How to Become a Better Songwriter – Songwriting Tips for the Beginner Songwriter
How to Become a Better Songwriter – Songwriting Tips for the Beginner Songwriter
Each person reading this post has different life experiences. It is through music that we can express these experiences, connect deeper to one another, and thrive in who we are. Through songwriting, we can unfold stories and convey emotions. We are here, reading this article because we want to learn how to write a song. Music lives within us all.
There are many ways to write a song. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but hopefully, after a few songwriting tips, you will start writing songs in no time. With that said, let’s begin.
#1 – PICK A CONCEPT
A good starting place in writing a song is asking yourself this question, “What do I want to write about?” Spend some time thinking about this question, then narrow your answer down to one word or phrase.
Now, if you are unsure about what you want to write about, you can look at my other article, HOW DO MUSICIANS GET INSPIRATION TO WRITE SONGS – IDEAS FOR SONGWRITING
#2 – BROADEN YOUR IDEA
Once you have picked a word or phrase, the next step is to start asking yourself more questions about your concept. For instance, if you want to write about love, what do you want to say about love? What kind of love do you want to write about? What does this love mean to you? How does it make you feel? Who creates this love? What is the story behind love? How do you want the story to end? These sorts of questions will help you gain a better understanding of what you are going to write about.
#2.5 – SONGWRITING EXERCISES
Listed below are a few exercises you can try out and play around with for your song.
- The famous country songwriter, Harlan Howard, shared that if you want to start writing songs, it is helpful to look at a song that you really love and rewrite it. It is important to look at and study works that you admire so you can in turn get better at writing. Think of the song you love like scaffolding, you need scaffolding to build a house. The song you love is the scaffolding, the core.
If you have or haven’t written a song before this is a great exercise to try. Take the lyrics of the song you love, rewrite them, and then take the melody and rewrite it. You will most likely come up with a completely new song.
- Come up with a title for your song. Everything you write about should relate somehow back to the title.
- Play with alliteration: lost love, windy willows, solemn souls, lovely ladies, bumping beats, autumn’s awe.
- Rhyme with the times: there are lots of sites on google that can help find words that rhyme. Doing a few lines in rhyme can be a fun exercise to get your brain thinking differently.
#3 – COME UP WITH A STRUCTURE
Try writing a song that follows this structure in the beginning. Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus. The chorus is the part of the song that is most people tend to belt out when it comes on the radio (or wherever you listen to music from). The chorus is often thought of as the most important part of the song, but every part of the song is equally important. Keep this in mind as you are writing your song.
#4 – START WRITING
I know this is easier said than done, but it is by far the most important part of the process. It can be as simple as writing down a few lines to get some ideas going. You don’t have to use any of these ideas for your final song, but you have to start writing. Also, make sure you never throw any of your work away or delete it. Who knows, one day, twenty years from now, you may go back to it and have it spark something brilliant within you.
You may be wondering, where do I start? Well, there is no one way to start, you can start writing your first verse, the chorus, or you can outline your song more if you feel that will be more comfortable for you. The goal here is to start writing and get a couple of stanzas done. If you are wanting to focus more on the melody, start by dabbing around with different sound patterns that you like and then write or record them so you don’t lose them.
#5 – FOCUS ON SPECIFIC PARTS OF YOUR SONG
Once you have a good chunk of your song written, you can go back and reread what you have thus far. Now, this is going to be a personalized experience, look at what you think sounds good and what you want to change. Do NOT throw away or delete anything. Your first draft could be your best one, or it could be something that leads you to something even more marvelous.
Other suggestions for editing your song:
- Start by focusing on your opening line.
- It should be powerful and give the listener a taste for what they are about to get into. This also goes for when you are creating a melody or a beat, the intro of the song has to catch their attention.
- What do you feel when you hear that first part of your song? Is that the feeling you are going for? If not, why, and is that okay? Even if it is not what you are expecting, it could still be exactly what needed to be there.
- Then, look at the flow of your song.
- If you listen to it or read its lyrics, does it flow? If not, change it.
- Often songs follow a certain type of beat structure, can you imagine music going to your lyrics? To improve this, rearrange the lengths of the lines, count symbols, add rhymes, or poetic words.
