Writing Songs in Teams
Not many of the songs that I've written have been just my songs (confession time!!) I've been helped by brilliant guys and girls that God has placed in my life. Sometimes writing worship songs with others is amazing and things happen quickly, other times it's a slow and frustrating process! I love the fact that it takes emphasis off one person as "the writer" and creates a "team dynamic" to the process.
I often get asked how I go about writing with others so here's some ideas, experiences and thoughts- I hope they are useful!
- Write with people who inspire you. I got to know Mike Reeves through UCCF circles and I LOVED his Trinitarian view of God. His book "The Good God" amazed me and I thought.. "I want to write with this guy!!" We spent the day in London in May 2012 (pictured left) and wrote the song "Fountain of Goodness" together. He came up with a lot of the lyrics and I tried to put them together with a melody into a song!
- Bring some ideas to the table. From experience I've found that songwriting with others is so much better when one person brings some basis of a song or a lyrical idea or an idea for a melody! Maybe it's a Bible passage or a phrase that God's really put on your heart.
- Spend time in worship and prayer together. I gathered some songwriters from my Church in Canterbury recently and we spent the first hour worshipping, singing new songs to God and praying to Him! Little did people know but I had my iPhone on record to catch some of the melodic ideas (muhaha!) Afterwards we got a real sense of where God was leading us to write about and we spent a few hours putting together a song about God being with us "Emmanuel".
- Know your strengths. When writing with others don't constantly compare yourself with others if they come up with stunning ideas! When I write I'm not too good with getting poetry or imagery into songs but I do feel a bit stronger with keeping the song focused on a theme or coming up with a melodic hook. Whenever I write with Laurence Turpin (he plays bass a lot with me) he always amazes me at the speed of which he can come up with a really catchy Middle 8... maybe I can nickname him "Laurence Middle 8 Turpin".... catchy...
- Write together for a reason. Over this summer I'm intending to gather songwriters from my church once a month on a Sunday afternoon specifically to write songs for our up coming Sunday morning preaching series. In the past when I've written with others sometimes it's been for a response song at a conference. It really helps to have a reason to write together. Obviously the goodness of God is reason alone but you get what I mean?
- Don't be too precious with your ideas. Sometimes the "best" part of the song you've come up with that you think will be incredible when it's sung at church and angels will weep as they hear the beauty of it often ends up being the bit that others think should change!! When writing with others or presenting a nearly finished song to others be really open to feedback and suggestions. Recently I tried to write a song "We are Your Church" for Mobilise 2013 and I played it to the band and said "please help me lyrically, melodically and chord-wise with this song". Simon helped tweak some verse lyrics and Sam helped with the chorus melody. It was a better song as a result of me not being too precious about it!
So- try it out! Write in teams. You might really find God blesses it!
Written on 21/05/13 by Olly Knight