New Song Rough Sketch

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Sometimes people ask how I go about writing a song.

Do I just “get” whole songs spontaneously in the shower or while driving?  I wish it were that easy.  I usually begin with some kind of idea for the theme and then play numerous variations of melodies, chords, and rhythms and work and rework the lyrics.  Here’s a song in its early stages.  I wrote this – one verse and a chorus – to submit it to Bob Kauflin and Steve Cook for consideration for the upcoming album from Sovereign Grace called “The Gathering.”  I wrote only 1 verse and the chorus to get their opinion if it’s worth continuing to work on.  I’d like to hear your opinions as well.  It’s pretty rough.

If you would like to listen to this song  you can listen to it here.

Here are the lyrics:

SUCH GREAT THINGS

YOU HAVE STILLED THE WINDS
YOU HAVE CALMED THE WATERS
TO OUR TROUBLED HEARTS
YOU HAVE SPOKEN PEACE
YOU HAVE QUENCHED OUR THIRST
SATISFIED OUR HUNGER
YOU HAVE HEALED OUR WOUNDS
AND CURED OUR HEARTS’ DISEASE

SO WE WILL LIFT OUR VOICES AND SING YOU SONGS
WE WILL SHOUT FOR JOY, WE WILL WAKE THE DAWN
WE WILL GIVE YOU THANKS
FOR YOU HAVE DONE SUCH GREAT THINGS
SUCH GREAT THINGS

Mark Altrogge 6.28.11

Comments

  1. says

    Mark,

    Thanks for the glimpse into your songwriting process.

    This is more of a question that a critique: The relationship of the verse and chorus seems very logical — God's working in our lives results in praise to Him. However, because the chorus is often the most memorable part of the song, the greatest emphasis seems like it's on what we do (worship) rather than what He's done. Part of me wants to make the verse the chorus, and visa versa.

    Anyway, take my input with a grain (make that a truckload) of salt. I once penned this lyric:
    "Ignite my life with red-hot lava,
    Excite my heart like a gallon of java."

    I wish I was kidding,
    Dave

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Hey Dave,

      Thanks for your comments! It’s not a hard and fast rule of course, but many times when I write worship songs I tend to think of the verse as the meditation part and the chorus as the response to the meditation. Many of the Psalms are written with this kind of back and forth between meditating on what God has done and describing the response to what God is done.

      I certainly would not want the emphasis to be more on our response than on what God has done.

      The challenge, for me at least, in making the information in the verses into a chorus is that typically the chorus is very simple and doesn’t carry as much information. But it’s a good suggestion and well worth me thinking about.

      Did you really write a song for those lyrics? I want to do it in worship!

      Mark

  2. JackW says

    I like the theme and the phrase “wake the dawn” reminds me of my favorite album Awaken the Dawn.

    I always feel a little weird telling God that I will do this or do that as in, “I will worship You.” I imagine Him hearing that and saying, “Ok, are you going to just talk about it or do it?” I’d prefer singing “I worship you” to “I will worship you” in my songs.

    Thanks for sharing this, it was an encouragement to me that there is someone out there who’s handwriting is almost as bad as my own. Will we be singing this at the WG11 gathering?

  3. Mark Altrogge says

    Ok Anam, I guess since you agree with Jack, I can at least play around with leaving the "will" out…I think it does make it stronger actually.

    If the song does get into consideration for the album I will definitely write a second verse and maybe a bridge. Or even if the song doesn't make the album, I may keep working on it.

    Thanks for your comments!

  4. says

    add another vote for dropping "will" (fwiw)… it is always interesting to see people's songwriting process. I still have original pages for several of my songs that are thoroughly marked up, and I can even sing from them like a lead sheet (wrong chords and lyrics, written and scratched and done and redone), though it would be impossible for anyone else to even make sense of any of it. If you're interested, I wrote a bit about my own process here: html http://ow.ly/5tnpw (and an example: http://youtu.be/y-7cgg0pAX4)

  5. Elaine says

    Love it and I like the will in the original – adds a sense of determination – that regardless of the situation we will lift our voices, etc.

    And you write like a surgeon. :-)

    • MarkAltrogge says

      Thanks Elaine! I like that perspective – "adds a sense of determination" – actually I don't normally write that sloppily but when I'm writing songs I am trying to get ideas down really fast and I'm holding my guitar too at the same time… But it's kind of an honor to think I write like a surgeon.

  6. says

    moar verses plz!

    Seriously, any self respecting song needs at least 3 verses. This is so we can spend more time enjoying the song singing to God. Because upbeat songs like these need to be enjoyed need to be sung to God for longer. I get a little annoyed by songs that I like, but are too short, because I want to sing good songs for more time to worship God more!

    PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE write at least TWO more verses. Pretty please?

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