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Guest Post: Andrew Higgins - Lyrics and Creative Writing

... (how I learnt to collaborate) 

Today's guest blogger is musician Andrew Higgins from ADHMusic:

First up, I confess I'm new to blogging, so even the very form is intimidating me. What is a good blog...? I don't know, so apologies for the mental stream that follows, but I thought, just go with what pops up. Lets think about lyrics and creative writing I thought.

I took a creative writing course last year. The intention was to learn tools, tips, techniques on how to 'unblock' ideas and help me write better lyrics (or perhaps I should just say lyrics, as sometimes I can't seem to put a single line together. My standard problem (as someone who tends to write the music first) is that I cook up a 'good' first verse, then it runs into the buffers. I have the rhythm and melody in my head and invariably I'm trying to 'fit' words to the music. Its like a 3D puzzle to me: the music, words, and tempo all have to scan in a way that is often less about the overarching narrative than the syllables, consonants or 'feel' of particular words. I'm not saying this is a good thing BTW, just that the feel (for me) is what excites me, and it can be more important than the idea of a self-contained narrative with a start, middle and end. 

I had an interesting dialogue with the leader of the creative writing programme, who on seeing a set of my lyrics asked me about certain word choices and sentence constructions. I couldn't really explain other than to give her a copy of the song ‘Rivers and Ravens’ to demonstrate how certain words had a rhythmic value and drive that worked in a 3D context that was music plus words. 

A bonus of the writing course, that I had not anticipated, was meeting other people who wrote lyrics and were looking for a creative outlet. I've done a number of collaborations over recent years, with people providing lyrics to which I put music, do the arrangement and recording. This has proven strangely cathartic, and I've found the act of working with somebody else’s lyrics very liberating. So when a member of the group, Elaina James told me she had a set of lyrics and asked did I want to have a look, I jumped at the chance. The result, 'This House', pretty much bounced straight off the fretboard, inspired by a great set of lyrics, and without the personal agony of having to ponder the next word(s). Whilst the recording took a few weeks, the song and arrangement actually came together very quickly, over a couple of evenings.

This inspired me to test the water with our creative writing tutor. What did she think about the idea of a 'group' song, the challenge being for each group member to provide a rhyming couplet on a given theme (fantasy) which I would try and munge into a 'song'. Why? Just to see if it could be done, and also to demonstrate the idea that a fairly random stream of words, if you manipulate the ebb, flow and scan, can still work in a creative manner. She agreed. We put the idea to the group and the end result ‘Gibbet Hill’ can be found here. I don’t claim it as a classic, or to be highly original. However, it is tangible evidence that we achieved our goal: to create a dark, fantastical song from nothing. 

Elaina and I plan to work on more collaborative projects and it's exciting! We both feel the sum of the parts will be bigger than what either of us could achieve alone.


  1. Good luck to you both - if you don't try, you never know. I loved This House :-)

  2. Thanks Kathryn, it was nerve wracking putting our song out there to be heard but everyone has been so supportive and encouraging, we're very grateful and motivated to keep writing!


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