david santistevan

worship.leadership

Lessons Learned From 4 Great Songwriters

I’m of the belief that the best way for you to become better at what you do is to seize it. Don’t wait for a mentor to approach you, seek out your mentors. As a worship songwriter, I always observe other writing styles – what melody works, what doesn’t, what lyrics are unique, which aren’t, etc.

In this post I just wanted to outline a few worship music songwriters that I admire and what I’ve learned from them. My desire is that you use the same curiosity with the music you like and apply what you learn from them. And also, study these guys. They’re the best.

MATT REDMAN

I appreciate Matt for his masterful lyricism and unique melodies. Matt can take complex theological terms and use few words to express it. His writing is deep, yet accessible. All of his albums are great, but for starters, I’d recommend his live album “Facedown” and even his most recent “We Shall Not Be Shaken” .

Lesson learned: immerse yourself in God’s Word and express its truth using as few words as possible.

PAUL BALOCHE

I think the strength of Paul’s writing is in its accessibility. His songs are immediately singable to anyone and build masterfully in emotional strength. His songs are about one thing, easy to follow, make sense, and connect with what you want to say to God. My favorite album from Paul is “A Greater Song”.

Lesson learned: think about the comman man/woman in your songwriting. Will this make sense to them, do they want to sing this, and is it singable for the average vocal range?

REUBEN MORGAN

Reuben Morgan writes the best melodies of anyone I listen to. If you’re not familiar with Reuben, think Hillsong. He’s written incredible songs like Mighty to Save, My Redeemer Lives, Eagles Wings, and Stronger. People love his songs because they just make sense, they are also immediately engaging, and musically innovative. He writes very simple, anthemic melodies around big truths.  I love his solo project “Everyone”, which sadly is out of print.

Lesson learned: write melodies that ‘soar’. Don’t settle on the first melody that comes to you. Tweak it until it is singable, cool, unique, and emotional.

BRIAN DOERKSEN

Brian thinks deep and expresses poetically. A lot of Brian’s songs introduced me to theological concepts that weren’t ‘on my radar’ but should be. Many young songwriters simply rehash the same phrases over and over. You can tell Brian seeks God and lives his songs as he writes them. Can’t say I have a favorite album here, but check out this live record to start.

Lesson learned: Write out of your life. What is God speaking to you and your church? Think deeply about it and find fresh ways to express it.

WHAT SONGWRITERS/ARTISTS HAVE INSPIRED YOU?

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December 29, 2010 - Posted by | Songwriting

8 Comments »

  1. gotta love all four of them, but matt redaman stands a notch above the rest for me. It all started in 2000 when i was in canada with a bunch of guys who had just come back from his songwriters conference. there is such a depth in his lyrics; “fathers song”, “justice and mercy”,and the melodies are so drawing and full. shane and shane are also a huge writing influence. thier last CD had more lines straight from the bible than anything i have ever seen, wrapped so creatively in thier driving rythms and heartfelt melodies. You can tell that they live what they sing and they love Gods word. Thank you for your dedication to this blog, i get alot out of reading it.

    Comment by ben | December 29, 2010 | Reply

    • Yea, Shane & Shane are amazing. One of the best live worship experiences I’ve ever been to. Thanks for reading the blog, bro. It’s because of people like you I do this 🙂

      Comment by dsantistevan | December 29, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] with permission from DavidsSantistevan.com the worship resource site of David […]

    Pingback by Lessons Learned From 4 Great Songwriters | December 29, 2010 | Reply

  3. Thanks for your insights on song-writing and worship-leading. I liked all the song-writers you mentioned, but I think it’s lacking in the female department! 🙂 Who are some female song-writers you’d recommend?

    Comment by Lindsey | December 29, 2010 | Reply

    • Good question, Lindsey. I would recommend Misty Edwards, Christy Nockels, Vicky Beeching, Brooke Fraser, & Kathryn Scott. All great. Maybe I’ll do another post on female songwriters! 🙂

      Comment by dsantistevan | December 29, 2010 | Reply

  4. I like your observations and have to laugh at the simplicity of their truths and the incredible difficulty of fulfilling them, of living in them! Thanks for this reminder of what it takes – Maggie

    Comment by Maggie Cook | December 30, 2010 | Reply

    • Maggie, thanks for reading (and commenting). The hardest things to do can often be the most simplistic!

      Comment by dsantistevan | December 30, 2010 | Reply

  5. […] LESSONS LEARNED FROM 4 GREAT SONGWRITERS I’m of the belief that the best way for you to become better at what you do is to seize it. Don’t wait for a mentor to approach you, seek out your mentors. As a worship songwriter, I always observe other writing styles – what melody works, what doesn’t, what lyrics are unique, which aren’t, etc. In this post I just wanted to outline a few worship music songwriters that I admire and what I’ve learned from them. My desire is that you use the same curiosity with the music you like and apply what you learn from them. And also, study these guys. They’re the best. […]

    Pingback by Best of the Blog 2010 « david santistevan | December 31, 2010 | Reply


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