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The Songwriter's Idea Book
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2004
Unlike some books on songwriting, this one provides a songwriting method that will apply for ANY kind of songwriting, whether it be for a traditional stage musical or hardcore rap or anywhere in between. While it is big on grammatical tricks, and never fails to come up with technical wizardry you won't have learned in high school English class (synecdoche anybody?), these are often things that you know you are doing without realising they had a name (synecdoche? U use it wen U txt. Or write songs called "Sk8er Boi", "2 Become 1" or "Nothing Compares 2 U").
The book recommends that you start with a good title, explains fully how to come up with one, then goes on with how to expand the title into a fully fledged song.
Basic lyric writing principles, including song structure, are covered in the first section, but the real meat of this book is in part 2, entitled "Personality Type, Brain Dominance, and the Creative Process". This section posits that in order to write good lyrics, you have to know yourself and, importantly, your thinking style. Every person has strengths and weaknesses, and these will be reflected in the first draft of any lyrics you write. If you know your weaknesses, you'll be able to identify and compensate for them in future drafts of the lyrics.
This approach is so radically different from any other songwriting book I have read - the usual method is to list music genres and give the authors opinion of how that genre works - that it takes several readings to fully understand the approach, but once grasped, it is well worth the effort.
Despite the title, the book is about lyric writing rather than songwriting as a whole - creating memorable music can be as elusive as creating memorable lyrics, and a song is not a song without both these elements. The remaining chapters focus on strategies for writing different types of lyrics, (for example, is it a love song, a hate song, a social comment or whatever), linguistic tricks, framing devices, amd so on.
The book does what it sets out to do, and does so extremely well. Worth every penny.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2001
Sure, there are loads of books on this topic, but after having read and enjoyed many of them, I still feel somewhat cheated that I didn't get as much out of them as I did with this book. Only two other books came close: Sheila's Lyric Writing book and Jason Blume's 6 Steps. If you've read other books on lyric writing you'll be amazed at how there's so much Sheila explains in a thorough and analytical approach that doesn't come through with those others. When followed by a gradually more demanding 'now you have a go' it really does give you a great learning opportunity. Buy this book and make the most of it! Get the other's later.
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on 15 July 2015
I hate to disagree with other readers who have found it helpful but I have to say this is a book for the academic who (as another reviewer has noted) is interested in the THEORY of lyric writing and taking the personality tests (whatever possessed Sheila Davis to think they had ANYTHING to do with musical creativity!!!) It has NOTHING helpful to offer the songwriter who wants to find a unique niche for himself/herself or write anything other than commercial mainstream lyrics. If you are a Barry Manilow or Neil Diamond fan you may find this of value (the author clearly knows the mechanics of what should make a good commercial/Broadway song) but if you are a Nick Cave or REM fan (or any artist with serious credibility and the desire to be original) then this is definitely NOT the book for you.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 6 February 2002
This book and Sheila's Successful Lyric Writing should be in every songwriter's personal collection. An excellent reference book to turn to whenever you feel that songwriter's block coming on! It never fails to inspire your next song.
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on 13 September 2014
Sheila Davis' 3rd book, this is more a continuation of her methods, so if you start with this one you will find it lacking in the nuts and bolts.
What this book does give you, is the 40 ideas to get you writing. But you will pick and choose (unless you're getting paid!) and you may well write many songs off each of the ideas presented.
Each idea is discussed, tips and pitfalls given, plus some surprisingly good example lyrics, not all hers (i actually find her own lyrics a bit twee).
Good book, but start with "The Craft of Lyric Writing" unless you're already up and running.
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on 17 November 2011
This book really gets you thinking. It's great for writer's block. The exercises really wake up your imagination and make you think outside of the box.

Jennifer K. Lafferty
Author of Offbeat Love Stories and More
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on 19 May 2014
Overview of songwriting techniques was excellent. The strategy section was a bit general and the example lyrics too often drawn from Broadway musicals. But overall a useful read for any budding songwriter.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 12 June 2010
As noted in other reviews this is a lyrics book - there's no discussion of music.

Pages 3 and 4 should be printed out and stuck on every songwriter's wall (see the "Click to LOOK INSIDE!") - they really help to define the core idea of a set of lyrics.

There's good coverage of literary tropes.
And the idea/plot chapters (a day, a colour etc.) will help when you get stuck - though the examples are invariably terrible.
I didn't get much from the personality tests and psychology sections but your mileage may vary.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 23 March 2006
If you need a book to teach you chord structures etc. forget it. If you need to examine your personality type and apply it to lyric writing, go for it. This is not a traditional approach to songwriting, but it is interesting reading.
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on 22 January 2014
The book arrived in perfect condition, and within the estimated delivery date. It is a great classic that I recommend to everyone who is a "book worm".
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