How to Start Writing a Song
One of the hardest parts in learning how to write a song is getting started, pulling ideas out of thin air can feel really difficult and sometimes overwhelming. Writing can be easy if you break down the process into more manageable pieces.
There are no rules when it comes to writing a new song, but every song needs to have a central topic. Beginning with a main concept will make getting started a breeze! From there you can break it down into your known experiences, emotions, and circumstances. Don’t stress about knowing how to write lyrics, the most effective way is whatever comes easiest to you.
One of the most helpful and honest tips out there is to KEEP WRITING! Don’t give up. You may write 10 bad songs before you write something that you feel is worth the time and effort of making into an actual recorded song. Not every song you write will be a billboard top hit, and that’s okay, just remember to keep trying and keep practicing.
Singer/songwriter Alicia Keys says:
The best way to write a song is for it to be a natural and honest experience. Even if it was inspired by someone I know- making it real is the best way I know to write a song.
Write a Song from Experience: 5 Tips for Beginners
- Consider common themes: for example, love, coming of age (personal growth, changes, self-exploration), death (loss, fear of unknown, afterlife), rebellion (angst, societal expectations), disillusion (activism, society.)
- Search for stories: your own personal experiences, those of friends or family, films, media, etc. Anywhere you can glean inspiration.
- Study rhyming schemes: map out different words at the end of each line and play along with the different structures. (AAAA, ABAB, etc)
- Study song structures: your verse tells the most story, setting the context and building your characters. The chorus builds the hook, ideally something simple and universal. The bridge creates a variance within the song and builds you up back to the chorus.
- Tell a story: convey context and emotion without directly saying what they’re feeling. Try not to be too literal, leave things open for interpretation.
While you can write your song in any form you like, it is helpful to note that the song structure will be something you want to pay attention to if you are trying to create a mainstream production.
Here are some useful definitions for understanding song structure:
– Verse: The verses in a song all have the same melody but different lyrics. The verse lyrics give us information about the situation, emotions, or people in the song.
– Chorus: We may hear the chorus of a song three, four, or more times. The lyrics and melody remain the same each time it recurs. The chorus lyric sums up the heart of the song. The title of the song almost always appears in the chorus section and may be repeated two or more times.
– Bridge: The bridge has a different melody, lyrics, and chord progression from the verse or chorus. It provides a break from the repetition of verse and chorus. The lyric often provides an insight or revealing moment.
Many listeners enjoy this basic song structure because it provides repetition that feels familiar, but enough variety that keeps them interested.
Helpful Songwriting Tips
Here are a few off-the-cuff songwriting tips, collected from local American singer/songwriters, Kevin & Hugh, who have collectively written over 50 songs.
Tip 1: Plan & Be Spontaneous
Approach your lyric writing with both structure and spontaneity. Have a plan, but leave some space for discovery. A great tool and resource for this is a rhyming dictionary. While you don’t have to rhyme in your song, when you are learning how to write a song as a beginner, it can be helpful in getting you started.
Tip 2: Record Ideas in the Moment
Another key element is recording your song ideas. Whether that be lyrically in a note on your phone, or a melody / chord idea that you have while you are out and about. It is so easy to forget that incredible tune you came up with, so be sure to have your phone handy when creativity strikes!
Another aspect to this is getting yourself a notebook for your lyrics, something that cannot easily be lost or thrown away like a napkin. Make space for your creativity and watch as you continue to practice and take the time to put in the required effort, more lyrics, melodies, and chords will come naturally and spontaneously.
Tip 3: Try Everything
“When you’re writing a song, try everything. Try starting with the melody or the chords or the lyrics. Figure out which one works best for you by doing each multiple times. You will inevitably find one that allows your creativity to flow. Sometimes you have to figure out which technique works based on what didn’t work.” Hugh Lindsey of Boy the Bunderhorse.
So, what do you most commonly do to write songs? Tell us in the comments!
Image: Unsplash (Soundtrap)