photo of Trent Park's album Don't Wake Me

On Writing Lyrics and Poetry with Musician Trent Park

Nearsighted is excited to share a post from singer Trent Park. If you haven’t listened to this soulful artist, I highly encourage you to download his music today.

I am contributing this writing not in expertise, but in knowing that to become a writer you must write. There is a lot I don’t know, but the one thing I do know is how much I enjoy the craft of writing. Whether you write poetry, books or music, I think you’ll find a glimpse of understanding in these words.

Since I can remember, I have been a person fascinated by the art of conversation. Seeing my father work as a minister — crafting words to motivate a congregation — is where I was first exposed to the power of words. Yet, I knew I didn’t want to be a speaker. When I was young, some of my favorite things to read were the scriptures in Psalms; not because I was a pastor’s kid, but because of the musicality the phrases had.

I will never forget when words combined with music for me. It was a chilly Christmas in upstate New York. I unwrapped my last present under the tree that year: a piano. It seemed as though my passion for words and music made sense as I mumbled made up lyrics while sliding my fingers up and down the keys.

I began playing in church and eventually became confident enough to stand and sing my own created words. Add on some years and I found myself in a studio internship where I found out I could petrify my own songs through recording. I then became obsessed with the word and melody choice for each song I began, and it seemed impossible to have my mind and pen agree on anything. The first step to overcome this thought process was to let the song define itself. The process of writing for me is just as important as the product. So word by word, and countless vocal take by vocal take, my first recorded song, “Up and Away,” finally came to be. At this time, I had no idea what genre I was, or what my audience looked like, or much of anything, but I did know I felt closer to bliss when I was making music.

My song “Up and Away” was my first step in knowing I wanted to create a full recorded EP. The first line from this song is “Life is getting complicated, I’d rather stick with dreams” and I did just that with this EP. I dismissed my inexperience and simply created music that felt authentic to myself. Of course I didn’t know much about microphones or recording software, but I did know what sounded good and this is the very concept that I give to young writers and creatives: do what looks, sounds, or feels good; someone else is bound to agree with you.

My love for the swells of movie scores — blended with my obsession of soul music’s intention — birthed the rest of the EP. The struggle for me was to produce something that mirrored how I felt about the material. In my head and heart, I knew my songs were great, but on paper and through speakers I didn’t hear or see them as great. This began my editing process. I didn’t know when I was finished or what I should dismiss in certain parts of each song. The best thing for me during this process was to let the writing sit and let it grow on its own. Coming back to a song or lyric after a rest allowed me to hear with fresh ears and see with fresh eyes — almost allowing myself to be a new audience to the material.

Throughout the duration of writing this EP, I was studying English in school. I was writing poetry and studying creative greats. In my poetry class, I thought I would be able to write music lyrics and then use them for my songs, but this isn’t what happened. To me, music lyrics and poetry are very distant in concept.

Music lyrics have a different intention. Lyrics are meant to be heard in conjunction with music, therefore they are written to be heard with music. Of course lyrics should be strong and should stand alone, but the words have different platforms to operate on. They operate as a word, a melody, and they have the voice of the singer. They create a moment.

In poetry, the words perfect a moment. The writer writes in a way that the words speak on their own. There is no distraction for an author to manipulate words to match a musical chord; the words have to be their own chord. The words alone create a musicality, with no instrumentation. That is the beauty of poetry.

With this knowledge of lyric writing I continue to write, produce, and perform. Although I don’t know where my journey will take me, I know I will keep walking to get there. I do know my concentrated efforts for the future are in writing for other musicians. I believe I find my best voice when writing for others because of my fascination with emulating something other than what I know or am comfortable with. I am excited to pursue growth in whatever opportunity comes my way.

I hope you can join me on my journey by following my posted social media below, or even via email. You have the liberty to say anything, and I would love to hear from you.

You can learn more about Trent Park via his website, www.trentparkmusic.com. You can also find and follow Trent on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Trent Park

Belo Cipriani View more

Belo Cipriani is the award-winning author of Blind: A Memoir and Midday Dreams. He is a disability advocate, a spokesman for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and is currently the national spokesman for 100 Percent Wine -- a premium winery that donates 100 percent of proceeds to nonprofits that help people with disabilities find work.