How to Write a Song

How to Write a Song

Many of us have a song inside our heads, whether it’s just a vague idea, a memorable hook, a catchy melody, or the whole package. No matter if you are starting from scratch or writing words for a particular tune, this article offers writing tips so you will know all the basic steps on how to write a song.

Begin by thinking of lyric writing as a three-step process: inspiration, writing, and revision. In the earliest stage you should get in touch with your creative side, abandon all rules, and write whatever pops into your head. It may be tough at first, but you’ll overcome your writer’s block before you know it. While it does help to know the parts of a song, there is no structure at this point, only ideas.Eventually, you will add structure to your ideas, like many pros suggest. Many successful songs start with verse-chorus-verse-chorus and then go on from there. You may want to start your first songs by following this simple structure.

Here are some more tips:

1) Don’t be too specific.

If you leave room for a listeners’ interpretations of your lyrics, more people will be able to relate to your song.

2) Stick to simple structure.

To get a better feel for song structure, listen to your favorite songs and try to determine their structure. Use the list of basic song parts on the following page as a guide. Then, practice putting your own words to the music.

3) Be yourself.

Write about what you know and believe in. If you are stuck for ideas, ask yourself these questions: How do I feel? How is my love life? What do I want? What don’t I want? What is something new I’ve learned or experienced? What are my favorite memories? What do I want to tell the world? Once you find your inspiration, don’t be afraid to change it and embellish it!

4) Carry a songwriting notebook everywhere you go.

Keep your creativity turned on constantly by thinking about how people speak—the words they use, the cadence and rhythm of conversations, the emotional state of people around you and how they and your surroundings make you feel. Jot your thoughts and song ideas down in the notebook.

5) Remember that it isn’t like writing a story.

You don’t have to, and shouldn’t, include too much detail. There doesn’t have to be a clear beginning and end, either. It’s okay to leave the listener wondering what happened.

6). Don’t rhyme for the sake of rhyming.

Though rhyming may make your song smooth and easier to remember, rhyming just for the sake of rhyming can be difficult and dangerous. You could get stuck at a dead end pretty quickly, or worse yet, take your song in a direction you never intended. At least at the beginning, consider not trying to rhyme, at least not all of the time. As alternatives, repeat a sound or vowel instead, rhyme every couple lines, or using slant rhyming, where words end with the same letter or sound.

Cherie Yurco is a former editor at Making Music and has worked as a freelance editor and writer for over 20 years.

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