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mind mapping for song writers


mindmapping has become one of my favourite activities when it comes to brainstorming ideas, lyrics, melodies, harmonies, live shows, set lists and more. I use it now almost anytime I take notes. the creativity flow is increased so much that it’s almost hard to stop.

what is mindmapping?
here’s the wikipedia definition: “A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, decision making, and writing.”

you can use it to brainstorm or ressearch any idea that springs to your mind.

use it to:

brainstorm ideas
search for words to write lyrics
make decisions (on almost any topic)
finding topics for blogposts, songs, lyrics
determine to-do’s
track recording processes (in the studio)
track your  practicing process
find solutions to problems
overcome writer’s block
…….(add your own)

basically any idea you have, or any word you are using in your song lyrics, even melodies, you can brainstorm using mindmapping.
at the end a mindmap looks like a big idea-virus, a piece of art, and it’s so easy to go from one central keyword or idea to an infinite set of ideas and phrases linked directly to the initial one.

mindmaps can help you to focus on the essential theme or wording of your lyrics by finding closely related words and phrases.

because of the graphic nature of mindmaps, you will be able to spread your ideas in a creative flow (which is nescessary when you write lyrics or compose music), whereas making lists restricts the mind from creatively thinking in all directions because of their rigid look and functionality.

I tried to find software that is as much fun as doing it by hand. the software I found so far is either too complicated to use or the look and feel is to dry, plus the handling of the software kills the creative mind-flow.

I think, anyway, when it comes to brainstorming an idea, especially for musicians, using a computer or other technical device is drawing the attention away from the epicenter (creating art) and the mind flow is distorted.

mindmapping is especially helpful when you write lyrics and you need to get words, phrases, even storylines sorted out and it can help to overcome writers block.

how does it work?

1. start in the middle of a piece of paper, write down your central idea, phrase, word, melody etc.
2.  write down all related ideas that spring to mind around that central idea and connect them with a line.
3. repeat this with all the new findings. you’ll spread your mind in all directions and you’ll end up with a pretty cool idea-virus and everything is connected to the one little idea in the middle of the paper.

I recommend to do this as often as possible to get into the habit.
you can filter the different mindstreams which flow from the central idea by giving them different colors, so you’ll immediately see what relates to each other.

happy mapping.

Juergen Reiter

Juergen Reiter is a bassist and composer based in Germany. since his beginnings 20 years ago Juergen continues to experiment within the music business and his performances to find unconventional and meaningful paths to live the life of an independent musician, label owner and performer. no limits.
Juergen has released over 10 albums on his label ORkAaN Music and has worked with artists ranging from Jazz to Hip Hop to Improvised Music. His new album Music of Ghouls will be released in October 2010.

Reader Comments (3)

Been recently working with mind mapping using a program called Mind Node. Its a great tool for any musician, to plan out things, brain storm ideas for lyrics, projects in general and to empty your mind of all the junk sitting there so you can be creative.

July 26 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Weis

Hi Peter,

I just tried Mind Node and it's really the best software for mindmapping I've seen so far. easy to use, good looking and very minimalistic. love it.

thanks for sharing!


I've heard good things about the Mind Node software. I have a friend who plans her day with it.

August 15 | Registered CommenterJackie Henrion

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