MUSIC is more important than LYRICS

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Music is Music because of the MUSIC … Why Lyrics Will Always Come Second

We all know what songs are made of: Music & Lyrics (or at least most have lyrics).When you see credits for a song written by more than one person, or say for a musical, they’ll always list who wrote the music (sometimes called the ‘composer’) and who wrote the lyrics.So it would stand to reason that all good songs have both good music and good lyrics, right?

NOPE.

EXCEPTIONAL songs – those great, legendary, perennial classics, or the unsung, obscure works of genius – THOSE do have both good music and good lyrics.But a good song, even a great song, doesn’t have to have good or great lyrics to work.WHY?Because of the eponymous definition of what we’re talking about every week: MUSIC.Music is music because of the MUSIC.Without the music side – the composition itself, songs with lyrics are just poems – often not even good poems; and songs without lyrics are … well … nonexistent.

Do I prefer good lyrics?Yes, absolutely.Some of the songs I really like have lyrical gems in them, or are on the whole very well written.And I make sure every song I WRITE has the best possible lyrics in the context of what I’m trying to achieve.But there are other songs I like that have average to maybe not so great lyrics, and yet those songs are still good-to-great.

On the flip side of that, there are TONS of songs that have good to great lyrics – sometimes even genius lyrics – whose music does not support that quality.The music for those songs is simply there to serve the lyrics, and the end result is often unexceptional, dull, unmemorable.If the music to a song is good, I’ll tap into the lyrics and appreciate them at their level.I’ll want to understand and connect more.If the music isn’t good, I don’t care what the singer is singing about.There’s no connection for me.It may as well be a decent or second-rate poem, or someone’s diary entry.

I guarantee you the songs that you most remember are the ones that have great music, no matter what the lyrics are.And the songs that speak to you – your heart songs – have lyrics that speak to you THROUGH THE MUSIC.The music is the medium.The music transmits the message deeper and more effectively than words alone could.It’s one facet of a philosophy I have that when you’re creating music, every aspect of it should be .It’s a topic I’ll get more into in a future podcast.

When someone is speaking in ANY way – speech, interview, conversation, acting, voice over, spoken word performance, the WAY that person says what they’re saying is even more important than the words themselves.Why?Think of it this way: Give three people the same exact speech.One reads it with no vocal inflection – flatlined.One reads it with some meaningful inflection, some attempt to create some texture in the sound and flow of the words – the average speechifier.One reads it dynamically, with full inflection and more importantly to the words and the meaning.With the first speaker, you’d be too bored to engage or remember or last to the end.With the second, you’d probably get the gist, and come away with something valuable, but it won’t be that memorable or that connected to your personal experience.With the THIRD speaker, you will remember.You will connect like they’re speaking directly to you.You might even be inspired.

How we say what we say makes a huge difference.How songwriters support their lyrics with music, is the difference between an artsy attempt at meaning and a flat-out good fucking song.An enjoyable song.We should always strive to be aware of what impression we’re making when we present something, no matter what the form.That awareness comes from the desire to want to TRULY CONNECT with your audience – whether one person in a conversation, or thousands in an arena.Because just like with music, the whole point of saying anything to anyone is to CONNECT.

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© 2018 by Nick DeMatteo

New York, NY