Five words per song

Seth Godin has an idea called “Ten Words Per Page.”

He says that readers only register “ten words per page” when they are “reading” a text.

“Which means,” he says that in “your memo, your ad, your announcement, your post–you get ten words” to make an impression on them and cause them to want to engage (i.e. keep reading or take an action).

I’d posit that as songwriters, we only get five words… or less. And we only get the five melody notes that go with those five words.

(Of course, I am purposefully NOT talking about the groove, tempo, sound-scape of the song here. These matter too, but let’s take them off the table right now.)

Five words to make someone listen longer, hit repeat, send the song to someone else, talk about it with another person.

So… about that new song you’re working on:

Where are your most important five words?

What are your melody notes for those words?

Are they the most important melody notes in your song or are they just like all the others?

Maybe you have to write the song to find your five most important words. If that’s the case, then you must rewrite to make sure they are where they need to be (in the chorus, probably) and highlighted by the five most searing melody notes.

And as Seth points out, “If you can begin with the [five] words and write around them, you have the foundation for an effective message.” If you already know what your five most important words are … you are WAY ahead of the game.