Writing a Song
Considering the release of our latest single, Redeemed, I wanted to answer a question that quite a few of people have asked Samuel and I over the past couple of years: “How do you write songs?”
I think people are usually disappointed to find how structured my initial song writing process is. The perception is that great songs come when you’re walking down the street and you suddenly get this life changing musical idea that you must quickly record on your phone, before it retreats into the dark recesses of your mind because you probably won’t remember it later.
I can assure you that my process is hardly that dramatic and spontaneous.
Songs come to me through intention.
I pick up a classical guitar, open my bible and sit down with the intention of writing a song. Sometimes I feel the urge to write while other times I just decide that I am going to sit down and write a song. There are occasions where I am may be having my quiet time and I know God is nudging me to write a song about the scripture I may be reading at that moment.
So, how do I do it? I like to find keywords. One of the songs we’re planning to release later this year, came to me as I was reading Isaiah chapter nine and I knew I wanted to use the words ‘Immanuel’ and “Son of God”, before I had even laid down the melody (Can you tell what time of the year we’re planning to release this song based on the key words?).
After I find my keywords, I fiddle around on the guitar, try to find a melody that I think will suit the song and I then build on the body of the song. Very systematic, I know.
I live with a fellow musician and songwriter and our writing styles could not be more different.
Samuel is the kind of guy who wakes up in the middle of the night because he has a song that came to him in his sleep.
I have, on more occasions than I care to remember, heard him get out of bed to go record a song he heard in his dreams (words and melody). Sometimes I will hear him playing the guitar or piano while he sings softly from the other room at three in the morning. It was annoying at first, but I have come to enjoy it over the years. Did I just say I enjoy being woken up by muffled singing and instrument playing in the wee hours of the morning? Yes. I did. I must really be in love with this guy. ;)
My point in all of this, is that just as a parent has children who have various personalities and consequently relates to each one in diverse ways, so it is with us and our heavenly Father. We all have different relationships with God, and because of that we will experience and connect with Him in varying ways.
I think at the end of the day, it’s not how you write a song that is important. What is important, is that we are inspired by the Holy Spirit.
2 Tim 3: 16 says that all scripture is inspired by God. It’s amazing how people, most of whom didn’t know each other because they lived over a span of thousands of years, could write different books that when put together become a cohesive story of one Man that we now call the Bible.
If God can inspire these people from diverse backgrounds about Jesus, can He not inspire us also? Can we not all be inspired to write our songs while giving a glimpse of the same Man who the authors of the Bible wrote about?
The Bible says that no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Who better to show us what to write about except the Spirit of God? This is why it is so important for us to be acquainted and conversant with the Holy Spirit, because He is the only one who knows the heart of God.
God is an infinite well of songs and melodies; it is up to us to dig into Him enough to find what we are looking for.
Don’t compare your process with anyone else’s. God will speak to you in a way that you can understand.