How to write good lyrics

Which comes first ... the words or the melody? Should I be concerned about rhyming?

I am grateful

I am so grateful that we get to work on several songs for the past weeks.
I notice that we are approaching different styles of the song lyric into music:
1.  "God's gifts for all the world" is beautiful done by Richard write his own song lyric for the song and Dan Vi Nguyen think of the original ideas for the song.
2.  "For the love of humanity" is a chant style of music.
3.  "Christ makes our world so beautiful" is a song lyric turn into poem style of music.
4.  "Enchristment" is an old prayer at heart from sisters/nuns taught at childhood, and the goal is to turn the prayer into song.

And thanks to you!

Dear friend, you set before me songwriting challenges that few are willing to take on. You have inspired me. 

Some might say that your lyrics are "badly written" with "broken English." They may say "that's just a poem...that can never be a song." But I am trying to demonstrate that it is possible to use ANYTHING as a launchpad for writing a song. As I work with your lyrics, I try to stay true to your intent. I use many of your phrases or individual words because I know they have great meaning to you. And they also have great meaning to me as a Catholic! I sometimes change a word or expression to make it flow more smoothly or better excite the soul and imagination.

In some of my collaborations, the music came first. Sometimes, I am given a finished soundtrack and am asked to compose and sing lyrics. That is very difficult. See my "Hungry For Heaven" project as an example. 

Hungry For Heaven web site:

Pour Heaven on Me, Movement 2 of Hungry for Heaven:

Also, see this complete album that I did with "two mystery musicians from Germany" a few years ago. They wrote complete soundtracks first. Then I wrote lyrics and laid them over the music (just like HFH above):

Can't Let Go album with Steiner and Anselm:

Richard Schletty | Schletty Design and Music |

Berklee Music teacher Pat Pattison

I am now taking the Songwriting courses at Berklee Music teacher Pat Pattison.

But I still have so much challenges in writing as you know.

Pat Pattison is a good teacher.

Pat Pattison was our presenter at an MAS songwriting workshop here in St. Paul a few years ago. He gave very good tips about prosody and how a song should "gain weight" as it progresses. I am so glad you are taking Pat's course.

I will start to explain more about my songwriting process as I collaborate with you and other people here at TCS. I am on the board of MAS – the Minnesota Association of Songwriters. I am the organization's tech coordinator and I do post-production for our SongCasters TV show.

Richard Schletty | Schletty Design and Music |

Writing lyrics – any approach is OK

I've approached songs different ways, sometimes starting with a poem scratched on paper, sometimes starting with an instrumental track someone gave me. I have co-written, too, helping someone improve their lyrics or add verses. Sometimes the words rhyme. The stanzas normally rhyme, but you can do free verse, too. Important thing is the meter and flow. Do the words flow easily from your lips to the ear of the listener? Are you stressing the syllables correctly? That's especially important in English and Dutch languages — stressed vs unstressed syllables. Don't use big words unless you absolutely have to. Finally, if you are a Catholic songwriter, you are probably telling the story of God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit. You are telling the Good News. You are expressing hopes, visions, joys, fears, sorrows, triumphs, or simple tales of love. Each song is a narrative. Keep it simple but make each verse "gain weight" (as taught by Berklee Music teacher Pat Pattison). What is gaining weight? The story unfolds, the plot thickens, more characters are added to the story, or the story becomes multi-layered in meaning. The final task is to record the lyrics with prosody and passion, melding your voice with instruments and perhaps other voices.

Richard Schletty | Schletty Design and Music |

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Customize This