Step away from the instrument

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Do you limit yourself every time you write a song? I certainly do, in more ways than one. But here’s one limit that’s easy to overcome. It’s your instrument.

It’s easy to see how a beginner guitar- or piano-playing songwriter will be limited by his/her skills on the instrument. But even the most proficient virtuoso pianist or hot guitar picker has habits. Your fingers just want to go someplace familiar (they have a mind of their own). Some people call this ‘finger memory.’

When you are writing a song and your brain is busy with lyrics, rhymes and melody, it’s often your fingers that end up writing the chords by default.

So step away from the instrument. When you put away your instrument and write, you are not limited to the chord progressions your fingers go to on auto-pilot. This way, when a melody (and possibly some lyrics) are written and you’re ready to think about chords, you can tailor the chords to the melody and not the other way around.

Nothing wrong with writing chords first and then melody, as long as the chords are intentional and not something that happened while the creative side of the brain was busy with other things.

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