Songwriting Tips, News & More

10 Simple Steps to Write a Song

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, May 11, 2020 @07:00 AM

 by Karen Randle

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Are you interested in writing a song? Don't know how to begin writing a song? Here are 10 simple steps to get you going:

  1. 1. Choose and Compose a Title of your Song.

What do you think you would like to be that sums up the heart of your song’s message? You will need to come up with the subject of your song. A good way is also to brainstorm song titles as well. 

 

  1. 2. Write from Experience or Fantasy.

You may wish to brainstorm possible lyrics. What you want to say about your title and what you think your listeners might want to know? These are the questions to want to ask yourself. You may write some sort of an experience or feelings.

 

  1. 3. Choose a Song Structure.

Currently, the most popular structure is: Verse / Chorus / Verse / Chorus / Bridge / Chorus. Thus, a formula of: ABABCB. Also, analyze the chord structures of your favorite songs. Are they verse, verse, chorus, and then bridge, or do they just repeat verses and choruses? Say your favorite song is “Someone Like You” by Adele, what is the song structure of like?

  1. 4. Construct a Temporary Chorus and Verse.

What do you want to say in your chorus and hook?  Look for imagery and action words to bring your answers to life. What emotion are you describing? What do you wish to say in your verse?  

 

  1. 5. Find the Melody in your Lyric.

Choose the lines you like best for your chorus and hook. Recite out loud with emotion. 

 

  1. 6. Chord Progression

Add chords to your Verses and Chorus and Melody. Try a simple, repeated chord pattern. Play with the melody and chords until you find something you like. I would suggest singing or humming over the chord progression to experiment. Or maybe even use a background music track. Remember one of the world’s biggest hit was written with a background track (“Old Town Road” by ‘Lil Nas X).

 

  1. 7. Rhyming.

Find pairs of phrases in this material for your Chorus and Hook. Remember to connect the words that rhyme. 

 

  1. 8. Connect Your Verses and Chorus and Bridge.

Connect it melody and lyrics.  Do you wish to add a bridge before you add your final chorus? Explore your concepts more and add connections.

 

  1. 9. Intro.

Do you need an intro? Or maybe no intros at all? Keep your intros short and simple. Remember the songs on the radio have short intros; no one wants to listen to a long intro like “Stairway to Heaven”.

 

  1. 10. Putting it all together: Record a Demo.

A simple guitar/vocal can be a good first step for your song. Or do vocals over an existing music background track. It doesn’t have to be perfect at first; you just need to get started putting your song together, remember that it is progress and not perfection!

 

For information on the 25th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: https://www.songwriting.net

 
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Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Chorus, Songwriting, lyric, demo, songwrite, Chord, create melody, Rhyming, Rewrite, Title, Experience, into

5 Secrets to Writing a Great Chorus

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Fri, May 01, 2020 @07:00 AM

 by Karen Randle

ControlSongwriting

The chorus is the “heart” of the song. It is the part of the song where your audience can't wait to reach that catchy Chorus with melodic and lyric hooks.

A song’s chorus can be more memorable if it’s emotionally moving as well. Choruses can be angry, sad, affectionate, playful - any state of mind can inspire a song.

 

  1. 1. Melody

This is the most important part of the song, it is your statement. If the melody isn’t strong, your chorus will suffer accordingly. A contrast of melody from the verse can make your song stand out. Example: in Dolly Parton’s biggest hit song “I Will Always Love You”, the chorus is a stark contrast from the verse as the melody in the chorus is sparser and makes the chorus stand out more than the verse. You may use wide intervals, long tones, short rhythms or different melodic rhythm from the verse.

 

  1. 2. Lyrics

What do you wish to convey to your audience? You want to remind your listeners what your song's all about. Lyrics can be tricky as they should sum up the overall theme and mood of the song. Example in “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson, written by Max Martin and Lukasz Gottwald, a.k.a “Dr. Luke”, “Since U Been Gone, I can breathe for the first time, I'm so moving on, yeah yeah”, the lyrics make it memorable to the listener and something the listen can identify with.

 

  1. 3. Use Your Hook

In the hit song “I Hate Myself for Loving You” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, written by Desmond Child and Kenny Laguna. They use the hook intro to incorporate the Chorus – clever and that brings the listener in. So, you may use your hook in your Chorus.

 

  1. 4. Contrast the Chorus's melody in a Different Range and Feel

The chorus can be higher in pitch and range, but not always. Example: “Without You” by Nilsson, written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans (of the rock band “Badfinger”). See the example of big sweeping melodies and color in that chorus, a contrast to the verse. Another example is “All By Myself”, written and recorded by Eric Carmen. See how different and contrast the chorus is from the verse.

