MonthFebruary 2015

Keeping Your Antennae Up

Occasionally I’m asked how I go about writing songs. Do I write the music first? Do the lyrics come first? Where do I get my ideas?

Honestly, the “music or lyrics” question is kind of like the chicken and the egg. It’s hard to say which comes first. In fact, I’d say it varies by song. But one thing that never varies is where I get my ideas. Or more accurately, how I get them.

antenna-my-favorite-martianI keep my antennae up.

No, I don’t have strange pointy things growing out of my head. I’m also not an alien, although I can look like one on a bad hair day. But what I do have is a pretty keen awareness of my surroundings. An ear to the ground. An eye to the environment. I notice things. And that’s where the vast majority of my song ideas come from. It’s pretty rare when anything else works, at least for me. I can’t just go into a room with a pen and paper and go, “OK, I’m going to write a song now.” If I were to try that, chance are I’d get bored within about 4 minutes and pop on Netflix for an exciting episode of Breaking Bad. Continue reading

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The Amazing Serendipity of God

Anyone who hangs around me long enough finds out that I’m sort of a word nerd. I’m fascinated by the way words sound when we speak them, and how they work together when we form thoughts and sentences. If I say, “The sun smiles on my face,” it evokes a completely different emotion than if I say, “The sun is in my eyes.” I believe my word fixation really helps me as a songwriter. It keeps me (hopefully) from singing words that sound bad when you sing them, or pairing words that make for awkward phrasing.

I’m particularly fascinated by words known as “ideophones,” which can be quickly defined as words that give a vivid representation of an idea by their sound. In other words, they sound like what they mean. Some examples in the English language are pitter-patter (the sound of rain), twinkle (something sparkly or shiny), swish (the sound of swift movement), and ta-da (the sound of fanfare). Ideophones don’t really work as written elements … they don’t take on the characteristic unless you say them aloud, or at least think about how they sound when spoken aloud.

PitterPatterOne of my favorite ideophones – or at least I think it’s an ideophone – is the word “serendipity.” It just sounds happy. Musical. Joyful. Colorful. And with good reason – serendipity describes a chance event that occurs in a happy or beneficial way. Basically, serendipity is a stroke of good luck.

It’s interesting. The more I read scripture, the more I begin to see that serendipity actually comes from God. Continue reading

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