Many times as songwriters, we believe we are supposed to fit into one of two categories: words or music. Have you heard this before?
After over 1,000 co-writes, I have come to believe that I see seven types of songwriters: Seven tribes, if you will. I hope this broader view helps you to understand who you are as a writer, and those you write with, in greater ways. There are amazing things about every one of these types, and we need them all in the Kingdom!
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Allow me to further break down these songwriter personality types so that you can better understand yourself and your cowriters…
These writers don’t necessarily focus on either lyrics or melody. They focus on listening. They love truth! They feel responsible for delivering an accurate message. They are less concerned about following rules than following the Spirit, and are always willing to write something completely different or new.
Structural writers are logical writers. They believe that order, rhyme and syllable count are imperative to an effective song. They like creativity, but it is more important to them that the lyric makes sense and progresses, and the transitions and sections feel natural.
Content writers are gatherers of lyric. They are very conversational, both in and out of the writer’s room. If there is a melodic space that needs filled, they can hear the lyric to match. They are great at getting things started and keeping things going in a write.
These writers light up most when they hear a fresh, compelling melody. In their minds, lyrics can live or die depending on the music line they ride on. In a cowrite, the melodic hook is the north star that guides them. Their songs are always memorable because of them.
Someone with this wiring is always experimenting with new chords and chord progressions. While writing a song, their mind zeros in on which chords would best support the melody in an original way. To them, what really makes a song stand out is fresh placement of chords.
These are the storytellers. They are great at mapping out the big picture of where the song needs to go. They help to make sure all the details that come out during the write fit in to the overall goal of the song. They are the guardrails.
A producer/track writer hears an entire landscape of a song. When writing a song, they love to work on a track at the same time so they don’t forget all the details they are hearing in their head. Many times, their ideas inspire greater melodies and lyrics from the others in the room.
How does this translate into a cowrite situation?
Knowing what your type is and which types you will work well with could save you years of frustration. Here’s an overview of how to navigate combinations in the writing room. In general, it’s best to write with a different type of writer than you. This is a simple approach, but it helps a great deal. There is also a more calculated way that I have begun to use for putting together writing groups. So, if you would like a more detailed view of how that has worked, here it is.
Of the seven types, I see three larger categories:
If you are in the music category, you will want to write someone in the lyrics or crafters category if possible. It would also work to write with a music person with a different songwriter personality than you. In this case, it would be best to add a third writer from another category.
If you are in the lyric category, you will want to write with someone in the music or crafters category.
If you are in the crafters category, you will want to write with someone in the music or lyrics categories. It will also work to write with crafters with different songwriter personality types than you. In this case, it would be best to add a third writer from another category.
So, whichever way you choose, either the simple method (combining different gifts in the writing room) or the more calculated method, I believe this will truly benefit you!
Currently, I am studying the combinations of these songwriter personalities. I would love to hear your feedback and learn from your experiences! Was there a combination you really loved or one that didn’t seem to work? Share it with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh, and feel free to share the test! www.krissynordhoff.com/test.
Wishing you many productive and enjoyable cowrites!
Songwriter for Integrity Music.
Co-Founder of Brave Worship