How to write a song – The Muse

The Muse. The cause of the Fire in the Head, the Awen, Imbas, inspiration. A blessing, sometimes frustrating, often turns up late, at least in my experience, but what is it? The answer, as with anything metaphysical isn’t clear or definitive. The Muse can take many shapes, sometimes a feeling, sometimes a figure of myth, sometimes male, or maybe female, or neither.owl.jpeg

I found my Muse by accident. It was a close encounter with the Goddess Blodeuwedd, and you can read more about that here. She can be gentle, or a hard mistress, and I could never predict her arrival. It could happen anywhere – ideally whilst noodling on an instrument, but more often when I didn’t even have a pen, paper, or tape recorder to hand. In these instances I just kept singing the line/tune in my head until I was able to write it down, or record it. This wasn’t helpful…..

So I decided one day to make an appointment with my Muse…. I would be sitting with my guitar, pen and paper ready, at 10am tomorrow morning. I would start to write, and if she turned up, great, if not, I’d start without her. You see I love writing songs, and I want to write more often. I know some of you feel the same. I love the feeling of creativity, the flow of Awen. So the appointment appeared to be the answer.

Well, I was on time. I picked up my guitar, and began to play. At first just cold, cliched tunes, nothing to Fire the Head, but after about 20 minutes something changed – she turned up. She was late, some might say politely late, but here she was….. Imramma (A Soul Quest) was the result.

I’ve done that more and more since then. It seems that I do have to at least make the appointment. If I just sit down and play, more often than not I’ll walk away after enjoying a good practice session, but with nothing new. The appointment works. So if your Muse is often late/fails to turn up, try making an appointment and see what happens.

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5 Comments

  1. magpieschest February 7, 2008 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    I think quite often part of the appointment process is making sure that the environment is suitable – a bit like inviting your friends round to your house.
    Whilst I seem to be able to ask for help – ask for my Muse – there is that element of house cleaning that needs to be undertaken first.

  2. Damh February 8, 2008 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    Yes, it helps unclutter the mind so that inspiration can flow. The work environment is a good part of that. Thanks for the comment – and lovely photos on your site!

  3. magpieschest February 11, 2008 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    Thanks Damh!

  4. Paul Milne February 15, 2008 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    Hi damh, I’m really interested in this because I have started writing songs this last year, at the tender age of 49 lol!

    So far I am still of the “caught unawares” methodology. A tune or phrase will come into my head – most chase around for a bit, then leave, never to return, but a few keep returning. The ones that return become more insistent, until I’m compelled to sit down with pen, paper and guitar and start getting something down.

    I like the idea of the appointment with the muse though… sounds more organised!

  5. […] an effort to improve my technique, as well as possibly set the stage for an appointment with the Muse, I’m taking myself back to school and working through Stephen Fry’s (so far, and in my […]

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