Extreme Songwriting Experiment: 12 Songs in 12 Hours

Some people are driven to do extreme things.

On Sunday I was working on setting lyrics to music for a client, and I wrote the music to three songs in one day, which was a record for me.

This reminded me a while back I had seen the ‘Song a Day’ YouTube Chanel by Jonathan Mann.

I considered for a moment writing a song a day for a year, but that had already been done before, so I thought I’d try something different.

Why not try writing the music to 12 songs in 12 hours?

I needed lyrics that would be easily set to music, so I chose William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, the songs of Innocence from the first half of the collection in particular.

songs of innocenceI read that Blake composed melodies to these poems, but never wrote them down. In any event, they have a predictible meter and rhyme structure, which is exactly what you want if you’re planning on setting lyrics to music in a hurry.

I decided I would write the chords above the lyrics of each song, and record a ‘scratch vocal’ version of it with a simple piano arrangement (closed position keyboard style of course) and vocals sung all the way through. This is the sort of quick and dirty recording I would give to a client after I wrote the song so he/she could start learning the song ASAP.

I had the day off Monday, so I started around noon, and I was done before 11:00 pm.


‘Veni, vidi, vici.’

It wasn’t as difficult as I thought.  I did intentionally choose the shorter poems, which helped.

The thing that surprised me is that I didn’t run out of musical ideas or write the same music over and over.

Maybe if I’m up for a real challenge I’ll try writing 24 songs in 24 hours.

Normally I wouldn’t post ‘scratch vocal’ recordings here, since they are pretty rough sounding, but they will serve as evidence that it is possible to write a lot of music in a short period of time, if you set your mind to it.

The Shepherd Lyrics & Chords

THE ECHOING GREEN lyrics & Chords

The Lamb Lyric & Chords

THE BLOSSOM Lyrics & Chords



LAUGHING SONG Lyrics & Chords

THE DIVINE IMAGE Lyrics & Chords

Spring Lyrics & Chords

INFANT JOY Lyrics & Chords

NURSE’S SONG Lyrics & Chords


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