ANSWERING THE WHO, WHAT, WHEN & WHERE, WHY, AND HOW
Rather than guessing what the songwriter had in mind when he or she wrote the song, you are instead going to make this song personal to you. You are now singing this song as if you wrote the song and the lyrics are coming out of your deepest heart and soul. You are designing a scene in your own personal play or movie. You can write the scene any way you want and create the characters any way you would like. Your story doesn’t have to have any relationship to the original composer’s “truth” but instead it becomes your truth.
WHO: Who are you singing to? Who are you singing about? Pick a very specific person and keep that person and your relationship with them in your minds eye as you sing the song. This has to be a person that you feel some kind of emotional intensity around. Otherwise you won’t be as connected when you sing the song.
WHAT: What just happened before you started to sing the song? What made you suddenly have the urge to break into song to express yourself? If you can’t think of something real, make something up! You are writing a screenplay, remember? What does the setting look like? What are the characters saying to each other, what are they wearing? What do you want right now? I want to____________(ex.: convince, seduce, destroy, etc)
WHENand WHERE: When and Where does this scene occur specifically? Is it today, or in the future, or at a specific time in the past? Provide details about where you are. Make some cool stuff up;just let your mind wander and be creative.
WHY: Why were you prompted to express these emotions?
HOW: How does each line you are singing make you feel? How would you like the audience to feel? How would you like the person you are singing to (in your mind) , to feel? What is the dominant emotion you are expressing in the verse? In the chorus? (It can change as the song progresses) Be specific– instead of “happy “ or “sad” decide if you feel “delighted and amazed” or “so despondent you can’t do anything but sit on the couch waiting for the phone to ring”. Specific details in your mind create a much deeper palette of subtle emotions on your face and in your body language, which the audience will pick up on.
Do The Work
If you do this kind of work, writing out the answers and creating the world of the character, then inhabiting that world yourself, your performance will be much more connected to who you really are authentically- and when that happens, the audience feels it and knows it.