Author: Phöenix Lazare
When studying in my introductory Lyric Writing class at Berklee College of Music, I was introduced to a concept that changed my approach to songwriting moving forward - song seeds.
A song seed is exactly what you might expect: a seed from which a song can grow. In other words, the roots of a new idea. A short lyrical phrase, interesting title, melody, chord progression, groove, or concept. The possibilities are endless.
The reason why song seeds are so important is that they provide a streamlined way to collect fleeting ideas. This comes in handy as a songwriter living an active daily life, as inspiration does not care where you are or what you're doing; you'll often find an idea when you're least expecting it, in the middle of a busy day. Song seeds provide the opportunity to quickly store those ideas and develop a collection of ideas to look back on when you're feeling uninspired or need a foundation to jump off of when beginning a new song. Song seeds are also particularly useful for co-writing - it allows you to bring a handful of possibilities to the table.
As I mentioned, a song seed is essentially what we call an idea. This can exist in any form - you may record a melodic idea to your cell phone's voice memos on your way home from the grocery store, or overhear an interesting line from a conversation on the bus and write it down in a journal or type it in a note. Either way, if something catches your attention, it is important that you write it down or record it immediately. Your inspiration can only do half of the work - it is your job to catch those ideas and transform them into something tangible before they move on.
For example - my song "Salt" was born from a voice recording I created while sitting in traffic one evening on my way home from my day job in Nashville. A melody popped in my head, then along came some lyrical possibilities, and I simply had to get it down. About a year later, I ended up recording the final tune and releasing it as a single. Moral of the story: never disregard a fleeting idea, even if you're sitting in traffic.
I suggest that you create a note on your phone or in your journal titled "Song Seeds" to collect short phrases or title ideas in bullet form. Organize your voice recordings to provide easy access as well - ex. "Song Seed: 5/8 groove idea" or "Song Seed: Melody in Am." Make it easy for yourself to look back on your song seeds and develop them further without anything standing in your way.
“Art is born in attention.” - Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity