How To Write Songs

Mileage may vary, but here’s what I do.

I play a set of chords, sometimes only one or two, sometimes as many as four or five, and repeat them until I get a sense of the mood that they create.

Then I start singing. I try and sing notes that match the chords, working by ear. I don’t always know what I’m talking about at first. But I come up with a first line, and then I do a second line that rhymes, usually using the same melody with a slight variation.

Verse: Once you have four or eight lines, you have a verse structure. You can just repeat it, creating additional lyrics that tell your story, and that’s a song. Period. You did it!

Refrain: To give your song slightly more structure, maybe have the last line repeat in each verse, and that can be the title. Like, oh, I don’t know, “The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.” Something like that?

Chorus: You could also write a chorus. Same procedure, just pick new chords or rearrange the order of the ones you’re already using. The words are the same each time, which makes this part of the song easy to sing along with. Hence the name “chorus,” as in, “everybody join in now!” When you have a chorus, it usually contains the title of the song.

Bridge: same process again, just come up with yet another chord progression. In a 3-4 minute song, this section only happens once. It gives relief from the earlier parts of the song that have repeated a few times already, and maybe looks at whatever you’re talking about from a slightly different angle. Or it can be instrumental.

A couple of song structures:

Verse
Verse
Verse
Verse
Verse

or

Verse
Chorus
Verse
Chorus
–> bridge
Verse
Chorus

I recommend learning songs you like. Memorize all the words and the chords, and practice ’til you can perform it all the way through, singing and playing. You’ll learn new chord progressions this way, get a sense of structure and appreciate when lyrics are easy to sing versus when they’re harder to sing.

Also, if you learn to play your instrument really well and pick up some music theory, that will help a lot.

Just don’t get hung up thinking you have to learn 5,000 songs or become an awesome pianist before you can start writing. Jump right in. Keep it simple. Also, be kind to yourself. It’s really cool that you’re creating something. That’s enough.

Hope that helps!

0 Responses to “How To Write Songs”


  • No Comments

Leave a Reply