Anyone who loves to sing will tell you: there is nothing more beautiful than being able to write a song. Between David Bowie, John Lennon, Elton John, Amy Winehouse and more, there are countless talented composers. But being a good lyricist is a great art!
Songwriting is an activity that requires both technique and inspiration, plus a sense of rhyme and melody. The hardest part, though, is knowing where to start
To write new songs, it is important to have a good strategy in production, sound and art. Because like any other discipline, making a song is above all a balancing act between many different crucial components.
Here are our tips for writing songs that you can sing, cry, smile, escape to and more!
What Are the Steps to Follow to Write your Songs?
As you can see, creating a song is also and above all: work, personal investment, and a certain amount of inspiration. This implies that there are steps to follow to write your songs.
First of all, you have to know what you want to say in your verse and chorus. Indeed, a song without any idea behind it is like a shop window where the shelves are empty: it is not very interesting!
Whether it's about getting a message across or triggering a thought, you need to tell a story. Whether that's based on real life or completely made up, your song has to have a good flow.
There is no obligation to do something deep, but the idea is to find a base on which the whole harmony of the song can excel.
Make a list of themes, keywords or questions that might interest you! Try an idea generator or listen to some of your favorite playlists.
It's important that a song have a strong backbone, a structure on which the musicality rests and the lyrics thrive. There are actually different structures: the most common is the AABA structure, if we assume that the A symbolizes the verse, and the B the chorus. There are also AABB, ABAC, or ABACB or ABCAB.
The letter C then corresponds to the bridge, which is a small transitional instrumental part. It is crucial to master the production aspect of your lyrics.
Finally, don't hesitate to start and to sing your song yourself. What can this do to help? To see if each part works with the next, and to realize that the verses are or are not strong enough to be sung.
But to create a song, you have to know what it's really about! In other words, you have to find a theme that your tracks can be based on.
How Do you Find the Inspiration to Write your Songs?
Any songwriter will tell you: you need to find inspiration to write lyrics for a song. And when you want to make a good song, whether it's UK variety, rap, pop or pop-rock, the latter can be of precious help. A help, yes, but above all and in reality: indispensable!
To find inspiration and make songs, it can be interesting, in the first place, to dig through one's memory. You can draw from real life and use memories (personal or not) that are striking and favourable to make a good song. If we assume that the past is inexhaustible, it can be a good breeding ground for inspiration.
On the other hand, one can also be interested in the creations of others, whether they are musical or other types of works of art. The idea is obviously not to plagiarize (this is even punished by the law), but to be inspired by a great general question, a word that brings up ideas, anything in order to compose your own song.
Travelling can also be the perfect way to get inspiration and create new imagery in a first album. Getting away, opening up to the world, is perhaps also the key: the universal and the personal, together.
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Some people don't hesitate to practice free writing either. Free writing is simply taking some time to let yourself go in front of your paper and write down whatever comes to mind. The goal of the exercise is, at the end, to see if something interesting pops up. Sometimes nothing, sometimes everything!
The most important thing is, above all, to take time, not to rush, and to see musical creation not only as an exercise, but also as a way to sharpen one's musical practice.
How to Build a Song ?
Yes, composing a song can be the alliance of a piano and a guitar, knowing how to write an intro, or thinking about the listeners - but it's also and above all: rhythm. A good and catchy rhyme, and a good global structure can make new song sound incredible.
To build a good song, there are some simple tips that could make your life easier. First of all, from the chorus of the song to the verses, writing a song means knowing how to take notes and put on paper how the song is composed, from A to Z.
The length of the song, the number of parts, everything has to be laid down, in order to see more clearly where the songs is going, if you like the sound, if the production has any weak points and more.
In the same perspective, it is essential to lay down the skeleton of the song: number of verses, chorus changing from one part to another, transition or not, bridge or not, intro or not, etc.
So many details which, put together, will give the essence of the song, up to the form of each part:
- A tercet is a part that has three lines,
- A quatrain consists of four lines,
- One eight count is eight lines.
In the same way, there are several types of rhyme schemes that you can use. Take rap for example. The sound of a rap song is highly dependent on a detailed production of rhyme schemes. You can have them:
- At the end: the classic, when the last word of each line rhymes with one another,
- Off centered: words that rhyme are placed in different spots within the line,
- Internal: when two or more words in the same line rhyme (there's an example of one here!)
The chorus must be as heady as possible, and deliver the main message of the musical creation. As for the verses, each must answer a question, a main thought, all around a global theme. This ensures the richness, and at the same time the balance, of the song.
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Fortunately, there is no need to go to a conservatory to learn more. Other resources exist!
What are the Best Books for Learning to Compose?
Composing music can be an instinctive thing. A film soundtrack and score can be legendary and written in moments on flying paper. But from song lyrics to arpeggios to copyright, things can be more complicated than that.
That's why there are books to learn how to compose. True guides, true supports, books allow us to open the field of possibilities when we try to compose a song with lyrics or an electro song with lyrics.
There are various references in this field, in order to join Brel and Polnareff (or almost!):
- Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Patterson,
- Songwriting for Dummies,
- The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi
- Song Writers on Song Writing by Pual Zollo
- And many more!
When we wonder how to write a song, these books can be real tools to simplify the task, and make the rhythmic as well as the poetic lyrics more fluid. Their real plus is also, for some, that they approach the underbelly of the music world.
And it's not always a simple thing!
So, to compose songs, from the rhythmic to the musical genres, passing by the riff or the chorus, there are different little tricks that you can use to improve your skills.
Of course, composing music is about inspiration, good lyrics, good structure, but it's also about a little bit of luck that you should never neglect. Never forget that while writing great songs can be a structured thing and therefore learned, it is also highly subjective.
The best thing you can do before you start writing songs is know why you're writing them in the first place.
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