I have voices in my head and they tell me things…
I am my own songwriting clinic, but only because I have been able to listen to the critiques of others. It’s not that I like to, but it sure makes for a better song when I do.
I took a songwriting critique a few years ago and that helped me beyond any expectation I had going into it. The voices in my head, ask me questions like: do you really think this song is finished, or are you just being lazy? Can you make the rhyme any better? Is good enough, good enough? Is the internal logic of the song consistent? Are you sure what this work means? Does the music match the words? What exactly does the word, prosody mean?
Prosody means the “patterns of stress and intonation in our language” (the Free Online Dictionary), as well as being the “science or study of poetic meters and versification” (dictionary.com), but also how the words themselves, match the sung notes and the feel of the melody lines. In the online help center, About.com: grammar and composition the word connotes for phonetics, “the use of pitch, loudness, tempo, and rhythm speech to convey information about the structure and meaning of an of an utterance.” Also, “the theory and principles of versification, especially as they refer to rhythm, accent, and stanza.”
Other questions my voices rise are: Who are you writing for? Why are you writing this? So, what is the point of that? On and on and on and on and on…
I have listened most to my audiences when I perform. I listen to their faces as well as their body language. A happy, laughing, excited crowd, means I have good material. An audience that slowly dissipates and goes out for a smoke, indicates songs I need to rework or drop from my play list.
The trick is to hear the voices before they speak. Now so easy but doable. I begin writing, and the process at first is a chain of consciousness to gradually evolves into critical analysis. I can hear the questions, and I respond with changes. I hear the critique and I edit and tighten, and the initial collection of words gradually become a song.