Getting Some Perspective

Added on Tuesday 19 Jul 2011

The perspective of a lyric refers to whom a song is directed and who will deliver it. It also refers to the song’s timeframe. As a songwriter, you may have someone specific in mind to perform the song you’re writing. As you’re creating, you’re putting yourself in the mindscape of that artist and, depending on whether your target is male or female, rough or gentle, political or apolitical, religious or agnostic, or sarcastic or sincere, you are tailoring the perspective of the lyric to fit.

Find out all you can about an artist before you begin writing a song with him or her in mind. Try to write a lyric that stays within the boundaries of that artist’s persona. Discover the marital status, hobbies, passions, and philosophical leanings of this person by reading interviews and listening to other songs he’s written or chosen to perform.

When you’re writing a lyric, also be aware of the time perspective or tense in which you’re writing. The present tense is very prevalent in popular songs because it’s here and now and immediate. There’s no time like now to get an urgent message across. The past tense in a lyric looks back on a time or situation. The reflective nature of past tense encourages songs about what could have been and what should have been, but it can also celebrate the good times of the past.  People love to fantasize and futurize.

I sometimes like to combine past and present tenses in the same song. The combination of tenses adds movement to the action of a song.  Songs that come around full circle get me every time.

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