October 2019 Exercises

The Christian genre of music is unlike any other. There are several types of Christian music that fall under the entire genre's umbrella. Classic hymns, worship and songs about God are all in this category. Here are some exercises for those interested in writing Christian Music:

1.       Know which realm of Christian music you are pursuing with each song.
Worship songs are sung TO God while some popular Christian music is sung ABOUT God. It is important to know which vain you are chasing within each Christian song you write. Not only will your point of view shift within the different types of Christian music, but sometimes the melodic structures shift greatly as well.
2.       Listen to ALL types of Christian music. Strength comes from repetition. When you are stuck on the worship song you are trying to finish, listen to some of your favorites and make notes of what made that song stick out. Are there 4 more bars of instrumental here or maybe a duet part during the chorus? What parts of your favorite songs can help you brainstorm your own?
3.       Write a letter to the people you want to hear your future song. Tell them what you hope they get from the song and what it means to you (even if you haven't written it yet). This will give you an idea of the content waiting in your brain to be written. How do you want people to feel after listening? Write a letter with that information and use it for song ideas.
4.       BE DIFFERENT! Christian music, much like country music, has a certain feel to it. Rise against the norm and create something totally new within the genre. Listen to other genres and see what you can pull from each of them to spice up your melody. Sometimes people latch onto a new artist simply because they've never heard anything like them.
Pop: Pop means popular music. Think of your favorite songs that you hear absolutely anywhere: the mall, on your car radio, in TV and Film, etc. More often than not, these are pop songs! You have the power to create the next viral hit too! Here are some exercises on improving your pop songwriting.

1.       Learn from those that are already succeeding.
This is an exercise that can help in any realm of life, but in songwriting it is particularly important. The industry wants 'current' and 'unique' as if the two things can coexist. Current means something that would fit in to today's world, Top 40 and everyday vernacular. Unique is continuing to be true to your individual artistry. If your favorite artists are succeeding at both of these, look up all that you can about them
2.       Read about it. Check out blogs, NSAI's Coffee Break and social media posts about the pop industry. Stay in tune so you will know who the relevant move-makers are in the pop industry.
3.       Listen to top pop songs of the last 4-5 decades. There is a reason these songs made it to the top of the charts. Use them as a template and try to decipher what made them so popular in their time. Sometimes, there are key genre differentiations that show up from decade to decade (swing, disco, physcadelic, alternative rock, etc.).
4.       Introduce yourself to other genres and pull aspects of them into your pop songs. On your way to a pop cowrite, listen to nothing but rap or country and try to pull in one detail of that genre into your new song. Next time, put on a different genre on your way to a write. See if fresh ideas come from past, successful songs.