How to Get Inspiration for Song Ideas | 15 Ways to Find Inspiration for Your Music
Writing songs is not always easy. All songwriters struggle to generate new ideas from time to time, and when writer’s block happens, getting inspiration for song ideas can seem impossible. However, there are some helpful methods to spark your creativity.
When you’re looking for inspiration for writing songs, you can try a variety of creative methods. You can experiment with themes and titles, start with a melody, use song prompts to recall favourite destinations, memories and books, or try new genres.
There are many ways you can find inspiration for a song. It all depends on what works best for you as a songwriter. Finding inspiration can range from exploring musical ideas, writing about your favourite books, themes or travel destinations, drawing on special memories or writing a song about friends and family.
Song inspiration ideas
Songwriting naturally improves with time and practice. Discovering song ideas can be frustrating, especially when there is writer’s block. This is where inspiration can remove the block, being defined as the excitement of discovering something new.
However, songwriting isn’t always about creating lyrics that are brand new. As Paul Zollo explains in the book Songwriters on Songwriting, ‘discovering’ a song instead of ‘inventing’ it is a great way to write.
Exploring different ways to find inspiration for song ideas will open up numerous creative possibilities for successful songwriting.
How do you write a song for beginners?
#1 Start with a melody
Starting with a melody can be a great way to inspire song ideas as there are many different ways you can explore melodies. It has been suggested that testing out pentatonic melodies- using 5 notes from an octave- can spur on new song ideas.
For example, you can take the notes C-D-E-G-A and experiment with their order, tempo and add any embellishments that will accelerate the songwriting process.
Alternatively, you can take one of your favourite artist’s melodies and experiment singing it in a different key, different tempo, applying different points of emphasis or with a contrasting dynamic.
Using an artist’s melody as inspiration will be a great springboard for you to create your own melody and song ideas.
#2 Create a list of musical ideas
When exploring musical ideas, a good starting point is to focus on deciding a rhythm first. Once you have decided on a rhythm, you can begin to experiment with moving notes up and down to see what works for you.
Adjusting note lengths is a great activity to test out on new musical ideas. For example, an effective way to see how a musical idea can change is by augmenting (stretching) the notes. You can achieve this by doubling every note.
This could give the idea a whole new sound. On the other hand, you can also shorten each note. Instead of a note lasting for two beats in the bar, change it to one beat. Shorten the notes throughout the musical idea and listen out for the contrasting feel the piece will have.
It can inspire you to try more ideas that are similar, leaving you with some of your finest lyrics to date.
How to get inspired to write lyrics
#3 Explore different song plot ideas
Finding inspiration for song ideas can be achieved through exploring different song plots. Like how a feature film requires a plot in order to become the final masterpiece, a song benefits from the use of a plot in the same way.
Exploring different song plot ideas can begin with taking the lyrics from a song you feel inspired by and drawing on the meaning from each section. You can do this by describing the meaning of each part with just one sentence.
Step back and read what each sentence says. An example of this is:
Verse: This is how I feel
Pre-chorus: I’ll tell you why I feel this way
Chorus: This is why I feel this way
Doing this exercise means that you have a clear structure for your song plot idea, whilst being inspired by an artist you love.
The song plot template that is created can be used repeatedly to help you come up with interesting narratives.
Some useful song plot ideas are:
- Life is good now
- Things are happening
- No more problems
There is also a plot generator that can be accessed online.
Although this is primarily used for story ideas, the generator has a variety of sections to choose from and can help develop song plot ideas.
#4 Explore different song themes
Exploring different song themes is a helpful way to kick-start inspiration. A theme is a general topic or idea that you’d like to explore songwriting about and can be focused on anything you wish.
Some general themes that are popularly used as a way to inspire song ideas are love and relationships, life and self, family and friendships or society.
However, there are even more themes beyond this such as; happiness, sadness, hope, loss, celebration, travel, milestone and historical events.
Within the industry, there are many examples where a theme has inspired a chart hit.
For example, when looking at ‘coming of age’ as a theme, there have been many music icons who’ve had successful songs through this topic such as; Aerosmith with ‘Dream on’ and ‘Simple Man’ by Lynyrd Skynrd.
Song title ideas
#5 Find inspiration from creative song titles
The title is an important element of any song. The song title is often what catches the listener’s attention as it can reflect on the song’s theme, plot or meaning. There are strong song titles to be inspired by that grab the listener’s attention by being surprising, thought-provoking and intriguing.
With the endless variety of creative song titles to choose from, there is bound to be a some that are successful in triggering helpful song idea inspiration.
In order to discover interesting song names, you can refer to the latest charts or your favourite playlist.
#6 Consider song titles that haven’t been used
Considering song titles that haven’t been used can inspire song ideas that are unique and new. In order to create a list of song titles that haven’t been used within the industry yet, it’s important to have an idea of what song titles have been taken.
