Write Like a Musician for Content That Flows
Me and the Band
Write Content That Flows
I learned that if I construct content using similar methods as musicians, it is possible to write content that flows. Content that flows melodically is like a song to the mind. A song to the mind is like music to the ears.
Today, you are going to read about a way to apply musical components to content writing in a way that allows you to turn ordinary content into content that flows like a melodic song.
Me and the Band
For four years, I performed as the lead singer in a Christian rock band. While I no longer perform on stage, I am now a writer. In addition to being a writer, I am a voice artist. I narrate audiobooks and the genre I prefer to narrate is memoirs. One client that I have the pleasure of narrating for is an author who writes with a melodic flow. His life stories are fascinating and when I narrate his books I feel like I am singing a song.
In my desire to write content that flows, I started reading other books written by this client. I began to revisit classic books written by famous writers such as Hemingway, Lord Byron, Robert Frost, and others like them. They are famous for a reason. They are brilliant. They are masters of their craft.
One day, I was writing a song just for the fun of it and it occurred to me that the same techniques for songwriting could be applied to writing content. I saw how the basic components of a song contained musical phrases which transposed as written "sentences". When creatively arranged, these sentences are developed into verses. I related verses in music to paragraphs in written content and that is where my journey into writing like a musician began. It made sense that if I applied song writing techniques to content writing that I could write content that had a melodic sound.
My musical mind had the urge to write content that flowed like a song, so I started thinking about how I could take the components of songwriting and mesh them with content writing. By identifying the basic components of a song and applying them to the content writing process, I was able to produce content that had a better flow than content where I merely put together subjects and verbs, calling them sentences. Now, when I write, I think more like a musician. I think about how the sentences flow and further, I think about how the paragraphs flow. I read what I've written out loud and if a sentence sounds choppy, I re-write it until it flows more like a song.
You can do it too! First, you need to be familiar with basic music components. If you are already a musician, you may find this next section boring. However, if you are new to song writing, then this next section may contribute to helping you write content that flows like a beautifully written song.
Disclaimer About Music Components
Now, before anyone jumps on the wagon that claims, “Marlene, that’s not ALWAYS correct.” I want to say, you are right. The following explanations are generally accepted principles of music, however, a song can be written following any structure the songwriter chooses. Just as in content writing, music writing is an individual endeavor. The overall structure is left up to the composer. However, there are some fundamental basics where most musicians start before treading off to their own style. Writing is the same way. When we write, we have basic structural components for sentences and paragraphs. For example, a properly formatted sentence must contain a subject and verb. Once you are familiar with the basic structure, you are free to veer toward your own style.
For the purpose of applying musical components to content writing, let's think of your message as the music of the content you are writing. Think about the message you are trying to convey. Every song has a message. When musicians compose a song, the beat, melody, tempo, pitch, and more are facets that must be considered when trying to convey a mood or message for the song. In the same way, writers must consider sentence structure, terminology, reading audience, and more to convey a mood or message for their content.
Before you begin writing, make the determination for what type of content you are writing, for this will determine "music" or mood for your content. Consider the age and reading level of your intended audience. Are you writing for children ages 5 to 7? Are you writing for young adults? Are you writing for rocket scientists? Consider the purpose of your content. Are you writing a "how-to" guide, a fiction novel, or a non-fiction novel? What's the mood? Funny? Sad? Nonchalant? Serious? The answer to these type of questions will help you choose the terminology and style of your content before you begin writing.
Now, let's consider some basic music components:
- Title - Every song has a title. A little later in this presentation, you will have the opportunity to hear the song titled, "My Eyes Adored You" by Frankie Valli. You know by the title that the song is a story about someone who had an adoration for a person his eyes had seen. The title is written in past tense, so you know by the title that the singer is singing about someone in his past.
The title as it is applied to content writing - Just like every song has a title, every article, blog, or novel you write will have a title. The title of your content should be a clear label that identifies your content.
The foundation of music structure is the Verse and Chorus. The Intro, Pre-Chorus, Bridge, Collision, Coda, and Ad Lib are components that help add interest to the song. Let's dive into these musical terms now and see how we can apply them to content writing.
- Intro – The intro is the beginning of the song. It is generally instrumental, but can contain vocals. It’s usually a short piece of music designed to pique the interest of the listener, drawing the listener into the song.
The intro as it is applied to content writing - The intro would be just as the word states. It is the introduction to your content. The introduction tells your readers what you are going to write about.
- Verse – In music, the verse is a set of lyrics set to a segment of music. There can be multiple verses, however, each verse has a different set of lyrics tied to the identical segment of music. Each verse contains a set of words that carries the listener up, down, and through the song.
The verse as it is applied to content writing - Write like a musician for content that flows. Applying the concept of the musical verse to content writing, think of the verse as a string of sentences that, together, comprise a paragraph. Each paragraph is a single thought. Each thought should move the reader through a virtual journey toward the end of your publication.
