Many people believe that songwriting is too complex to learn, and many musicians spend their time arranging other artists’ works or performing cover songs instead of developing original pieces. But the desire to write songs is still there, and it just seems too challenging to try.
However, by understanding all of the elements of songwriting, you can learn to write great songs just as easily as the next person. Songwriting does not have to be complex; just broken down, so it is easier to take step by step.
It’s vital not to get stressed out about the minor aspects like lyrics and chord progressions when you begin to write. Taking steps one at a time can further ignite those creative juices and provide the inspiration you need to start composing. Sometimes just getting started is the most challenging part!
So, how do you get started and become a songwriter? The article below will break down and show you more about the processes that songwriters use and some of the best ways, tips, and tricks to help your songwriting journey create a stellar composition.
How do Beginners Start Songwriting?
An excellent way to get started with songwriting is by learning an instrument, whether you take in-person or online lessons. Many people love music, and it is a universal language, so having a passion for learning music more in-depth is essential.
Many musicians or those interested in songwriting will learn an instrument and take lessons. The basics of songwriting involve knowing chords, keys, and notes, so knowing how to play an instrument is crucial.
Another essential aspect of songwriting is having an idea. The idea could be for a lyric or a melody, or maybe you just like the sound of some chord progressions. That first spark of an idea can pave the way to creating a great song.
Listening to other songs is a great way to help you get started. If you have a specific genre of music you prefer, listen intently to some of your favorite songs.
A more crucial beginner’s step when you want to write songs is understanding that these things take time. It could be a day, week, month, even year before you are satisfied and ready to launch an original song to your audience. Some artists can produce their first song in minutes, but their next new music might take a day. And that is perfectly ok!
There is no rush, and you should take your time. However – keep in mind that nothing is ever “perfect,” and churning out some more rough drafts of songs can aid you in creating better ones down the line.
So, is it possible to learn the art of songwriting? Of course it is. With a good mindset, determination, and perseverance, you can absolutely learn how to become a songwriter.
The 5 Aspects of Songwriting
Music is more readily available on plenty of mediums today, from YouTube to streaming services, and it creates a need to be trendy “right now.” However, aspiring songwriters can use plenty of tools to nail down the factors in writing an excellent song.
An integral part of the writing process involves creativity, but you also should have a basic understanding of music theory. Understanding how chords, notes, and tempos work together is an excellent start to developing songwriting skills.
It all begins with the initial vision you have for your music. This part of the process can be messy, where you just write down as many musical ideas and thoughts as they come to mind before you take them and try to find the order of your song. You will have a better chance of putting something together with more ideas.
Keep an Open Mind
Musicians are inherently creative, but you have to remember that songwriting does follow a structure. So when you listen to some of your favorite songs, do a deep dive and find out what makes those songs stand out above others?
Is it a catchy melody, or do the instruments and chord progressions make the song unique? Examine more beyond the music; study the artist and learn what you can about their songwriting process.
Once you have all those ideas down, you can start to put some order to them and figure out how the song progresses. Pay attention to nuances like what the chorus will be, the verses, bridge, and so on. This part of the process focuses on what instruments you plan to use and where, so you can start putting it all together.
For example, would a keyboard part be helpful during the bridge? Maybe you want to include a guitar solo after the second verse. One of the best songwriting tips is to find your own way by taking different approaches to the song structure.
You must understand yourself to know how most effective you can be with your songwriting. Maybe you just want to get right to it and write it all down in one go, or perhaps you have to go back to it multiple times for a week or two.
Could you develop your lyric writing around the song title as a musical artist? Or maybe you want to write the song out first and then determine the song title. Ask yourself some important questions about the kind of musical artist you want to be, and make sure that comes across in your original songs.
Knowing how you learn and practice best can better suit your songwriting techniques to your needs. There is no set way to write a song, so try out different ways to put your song together and find the best method for your process.
Recording and laying down each track is the next aspect to focus on for your song. When you get to this point in the process, you might consider investing in a sound engineer or music producer familiar with mixing and mastering. Getting your musical piece in its final stages will bring you that feeling of accomplishment, even if it’s not a good song yet.
You can always go back and change things in the song at any point. Don’t fall under the assumption that once you get to mixing and mastering that, items can be added, removed, or altered. There is a good chance your first song will not be “right,”; so be sure to go back and tweak as much as you feel you need to so that your song suits you.
4 Steps to Writing a Song
Learning how to write music takes time and effort, and first, anyone wanting to write a song should have a deep love of music. But how can you even begin to write if you don’t know when steps?
If you take all of the steps into account at once, you might feel overwhelmed. But follow these key four songwriting tips, and you will be surprised how quickly a song will come together:
Lay Down The Chord Progression
Start simple when putting your melody and verses together. Use chords that sound well when played together, and utilize your knowledge of music theory. Start with a standard chord progression such as C, F, G in the C Major Scale if you feel stuck. On the other hand, if you want just to play chords and listen to experiment with what sounds good to you, then go for it!
