How to Write a Song
Writing a song can seem incredibly daunting. The best way to approach the task is to simply start writing! It doesn’t matter what you’re writing, just start throwing out some ideas. Starting is by far the most challenging step just get to it! Here are some suggestions for organising your ideas.
1- Have a wide appreciation of music. Inspiration should not come from just one particular genre. Similar to breeding dogs, although pedigrees have a greater niche appeal, it is the cross breeds or hybrids that are more genetically fit.
2- You don’t have to be hugely technically minded to write a good song, but at the very least you need to have a base appreciation of musical structure. Listen to songs and identify chorus’s, bridges, verses and instrumentals.
3- Be receptive to ideas and be ready to jot them down. Too often catchy tunes or interesting lyrics come to us when we least expect them. Carry a means by which to record them (perhaps a recording device on your cell phone), to ensure that they are not lost in the midst of the rest of the day’s activities.
4- Write to your strengths. Are you primarily an instrumentalist or a vocalist? Whatever your strength, you should begin brainstorming a melody with that equipment first. Once you have an initial idea that you’re happy with, begin writing the other part.
5- Find inspiration simply by starting. Some people prefer to start with a melody and see what images are conjured up from that, whereas others are dead set about writing a song about a particular subject and so create a melody (be it vocal or instrumental) with that topic in mind. Whatever your inspiration however, ensure that it is something that you feel passionate about as this will be reflected in your music allowing for greater empathy with your audience and a better response.
6- Identify what you’ve written. Is it catchy and a possible repeatable theme? If so it may work best as a chorus, whereas if it’s more lyrically orientated then perhaps you may have a verse.
7- Ensure that your melody reflects the song content i.e. do not have an excitable rhythm for a song about feeling sadness having just lost a loved one.
8- Properly fit your lyrics to the music. Although they make work in a poem, it does not mean that they will align to the musical phrases of a song. Do not try and squeeze too many words in to make it work, similarly, do not drag out syllables. Rhyming isn’t essential with lines of lyrics as linking can be done through melody- this is a skill which needs a careful ear, experience and practice.
11- Don’t be too repetitive, however be sure to have a focus point to the song. Too much variety can cause a song to ‘fall upon death ears’. A bridge can really help to create variety in a song that is too highly structured and it can also set the scene for a change in pace or pitch.
12 Create a seamless transition when you find that you have very likeable phrases to a song but they do not sound very good when put back to back. It is important to have a deliberated transition between 2 phrases of music. If you’re struggling, as a last resort, try fading out and then fading back in again (although over using this change in dynamic may cheapen the overall feel of the song).
13- Gain an appreciation of dynamics. Understanding dynamics can really help give your song life and atmosphere especially when performing it live. When are the quiet parts? Is there a kick in?
14- Get honest feedback from someone you trust who has a wide appreciation of music. They do not need to be expert or write songs themselves, however they simply need to appreciate music of many different genres in order to give you some basic feedback.
15- Revisit your song. Once you’ve finished it, put it down and re-visit it a few days later. With fresh perspective and a few nights sleep, you may have some decent ideas on how to improve it.
Write with someone else. People can collaborate in many different ways, however should you have a strength in writing lyrics, and your friend have a strength in writing guitar melody, why not put the 2 together?
Avoid Cliché lyrics as they can be cringey. “Spread your wings and fly” etc etc.
Don’t over rhyme. Just because you’re struggling with a word to rhyme with the end of the last line, don’t abandon decent lyrics in order to force it to work.