As a musician, if you can write a song, you have just upped the ante on taking your musical abilities to another power.
The ability to write music and create good songs will help propel your career to a whole new level. Authentic and original songs are always in demand in the music industry market.
However, you don’t have to be a musician or have extensive musical training to write music. Many successful writers and composers have a knack for knowing how to compose a catchy melody with enticing lyrics.
Songwriters possess a specific skill set, and with practice, they can evolve to the commercial or professional fields.
Successful songwriters can begin at any age, so it is not too late if you have ever thought about developing your writing and musical skills.
For example, if you have a passion for creating lyrics and melodies together to entice listeners or share an important message, you could be a songwriter.
Songwriting is not an easy task, and many who try tend to feel that they fail at grasping all of the knowledge to create good songs.
However, in breaking down the songwriting processes, you can more easily take your beginner compositions, hone in, and develop your craft as a songwriter in the music business.
DIFFERENT WAYS TO WRITE MUSIC
Before jumping into the basics of creating a song from scratch, it is vital to understand that the technique in which people approach the songwriting process can differ.
However, there are two reliable ways to begin writing music:
- Writing all of the words or lyrics down first that you want within your songs, then finding instrumentals, developing music notation and chord progressions later; or
- Creating the musical instrumentals first and then matching lyrics to go with the beat or melody.
Both methods can be used, and you can work with both techniques before deciding which way is best or most effortless for you.
Sometimes, ideas come to us in waves, so it can be handy to write your composition or music notation down as it comes to you and then worry about adding the words later, or vice versa. Inspiration can hit you at any given moment.
Whichever method you start with, make sure you give yourself some grace.
Writing lyrics and composing music takes time, and even with inspiration, it might be months or years before you have written a full-fledged song.
In order to assess which method will work better for you, you might want to ask yourself some questions, such as:
- Do I gravitate more towards writing words or finding beats in music?
- What am I most passionate about when it comes to music?
- How serious am I about creating my own music?
- Do I find myself snapping, tapping, or clapping when I hear a good beat or rhythm?
Some of these questions will help you choose which method you will work more with and where you plan to develop the inspiration for your first song.
A good question you should ask yourself is why you want to write music in the first place. To be a good songwriter, there needs to be passion.
Please know that you don’t have to stick with just one method or the other; there may be times when the words you feel need to come out, or you hear an incredibly moving rhythm and start to create instrumental music in your head.
If you listen to melodies in your head and words to go with them, that is a good start to being an excellent songwriter.
YOUR FIRST SONG – STARTING WITH THE SUBJECT
To create your first song, the first thing you need to develop is your subject. The subject matter is the first step to songwriting.
Though songs don’t necessarily have to tell a story, it might help when you first start and learn how to write music to make a rough roadmap of your subject matter.
Many songs tend to speak to a specific listener. Even if you eventually don’t want to have songs with particular stories or a set path, it will be helpful if you recognize that your songs need to appeal to a target demographic.
For example, you might want to write songs about teenagers in love to tie into the complexities of adolescents or write specific songs about children growing up that will pull on parents’ heartstrings.
Another example of using your ideas to write your verses might be going with the theme for a love song.
For example, your first verse could be centered around your first date and then the second on the wedding day down the road. Or, you could change perspectives from verse to verse, such as going with “You” for the first verse and then speaking in “I” first-person for your second verse.
Whatever your subject matter, your fans should be able to connect to your songs on a deep, emotional level. This way, your fans, and listeners will enjoy your music because they can easily relate to it.
If you wrote down a specific line from a moment or something that happened that inspired you, and you found the right words for it, you might discover that you can build an entire song from that one line.
It is most helpful if you write music and lyrics from your own life experiences, as you will have the most to say and feel about things that have happened explicitly to you, and it is a great place to start when writing music.
FINDING INSPIRATION AND IDEAS
Sometimes you might hear chords or a chord progression that strikes you in such a way – the music moves you.
If you can develop words and lyrics to coincide with those chords or that specific chord progression, then you are well on your way to writing an honest song.
Another place you might draw inspiration from could be something that you feel very opinionated about. The theme of your song, for example, might be about your stance on a controversial subject.
Keep in mind with these more “tune in” topics. You may receive some adverse feedback from those who are opposed to your opinions.
The language used is vital in your song, too, because you want to be sure that you write the song from their perspective, depending on who is singing it. Sometimes, musicians use instrumentation to provide more detail.
The music composition is a crucial element to drive your idea or inspiration. Good musicians understand that using certain major keys will invoke specific feelings they want their audience to feel.
Therefore, utilizing those elements is just as important as the words being said.
