Becoming a songwriter, however, is no easy feat. But, knowing the basics of songwriting is a teachable skill. You need to know which procedures to follow and take it from there.
Essentially, you need to know how to explore ideas, translate those ideas into words and creatively combine those ideas into music. This is what every songwriter does.
Therefore, in this article, we will show three steps on how to write a song even if you’re a beginner. It will by no means teach you all about songwriting but will serve as a guiding principle to kickstart the process of writing with the least friction possible.
Writing The Music
Determine the appropriate category for your song.
The first step to writing a good song is to know the category your songs fall into. Specifically, the genre. Writing country songs demands a different strategy than when writing rock music. For instance, a country song demands the use of a steel guitar which circulates around themes of love, hardship, and loss. Rock music on the other hand demands more robust lyrics and power chords.
Picking the right genre depends on your taste and what you feel comfortable with. If you’re finding any difficulty in picking a genre, choose the category of songs from your favorite artists. Some people also try their hands on a couple of genres to see which one they like.
Also, keep your audience in mind because the genre you select dictates the kind of audience you will be writing for.
Select the best rhythm for your song.
After choosing the genre for the song, you now need to choose a rhythm that matches its nature. Fundamentally, every song is different. For instance, country music songs require slower rhythms and beats while rock music uses faster rhythms.
Melodize your song on a guitar or piano.
Every good song will definitely have the sound of musical instruments in them. Consequently, it will be advantageous if you include them in your songs. So, with your song’s main idea in mind, make use of fundamental keys such as G, A, C, D, E, and F.
Start working on your melody using the appropriate scales.
After choosing the essential keys, start trying out major and minor scales which will help you express the intended mood and feel of your song. Just like a writer chooses the right words to convey a particular feeling, every good songwriter makes deliberate choices to convey the right mood of their piece. For instance, for a serene and happy mood, it’s recommended you select a major scale. Minor scales, on the other hand, are more suited for an emotionally charged song.
In case, you have problems coming up with the right melodies, either seek the help of a professional or take lessons to help you improve your understanding of them.
Employ the help of a writer in developing the song.
Even if you cannot fully craft an engaging song all by yourself, you can find someone else to help you out. Either ask a friend to help out or find professional songwriters on reputable freelance websites to help you draft and revise your songs.
Also, you can place ads on Craigslist to solicit assistance from interested persons.
Learn how to use music software.
There is a lot of music software out there. If you find it difficult to write out the music, use any available music software to create your music. To keep it simple, we have a post on some of the best free music-making apps. Go check it out.
Adding The Lyrics
Craft an engaging title.
Like any piece of writing, you need a catchy title that will serve as a starting point for your song. You might also decide on a title after the main body of your song is finalized. Each of them will depend on your habit of mind.
To find inspiration for catchy and intriguing titles, check the following sources.
- Other songs in your genre
- Popular Movies
- TV Shows
- Everyday experiences
Craft an engaging hook for your song.
Just like in a piece of writing, you need a hook to grab your reader’s attention and keep it till the end of the composition. The hook is the first phrase the reader sees and so needs to entice and interest the reader. So, try your very best to come up with a very catchy and eye-gluing phrase that will keep your reader engaged.
Writing effective hooks is an art in itself and so come up with as many statements or phrases as possible. The more you spill out, the better the chance of coming up with a good one.
Here are instances of great hooks from great songs.
- Marvin Gaye – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.
- Bog Country – In A Big Country/ All of Us
- The DeFranco Family – Heartbeat, It’s a Lovebeat/ Sweet, Sweet Loretta
There are many more catchy hooks. So, another strategy for coming up with catchy hooks is to study what’s already working or has worked and model them.
Related Content: How To Write Music Lyrics For Beginners.
Build a chorus around your hook.
Use your hook as a starting point to build your chorus. It can be likened to using your introduction in an essay as a guiding point to explain what you introduced in the first part of your work. So, try as much as possible to be as general as possible. Specifics will come in the later body of the composition. For example, the chorus of “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Daimon introduces romantic love as the theme of the song but doesn’t specifically give the details.
Write a verse that builds on the themes introduced by your chorus.
The verses are the details of your chorus, throwing more light on what came before them. They are concrete and contain a lot of strong imagery serving as evidence for the general statements made in the chorus. For example, in the first verse of “Sweet Caroline,” Neil Daimon evoked scenes of love by using words like touching hands which shows a sign of love.
Write 2 more verses that follow the same pattern as your first.
Using the same structure of the preceding chorus, continue to build the other remaining chorus around the same pattern, adding new information and you will be done in no time.
Finalizing The Song
Create a structure
No matter how awesome your idea is and how promising the theme of your song is, what you need is structure. Structure gives you a song shape and makes it meaningful to your audience.
Always keep structure in mind when writing your song. Use the most common structure out there. Verse/ Chorus/ Verse/ Chorus/ Bridge/ Chorus structure is an effective structure you can use to plan and experiment with.
Add other instruments to create a fuller sound.
Now start adding the sound of an instrument to your song. Depending on your song, add whichever sound improves the feel and mood you intend to convey.
Practice your song until you have it memorized
After writing your song, start giving it a try until you have it memorized.
Record your song.
Now you have memorized the song and can sing it without any hesitation. Start recording yourself singing it. Use either your laptop, phone, or a video camera.
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