 

  1. 5. Know when you need a chorus.

There are times that you do not need a chorus at all. Then you need is a refrain: a short hook that gets tacked on like "You needed me, you needed me" in Anne Murray’s #1 Hit song “You Needed Me”, written by Randy Goodrum. In that song, there is just a short refrain, there isn’t any chorus.

 

So, experiment with your chorus, write and re-write it until you get it the way you want. Remember that it's progress and not perfection!

 

For information on the 25th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: https://www.songwriting.net

 
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Songwriting Tips: 10 Elements of a Song

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, Aug 11, 2014 @01:34 PM

Songwriting Tips: 10 Elements of a Song
by Steve Cheeks

 songwriting

When studying songs and songwriting, there seem to always be common threads to the basic components of successful songs. Like most people, I am measuring a songs success by it's popularity more than any other factor, although it is not the only factor to consider. With that thought being set aside, lets look at the elements that make up songs in the Modern Contemporary Music era (the last fifty years of rock, pop, country and R&B). Please also note that these are not considered to be in any particular order.

1. Melody - The melody is the tune of the song that you sing or play. The best melodies are considered to be "catchy". This typically means that the melody is memorable, which should be the desired effect.

2. Chords (chord progression) - The chords accompany the melody of the song. This can also be, and is typically, part of the rhythm of the song. A chord progression is the order in which the chords are played.

3. Beat and Rhythm - The beat of a song is what "drives" the listener to "feel" the song (fast or slow). It is also referred to as the tempo (speed) of the song. Because music stirs our emotions, we often are drawn to a song because of the beat. The rhythm on the other hand, is the beat that the various instruments (drums, bass, guitar and keys) create.

4. Genre and Style - the genre of a song (rock, pop, country or r&b) is typically established by the beat and rhythm of the song. The style may vary once the song is constructed with the words and/or instruments. The style of the song branches out from the genre, such as, punk rock, alternative, hip hop, blue grass etc.

5. Concept (story) - All songs have a story line or theme. Typically the song title will convey the essence of that story idea and the words (lyric) will expound upon that idea or theme. The story concept and theme is typically stated in the title of the song.

6. "Hook"- Simply stated, the hook is the part of the song that you just can't get out of your head. It sort of "sticks" to your thought process, sometimes, even if you like it or not. All great (if not memorable) songs have great hooks. A song may also have sub hooks that are sections,words, phrases of music that will get inside your brain. The song title can typically be a "singable" hook or phrase as well.

7. Lyrics - What is being "said" in the song comes through the words called the lyrics. The lyric describes the concept, theme and/or title of the song. A lyric will typically rhyme in rhythmic phrases in the sections of music.

8. Song Sections - Songs are divided up into sections and have names, such as, intro, verse, chorus,bridge etc. Typically, the verse describes the concept of the title and hook that are typically in the chorus. Other sections such of music, such as the intro, bridge, lead breaks, etc., will function to support these main components of the song. Sections consist of measures (also called bars) that are typically four beats in length. Although they can be longer or shorter, sections are typically eight measures (bars) in length.

9. Arrangement - The arrangement is actually two-fold. First, the arrangement is the order in which the sections of music are placed, such as, intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus and so on. Secondly, the organization of the instrumentation, vocals and/or other parts of music that make up the song, are considered to be the arrangement as well.

10. Length - The length of a song is always a consideration, depending on the use of the song. If a song is being written and arranged for radio airplay, songs today are typically three and a half to four minutes long. They can be shorter or longer, but this is the typical length in today's musical formats. It should be stated that you will find successful songs with less (or even more) of the ten elements that are listed here. That doesn't make the song right or wrong, just different.

There are always exceptions to every rule,and in music, you will find that to be the case more often than not. In searching songs, I believe you will find most "hit' songwriters will use proven formulas with the elements listed above, in some shape or form. I always remind songwriters and musicians alike, that there are no "have to be's" in music, just "probablies." That's the purpose of using the word "typically" so often. As always, go back and study some of the songs from your favorite genre to see how many of the elements you can detect. I'm sure you will find that the more successful the song, the more song elements that are in the song. This should give you a great overview for your study. Happy Hunting!

Steve Cheeks is a Producer, Arranger, Singer, Songwriter and Psalmist. As a teacher, Steve has taught many hundreds of students how to play, perform and compose music with many different instruments. Currently, Steve is on a mission to teach the world to play and sing. He resides in Evans, Ga.

For more information on USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net

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