Transposition: A Guide To Turning A Song Into A Story

Recommended for anyone taking part in the contest.
So, there's a song you love, and you want to turn it into a story. Yet, you're not exactly sure of how to do it. Here are my tips.


2. The Main Rules

Now, I know I said L2L transposition is one of the most relaxed kinds of writing, but that doesn't mean there aren't a few rules.

Rule number one of lyrical transposition, is pretty simple, but all transposers are guilty of breaking it. I even admit to breaking it myself a few times.

Whilst writing your transposition, never stop listening to the song you're transposing.

Even if you've heard it more times than you can count, and you can recite the lyrics off by heart, I cannot stress it enough. Keep listening to your chosen song. There will always be something about it that you won't have noticed clearly, even if it's just a few backing vocals. I speak from experience.

That doesn't mean you have to play just the one song over and over again though, unless you prefer doing that. More often than not, songs have different versions of them, that are all very similar. The Album version, the Video version, the Demo version, the Radio Edit version; the list goes on and on.

If the song you're choosing is particularly well-known, you're guaranteed to find covers, or remixes of it. They are like gold dust, so use them! You may uncover a new side to the song, that you wouldn't have thought of before. Search for remixes on YouTube, or Google, and you'll probably find at least five, depending on your song choice.

If you look on YouTube, you might even find a playlist dedicated to different versions of that song. If you can't, simply make your own. That way, you'll have all your research in one place, and if anyone else decides to transpose the same song in the future, they'll be able to get their research quickly and easily.


Rule number two is pretty obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people forget to do this.

Be sure to get the certified lyrics first. Don't just rely on what you hear.

It sounds like a no-brainer, but so many transposers don't do it. They just rely on what they hear, which in some cases, can be very different to reality. Good for a laugh, but not for when you're transposing them to literature.

If you have the album with the song you're using in it, make good use of the lyric booklet in the front. It's there for a good reason, and can be an invaluable tool. If you don't, there are hundreds of websites that you can find free lyrics for nearly every song in existence. Some of them even say the spoken parts, which often aren't featured in lyric booklets from albums.

LMH's top 3 recommended websites for lyrics:



The final key rule is often overlooked, but it shouldn't be. If not followed, it can lead to potential embarrassment.

Don't just research the song. Research the original artist too.

Musicians are very much like writers, especially in one particular sense. All writers have a distinct fingerprint to their work, meaning that you can instantly tell whether they've written a piece or not. Musicians are very much the same, and not just vocally. If you listen to just the backing track of a song, you can very often guess who composed it.

That's why I cannot stress researching the original artist enough. It will give you so much of an insight into the song. Research their techniques, their inspirations, and if necessary, listen to some other songs by the same artist. It gives you more and more information to use for your transposition.

Also, look at the year of when your song was first written. That can give you some very big hints, especially if you consider what was going on at the time. A song from the sixties, say for example, a Beatles song, may have elements of growth or peace. If you look at what went on in the sixties - the Cold War, Woodstock, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, man landing on the moon, and the spread of new 'party drugs', it starts to add up.

This is true of songs from all eras, so I must stress, do your research beforehand. You will find it so useful.

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