IDEAS FOR VERSES, CHORUS, AND THEN THE TITLE
Once you have developed your subject for what you want your first single song to be about, the next step is coming up with ideas for the verses and chorus – all of the song lyrics.
Typical songs follow an A-B-A-B format, where you’ll hear the first verse (A), then your chorus (B), then the second verse (A), and then your chorus again (B).
Somewhere there might be a bridge as well, or possibly a lead into the chorus that repeats.
When writing the notes down on sheet music, pay close attention to your key signatures. A bridge in a song can make more of an impact if your key signature changes, either at that point or by the last chorus, and then the rest of the song is done in that new key.
Listen to some popular songs and how they use the major scale, guitar, or beats to draw in their listeners or make that punch in a love song right at the end.
It can even help you listen to some of your favorite songs and see what action words they use that pull you in and what makes them so unique to you.
Your chorus, in typical length, is about eight lines. It should include the main idea of your song, the lyrical hook, and the incorporation of what the song’s meaning is.
The chorus is the most direct way for anyone listening to your song to be able to “figure it out.”
One of the most challenging aspects of songwriting is coming up with the song title. Your song title usually will stem from something in your chorus – a sort of lyrical hook or repetitive phrase that keeps coming out and is more prominent than the other lyrics.
Sometimes this is easy to decipher because the term is redundant, but it can be challenging depending on the kind of song you have developed.
If you are having difficulty with your song titles, go back to the basics of your great idea. You should have a clear picture of who is singing the song and what they are singing about.
Your music should cover all of the w’s – who, what, where, when, why – and how. Whatever emotion or message being expressed should play an essential role within the song title.
Try not to overthink or spend loads of time coming up with your chorus and title. Sometimes, simple is better.
For example, Paul McCartney used so many simple verses and lyrics with John Lennon in their music, look at the lyrics in the song “She Loves You”:
She loves you yeah, yeah yeah / With a love like that you know you should be glad.
Such simple lyrics, but the music notes and instrumental used to pack the punch of how glad you should be that she loves you, ultimately conveying the main idea within this great song.
You don’t necessarily need a lot of complex phrases or words to get your point across.
CHORD PROGRESSIONS AND MELODY
Now we’ve got the song idea, some simple lyrics, and we’re composing the music to go with them.
The chord progression and harmonies will be your foundation, so if you use the method of writing music first, this may come before your theme, verses, chorus, and song title.
Harmony will give your music its rich tone and fullness. It is what many songwriters call “the good stuff.”
Finding different sections within your verses or chorus to add in harmony is an essential thing to include within your final chorus to create and drive your message or story.
Determining the musical instruments you want to use will help you establish the genre and the intent within your own music.
You don’t need a lot of music theory, but it will help to have a background with musical theory when writing down instrumentals on sheet music.
Writing a simple four-chord progression is a great way to come up with chords for your song.
Use a specific rhythm or time signature that you can do in four chords long with one chord played per measure that can be repeated over and over.
The progression is an effective songwriting tool and a good way to create something original and unique.
The more music theory you have a working knowledge of, the more complex you can get with your chord progressions.
Here is an example of some major keys used for simple chords:
If you are just beginning, you only need four of these chords, so you don’t have to utilize all five of them.
Whatever chord palette you choose, develop some specific four-chord combinations and play them until you find something that sounds good to you or works well with your song lyrics (if you already have some written down).
When you discover yourself getting stuck with your music composition or song lyrics, try using a different approach than how you started when you were writing your song.
Sometimes the only way to find the sound you are looking for can be to change things up, and in some cases, start over.
Starting over can be one of the best ways to give your brain a chance to relax, review your ideas, find the right tone, and re-develop your song.
KEEP IT SIMPLE!
All of these elements should help you develop a song. However, different songs can be created through practice, and practice is the only thing that will help you write your own songs and eventually make them good songs.
The possibilities for taking all of these elements and techniques and using them to write a song are limitless.
The biggest challenge you will find when learning to write music is how to narrow down your ideas into one solid theme and then create an actual song from there.
If you want to be a songwriter, though, you have just to start. It is a good thing that when you begin, you don’t have to go to a recording studio immediately and lay down your music since it takes time to write good songs.
However, you can only get better by writing music and song lyrics, developing new songs with chord progressions that move your listeners, and draw them to your writing style.
Centering your focus on the details and specifics is essentially what makes music lyrics clear and captivating to the audience. Your goal when starting should be to develop as many words, phrases, chords, and instrumentals that you can.
It will come easier as you go, and soon you will be so in tune writing music your song structure will flourish, and you will be viewed as the next successful songwriter. Good luck!