Here are some examples of opening lines of songs:
- “Is this the real life / Is this just fantasy / Caught in a landslide / No escape from reality” Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
- “What you want / Baby I got it / What you need / You know I got it” Aretha Franklin – Respect
- “She’s got a smile that it seems to me / Reminds me of childhood memories” Guns N’Roses – Sweet Child O’Mine
- “Imagine there’s no heaven / It’s easy if you try” John Lennon – Imagine
#6 – STRING YOUR SONG TOGETHER
Now, it is time to start putting your song together. Start by putting your verses in the order that you want them in. Maybe if one verse doesn’t work with the rest of the song, rewrite it. Do all of your verses come back to the chorus? Does your song transition well from one verse to the next?
Think about telling a story, conveying thoughts, or expressing emotion. Does your song make sense? Does it have to make sense? Similarly, does it make you feel something? Does it have to make you feel something?
Have you enjoyed writing this song? If not, why are you writing a song?
#7 – FINE TUNING
Now, that your song is mostly written, look back to makes sure that you are sticking with the same perspective and tense (if that is your goal for your song). For further clarification, is this written from one person’s perspective, if so who? Also, is the song in the past, present, or future?
Add some imagery to make us feel we are experiencing what is happening to the person singing the song. Make it, relatable (or make it the opposite of that). What I am really wanting to say is make it completely and utterly yourself. Express yourself.
#8 – BE TRUE TO YOURSELF
Write a song you want to write about and write it how you want. Write anything and everything that comes to your mind. I say give it your best shot because you might come up with something remarkable.
#9 – CO-WRITING
Co-writing can be an extremely helpful tool, whether you have just started songwriting or an experienced songwriter. If you come to a creative writing session with an open mind, it can be enjoyable to bounce different ideas off one another, and people bring unique aspects of songwriting to the table. Adding different flavors of music can be a good reason to cowrite.
Co-writing is an awesome way to collaborate with other artists and can be especially helpful if you are having difficulty figuring out what to write. If you never co-wrote before this can be a fun activity to try with friends and it’s a great way to meet new people too.
Bringing in someone to fill in the missing parts, meaning you may be really good at lyrics but need someone to do the melody or via versus. Remember to leave your ego at the door and let the song go where it is supposed to go.
#10 – GET ORGANIZED
Whatever being organized means to you, it is important to find out what works for you. This could range from having a notebook, computer, or your phone to keep all of your songs on. I have all of my songs organized in google drive.
I have folders arranged by genre of song and then completed and uncompleted folders. Then I separate the songs with one song in each google document. This allows me to find songs more easily and makes editing them more convenient too.
Hopefully, you found this article was helpful! I look forward to hearing your feedback, and I hope that you all start writing songs! If you ever want to share your songs, leave them in the comments below! Keep on songwriting!
BOOKS ON SONGWRITING
Below is a list of some of the best books on songwriting:
- 1000 songwriting ideas by Lisa Aschmann
- Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison
- How to Be a Hit Songwriter by Molly-Ann Leikin
- The Songwriter’s Idea Book by Sheila Davis
- The Craft of Lyric Writing by Sheila Davis
- Successful Lyric Writing by Sheila Davis – This is a workbook
- The Songwriter’s Survival Guide to Success: How to Pitch Your Songs by Dude McLean
- More Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo. This book is interviews with songwriters
COPYWRITING YOUR SONGS
Notes on copyrighting: In the United States, you can Copyright Your Songs for $45 a song or a volume of songs up to 100 for$45. So when you go to copy write something, submit your work as a collection of songs you have written so it costs less money.
How do get people to not steal your song: It does happen, but if you are afraid of that then your song may never see the light of day. So either get your song copyrighted or just don’t worry about it and start playing your songs.
Well, that about covers this article on how to become a better songwriter. If you found this article helpful.
The best tip we can give anyone on songwriting is to get started don’t wait. Now is a great time, no seriously, now right now.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
What are some other great songwriting tips can you add to this article? There are so many more ideas we couldn’t even come close to listing them all. Feel free to share your ideas with the Lesson Pros community.