In a few words, the road from an absolute beginner to someone who wants to puts his inspiration in a form of notes and verses goes something like this:
It’s been a while since you picked a guitar for the first time. Months of practicing made you capable of playing various kinds of music and you have finally determined a few styles you prefer. You always wanted to be a songwriter but never actually tried to make a song, for some reasons.
Let’s be as direct as possible. There is no good reason why you shouldn’t start with writing your songs at once. Many people would think that they aren’t good enough or that they have to learn some specific process of song making.
The fact is that songs can be written in many ways. Moreover, most artists have their own way of writing, and that is probably one of the main reasons why they stand out from the crowd. If you stick to forms and rules, you’ll never be a good songwriter.
All in all, you’re on your own. Adapt the creation process to you, to make it comfortable. Still, consider some of the tips I’m going to mention in the next few lines:
1. Silence and Observation
It a quest for inspiration, these two would probably be your best allies. There is no better way to find an inspiration than the one you get looking around you.
Nature, people, and complete environment are the unfailing source for your ideas, no matter, if you’re are looking for something that can provoke you to write lyrics about some interesting topic, or you need an inspiration for a catchy melody.
Besides observing, you should also consider spending some time in silence. Determine the specific time of a day or week and find some silent place where you can be alone with your instrument. This will definitely put your creativity on a higher level.
2. Always Have a Recorder with You
Although this seems like a pretty technical thing, it is actually hugely important. Just remember how many times you had great ideas in your head, but you didn’t have time or device to record it. These things are very easy to forget.
Basically, you will need nothing more than a common recorder that every smartphone features. The quality of the device isn’t important at all. You just need something that will refresh your memory later when you get to your studio.
Once you come up with some catchy melody, record it. Record when improvising, you can play some great stuff by accident. Inspiration doesn’t ask for time or place.
3. Listen as much as possible
Use every available moment to hear some new song. Even if the song isn’t your cup of tea, there is a big chance to hear something that you could use in your music as well. Find out a new chord, or even whole progression.
Learn some new scales or something third. Simply, listening to music is the best way to expand your knowledge, the thing so much needed when composing.
4. Learn the basic structure
These few tips from above are too general, someone would say. Still, keep in mind that there is no proven recipe write a song. There is no school for songwriting, just like there’s no school for poets or some other field of art. Still, there are some technical tips that could make the whole process easier, and which could also make you able to express yourself better.
Many songwriters focus on lyrics first and that is definitely a good way to start. Moreover, this is probably the most common way to write a song. First of all, you’ll have to consider that every song has some kind of a structure.
In most cases, there are few verses and chorus, as well as the bridge section. While you’re probably familiar with chorus and verses, you may wonder what’s the catch with the last one.
A transitional bridge, or simply just bridge, is a great method to break the monotony of the song and make it more interesting. It is a section that feels a gap between verses and chorus. It could be either as melodic as chorus, but it could also be some kind of a verse extension. It’s up to you.
5. Lyrics first, or not?
Basically, there are two common approaches to songwriting. As I’ve already mentioned, many people focus on lyrics first. Once they’re done with the text, there is usually some common chord progression, heard so many times before. Still, if you have an interesting voice or singing technique, even the most ordinary chord combination can sound good.
On the other side, you can start with some catchy melody first. After hearing it several times, you can get a better inspiration for the lyrics. In this way, there is a much bigger chance that lyrics and music will be in a much better cohesion.
When choosing a topic for your song, write about something that means to you. Don’t necessarily write a love song if you are in some good mood. It has to flow naturally, so be in harmony with your current state of mind.
Write about anything that’s in your mind. The girl you love, weather, historical events, social issues, it will work well. Of course, keep rhymes in mind, as well as syllables.
6. Don’t go too much in details until you finish the song
One of the worst things you can do when writing a song is to lose a touch with initial ideas. It is very easy to go in the wrong way. So, stick the point until you complete a whole song. Once you’re finished with all the lyrics and harmony, start with brushing.
This can last a few days but can take an eternity as well. This final process could be very tricky and demands a lot of effort. It could include various kinds of things. For example, you can figure out some better lines for verses, or come up with some new melody lines.
My advice would be- never stop working on your songs, even if these are written years ago. With constant tweaks, you can just make them better and more up to date.
Whether you just want to spice up the solo for a bit or to make some tweaks to the chorus melody, it is always beneficial to try some new things. Get out of the matrix, try some new thing to play over the same song.
Change the harmony, or scale while soloing. Also, try with some producer’s tricks, like modulation for example. It may sound like a cliché but works great sometimes.
Also, you can try to break a common song structure. For example, most pop/rock songs consist of the parts like intro, verse, bridge, chorus, instrumental/solo, the once again verse, chorus etc.
If this sound is too familiar to you, try to insert some middle part that doesn’t have a lot in common with the song. It is a great way to break up the monotony and clichés.
Listen to the opinions of others
Once you’re done with the song, it is time for the premiere. Usually, people would play their songs with friends and family, so you probably won’t hear too many honest critics.
The best way to get an honest opinion is to share your work with other musicians. For all those who are shy, there is a full load of websites where you can share your songs with complete strangers, exchange opinions and ideas etc.
Those would be a few tips for better songwriting. Of course, you can find much more of them on the network and each one could be very useful. Still, don’t take them as something mandatory. After all, it’s all about your creativity and ability to express yourself.