Today, I decided to take some time out to answer a couple of them.
Up, up, and away…
Question: What’s the story on the lyric triad? What’s it good for?
Answer: The Lyric Triad is a tool I created to make it easy to start writing and keep coming up with ideas whenever you need them.
I learned about “object writing” from Pat Pattison at Berklee. His book, Writing Better Lyrics, shows you how to do it. You write about any object using sensory details for a limited time. That’s it. Pretty easy. But it really gets you thinking about sensory descriptions which bring your writing to life.
Then, Andrea Stolpe taught me how to do object writing a little differently. Instead of choosing an object, choose a place and describe the sensory details and also your own internal details, or thoughts and feelings. Adding these extra nuances to object writing got me thinking…
I’ve seen that pattern before. Where was it?
My Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Practitioner training. (Geek Alert!) I became a master practitioner in 2004. I used it to study peak performance for myself as well as my students and coaching clients. A big section of the training was on meta-programs. Meta-programs are patterns that you can find in your own thinking.
Without going into a ton of detail, a major chunk of the meta-programs training was on “categories of experience.” The 3 categories are Content, Representational Systems, and Neuro-Logical Levels. In regular people terms: stuff, senses, and thoughts.
Content is the stuff you write about. There’s 6 classifications of content. Representational Systems are your senses. There’s 6 of them. Neuro-Logical Levels are categories of thinking and, you guessed it, there are 6 of them (I explain them all with detail in the Speed Songwriting System).
I thought to myself, why not expand on what Pat and Andrea do. Instead of using just an object or just a place, I could choose from any of the 6 types of content. When I describe it, I can use all 6 senses and all 6 categories of thought.
I started coming up with better lines and whenever I needed a lyric, I could come up with something instantly. I even had a set of virtual dice programmed so I could make a game out of it (this is available in the Speed Songwriting System too).
That’s how I came up with the idea. There’s a couple other amazing uses for it like lyric triad patterns, but I’ll save that for another day.
Bottom line, here’s what it’s good for. The lyric triad gives you something to write instantly and it gives your writing detail, depth, and drama, without ever being at a loss for words.
If you’ve ever suffered from writer’s block, the lyric triad will cure it.
Question: Do other songwriters use song plots?
Answer: I’m not sure that other writers consciously think of song plots or not. I know some do. And I can definitely point to lots of major hits that follow the same pattern as this song plot:
Verse: How things are
Chorus: How I wish things were
Just that little plot can give your song sections contrast and a place to go.
You can also switch it up and add a prechorus:
Verse: How I wish thing were
Prechorus: Is there hope?
Chorus: How things are
So if other songwriter’s aren’t using song plots, I couldn’t tell you why. Maybe they just don’t know.
My favorite song plot is called “The Hero’s Journey Song Plot” and I share it in the Speed Songwriting System.