All you need to do is spend some time researching popular song titles that have already been used. Make a list of these song names to ensure the titles you consider aren’t the same.
Through this process, you will have to explore a variety of song themes, topics and meanings.
The benefit of this is that you’ll be inspired to work with different song ideas, leading to new and interesting lyrics.
How to make a song
#7 Use song prompts
Song prompts are perfect for inspiring song ideas that just need a gentle nudge in order to occur.
There are useful websites that provide song prompt lists. The Lyric Writer’s Room is one of many web pages that share some inspirational prompts such as:
- Free Writing. This is where you set a timer for five minutes and keep writing whatever comes to mind until the time is up. Don’t change anything. Just allow yourself to write. Once finished, read back what you’ve written and let the inspiration begin.
- Image-only free writing. Like the free writing, the timer needs to bet set to five minutes. However, instead of writing words, you freely draw images instead.
The lyric triad is another effective tool in discovering song idea inspiration.
In order to use this as a song prompt you must focus on exploring potential content, senses and thoughts that could be considered for future song compositions.
With just three areas to concentrate on, finding song idea inspiration is more structured, pushing writer’s block to the side.
#8 Use a song idea generator
A song idea generator showcases a variety of themes such as; love and relationships, fun and people.
You just have to simply click the ‘generate song idea’ button and an idea such as ‘A song about being a rebel’ will pop up. From here, you can take the suggestion and expand on it through musical ideas and lyrics.
The song idea generator can be found on the Music Industry How To website.
#9 Make room for inspiration with a tidy work space
Having a tidy workspace clears your mind and makes way for inspiration to unfold. File song lyric sheets, declutter your desk and organise your stationary so you always have a pen and paper to hand, ready for when the song ideas strike.
How do you get inspiration for a song?
#10 Be inspired by travel
Travelling to old and new destinations or enjoying a much-needed holiday are great ways to find inspiration for song ideas. Removing yourself from the surroundings you are used to and stepping out somewhere new can bring about bundles of inspiration.
When exploring somewhere new, far or near, your mind has to become more active such as deciding where to go for food or what sights to see. Through this, you can stumble across potential song topics and begin the creative process.
A great example is George Ezra and his hit songs, Budapest and Barcelona.
Inspired by his travels across Europe, a handful of years on, both songs have had numerous streams and sales.
#11 Be inspired by a friend or family
Being inspired by a friend or family member can be a powerful way to find inspiration for song ideas. Topics that are personal to you provoke many emotions, one of which could be the perfect inspiration for some heartfelt lyrics.
When using a friend or member of the family as inspiration, you can take into consideration what genre of music is their favourite. This is a good starting point.
You might have something you’d like to share with them through a song and this message could be the perfect inspiration for your best original so far.
#12 Choose a favourite book
Being inspired by novels was folk singer/songwriter, Joni Mitchell’s drive behind her iconic track, Both Sides Now. Joni drew on inspiration whilst flying on a plane from a book by Saul Bellow called, Henderson and the Rain.
A more modern example is The Noisettes track, Atticus. This song inspiration came from Harper Lee’s famous novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. The song title was inspired by a character in the book called, Atticus Finch.
With numerous characters and plots to draw from, referring to a book is always an inspirational trigger.
How do you come up with musical ideas?
#13 Be inspired by your favourite musicians
It is easy to fall into the trap of only wanting to come up with song ideas that have their own unique sound that nobody has ever heard before.
But when it comes to the art of songwriting, there is nothing wrong with looking up to your music idols for some inspirational help.
If you are struggling with where to begin, it is useful to take one your favourite artist’s songs and imitate the musical ideas and lyrical meaning with a few changes.
Using this method means that you can create yourself a template to build from, springing up new song ideas left, right and centre.
#14 Make a list of favourite memories
A list of favourite memories will provide you with instant themes, emotions or events to base song ideas around and to be inspired by.
Whether you have listed your best birthday party or a memorable day at the beach with family, any memory you can recall will achieve a whole collection of new song ideas that can be used every time you are stuck for inspiration.
#15 Find inspiration from different song genres
Genres for songs could be likened to how crisps have numerous different flavours. Where you can get salt and vinegar or cheese and onion, for music you can have pop, rock, R&B and many more different genres or sub-genres.
You might want to stick to exploring genres you already enjoy listening to. However, you can also break out of what you know and spend some time learning about new ones.
Test out a simple melody alongside a rhythm that you’re satisfied with. From here, you can change the musical idea’s components by giving it a slower tempo, moving notes up and down or adding in other instruments and counter-melodies.
With every song genre, there are different musical components that make up that particular genre. For example, country music will use different chord patterns to R&B and pop will have contrasting song structures to jazz.
Exploring the differences and similarities will open up your creativity.
Have you struggled with finding inspiration for your songs? Let us know how you dealt with writer’s block in the comments!