and then I’ll record a quick scratch track and use that as the inspiration to further develop the song.
A great example of this process is how the producer, Timbaland, approaches his craft. When he goes to produce a new record, he starts simply with a mic and his vocal, hits the record button, and begins laying down the various rhythms and melodies he hears in his head. He does this so he can keep his focus and attention on the song idea he hears within. Only once he’s completed that process does he start to craft the production with actual instruments & samples.
I love this approach because it allows me to live in the moment and focus on listening and discovering the depths of the creativity within rather than searching for something outside of myself. All that said, the next time someone asks me, “do you like to start with lyrics or melody?” My reply will be, “whichever I hear in my head first.”
If you write songs, I’d love to hear about your thoughts on your creative process in the comment section below!