Songwriting Techniques to
Help You Write a Killer Title

Here are some fun songwriting techniques and exercises to help generate ideas for a great title.

As a songwriter you know how important the title is. A clever, catchy title intrigues us and arouses our curiosity. Choose a weak or mediocre title and your song may not even get listened to.

Besides, a killer title is much easier to write a great song from. Try these out...

The Dictionary Game

I learned this idea from reading hit songwriter Molly-Anne Leiken's book How to Write a Hit Songicon

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Open up your dictionary and put your finger on the page. Choose the closest picture noun to your fingertip and write it down on a piece of paper under "nouns". Do this ten times using a different first letter for each.

Then do this ten more times choosing adjectives that you might use in conversation. When you have your list mix and match the adjectives with the nouns. Try each adjective with each noun.

Many of the pairings will be silly or nonsense, but you will also find some very interesting ones that spark your imagination.

One of my recent dictionary games produced the title "Scarlet Tears", which turned into a song about an adulterous wife ashamed of her extra-marital activities.

Collect Newspaper Headlines

Pink Floyd's "Atom Heart Mother" supposedly came from a newspaper headline read by Floyd's Roger Waters.

Look closely at the paper every day for short and punchy headlines. Newspaper reporters and editors choose their headlines for impact. A story headline serves the same purpose as a song title. To draw us in and make us want to read/listen.

When you read them, think of them as song titles. Write down the ones that appeal to you, and collect them in a notebook.

Listen to What People Say

Listen to the conversations around you. You can find some great lyric ideas from listening to how people talk. The best lyrics are usually the ones that sound the most natural, like the spoken word. And there are many song titles to be found in the expressions and sayings people use.

Call it eavesdropping if you want, but I consider this to be one of my top songwriting techniques.

Take Everyday Phrases and Twist Them

When people hear something other than what they expect, they sit up and take notice. A title that shocks a little is a great title. A common phrase such as "first-time home buyer" could become "First-Time Home Wrecker". Make a great country song!

Play around with one of these songwriting techniques today and try writing a song. Remember to have fun with it. Songwriting should be fun.


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