- Does this sound familiar? I would love to write a song, but I have no idea where to start? If you have found yourself pondering this in the past then keep reading. With songwriting, there is a lot of freedom to show your creative flair. Firstly as a singer, when you sing a cover what draws you to the song, is it the lyrics, or the melody? You may find that you have a strength for writing stories, or poems, this can easily be transformed into a song. Do you find yourself humming a tune that you just made up on the spot, that’s a potential song right there.
Firstly, you need the right equipment.
- Yes, that’s right believe it or not this is essential. The most important piece of equipment for any budding songwriter is a recording device. In the age of the smart phone this shouldn’t be too hard to come by. You want to start getting into the habit of recording ALL of your ideas, good, bad or otherwise. It’s better you capture it all, and if you do come up with any gems, you won’t forget all about them in the morning.
Apart from the obvious tools of a pen, paper or if you are so inclined, Ipad or laptop. A good companion to any songwriter is a rhyming dictionary. Yes there is an expectation when writing a song you try to stick to a structure of verse, chorus, verse chorus and a bridge in there somewhere perhaps. The dictionary can really help when you get stuck, or that dreaded infliction writers block.
Finally, if you do play an instrument of any kind obviously that is a big plus for writing songs, but it isn’t the be all, so don’t be discouraged, you can still write songs without that. Read on and see my tips for starting to write a song.
A good Start.
If you find yourself unsure of how to even get started writing a song, I suggest the following. Find a piece of instrumental music on the Internet, YouTube in particular has heaps, but with one catch. The piece you choose has to be something you have never heard of. How does it make you feel, start writing down ideas, see what comes out, it doesn’t have to rhyme or even make sense, this is just the brainstorming phase. From here you may surprise yourself and a song may take form.
Rome wasn’t built in a day
- Don’t put pressure on yourself to complete a full song in one sitting. For me a song can take days, weeks or even months. I can write a verse and not touch it for weeks and then just come back to it. Just keep your recorder handy at all times, you never know when inspiration will strike. You only need four lines in a verse and lines 1 and 2 usually rhyme as do lines 2 and four. Stick to the pattern and see what happens. Think of a theme, anything at all like “my perfect day” what does that look like to you. It’s something that might allow lyrics to flow if you have a topic to work with.
Find your inspiration
- What inspires you, draw on your experiences and tap into what artists you are drawn to and influence you. You already may have a style of your own when it comes to singing. With writing a song, this shouldn’t be any different.
- Keep it simple
If you do play an instrument, keep the chord structure for your songs simple. Use your ear and notice what chords sound good together and what don’t. Many Pop songs these days have very basic chords D, G an A for example but they just change the order to make the song sound more interesting. Piano is a very melodic instrument for songwriting. Guitar is great for designing rhythm.
Find a hook
- This is by far the most important part of writing a song. Do you ever get a song stuck in your head? Any part of a song that has a catchy melody that you remember long after you heard it is what you want to aim for. The hook is the highlight of the song, what you want someone to remember after they have heard it. It makes a song instantly recognizable. This can take some practice but it worth the effort.
- Be prepared for some songs to never see daylight
You may find as part of your growth and development as a songwriter you may write a song and it was a process you had to go through, you may not ever show it to anyone, but it’s a stepping stone onto bigger and better things. This process will make you a better songwriter as you will accept that some songs may not be for sharing, but it is helping you develop your craft.
Eventually you will need to show someone your song
- Feedback is part of making you a better songwriter. Show a friend or family member you trust to give you an honest opinion and take it graciously. Our intended audience may vary depending on what goals you have set, but this is an important part of development. Be humble and take on any suggestions and ideas.
You don’t have to go it alone
By far the most enjoyable part of songwriting for me is taking my song to my guitarist, my producer, my singing teacher to share ideas and make my song bigger and better. I find when I open myself up to sharing my song with like minded people the ideas just flow and the song becomes greater and the impact shifts completely. Find a friend who also is a singer and try writing a song together, you never know what might happen!
Light and Shade
When writing a new song, you need to be aware that not only are you telling a story but you are taking the listener on a journey so the song needs to start at a certain level that leaves room for the melody and/or vocal to soar. You can’t stay in the one monotone space, the song needs to have peaks and troughs to keep the listener interested. This can be achieved in many ways, in the vocal, the instrumentation or the style.
If you are stressed, frustrated and feel like it’s not happening for you, don’t give up. Songwriting, isn’t just about writing a number 1 song and making lots of money, it’s sharing a side of yourself with others that may not have seen before. It’s a great way to expand yourself as a singer. Anyone can interpret someone else’s song and sing it in their own way, but writing a song of your own or with someone else if you choose, is still truly yours and original in every way.