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Q&A: I write music after receiving lyrics first from my mate. Is this unusual?
By Mary Dawson - 07/16/2007 - 11:30 AM EDT

QUESTION:
I write music after receiving lyrics first from my mate. Is this unusual?
Thank you, Ally Valentine
 
ANSWER:
Hi Ally:
Thanks so much for your email.

No....it is not unusual at all to have the lyrics written first. Many of the greatest co-writing teams in the world write this way -- including Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

It is also not unusual to have the music written first and then have the lyrics set to he existing melody. This was a very common practice during the days of Tin Pan Alley when some of the most amazing songs of the 20th Century were written -- including "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" which was actually declare THE GREATEST song of the century by the Radio Association of American and the National Foundation for the Arts.

Any way that works for you and your co-writer is very OK. My only word of caution would be that you not let yourself fall into a "rut" just because a certain way of writing is easy for you. Please see my new article on the Muses Muse Columnist section on the "Perils of the Comfort Zone." Keep stretching yourselves to try new things. Perhaps you could create a melody first and then let your partner practice setting words to your music. Or try different styles, structures and genres of music.

At any rate, it sounds as if you are very talented and motivated writers, so keep up the great work.

All the Best,

Mary Dawson


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