Example of How to Use the Concept of Chorus in Writing
For example, I recently read an article titled "Are There Any Squidoo Writers Out There Who Want Some help?" It is written by Bill Holland, a very helpful writer that I read on a regular basis. In his article, he invites readers to ask him for help if they need it. In the article he writes, “How can I help you?” Then, toward the end of the article he writes, “So, again, how can I help you?” This is what I call a chorus – repeating a sentence or repeating the main focus of your content. For this purpose, the chorus is a concept reiterated two or more times, either using duplicate or similar words repeatedly to convey a precise message.
- Chorus – In music, the chorus is a set of lyrics set to a segment of music that is different than the verse. The chorus retains the same set of lyrics every time its segment of music is played.
The chorus as it is applied to content writing - The chorus would be considered the main focus of your content. Write a short sentence with a single message that keenly ties to your main message. Refer to this sentence as the chorus. Use this sentence two or more times throughout your content to reiterate the focal point of your message. In this publication, the chorus I use is, "Write like a musician for content that flows." You will read this chorus more than one time by the end of this publication.
- Pre-Chorus – The pre-chorus is also referred to as the “build,” “channel,” or the “transitional bridge” (see bridge below). The pre-chorus is an optional piece of music. It is short in duration and is used to connect the chorus to the verse.
The pre-chorus as it is applied to content writing - The pre-chorus would be considered the sentence that builds up the chorus. Remember, the pre-chorus is an optional tool. You may or may not feel the need to use it, nevertheless, it is a good way to lead into the chorus. In the above example, “How may I help you?” is the chorus. “So, I ask you again…” is the pre-chorus.
- Bridge – Also known as a Transition. The bridge is usually a verse that connects the verse and chorus. The bridge generally contrasts with the verse. Sometimes the bridge or transition can be an instrumental interlude. It breaks up the repetitive pattern of the song.
The bridge as it is applied to content writing - The bridge would be considered the accompanying photos, videos, quotes, biographies, interviews, tables, charts, or additional components that enhance your message.
- Collision – A collision is an optional section of music where different parts overlap one another. A collision is intended to be dramatic.
The collision as it is applied to content writing - Refer to the collision as videos, photos, quotes or opinions that are used to add interest or emotionally stir the reader. The component that is used as the collision in your content can be something that confirms what you are writing about or adds controversy. A collision, should you decide to use this concept, must be an appropriate and entertaining way to add shock value or "pop" to your content.
- Coda - A coda is also known as an outro. It is a way to end the song.
The coda as it is applied to content writing - The coda is the conclusion of the story or content you are writing. Give your readers a summation of what they have read.
- Ad lib - Song writers also do what is called an Ad lib. Ad lib means “at will”. Normally, you will hear singers ad libbing at the end of the song. This is where they may showcase their vocal range or give a shout out to the audience, or basically anything they want during this part of the song. Ad libs are a creative way to break up the main part of the song. If you were a chef, you might say the musician is “spicing it up”.
The ad lib as it is applied to content writing - In writing, this could be a cliché or colloquialism. It is something you write to create interest in your content. It could simply be your candid opinion as it relates to the content. It is something you write to "spice up" your content.
My Eyes Adored You
Please listen to this song titled “My Eyes Adored You" performed by Frankie Valli. It serves as an effective learning tool for how a beautifully written song sounds. Listen for the cleverly arranged Collision toward the end.
In this song you will hear the song performed with the following format:
Chorus / Verse 1 / Chorus / Verse 2 / Chorus / Collision / Coda
My Eyes Adored You
Did you enjoy Frankie Valli? Were you able to identify the various components and experience the flow of this song?
Read Your Work Out Loud
Sometimes, musicians wake up with a melody in their heads. When this happens, they may sing nonsense words that go with the flow of the music. Later, they write the lyrics to flow with the melody. They play, sing, or hum the song out loud to hear how it sounds.
As a writer, you can compose your work using the same technique as musicians. Writing content that flows means you will have to read what you wrote out loud. This allows you to identify areas in your content where readers might stumble when reading it.
Find a Balance
Musicians try out different formats until the song fits the mood or sends the message they intend to convey. They refine until they find the most effective tempo, pitch, instruments, vocals and more to fine tune the song so that it flows well.
In order to find the right balance, you must re-write your content to refine each sentence and each paragraph until you are pleased with how it flows. Mix short and long sentences in a way that sounds pleasing to your ears. Don't end every sentence in a period. Use quotation marks! Have you thought about questions? Mix it up a little. Add contractions, italics, bullets, and underlines to convey the perfect meaning and conjure the intended mood. Add photos, videos, quotes, and references to help spice up your content.
Most importantly, write from your heart to your reader's heart. Be creative. Then, when you are all done, remember to go back and read your work out loud. You are not done until your sentences, paragraphs, accompanying photos, videos, quotes, and all come together like the sound of a well-written song.
Learn More About Writing Like a Musician
To help writers create content with musically related structure, I also wrote, "Structure Great Content by Using Music Writing Techniques." In this publication, I use musical terms, which, when applied to writing is designed to help you create a more solid structure for your publications. Read how to create content that, like a well-written song, has a well-defined beginning, middle, and end.
I hope you have seen that writing content is in many ways similar to writing music. When you think like a composer, you can write like a musician for content that flows.
© 2014 Marlene Bertrand