Finding Your Melody
Singing or humming out your melody can help lend a hand in creating lyrics for your song. For instance, you may not know what words sound great together or what rhymes, but if you work with some syllables and open vowels such as “AH – EH – EE – OH – OO,” the words will come. You will be able to hear what vowels sound well together and lend the way to the message you hope to convey.
Play out the songs on a guitar or a piano and put the chords together in succession. Using a guitar or the piano are excellent instruments to learn as a beginner and for plunking out chords for your songs.
Your song must tell a story, so consider making lyrics that demonstrate a beginning, middle, and end. It doesn’t always have to make sense, and you can substitute other words until you find the right ones. Lyric writing doesn’t have to be perfect; even good songwriters change their lyrics often.
Did you know that when Paul McCartney was writing “Yesterday,” he sang the words, “Scrambled eggs, oh my dealing you’ve got lovely legs.?” The words rhymed and fit well into the song before he was able to use the ones that helped the song make more sense, “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away.”
In some cases, when writing, you might have the lyrics before you find the chords, and that’s okay, too! Nothing states that the songwriting process has to be in a specific order. Sometimes words come before the melody and vice versa.
Create the Chorus, Verses, and the Bridge
Each section of your song should look something like this:
Verse: The verse is there to tell the story and doesn’t have to rhyme like a chorus, though it can if you want it to – sometimes rhyming is preferred, depending on the individual artist’s style.
Describe an emotion, a small detail, or a scene. Think about drawing from personal experience since that is the best place a songwriter says your next track should derive. Music is all about expression, and personal experiences are a great way to tell stories in music.
Chorus: The chorus is repetitive and catchy. This is where the “hook” comes in, with an earworm that gets stuck in people’s heads, so they find themselves singing it often.
The chorus should be memorable and fun, and draw some inspiration from your favorite songs, or some of these well-known choruses from some of the best songwriters:
- “Layla” – Eric Clapton
- “Buddy Holly” – Weezer
- “Shake It Off” – Taylor Swift
- “All You Need is Love” – The Beatles
- “Perfect” – Ed Sheeran
- “Hallelujah” – Leonard Cohen
Songs tend to follow a structure, like A-B-A-B-C-B, which indicates Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus. However, the design can vary, such as presenting the chorus first before the verse or moving the bridge before the chorus and repeating twice.
Though you can change the order to some degree, keeping the structure is important. As a music artist, people will recognize you by your song style. So, you want your entire song to reflect your style, personality, and artistry.
Rules of Songwriting
Once you have started writing, you still want to develop your songwriting skills. While it is okay to be creative, there are some rules for songwriting that can help you draw from your own experiences, create song lyrics, and follow your song structure.
While the format is a crucial rule in songwriting, so is keeping consistent. If you want each song you write to have at least 2 to 3 verses, then stick to that. You can also experiment with making some deviations or taking a different approach to the verses since they can help make your entire song sound more interesting.
One of the worst things that can hinder your songwriting journey is putting together too many different ideas. While they may be great ideas, your song still needs to be in some order.
Another rule in songwriting is making the chorus the most important piece of your work. The chorus should be a stand-out part of the song. Think about experimenting with a build-up to your chorus, so the listener thinks something else is coming in the music and then is wowed by your chorus.
One last rule to live by when writing songs is that you need to stay on tempo. Sometimes a change in tempo can create a different emotion or energy in a piece and, when used purposefully, helps make a particular song more exciting and engaging.
However, whether you change tempo mid-way or not, the tempo(s) needs to stay consistent to maintain its appeal to listeners and doesn’t distract them from the vital elements within your song (lyrics, melody).
How Do I Get Better at Songwriting?
To get better at songwriting, you need a lot of practice, dedication, and understanding of what your listeners enjoy. Writers who create songs often tell you that the process is different each time, and you learn good techniques and methods as you continue writing. A hit song might take a long time to develop.
You should also never believe that a song is “finished” even in its final stages. As mentioned previously, you can always go back and change things that don’t work within the song.
It is also worth mentioning that you should not be afraid to write something that isn’t great. Great songs don’t happen with your first try, and you can learn a lot from songs that aren’t good.
Sometimes you find yourself trying to get more complex when it is unnecessary; take a step back and look at how you can make your song more simple.
Songwriters aren’t just born; it takes a lot of time to create and develop a memorable song with a strong melody and one that connects with your audience. Trust yourself and go slowly.
Keep an open mind, try different methods during the process, and trust your instincts. You will be amazed at how creative you are and how writing a song can be broken down into manageable steps. Good luck, and happy writing!