Many people attempt songwriting, but very few are skilled at it. Writing songs and coming up with fresh musical ideas often comes naturally to musicians. In the world of songwriters, some write songs purely for the money, and those who write for the joy of it. How therefore does one learn to compose music? Charlie Puth, a popular singer/songwriter with some excellent insight into songwriting, will provide some advice in this post. Keep reading to learn more:
Charlie Puth with Berklee College of Music
Charlie Puth paid a visit to Berklee in July 2018 as part of his Voicenotes tour to talk to students about songwriting, workshop student works, and perform an evening session in the Red Room.
Puth spoke about songwriting with Kara DioGuardi and the students during his visit to the campus, worked on student compositions, and performed an evening show in the Red Room. In this clinic, Puth and DioGuardi covered a wide range of subjects, such as the importance of teamwork and the risks of following trends. To learn more details about this clinic, read Six Takeaways from Songwriting Clinic with Charlie Puth. The following are some takeaways from that conversation:
1. Tell Your Truth
Puth claims that he first realized the importance of telling the truth in songs in 2012 when he participated in DioGuardi’s Hit Songwriting course at Berklee.
“I remember you saying to me that these lyrics—it’s almost like they didn’t happen to you, it’s almost like you made it up. You experience interesting things in your life—just put a melody to them,” Puth said.
Songwriting can often become complicated and ingenue when we begin writing out of something we don’t even believe in. In your next songwriting session, “Am I being true to myself? Am I being true to my experiences?” Try wiring one song based on something you’ve gone through and believe in, and watch how the song will flourish.
“You said if you want to grow as a singer-songwriter, producer, whatever you want to be…you have to collaborate with people,” Puth recalled what DioGuardi said to him in 2012. However, Charlie said that this advice changed his career.
As musicians, collaboration can feel daunting. Creatives love to create their masterpiece, and the possibility of having someone else change your masterpiece may sound horrible. However, most of the songs you love and have heard on the radio were created in collaboration. Next time you feel stuck on a song you can’t finish, include someone you trust to join the songwriting journey.
3. Find Your Supporters and Keep the Faith
Puth advised the students to find good friends and listen to their supporters. Any songwriter has had to deal with discouragement. It’s not about avoiding feeling discouraged but about how you deal with it.
“It’s not in a distant future kind of thing. It can be as soon as you want it to be. But don’t get discouraged just because someone your age is killing it right now. You’re going to kill it, too,” Puth said.
4. Season Your Songs Judiciously
Have you ever heard a great song on the radio that blows up the charts and YouTube videos? We’ve all heard of one-hit wonders. But why does this happen? And why does every other song this artist makes sound the same? Puth has something to say about this.
“Having a secret ingredient at your disposal doesn’t mean you should use it all the time… Just because you have a black truffle, and it goes with everything—you can put it on pizza, you can put it on raviolis, you can put in on spaghetti squash, you can put it on anything you want—it doesn’t mean that it needs to be there. So I just throw the truffle in, just one. Not 100, because [of the] Law of Diminishing Returns.”
5. Make Your Music Accessible
Every artist has their sound, genre, range, etc. However, if your songwriting goal is to write a song that will be the hottest new hit, you have to make your song “accessible.”
“It’s all about being easy to digest for the average, everyday listener,” Puth said. “If both sexes can sing the song, it’s a hit record.”
6. If It Sounds Like a Hit
Finally, Puth’s last tip for the Berklee students came from his experience writing one of his most successful songs, “See You Again,” which currently has 5.6 Billion views on YouTube. DioGuardi questioned Puth on the guidance he would have given himself when he was a Berklee student seven years ago.
“I would tell myself to develop that idea that was in my head when I was walking down Newbury Street, that it’s not too simple, and that people might want to hear it. And that my life is interesting enough when I was in college that that heartbreak I experienced the other weekend, someone else has experienced that in maybe another way.”
DioGuardi agreed: “If it sounds like a hit, it’s probably not a hit because that means that you’re doing something that’s already done before.”
So, are you ready to take on your next songwriting session? We hope you enjoyed learning from singer/songwriter Charlie Puth. Let us know your biggest takeaway from this article in the comments!
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