Struggles of Songwriting
By Elizabeth Tackabury
She’s sitting in front of the piano, slumped over tiredly, her hands placed limply on the keys. Her mind is working as hard as it can, but the lyrics just aren’t coming to her. The black and white keys are beginning to appear more and more monotone, just like the overly-bland lyrics that are coming to mind. She tries to sift out the best of the few, but none of them seem fitting for the song.
Songwriting isn’t something that everyone does, which is understandable. There are always struggles that come along with it, whether it’s lyrically or musically. With that being said, there are still lots of students at Canterbury who write their own songs. However, the real question is, do experienced songwriters still struggle with writing? And if they do, how do they get past those difficulties?
“I like writing stories through music but I get frustrated because I’m bad with words,” said Meaghan O’Neill, someone who enjoys songwriting and has been doing it for three years. Her favorite way to write is to sit at the piano, randomly playing keys before she comes across something that sounds good.
She spends most time writing the lyrics, since that’s what is most difficult for her. With challenges arising every time she writes music, she’s found ways to deal with them. She said collaboration helps her. “I find that when I work with people, I take their experiences and absorb them.”
Finding the right words is something a lot of people struggle with. There’s probably a reason why most poets steer clear of rhyming, as it is something that can be difficult. Although not all songs rhyme, most do, and that’s what seems to stump people when it comes to the lyrical aspect of writing music.
Just sitting down by myself in a quiet place and thinking about what I can do to write a good song helps."
When I asked Skye Macleod, a student at Canterbury, what she struggles with most, she answered, “Trying to find a way to make the song have a story and use words that make sense within the rhyme.”
Skye has an account on Instagram which she uses to post videos of her singing covers and originals. With experience, like Meaghan, she’s found things that help make the writing process easier. “Just sitting down by myself in a quiet place and thinking about what I can do to write a good song helps,” she explained.
I’m sure most songwriters have been in that situation, where they’re sitting with an instrument—whether it be a guitar, piano, or anything in between—and they just can’t think of anything good. Although all the songwriters in the world could tell you what works for them, I think it’s a matter of finding that out for yourself with experience. And if you’re hesitant about beginning to write music, just know that it’s all trial and error. In the end, you’ll find what works best for you.