20 Things I’ve Learned From Listening to Great Songs and Songwriters (3-4)

3. Learn to play with Legos.

Nothing will stifle the creative process more than premature analysis and over-thinking.  When initially creating by yourself or with others, remove the boundaries, use ‘placement’ lyrics, be unconventional, be willing to pursue any idea.  The path to the pot of gold is often an unusual one.  Give yourself and others permission to create and build differently.  Think of yourself as a kid playing with Legos.  Build with different shapes, colors, and sizes.  There will be time to come back, analyze, check for right theology, rhyme patterns, singability and so on.  That step is equally important but you may be surprised by what you’re capable of if you grant yourself permission to just play with Legos first.

4. Paint the picture and frame to suit.

No one walks down the street whistling or thinking about chord progressions.  In the same way, no one goes to Paris, looks at the Mona Lisa and is enthralled with the frame.  Likewise, the harmonic structure of any song, albeit important is not the most memorable part of a composition.  Your melody is your picture: paint it well.  Let your melody drive the song and let the chords merely support it.  Great melodies have ebb and flow, tension and release.  Like a roller coaster, they take you on a journey.  Put the melody in the driver’s seat of your composition and don’t be afraid to make some left turns.

Travis Doucette is Pastor of Worship and Leadership Development at Harvest Bible Chapel Naples, a church plant from Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, IL.  For more information, teaching and music resources please visit harvestnaples.org.

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