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How to write a song

How to write a song

Song structure

First, think about song structure. As our website name suggests, a verse normally starts things off, followed by a chorus.

Where you go from here is totally up to you, but another verse and chorus combination is usually what comes next. This kind of template is used over and over again throughout western music, but it's by no means the only way to structure a song.

Other familiar templates include beginning with a hook (another name for a catchy section), this sets the tone for the song and can repeated later. The hook may then be followed by a couple of verses that give some detail to the song, before coming back to that familiar hook, which can be embellished this time round.

Often, there is a section called the bridge, which has a different feel to it. Perhaps an upbeat louder song may have a quieter section, or a laid-back track could have a more energetic part of the song. It should be placed near the end of the composition, before the big finish.

 

Lyrics

For some, lyrics are a very important part of the jigsaw. They tell a story and convey emotion. The quesiton is, do you write down the lyrics first, or add them later?

My advice is to get something down on paper first, even it's just a verse. This helps you form a melody as you play around with different chord progressions. You will have tangible items in which to hang the tune from.

The lyrics should be simple to understand, intelligent, easy on the ear, and void of cliches.

Rhyming is a popular option and keeps the musicality of the song going, creating a good rhythm, but it's not always necessary. In fact, too many rhymes can end up predictable. Try rhyming in unusual places or with longer interesting words.

To get going, try starting with a fact or a truth. For example, 'I met her in a dark and crowded bar...'. It sets the initial scene and lets the listener in.

 

Melody

This is probably the most important part of any song, and also the hardest part to get right. It can make or break it.

To help you write a good melody, you need to have the backbone of a chord structure, created using a guitar or piano. If you can get this part sounding interesting, it will be a good start. Play this on a loop and experiment with different ways of singing your lyrics. Try to express yourself and don't stay within. To convey the emotion, you need to let it out.

A verse should have a calmer feel and create a sense of anticipation, building and building, until you reach the hook or chorus. This is where you need to find that piece of magic that makes the song what it is. There is no formula for this, you just have to keep trying until you find something that sounds right.

 

Composition

This is similar to song structure, but also includes how the lyrics and melody affect the overall feel and journey of the song. It's about the highs and lows and how they fit together. Variation is key to keeping the listener tuned in.

You also need to think about instrumention and how the different parts work. For example, do you want a long introduction, or get straight into the words? Should the drums and bassline come in after the first chorus, or before, or not at all? Should you include backing vocals?

As you can see, there's plenty of questions that need answering.

 

Inspiration

To help you grow as a songwriter, it's a good idea to analyse the music and songs you love best. Understanding how they are put together and why they sound so good is an importatnt step.

A worthwhile exercise is to recreate a track by making your own cover version. Look at all the parts that make up the song, move them around and play with the structure and melody.

 

Conclusion

Putting all the parts together needn't be difficult. Focus on the chords and melody. Get these right and gradually build up the other areas until a finished sound is formed.

The best things are created over time. Don't try to finish it in one session. It's a good idea to come back to your work after a nights sleep - it will give you a different perspective. Try new ideas, move things around. It will take time and effort to become a good songwriter so keep going and write as often as you can.

Be prepared to write many average songs before you write a good one. It all takes practice and you will get better and better over time.

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