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The Lyricist

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What is a lyricist?:

A lyricist, also called lyric writer or wordsmith, is someone who writes the words to an original piece of music or adds words to already existing music. Sometimes the lyrics are also used without music as in the case of a cappella artists. The lyricist often collaborates with songwriters, composers, arrangers and music artists.

What does a lyricist do?:

A lyricist is a person who has a way with words, so to speak. He is able to come up with words that effectively suits a particular type of music keeping in mind the genre, theme, length and rhythm of the music. A person who solely writes the words to music is called a lyricist; on the other hand, a person who writes both the music and lyrics is called a songwriter. A person who writes words set to music that is used in operas is called a librettist.

What are the usual guidelines when writing lyrics?:

When collaborating, a lyricist may be asked to write the words first with the music added later on, or there is already an existing music that the lyricist needs to write the words to. Factors you should consider when writing lyrics are:

  • Is the title catchy?
  • Are the first few lines of the song powerful enough to pique the interest of the listeners?
  • Does it convey the idea or message effectively?
  • Is there a resolution at the end of the song?
  • Does the lyrics suit the music?
  • What are the qualities of a good lyricist?:

    A good lyricist is one that is able to use words in such a way that it complements the music, helps make the song memorable and attracts the attention of the listeners. A good lyricist works well with others and is knowledgeable about various song forms and music styles.

    What other pointers should a lyricist keep in mind?:

  • Gain knowledge about different music genres.
  • Learn about the different song forms.
  • Listen and look closely at the hits of today and the past, determine what made it a hit.
  • Don't forget your theory, music theory that is. Although there are lyricists who don't play an instrument, knowing the basics of music theory will benefit you.
  • Why become a lyricist?:

    If you're a poet or a writer who appreciates different types of music, whether you write in a straight-forward way or love the play of words, lyric writing might be for you. Some lyric writers start out writing only the lyrics and then branched out to writing the music as well. There are also songwriters who are record artists such as Jewel, John Lennon, Sarah McLachlan and Stevie Wonder, to name a few.

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