What can songwriting be compared to?


New member
Grim inspired me to ask an open ended question! (I just ate at a very fancy, crazy expensive place this weekend, and was not as impressed with the food as perhaps I should have been - I have rather "blue collar" tastes)

I sometimes compare songwriting to cooking. Almost anyone can learn to cook some basic dishes. However, some people have really learned how various ingrediients can be used to improve the taste of a dish or what foods go together to enhance each other. Some cooks choose to study under more experianced chefs or read cooking books to improve or at least to quicken their growth and knowledge - other cooks simply experiment and gradually gain a better understanding of what spices work together, etc. Some cooks are satisfied throwing brats on the grill after soaking them in beer. Some people enjoy eating gourmet foods and may try new places in search of the ultimate culinary experiance and others do not appreciate fine dining and perhaps prefer a steak and baked potato (or a cheesburger from a local bar). Neither approach to cooking (or preference to eating) is wrong of right - it is a matter of personal taste and/or perspective.

Some songwriters try to study songwriting, taking classes, reading books, etc - to learn theory and understand how to craft a song to use various components such as complex chord progressions, well thought out lyrics, etc. (flavors) to create a chorus, add a modulation, etc - with the hope of enhancing the entire compostion (the dish) - others are more satisfied with something perhaps more basic, such as a I-IV-V with out really caring about the subject matter of the lytrics, as long at the energy of the music moves them (a burger, vs. fine dining).

In both cases (cooking and writing) the approaches can be very different and the results may be different - neither right or worng nor good or bad - simply a matter of taste/perspective.

So - what other non musical comparisons can be used as a reference to songwriting?


If only for a moment.....
What other non musical comparisons can be used as a reference to songwriting ?
I have to say, cooking is a really good one and may turn out to be hard to top.

14 years back, I was atop the roof of a high building in a part of Gozo with my wife and I was looking at the way the townscape of buildings had developed. There was no uniformity to the town buildings,
which my wife, who is a town planner, hated. But I thought it was fantastic. There, people build as and when they had the money to so you ended up at that precise moment with all different kinds of buildings all next to each other in various states of completeness. 5 storey buildings would be next to 4 storey ones, next to single storey next to ground storey next to 10 and so on, in no seeming order. If I had gone back 5 years later, I'm sure some would have changed, others not and some were already complete.
For me, songwriting is a bit like the island of Gozo, in terms of the buildings and how they go together. There isn't only one way of writing a song even though when you hear a group of them together on an album, you can't necessarily tell how they came to be. Many groups have fallen out over this, some individuals thinking that if someone has brought a song, it's for the band to work out how it goes, sometimes, the writer feeling that they wrote the song so they will have it done and arranged as they and they alone will determine how it goes. Some writers come up with complete works that they don't want altered in any way from the concept they have in mind while others come up with songs that are sometimes better described as sketches and they deliberately do this so the rest of the band or instrumentalists actually take the song to places they as the writer have not forseen.
In my mind's eye, the mish~mash of buildings in Gozo nicely represents the different kinds of approaches to writing songs. Reading up on the recording of various albums, it becomes clear that different songs came together in markedly different ways and sometimes is what made for good song diversity.