How To Write A Song In 4 Easy Steps

Posted on 5th October 2014 in Song writing

What It Takes To Write A Song

 

song writingWhat’s involved in writing a song? Is there a simple formula that even a beginner can apply in order to begin writing songs without experience?

Where should one start? What are the parts that make up a song?

What are the 4 basic elements of song writing and why are these so important?

To find the answers to these questions and begin writing your own songs –  please consider the following:

 

 

 

Elements Of  Song Writing

The purpose of this discussion is not to identify all of the technical aspects of song writing, nor is it to endorse only one way of accomplishing this.

We hope to provide some basic ideas to identify the parts that make up a song and provide a model for you to fill in your own music.

To illustrate: Compare the structure of a song to that of a house.

Regardless of the building materials, colors, size or dimensions, they all share common features.

An enterance and a back door exit. A kitchen, a bathroom,a bedroom, etc…

Similiarly, the parts making up a song may be constructured more than one way.

You as the architect will structure your song with the main components, while using the freedom of your imagination to shape and color it with emotion.

elements

A song has four basic elements: words (the lyrics) are sung to a tune (melody) which is supported by chords (harmony) and played to a certain combination of beat and tempo (rhythm and timing).

Keep in mind that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to song writing and the importance of each element will depend upon the style of music you from which you build your foundation. Choosing the order of these elements is entirely personal preference.

 

The Lyrics

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Some prefer beginning with the words as it can be a great starting point in developing the theme to your song. The story or what have you can be the basis of the mood you are creating.

Try laying out the lyrics in the style of a poem, using breaks between so many lines.

Rhyming is important but not always necessary.

Make sure to keep a book or journal of lyric ideas, even if they’re not finished. You never know when you revisit that unfinished business, when inspiration will hit.

You need only one verse and a chorus to get the basic structure of a song – extra verses can be added later.

One common structure would be: intro – verse – chorus – verse – chorus – bridge – chorus – outro. There are of course many varieties to this pattern.

The Melody

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The melody has been defined as “an agreeable succession of sounds , a sequence of single tones”.

In other words, these are the notes that carry the lyrics. If it’s simple, catchy, and you can hum it nicely, it may be a keeper.

Paying attention to the melody in the early stages in a composition will encourage you to compose a more effective tune.

If you are able to develop your tune in a way that has an expressive quality, some pleasing movement and a catchy hook – it will sound a lot better when all the rest is in place.

Think of any great song. In most cases the tune alone sounds catchy even without being accompanied by instruments.

Repetition is another important aspect of songwriting as a song is little more than a pattern of phrases better known as the “hook”.

The Harmony 

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Perhaps you are one who chooses to construct an appealing chord progression first, followed by the melody. This is known as “from the middle out”. This approach is especially favored by guitarists.

Try finding your way around various chord sequences, be it whatever instrument you choose.

It’s fairly simple and it allows your mind to play with the words and melody. Chord sequences can inspire and suggest emotion or mood that can be focused through a lyric and melody.

Recall any of your favorite songs. Can you pick out the chord progressions? Minor chords are sometimes identified as sad or gloomy. Whereas major chords are bright and happy.

A simple way to understand them is remembering that each key has 7 notes. From the various notes we form a chord.

For example: a 1,4,5 chord progression would start with the first note of the scale as a chord, the four notes from the first as the second chord , and finally five notes up in the scale from the first note in the scale as your third chord.

Begin choosing any note within the major scale and give it a try. Many great folk songs for example are based on 3 basic chords like G, C, and D.

Rhythm And Timing

If you choose to begin writing with tempo in mind known as the “bottom up”, you may want to consider acquiring a drum machine or some kind of electronic beat machine.

Depending on the type of song you are working on, the tempo will be faster or slower. For instance, you are composing a song people will dance to, it will require strong rhythmic presence, whether fast or slow.

Try playing and singing against a drum rhythm to give your melodies a greater rhythmic presence. Treat the bass notes as the foundation of major and minor chords, since a single note in the bass can imply a number of different chords.

Timing is everything especially when playing. Steadily laying your notes down on your beats , while remembering your breaks and so forth. Make sure to record.

Parts That Make Up A Song

 

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A song is broken up into different sections. As with our earlier illustration of a house, the seperate sections of a song are like the individual rooms that make up the whole structure.

> Intro: The introduction of a song. Basically a short musical solo based on the song’s verse, chorus, or bridge. A great intro will draw your listener in immediately.

> Outro: also known as “codas”. They may be as simple as a reprise of the of the chorus or a repeat of either the final line of the chorus, the reapeat of the verse, or the repeated singing of the final line of the song.

> Verse: This is where the song tells the story. Either chronologically or through a series of recollections, descriptions of events, or possibly emotions. The verse sets up the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic patterns to the song.

> Chorus: Also known as the refrain, generally repeated throughout the song. It’s the hook that everyone loves to sing along to and is generally how the song is remembered. Mainly because the chorus is in most cases based on the song’s title.

> Bridge: If all there was to a song was the constant repetition of verse to chorus, chorus to verse and so on, the song would become boring. This is where the bridge comes in. It’s kinda like the climax of a story. The bridge normally intensifies to prepare the listener for the reaaproach of verse and chorus with a different view.

Putting It All Together

Now that we understand song writing structure and the various parts to a song, it a matter of allowing inspiration to lead us into ideas for song creation.

What are you interested in? Do you want to express your feelings, or share an experience? What kind of mood do you want to set? Who are your potential listeners?

There are no hard and fast rules to song writing as long as it can be communicated in a way that will bring pleasure to your listeners.

Stick to patterns as people love them. Especially if you have a great hook. If it’s a great chorus, people will want to sing along with you.

Have fun and be patient. Enjoy the process of making little revisions along the way as inspiration strikes.

If you would like to watch a short video on a simple to use song writing course, please click here