Help With Songwriting

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Songwriting By: Tutor no longer registered
Subject: Songwriting
Last updated: 05/06/2017
Tags: edinburgh, piano teacher, songwriting, tips

If you are someone who enjoys writing songs but hasn't really found their process yet then this article may be useful to you. Some songs come naturally and other songs may take months or even years to finish! It is a labour of love and often a solitary experience, so it can be useful to search the internet for articles like this one for tips and advice.

I want to walk you through a simple process that I find works well when writing a song. I hope it is useful to you, but I also want to ensure you that there is no right or wrong way to write a song. Some people get lots of little ideas for songs and then piece them together and others like to work on one song until it is completely finished! Everyone's creativity comes out in different ways and therefore there is no single creative process when it comes to songwriting.

I like to start off by picking a Theme. There are many themes to choose from and here are some of the most common themes; love, friendship, family, party, travel, conflict, protest, politics, revolution or overcoming obstacles.

Once you are set on your theme you can move onto brainstorming and choosing a title. Most song titles are between 1 and 4 words long, any longer and the title can become hard to remember. It is really important that a song title is easy to remember and to search for on the internet. Here are some popular examples; Hello, Thriller, Crazy in Love, Sweet Child of Mine etc. Sometimes the more interesting or unique the title the better! In most popular songs, the title is used very quickly into the start of the songs and is used in every chorus. The reason writing the title first is a good tactic is that it gives you, the songwriter, a more focused subject from the get go and hopefully your writing will be more focused if you start off this way. 

At this point I like to make a mind map of all the words and phrases I can think of which relate to my Title and Theme. If you are unsure of what a mind map is then you should be able to find plenty of examples by searching the internet. This can take as little or as long as you like but is a useful way of coming up with interesting things to say in your song.

I will quickly go over song structure, but I have to admit it is pretty standard these days. Most songs start follow one of the following structures:

Verse 1, Chorus, Verse 2, Chorus, Bridge, End.

Verse 1, Pre Chorus, Chorus, Verse 2, Pre Chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Pre Chorus, Chorus, End.

If you are just starting out with writing I would probably stick to the first song structure which is more simple and I would start writing your lyrics. You could write 4 lines for each section or 8 lines depending on how long you want the song to be. Bear in mind that most popular songs are around 3 minutes. You may also find that the melody comes naturally with the lyrics, if it does try to record your melody into your phone or a some kind of device so you don't forget it. 

Verses and Chorus should be easily recognisable. One way to do this is to make the chorus much more melodic than the verse ie. the Chorus can go high to low and use a wider variety of notes and the Verse can be based around a few notes staying at similar energy. The energy of the Chorus should be more exciting and punchy than the verse in order for it to be memorable.

Finally you will need to figure out what chords to use in your song, if you already have a melody you will need to work out which chords fit with the melody you have written. If you don't have a melody you can use any chords you like! Many songs are based around only 4 chords all the way through, so if you don't have much experience then find 4 chords that you like and base your song around these chords repeating all the way through. You may be able to find some videos online to help with this or you could get a musician friend to help you out! I wish you the best of luck and happy writing!

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