Songwriting Tips

Songwriting Tips

Introduction – Keep in mind that anyone can write a song – songwriting is not just for professional musicians / songwriters. These songwriting tips are for any person that wants to create music – any person that wants to express themselves through music.  Songwriting can be just for fun, just for pleasure, or even for profit.  Songwriting is not something that I can show you how to do, but I can point out some songwriting tips to help you get started.  This Songwriting Tips menu page will review some of the basic elements needed to write songs (mostly leaning towards the musical side of songwriting, not the lyrical side).  These Songwriting Tips will essentially give the reader some idea’s, hints, and tips that can be used to develop your songwriting skills (or at the very least help you get started and moving in the right direction).  Then we’ll get into Keys, Key Signatures, Chord Charts (the chords in the different keys), Chord Progressions, Recording Devices, Copyright Basics, and Songwriting Contests (all on separate pages).   First, we’ll review some basic songwriting tips and information (which is included below on this page).  We’ll cover Lyrics, Melody, Style of Music, Collaboration (and more).

Then, once you’re ready to move on – check out the following menus:

Chords / Keys / Basics – Click Here!

Copyright Basics – Click Here!

Recording Devices – CLICK HERE!

Songwriting Contests – CLICK HERE!

 

Do you need to play an instrument? Read Music?

Songwriters don’t necessarily need to be able to read music, or even play an instrument. Even if you don’t know how to read, write, or play and instrument you can still write a song. You can still write lyrics, come up with melodies and harmonies, etc. Then you can collaborate with a musician that can play the music for your songs. So even though it is better that you know how to play the guitar (or piano), it’s really not essential that you know how. Many of the great composers (like Beethoven and Mozart) created music by writing it down using musical notation (using symbols as a visual representation of the song), but most songwriters just write down the chords and lyrics without all the fancy musical notation. John Lennon never wrote a note of music, he simply wrote down the lyrics and chords just like most great songwriters do…think about it.

 

Software to help you write songs?

Songwriting Tips – There are several different “song building” software packages on the market that can actually help a “non-musician” build and create a full original song. The software has “samples” of drum parts, guitar parts, bass parts, keyboard, and any other instrument part you can think of to help build a song. Yes, professional sounding songs – all without knowing how to play an instrument. You would have to learn how to use the software, but it is much easier than learning all the instruments. You would be surprised of how many successful songwriters / musicians use these types of software to create their original songs.

The two software packages that I am familiar with are:

songwriting tips

Logic Pro XMade by Apple – Click Here for more Information

(cost is around $200, only works on a Mac)

Garage BandMade by Apple – Click Here for more information:

(basic package is free on Mac’s, iPads, etc)

 

What does it take to write a successful song:

There are some basic fundamental elements required for a good song (regardless of genre). 

Lyrics, Melody, Harmony, Rhythm, Genre / Style of Music, Guitar Riffs, and Collaboration.

1. Lyrics – Can be described as the words that a songwriter sets to music.  It helps if you have the ability to write decent lyrics.  You don’t have to be a mastermind or a great poet, but you do have to make sure the lyrics makes sense, tells a story, has meaning / emotion, creates a mood, somewhat rhymes, and has some sore of structure to it.

Example of a basic song structure:

 – 1st Verse – – Chorus – 2nd Verse – – Chorus – – Bridge – – Solo – Chorus – – Chorus – – Outro

 A songs structure is whatever you create, whatever works for the song you write…

2. Melody One definition of a melody is a succession of single tones that make up a musical phrase.  The melody is pretty much the main element of a good song.  The melody should be memorable, pleasing to the listener, but most of all be “catchy.”  The melody of a song should make a good first impression.  The words should make sense, and the chorus should have a great “hook” (the hook should immediately grab the listeners attention). 

3.  Harmony Harmony is best described as musical notes sounded together to create chords.   Good harmonies can make or break the melody of a song.  Songs contain chord progressions which make up the verses and chorus that the singer sings the lyrics over.

4.  Rhythm The rhythm is the timing, the tempo (pace of the song), and the beat.  The rhythm is usually established while the song is in the beginning stages (you pretty much know if your song is going to be up-tempo or even a ballad).  The tempo is usually the same throughout a song, but some songs do change the tempo during the song.

5.  Genre / Style of Music – Does the song sound current? – It really doesn’t matter what genre of music you are writing a song in, but it does matter if the song sounds current.  If you are writing a rock song, and it sounds like it came from the 1970’s you may not go far with it (that’s why they call it “classic rock”).  And you certainly don’t want to write a “disco” song, right… No matter what style of music you are writing songs in, try to keep it current…

6. The Guitar Riff – A great guitar riff will prevail over the basic chords or even the chorus of a song – and make the song even better than it is.

Think about some of the great guitar riffs over the years like:

Guns N Roses – Sweet Child of Mine

David Bowie – Rebel Rebel

Charlie Daniels – Long Haired Country Boy

Black Sabbath – Iron Man

Metallica – Enter Sandman

Dire Straits – Money for Nothing

Lynard Skynard – Call me the Breeze

And the most recognizable guitar riff ever

Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water 

What is a great guitar riff? Well, it’s that riff that immediately gets a listeners attention, makes the listener want to play along (air guitar), and is so recognizable to everyone – they just want to sing it. The funny thing is that most guitar riffs are fairly easy to play, but are extremely difficult to create (probably the most difficult aspect of writing a song on the guitar).

7. Collaboration (working with another songwriter).  Most successful songwriters can manage to write songs on their own (they are both a great musician and a great lyricist), but the most famous of songs were mostly written by collaboration.  If you can get past the ego part of songwriting, you will understand that “two minds are better than one” and that success may come quicker for you (both).  I write songs with my brother, I write 99% of the music and make up the melody, and he writes the lyrics and sings.  Sometimes I change a few words here and there, and sometimes he says why don’t we try the melody this way.  Even so, both us working together helps generate ideas that may not come to you if you were writing songs alone. Collaboration could be the best songwriting tip that you could benefit from.

 

Other Songwriting Tips / Suggestions:

* Listen to other songs on the radio to get some ideas. 

* Always be thinking of different melodies, and when you do – save it on a recorder right away (a good melody can be forgotten quickly).

* Don’t be limited – don’t use the same method of coming up with a melody, etc.

* If you are a singer, write songs for your voice, for you to be able to sing…

 

Songwriting Careers

Songwriters can actually make lots of money writing songs, and some do it without even performing the songs themselves – but there are thousands of singer / songwriters out there making lots of money.  It only takes one hit song to get a songwriters foot in the door – that one song can make a big impact! Promotion will be the key to your success, without promotion, no one will get to hear your song!  Promoting your song will be the most important thing that you do after your song is ready to be heard – make time to design your marketing plan, and how you are going to implement that plan. Hopefully these Songwriting Tips will help you get started in the right direction.

There are so many options for songwriters today, and so much information on the web that can be very helpful. Watch out for the scams!