Have you ever wanted to take a stab at writing your own song? Do you feel like you have emotions to get off your chest but aren’t sure where to begin? Have no creative fear! Our Songwriting for Beginners article is here to save the day!
What Exactly Is Songwriting?
Songwriting is the art of combining words and melodies together in an artistic way. Different styles of music have different forms of songs. For instance, pop music often implements a verse- chorus – verse format, while folk music makes use of strophic form (a repeating musical pattern with changing words).
There is no right or wrong way to write a song, but there are general guidelines that you should be aware of for the genre you are writing for before getting started!
Where Do I Begin?
As with any art, there is no right or wrong way to begin! Some songwriters like Leonard Cohen prefer to start with lyrics and will add music afterwards. Others will write their melodies and add words at the end of the process. Most commonly, artists do a bit of both! We recommend that you try whatever method feels most natural to you. If you get stuck, switch things up! Try to work on the melody while that pesky rhyme works itself out in your subconscious!
What Is Song Form?
Songs are patterns that combine to form a musical piece. Different genres of music utilize different song forms and patterns. Let’s take a look at some typical popular music form terms to get acquainted!
The verse in pop music is used to forward the story and details of a song. There are often 2 to 3 verses in a song. The melody will stay the same but the words will change each time.
The pre chorus is a lead up to the chorus of a song. Pre Chorus’s are usually short and are used to build tension for the chorus.
The chorus is the most repeated and highest energy moment of a song. Often, the chorus is where the title is found. Chorus’s are meant to be catchy and encapsulate the theme and meaning of the song.
Some songs have a bridge, also sometimes called a middle 8, which is a short section of new music and lyrics. The bridge is used to create a bit of surprise towards the end of a song, before the final chorus.
Do I Need to Play an Instrument To Write Songs?
No! While it can be helping to know the basics of guitar or piano it is not a requirement. In fact, in certain genres such as pop and R and B it is common for singers to receive a “beat” (a recording of an instrumental) which they then write melodies and words on top of.
A great way to get started with songwriting is to search the genre you are looking for and “instrumental” on youtube. There are thousands of instrumentul tracks people have made that you can hone your writing skills on!
How Do I Write Lyrics?
It is important to remember that lyrics are different from poetry! Though lyrics do not have to rhyme, they often do. They also often have repeated lines, whether that be the chorus in a pop song or the refrain in a folk song.
When beginning to get the feel for lyrics try writing in four line stanzas. This is a very common pattern in music!
I miss my baby
It’s driving me crazy
What would I do
Without my lady?
I miss her, I miss her,
Yes I miss her, I do
I miss her, I miss her,
How I miss her, it’s true!
It can also be helpful to pick your form first and then plug your lyrics in, like you are completing a formula!
Here are some common song forms for you to try
How Do Create A Melody?
In songwriting, melody is king! A catchy melody is what gets stuck in our heads and keeps us humming along. When creating your melodies try to follow your instincts! Our ears often know where to go.
Also, it is common in vocal music to have most of the melody be written in stepwise motion (moving up or down one note at at time) mixed with a few larger jumps.
Check out thus melody analysis of the Weeknd for some ideas!
What Are Chords?
Chords are groups of 3 notes or more that are often used to accompany a singer during a song. Though chords are not necessary to write a song, they can be extremely helpful with conveying the mood and emotion of a song.
If you have access to a guitar or keyboard we recommend learning your basic chords. You’ll be amazing at how much inspiration and creativity they provide you!
What Are Some Techniques To Start Writing?
A blank page can be frightening, especially if you are new to the craft of songwriting!
A useful exercise to get going is to copy the form of a few of your favourite songs. Then, write a song by filling in the form!
It can be very helpful to come up with a title first, as you can then work every other part of the song around it.
If you are struggling with what to write about remember honesty is always the best policy! If you write about something true to you and your life it will be relatable to the listener.
A great way to learn the ropes is to check out our weekly drop in songwriting class here!
Well, there you have it, our intro to songwriting for beginners! If you would like to get more in depth with of Toronto’s premiere musical artists contact us today!