Sheila Davis, one of the foremost and respected teachers of songwriting has said that the best songs often start with the
music and then add the lyrics. She mentioned, however, that there have been many good songs that started with the lyrics first. Different writers claim one or the other is better with them. I' know that starting with the music is very effective but
I also think that starting with the lyrics is effective. I especially feel that way about traditiional Nashville songs where the lyric is very important.
I would say the best way is running the two together, I can not work any other way .
Sheila Davis's Books are the best Lyric writing books around, and Jack Perricone
Berklee college Professor has written a First Class book on Composing Melody .
It makes the offerings from Jason Blume look like the work of a beginer ,
Many so called learning song writers ,do not understand how to write a proper lyric because they have no idea how great songs Build and Contrast, the only other way
to write great lyrics is to work to a pre arranged strucure based on meter.
Dum da da Dum , da Dum Dum (hold) Ec-cetera
Pat Pattison, also from Berklee College describes the importance of the Vowel Triangle under a heading "Beauty and The Beast", no serious writer should be without these valuable books, as there are no shortcuts to success.
Only when you know the rules of Song Writing do you have the right to break them.
It's best when they happen simultaneously. Seems like sometimes they just materialize in tact. Usually not, though. Generally, the words are the difficult part for me. If the words are there, the music will come.
If you can do it all your self it's much faster, I find with (songs I have had published) and recorded (Five Chart Hits in Europe.)
That the melody will always go somewhere different to a lyrical idea, many lyrics look good on paper, then when you try melody ,certain words will not suit being sung above D over C. (string B on your guitar first D) if you are collaborating by E mail, it gets complicated by the time you get a reply the moment of inspiration is gone. the same for notes sung in lower postitions applies re The Vowel Triangle
Many great looking Lyrics On Paper have not been written via a composers mind
or musical knowledge, without great melody that fab lyric will never be heard.
I've been writing Songs for 41 years now and there are numerous ways Songs come to me, Bits of dreams trigger Songs, social Issues trigger them, A phrase I hear in a shopping Mall, like most Songwriters I'm always open to the possibility of a Song. I've read and Used Sheila Davis's Book and still have it. Books Like Sheila's are great for untangling your thinking if you get stuck for a Verse a Bridge or a Chorus. I thoroughly recommend it. Sometimes Music comes first, sometimes a single Line will come and other times an entire Song will arrive completely unannounced. Regards Martin A. Egan
Oh yeah, I forgot to add. If you can't write, Read, If you can't read, listen to a Songwriter you respect and if you can't do any of those carry a Dictaphone. I find reading and Studying Lyric Poetry especially good for timing and Reciting it will teach you where the Beat falls in a word. Martin A. Egan