FilmInstituteFor the second year running, we were delighted to take Abbey Road outside of the building to BBC Introducing LIVE at Tobacco Dock, the ultimate one-stop-shop for anyone looking for a career in the music industry, or those wanting to take their knowledge to the next level.
We began the three-day event with a look into the creative songwriting process of artists Maverick Sabre, Rachel Furner and Novelist as part of the Abbey Road Studios' Songwriting Masterclass.
From the creation of our free songwriting app Topline, to our new smaller studio spaces and online production service, we are investing heavily in supporting artist creativity, and reinforcing how we are here to help emerging artists, producers and songwriters. Moderated by Abbey Road's Jack Lintorn, the Songwriting Masterclass broke down each artist’s respective approach to writing, typical song structure and how to overcome the mental struggles that sometime arise during the writing process.
Find out a few of the incredible insights that our panel shared with the audience.
Five Things We Learned From The Masterclass:
1. Write Everything Down and ObserveThere’s nothing worse as a songwriter than coming up with an amazing melody, only to completely forget what it was an hour later. It’s important to make a note of your idea while it’s fresh in your mind. Maverick Sabre told the audience: "I write everything down. If I'm on the train, or with friends, whatever setting it is. Nothing's ever wasted." Our free songwriting app Topline was designed with exactly this purpose in mind, allowing you to capture those often forgotten ideas on-the-go.
He went onto further explain where he finds his source of inspiration for writing: "The beautiful thing about us as songwriters is we're observers. We observe the world around us and we take in whatever stories are within our own lives or internally within our own heads. There's inspiration at every corner, whether it's from friends or family. It's social commentary within music that inspires me most."
2. Chorus Is Key!The chorus is the most-repeated section of most songs and is usually distinctive by being some combination of the following factors: the most memorable section, the section that lyrically contains the song’s title, the main melodic theme of the song, a place where additional voices/instruments are added and the simplest lyrical section.
The chorus is usually the section most people know and remember, and in commercial pop music is the section on which a song is almost entirely judged. Rachel Furner, who has written for Little Mix, Jason Derulo and Craig David explained on the panel: “The biggest thing I’ve learnt, if you write the chorus first, the rest is easy.” Maverick Sabre and Novelist also reiterated that the chorus is where they often begin when writing and that a great chorus is key to a great song.
3. Get Creative With Your SongwritingGetting started is often the hardest part of the songwriting process. Developing your song’s main melody or central chorus is considered the best place to begin writing, as we've seen from the three songwriter's comments above. Maverick Sabre explained that he had a particular process of writing to visuals with his music, a technique developed from when he started writing songs: "I start with a loop and then put visuals to it, and I'll pick my visual depending on the feeling my music gives me. The visuals keep me in tune with the music that's going on."
Rachel Furner then went on to describe the two processes she uses when beginning to write a song: “I have two ways of approaching songwriting. Usually I sit at the piano and go purely off of something that just feels right. I don’t usually go in with a full concept; I just feel the music. My first thought when songwriting is ‘how can I tap into this music?’ I’m there to guide it.” As you can see from both Rachel's and Maverick Sabre's different processes, there are no set rules when it comes to writing a song. It’s down to the creativity of the songwriter and your original inspiration to determine your starting point.
4. Don’t Rush or Force a Song - It’s Got To Be GenuineEvery writer ultimately struggles with writer's block. It's impossible to have a constant stream of inspiration, and it's important to realise when you need to step away and take a break. Novelist explained how you should not to be fixed on a set idea or concept when writing, and being genuine to what you want to talk about: "Sometimes you go to make a certain genre of beat, and you end up making the complete opposite. I might want to write a love song and end up writing something dark. It's really about exploring certain sides to you and just going with whatever wants to come out."
5. A Good Song Will Translate However It’s RecordedOur final take-away from the masterclass came from Rachel Furner after we listened to her original version of Secret Love Song. The track, which was was first recorded seven years ago, was heard by Little Mix who decided they wanted to record their rendition. However, Rachel explained to us that what they heard was recorded in one-take, only using very basic recording equipment: “If it’s a good song, you don’t need all the bells and whistles on it. Sing it like you mean it and it will translate.”
Thank you to Maverick Sabre, Rachel Furner and Novelist for being part of the panel and sharing their invaluable advice and insights with everyone at BBC Introducing LIVE. For more information on how Abbey Road can help you, head to our Production Hub.