If you love music — listening to it, singing it, dancing to it, playing it — then you may also enjoy writing it. Yet, most people don’t ever try this part of the process because they’re not sure where to start. Creating music is a fulfilling art form, and there’s nothing quite like playing, singing, and listening to a song that you’ve crafted from start to finish.
If you’re looking for ways to get started, use our tips and techniques for songwriting below.
1. Focus on the melody
Did you know that there are millions of songs that share the same three or four chord progressions? Check out 4 Chords by The Axis of Awesome, which will show you that some of the most popular and catchiest songs share similar melodies.
When you compose your song, consider that the best melodies often move in a stepwise motion (up or down either a half-step or a whole step) with a few leaps up or down any larger interval. Their focal point is often a high note that anchors the rest of the melody line. If you get this right, then you’ll be well on your way to writing a great song.
2. Create a memorable rhythm
Some of your favourite songs make your playlists because they have a memorable rhythm. In fact, you can probably identify them immediately based on the rhythmic elements or the backing track. Don’t be afraid to get creative with the rhythm of your own song as it can become one of its identifying features.
3. Build your song around a riff
Just like rhythm, riffs can carry a track. This may be a particularly appealing direction for you to go if you’re a guitarist, pianist, or bassist. However, don’t let that stop you if you’re not an instrumentalist at all. This is a great songwriting tool, and anyone can use it if they’re feeling stuck during the process. Create a great riff and let it inspire you!
4. Veer away from digital audio software
A lot of today’s music production software allows musicians to create digital symphonies in their home recording studios. While this was a massive leap forward for the music industry, creating your songs with digital audio software can make your songs incredibly difficult to perform live. If you’re interested in performing for others or creating a record, then consider how this software will translate to a live setting. Not only will you want the ability to play your song live for those who ask but record company executives often want to see how musicians are able to connect with a live audience.
5. Set down your instrument
In the early stages of songwriting, you may feel compelled to sit at the piano or hold your guitar to feel like you’re doing something. However, this practice can often lead songwriters to fall back on songs they already know or have already written. Mix it up a bit and set your instrument down. When songwriting ideas come to you, use your voice recorder on your phone to record them. Once you have this start, then the instrument part may come a bit more naturally.
6. Use rhyming as a tool
Rhyming isn’t necessary for songwriting, but it is a technique you may want to try if you’re not sure where to start. Using a rhyme scheme makes your song lyrics catchy and easy to remember. However, just like writing a poem, you may find that rhyming becomes more of a hindrance than a help. If that’s the case, don’t worry about it. Rhyming is a great tool when it works, but you shouldn’t sacrifice the content of your song for it.
7. Breakthrough your writer’s block
Writing lyrics is tricky, huh? You’re likely experiencing some sort of writer’s block during the songwriting process. If this is the case, change up the way you’re writing. Use a brainstorming process, and don’t think too hard about it. Start with words, ideas, and images that you’re feeling or thinking about. Feel free to jot down the different ideas and keep writing until you’ve filled up an entire page with poetic phrases and potential song lyrics. You may come across one lyric you love and want to build your song around.
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