Find a quiet place where you can work. This should be everywhere your instruments and / or computer are located. Once there, connect with your instrument. I use a piano, and before I write a new song I always play some scales or chord progressions, other people’s songs or other songs I have written. Play a little. Also do some vocal warm-ups so that you do not damage your voice during the songwriting process. (See my article ‘How to Improve Your Singing Daily’ in the Resources section below.)
When you are heated, you have two options. Start by writing music, or start writing lyrics. (Page note: All ‘songs’ have lyrics words. If they are not, they are ‘pieces of music.’) I would recommend starting with the music because it is much easier to add words to music than to add music to existing words or melodies .
Decide what you want to write about. Do you write a love song, a positive dance song, an inspirational song, a protest song … My advice: Write about something meaningful to you. Songs that come from the heart are always better in my opinion.
When deciding on a topic, figure out the mood of the song. Is it sad, happy, angry, mild? Then find a key that suits the mood. (Major keys are usually associated with happier emotions and smaller keys are usually associated with sad or dark emotions, but you can really do what you want. Use what feels right.)
Once you have a key, come up with a basic chord progression in the key that can work for the first verse of your song. Chord progressions or patterns consist of different chords from your key. A common chord progression is I, IV, V, I. So if you were in the key to C Major, it would be: IC chord-CEG, IV-F-chord-FAC, VG-chord-GBD and back to IC chord -CEG. Again, use what sounds right and feels right to you. And remember, even if you only have a simple chord progression now, you can always spice it up later.
Come up with some chord patterns and then start figuring out the format of your song. Do you want Verse, Verse, Choir, Verse, Verse, Cor, Bro, Kor, Kor Or do you want Verse, Verse, Bro, Kor, Vers, Bro, Kor, Kor. You decide! I’ll say it again … use what feels and sounds right to you. It’s your song.
6. Once you have a basic structure that you can play on your instrument (or programmed into your laptop), you can start coming up with lyrics. You may have already had words popping into your head when you came up with the music. Music inspires, and even basic chords can move us and make us think. If you have any words, write them down You can use them!
The hardest part for most people when writing lyrics is making them rhyme and flow without sounding too corny. (Hi girl I want you, do you want me too, we can go to the zoo That’s what I tell you. You make me really blue when you do not call me Boo, and I ask you to come and make it new … Okay, that was not terribly interesting, but it is strangely watchable. A few words ‘kind of’ rhyme with each other, and that’s good enough. Here is an example from one of my songs:
‘It’s a lone tear, streaming down my face. It’s a form of pain, I can not erase … and I try to tell myself that I do not miss you at all, but I fail … more tears fall. There are times when I feel that you are not really gone, that you are standing here, but I reach out and know that I am wrong … ‘
‘Holds the words’ here you are not exactly, but working! Face / Erase, All / Fall, Feel / Here, Gone / Wrong … See what I mean?
The most important thing to remember when writing texts is to make them real. Do not write about hugs and poppin hats if you do not know anything about it. Write from the heart.
Write words in your head when you play the music you came up with, sing them out loud and then switch to pen and paper or computer every few lines to jot it out. Go back and put things together every time you come up with an idea. For example:
::: Playing music ::: ‘I always felt alone …’ ::: jot, jot, jot ::: Breathe. Think. ::: Playing music ::: ‘I always felt alone … with the others around.’ ::: jot, jot, jot ::: Andas. Think. ::: Play music ::: ‘I was always on my own …’ ::: jot, jot, jot ::: Breathe. Think. ::: Play music ::: ‘I was always alone … with the others around. I was always on my own … until you came around. ‘::: jot, jot, jot ::: You have a first verse.
Once you have your lyrics and your music, keep working on shaping the two together to create a unit: the song. Make sure you know it really well or record it on your computer so that you do not forget it. Add details you want later (maybe with bandmates … come with drum parts, guitar solos or harmonies). When it becomes ‘complete’, write it again. Make sure it has a title and where you go. A good song from the heart. ‘What about all the extravaganzas and ideas I did not use?’ you ask? Radda dom. Make a folder or box dedicated to lyrics and ideas. You can use them when writing future songs.
Tips and warnings
So you’re a musician and you want to write songs but you only know where to start? Then you have come to the right place. I will give you step by step instructions (along with some extra tips) for writing a great song.