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I am about to cowrite a song with a friend, who already drafted something. I want to suggest edits. I find some changes in the form necessary because we want the song to be in a different style than originally planned, but I also have some other suggestions.

How to present my suggestions? I feel like my ideas could improve the song, but I don't want to insist on them, rather discuss them and brainstorm. I don't want my friend to feel criticized. I don't want to suppress their creativity, and I want to maintain good atmosphere.

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  • This might be a question for Interpersonal Stack Exchange rather than Writing. – Kitkat Oct 12 '20 at 14:30
  • @Kitkat Hmm, I'm not sure. Cowriting is a specific activity in which many of you are possibly experienced, I guess. Or is this question considered off-topic here? – user1079505 Oct 12 '20 at 15:11
  • How do you co-write? Both together in a room with a guitar or a piano, or just texting/emailing each other? – Alexander Oct 12 '20 at 17:57
  • @Alexander remotely, texting. So there's more place for misunderstanding, no body language, tone of voice, etc. – user1079505 Oct 12 '20 at 18:05
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    @user1079505 I personally never wrote a song. I think it should be definitely more difficult to cooperate via text compared to academic or fiction writing. Have you considered a Zoom session? – Alexander Oct 12 '20 at 18:12
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From a technical standpoint

A few months ago, a composer friend of mine got together with me to write a quick melody, and we did it by having him screen share the sheet music he was working on through Discord so I could look at it and offer suggestions. So I think you could definitely do this through screen sharing software, i.e. Zoom, Google Meets, or Discord. Have them pull up their music composition software and share the video and audio with you, so that you can see it and hear it - assuming it's something like MuseScore where you can play the piece in progress so the other person can hear it.

Alternatively, if you don't have access to that software, you can just have them send you the sheet music in progress and send them back a Google Doc or some notes about potential changes.

From an interpersonal critique standpoint

With things like music, art and writing, the person has put a lot of their heart and soul into the work, so all the usual critique guidelines apply here - be kind, phrase your criticisms as constructive, and try to do the "Oreo technique," where you say things you like in order to frame things you don't like as positive-negative-positive. For example:

"I really love how this stanza sounds. Maybe you can change that chord in the left hand? The rest of it sounds great though."

If they decide not to go with the critique, don't push it too hard unless you are adamant about it. They have agency in the process and can choose not to listen to you sometimes, and that's totally fine. You are both in it together, so you should have nothing to worry about even if you disagree on something - it won't ruin your friendship!

I hope you have fun on this project! Co-writing is a blast.

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