Do melodies float into your head? Do you think about bars? Do you see lyrics, not words? It’s time to begin write a song.
However, there are billions of ways to begin write a song. Where do you even begin? And more importantly, how do you finish?
The effective way to craft the great song is to know the songwriting basics—and know them well.
This step-by-step songwriting guide will provide you with everything you should begin—and finish—your songs right.
“Songwriting is the most important art in music. You could not have a record without a song.”
-Bruce Roberts. Songwriter, Musician, Connector of Dots.
Already have some song inspiration? Perfect. Let’s get began with this step-by-step to write a song.
1. How to start a song
Before you begin writing you should loosely define what you will be making. I do not mean setting up a strict script to follow.
However, asking yourself these key questions before you begin will help to guide you early on.
What are my songwriting tools?
I do not mean pick every instrument right away. Good songwriting means being able to move between all tools. However, selecting one instrument to start with is a great idea.
Begin with what you understand most. Ideas come out simpler on what you are comfortable with. Know your songwriting tools first, and write a song second.
Will there be lyrics?
If there will be lyrics in your song, begin with writing a few ideas out. It does not have to be in song structure (we will get to that later).
However, a few basic concepts will help get you began. A good tool for lyric ideas is a rhyme dictionary. It may sound easy, however, once you are just starting out they are good for finding inspiration.
Write out your lyrics with the instrumentation in mind. Sitting by a piano or with a guitar could help you to know your lyrics better.
Lyrics will also offer you a core idea for your song. When you discover the idea you are going to riff on (literally) then the other parts will fall into place more simply.
All language is music. The best lyrics unlock the music in all spoken word.
Do not stress about understanding how to write lyrics. The best method to write lyrics is whatever feels right for you.
What is my song topic?
A song should answer a query. Ask and answer it with the parts of your song.
Put your questions and answers right in your lyrics.
Or make it the answer to a query you ask yourself. Like “what does it sound like if I…” or “how could I create this idea into a sound?” are good places to begin.
So what makes you feel a certain method? What emotion can you get out through your song? Music is more engaging in case your lyrics and sounds are genuine.
When you do not feel anything from your own music, how is anybody else supposes to feel something from it? To create something real.
All these daydreams and space outs you have been having are songs waiting to get out.
Okay great. Now you have an idea of where you want to go with your song. And you understand what songwriting tools you will be using.
Let’s get began!
2. Make a rough draft
Understanding how to write a great song means discovering a rough idea to build around. Do not have something in mind right away? No worries.
Take your instrument of choice, hit record and begin sketching. You will be surprised how rapidly a song idea will pop up.
“Don’t edit your first idea. Be sure your first idea is always there.”
You do not need to have a fully written song in your head before you begin writing. Just make a small jam session, play it back and see what stands out.
Unsure where to begin?
Hot tip: Keep away from writing ‘parts’ immediately. When you have a sketch, it’s easy to go back and discover the parts that sounded good.
3. Find your song idea
The toughest part of write a song is getting began. Pulling ideas out of thin air is actually difficult.
However, It does not have to be. Every song has a central topic. Beginning with the main idea will make getting began a breeze.
Go back to the sketches you recorded or wrote down. Find the parts of a song that spoke to you the most. Songs are often born from random ideas that you build around.
Your main song ideas could be anything:
- A lyric stanza
- A melody
- A chord progression
- A drum loop
- A hook
- A chorus
- A bass line
- Or whatever else made you pick up the pen or turn your gear on
When you have your greatest song idea everything else will fall into place. Your main idea that you sketch out is the foundation that you build on.
To begin sketching!
Parts of a song
Before you begin building around your song idea you must know the parts of a song.
They are the building blocks you will be working with.
You do not have to use all of them. And how you arrange them is up to you. However, at the very least you should know what they’re.
Verse, Chorus, and Bridge
There are three essential parts of a song: The verse, The chorus and the bridge. They’re the building blocks of songwriting.
Right here’s what each part is. Use them to craft your next masterpiece.
- What’s a verse
The verse is the part of a track that propels your song idea forwards. When you consider a song like a story, the verse is the passage that builds suspense and action.
Keep in mind, you do not need lyrics to tell a story. It could be a progression in your leads, creative drum layering, or any fascinating combination of sounds.
Each verse typically changes each time it pops up in your song. The melody in your verse needs to ascend towards and lead seamlessly into your chorus.
- What Is a chorus
A chorus is a piece of a song that typically repeats a lyric, idea or passage in between each verse. It’s sometimes known as a refrain as well.
The chorus typically happens after a verse. While verses vary in their structure, a chorus tends to repeat the same idea.
A great chorus is memorable and catchy. It also states the main idea of your track.
Because the verse builds up to the chorus and is generally repeated multiple times during a track, it’s usually the most recognizable part of a song.
That’s why it is normally the chorus you sing or hum when a song gets stuck in your head.
- What’s the bridge
In music, the bridge is the part of a track that contrasts the rest of the composition.
The bridge is a good way to move away from your central song idea. Select a melody and chord progression that contrasts your verse and chorus.
The bridge typically sits between a chorus and verse. When the bridge is over, the original structure—either a verse or chorus—comes back in.
It will make the listener want that juicy hook or chorus back after the bridge. So give it to ’em!
The Pieces of Your Song Parts
The verse, chorus, and bridge are the main parts of your track. However, there are a couple of other parts you should know before you begin writing.
- What is vital
Key is the group of notes that your track is made up of. The tonic or root of your key determines the scale of complimentary notes that you will use. Take a look at our guide to the circle of fifths if you should brush up on your key signatures.
Which means melodies, chords and even bass lines will all be made from that scale.
Understanding basic music theory is important for success in terms of songwriting. So take some time and learn the fundamentals.
- What’s melody
Melody is a sequence of single notes that make up your lead line. Consider it just like the theme of your components. It is what defines the mood of your track.
Relying on what genre you are working in, the melody could take on many forms. However, melody normally dictates the color or tone of a song part.
Melody most often refers to the top line of a track that’s joined with background elements like percussion. Usually, it is a vocal or lead instrument that carries it.
- What’s a hook
A hook is a part you end up humming in the bathe. It is the earworm that gets stuck in your head.
Hooks could be a small melodic passage, part of a solo, lyrics from the chorus, a backing vocal or completely anything else from your track. The hook is what makes a song catchy.
Good songwriting always has good hooks. You need to craft each part with a hook in mind.
Writing your first verse? there needs to be a hook there. Working on the chorus? There needs to be a hook there too.