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How to Write a Song


November 7, 2013; Tristan Possessky (thebaconwaffle3000@yahoo.com)

Song Writing: Basics
 
We’ve all heard that one song, the one that makes us want to become a songwriter and become famous. Rockstars get most of their inspiration for songs through past experiences and feelings about someone or something. That’s why you can’t rush right into writing a song and having an expectation that is not met. This article is written forthe intent of amateur musicians who don’t know much about the subject. You will learn where to find your killer lyrics and how to put them to music.

Part I: Finding Inspiration
The start of writing a song can be the most difficult step in the process. Most people who try writing a song, give up because their song doesn’t feel like it’s their own. You can use anything as inspiration, from tough relationships, to problems with the government. Write about what you feel is important to you. Their is no right or wrong when it comes to song writing. But don’t pick up that pencil and paper yet!

Part II: Your Song’s Skeleton
So you now have an idea about who or what you want to write about. But, how do you get the formation of your song?

First, you should know some simple music vocabulary:

  1. Verse: This part of the song changes each time it is sung
  2. Chorus: This part of the song is always the same and is usually put in between two verses.
  3. Bridge: This part of the song is sometimes used as a transition from chorus to verse. Or vise versa.
  4. Intro: Put at the beginning of the song not part of verse or chorus
  5. Closing: Put at the end of a song sometimes the same as intro also not part of verse or chorus.


A sample organization of a song might look something like this:

  1. Intro
  2. Verse
  3. Chorus
  4. Verse
  5. Chorus
  6. Bridge
  7. Verse
  8. Closing


This particular example uses all of the elements shown above, but not all songs do. Now, search up the lyrics to one of your favorite songs and make sure you can identify all the different parts of a song.

Part III: Writing the Lyrics
Since you now know all the parts of a song, you can start writing your own! Just make sure you have these things done.

[ ] You have inspiration of some kind
[ ] You can properly identify the different parts of a song.
[ ] You have either a blank document or piece of paper and pencil ready.

Great! You will also need some kind of tune in your head that you want your song to go to. This doesn’t need to be perfect yet, but there should be some ideas floating around. This isn’t mandatory, but it would also be good to have some kind of instrument with you, such as a guitar, bass, or piano. This will help you keep the tune fresh in your head. Now I can’t teach you what to write. That’s where the creativity comes in. But, the lyrics should have some kind of pattern that is smooth when changing from verse to chorus and back to verse. You also don’t need to use intros, bridges, and closings. They are just an option.

Part IV: The Music
This is personally my favorite part. Choosing what notes in what order. If you haven’t already figured it out, songs aren’t just someone laying on the keyboard and playing whatever they feel like. There are certain rules about what notes can come when. I won’t go into too much detail but I will cover the basics. This section will aid you a lot more if you play guitar. I recommend this website for going over basic scales and finding chords that are good with that scale: http://jguitar.com/scale?fret=14. You can choose from an array of scales in different keys and positions. For now I will stick to the basics and go with a Major Scale in G with the root on the 3rd fret. For beginners this may sound overwhelming but its really not that hard after a while.

E|--------------------------------------------------------------------------3-----
B|----------------------------------------------------------------5----7---------
G|-------------------------------------------------4----5----7------------------   MAJOR SCALE IN G
D|----------------------------------4----5----7----------------------------------
A|-------------------3----5----7-------------------------------------------------
E|----3----5----7----------------------------------------------------------------

This is a simple riff I created using notes from this scale

E|--------------------------------------------------------------------
B|--------------------------------------------------------------------
G|--------------------------------------------------------------------
D|--------------------------------------------------------------------
A|--------3--------3--------3--------3--5--5--5--5--5--5--5--5-
E|--3--3-----3--3-----3--3-----3--3--------------------------------

Solos on the other hand typically use another scale called the Minor Pentatonic Scale.
Here it is in G on the 3rd frets again.

E|------------------------------------------------------3----6----
B|--------------------------------------------3----6--------------
G|----------------------------------3----5------------------------
D|------------------------3----5----------------------------------
A|--------------3----5--------------------------------------------
E|----3----6------------------------------------------------------

This scale can be played around with much more. If you search for a blues backtracking in G, you can get comfortable with playing around with this scale. Feel free to bend and pull the notes.


Part V: Tying Up Loose Ends.
You now have what I think is sufficient knowledge to write your first finished song. Even if you fail the first time don’t give up! Trial and Error is one of the best teaching tools for this subject.


If you have any questions, comments, or ways to improve this article, please contact me at:
thebaconwaffle3000@yahoo.com


P.S. If you do contact me, please subject the mail as Song Writing Questions or something along those lines. I will try my best to answer any questions!
 

 


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