“As far as songwriting goes, my inspirations came from love, life and death, and viewing other people’s situations.”- Ed Sheeran
If you ask five songwriters about what inspires them to write their music, you will surely find five different answers from each of them. Music is personal and intimate, and it manifests directly from a writer’s pen to the minds of a listener.
That is why, when John Lennon sang,
“Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today..”
-people all around the world echoed his sentiments.
However, even armed with your creativity, you can hit a writer’s block while writing music if you don’t have the idea about how to frame it properly. You cannot just haphazardly jot down the words that come to your mind and hope your listeners will understand the message you want to put out.
To make things easier, here are ten steps that will take you down the route to song writing. This approach is tried and tested by pros and is a perfect recipe to put out a great song in no time.
So, without further ado, let’s begin!
Begin by framing the title
Try to put down the message of your song in a phrase with up to six words. Elevate the phrase by using action words and images. Make sure people understand the message you are trying to convey with your song just by reading the title.
Jot down the questions that come to your mind by reading the title
Think about the questions your readers might have when they read the title of your song, and make a list from it. Even though you know the answers to the questions, framing them will help you to organize your thoughts and help you with a better writing flow. Some of the potential questions you might want to include in your list are –
- What is the meaning of your title?
- What happened to trigger it?
- What happens next?
Give your song a structure
If you look at the latest hits charts, you will find that most songs are structured in a similar way – verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus.
Well, you might want to follow this pattern if you want to go by the recent trend of popular song. However, don’t be afraid to experiment by adding a lift or pre-chorus, here and there. It is an excellent way to build on the anticipation of your listeners.
Answer the questions
Go back to your list of questions you have penned down. Now, try to answer each of the questions written- one for each verse and one in the chorus.
You will find that your song is taking shape!
Seek out the melody in the lyrics
What is the difference between a few normal lines and a song? Melody, of course!
Read out the lines you have written and try to exaggerate emotions in them. Search for a melody in your lines by noticing their natural rhythm. Try out melody combinations, until you reach a suitable comfort level.
Add chords to the melody
Begin with a repeated chord pattern and strum the melody until you settle on something that you like. Proceed to record your vocals with variations of chord progressions. Save every file you have recorded, even if it is on your iPhone.
Don’t worry; you will find something that feels right!
Go back to the second point
It’s time to ask questions again!
Frame questions for your first verse and then repeat the consecutive steps to find the melody and chords for it.
Create a transition
Once you have completed the previous steps, you need to find the transition between your verses and chorus. Add a word, add a line, anything that will sound right and connect your verses.
Make sure the chorus is catchier than the main verse. After all, most people tend to remember the songs with the chorus!
Repeat previous steps to create a second verse
Now that you are making headway creating a second verse will be much easier for you.
Repeat all the steps mentioned above- start with questions, move on to melody and then chords for your second verse. Also, make sure you maintain a smooth transition between the two!
Record the song
Now that you have all the raw materials at hand, it is time to move on to the final product. Decide your music accompaniments for your song. Try various combinations of them until the song sounds just right.
Make sure you record every version along the way, and you will surely get the one you like best.
And there you go! You will have a perfectly written song in no time at all!