Cut Up Technique

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I like surreal, impressionistic and post-modern images in writing. The best way of introducing that into song lyrics is to use the (infamous) cut up method, popularised by William Burroughs.

The idea - assuming you've not heard of this - is to take a sheet of lyrics and cut them up, then re-arrange them to make a new pattern. Many many artists have done this, Beck, Nirvana, Bowie, John Lennon, Radiohead etc etc.

It can really help when you're stuck in a creative rut.

Lets hear your cut up songs.

tag 'em #cutupsongs

Here's a website that does the hard work for you

I just tried this with some marketing copy for a product, and unfortunately the cut-up version is neither more nor less sensible than the original. I want to try this soon, though.

When I have music I like but don't know what (if any) lyrics to add, this is a good idea.

I just read about this on a facebook link. I want to try it, but not sure if I want it enough to actually do the work. Thanks for the link French Cricket, I'll check it out a bit later. That might just be what I needed to actually do this.

There's a bit more about how Bowie used it here:

Yeah, that's the article I read. Nice find, F.C.

sph's picture

Thanks for the links. I just mixed some lyrics and mails. Very surreal...

Yes, great topic.

I believe FAWM has a "tool" and there is a large ever growing "word salad" -- as I see it, it's related to this. But, that's the salad that is my mind too Fool

Again, as I read this post (didn't get to any article), "related" to this that I do is, -- I love "hearing" the words wrong to songs. If one knows what I mean. E.g., my wife sings songs, and has no care at all that it's the wrong words. But me, I pay attention to it (the wrong words in my head, not hers Wink ), and write it down. Those words have become song roots and never connected to the mood or melody in which I "mis-heard" them. I, as always, feel we hear and comment as, more about "us" than context or others. I love hearing misspoken words, or again, incorrectly heard. They certainly are "mine", so why waste'em! (That branches off into a rabbit trail, so leave it there!)

-- Food, word salad, for thought! I will formally try to physically cut up printed words. I think it still should possibly be of a subject one feels strongly about. If I cut up a headline news story... --nothing good might ever come of it! Smile

So as far as posting'em... you've'all been hearing'em! LOL!

I went back and read the references here and etc., quickly. (That recording is what I hear anyway Smile ) Anyway... I think yes, if even only to spark a writing reaction, this is a good, from, inside out method. I think for me, "headers", or even "headlines" that I react to, or from something I am reading will work.

So, lately, I have been reading about a new instrument. I might jot down key words and toss'em out to rearrange. As Bowie cites, an ingredients core, is a good self knowledge to use here. So, if I love my "guitar", and I love "Love" I might "soup" them together and get a "guitar love" driver for a new song.

-- Great work Cricket! ... gud'stuff here!

OK, got one of these done. The lyrics are from a stream-of-conscious write that I did, then ran through the tool, then edited A LOT.