Q&A: Singer’s Block

Dear Lis,

I’m stuck. I sound the same every time I sing my songs; my shows are the same. I’m losing the feeling. How do I break out of my funk?

Wayne

Dear Wayne,

We all go through periods of time when we get bored with our own ideas – tired of singing the same things over and over. What was once inspiring gets dull and lifeless. You can turn this into a very productive period for you. Now’s the time to break out of old ruts and try new paths. The problem is, you have to take risks; you have to be willing to make mistakes. Here are some ideas. Take a song you’ve been singing for a while and radically change the tempo. Don’t worry if the tempo makes any sense or not; just try to come up with ways to sing it at the new tempo. If it was a ballad and now it’s fast, you won’t be able to sustain notes as long and might have to use a lighter, more flexible melody. If you are slowing it down to a ballad, you may want to cut out some of the rhythmic figures and make it smoother, more legato. Also try changing keys. Play it two whole steps higher. You won’t be able to sing the melody the same way and you’ll have to change the notes. Try new runs; break up old patterns. Sing lower when it gets too high.

The same is true for your songwriting. Try writing in a key you normally wouldn’t use. Challenge yourself with a project like writing the verse in the minor key and the chorus in the major. Listen to other people’s songs and use them for inspiration – for instance if there’s a chord structure you like, try using it with a new melody over the top. Experiment with using images, colors or numbers in your lyrics. Let this be a time to reinvent yourself.

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