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Songwriter Exercise 1 - Determine Songwriter Emotion

Determine Your Next Song's Emotional Target

"Step 1: Feel-out your next song."

As a Songwriter, which feelings will listeners experience in your song?

Being a songwriter has little to do with you, and everything to do with other people. As a songwriter, your job is to connect to listeners on an emotional level using your song lyrics and music...so they can connect with other people.

Everyone feels emotion, but not everyone knows how to express themselves when dealing with life or other people.

A songwriter - an artist who uses music to express exactly what we're feeling about an idea or situation - helps us to cope with life.

This is why we love to listen to songs over and over.

So if you want to become a songwriter only so you can become rich and famous, you had better find another hobby, because you'll NEVER be a great songwriter that way.

As a songwriter, you're an artist first, and career professionals second.

There are 4 basic families of human emotion that you'll use as a songwriter to connect to listeners through song:

  • Happiness - amusement, apathy, joy, glee
  • Sadness - boredom, regret, remorse, pain, grief, guilt
  • Love - acceptance, awe, lust, admiration
  • Anger - agitation, annoyance, bitterness, betrayal, rage, resentment, envy

["Fear" is also a feeling, but it adds stress rather than relieves it, so we don't really use it.]

View The Following Chart:

Songwriters use human emotion to connect to listeners through their song.

The prominent songwriter, Sandy Knox has been quoted saying, “I want listeners to laugh, to cry, or want to make love”, meaning you want your listeners to somehow respond emotionally to what they hear.

So have you chosen a target feeling for your song?

If you're having trouble choosing a target feeling for your song, try drawing on some inspiration. Afterwards, take another look at the chart above to help your decision. Which emotional category is your next song going to project?

Now on your Songwriter Copyrighting Sheet, record the Target Emotion of your song.


"Step 2: Understand your target feeling…and potential melody"

Is your song's melody going to be "Strong" or “Deep”?

OK! You've selected your song's target feeling...how would you describe it? In your opinion, is it sharp, powerful or energetic (what I call "strong")...or will it be slow-building, long-lasting or thoughtful ("deep")?

If you are writing a strong, fiery song, I think you should consider using more of a creative melody with your lyrics. If your song will be more thoughtful and subtle, consider using a simple melody so your music isn't too distracting and allows listeners to pay attention to your lyrics much better.

Songwriter melody chart - creative melody = more energy; simple melody = more thoughtfullness.

For example, a songwriter friend of mine wanted to compose a "dark" song. So based on her lyrics -  and my chart - I decided to write a melody that expresses a mixture of bitterness and pain, as each of these are darker elements of human emotion.

So which type of melody have you chosen for your song?

IMPORTANT: It's OK if you don't have an idea of your melody just yet... You're simply deciding which type of melody to create. Don't feel intimidated or frustrated if you don't know how to create a melody just yet. As a songwriter, your job is to draft your song's blueprint, while it's your composer job to create your music.

Now on your Songwriter Copyrighting Sheet, record the Melody-Type of your song.


"Step 3: Acknowledge your music genre for this song"

  • Country
  • Folk
  • Rap/Hip Hop
  • Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
  • Alternative/Progressive/Punk
  • R&B/Jazz
  • Pop/R&B
  • Contemporary/New Age
  • Gospel

In this step, I simply want you to define the music genre of your next song. It may seem obvious, but many new songwriters fail to focus on a specific genre of music, only to struggle through their songwriting because their song doesn't have a true identity.

Final Word:

“Determining your song’s target feeling puts the songwriter in the right frame of mind to communicate their best lyrics, tempo, rhythm and melody. Let's continue with your next songwriter exercise, songwriting tempo."

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