Sign up below for a FREE songwriting masterclass with Grammy nominated RuthAnne Cunningham
Welcome to your simple guide to writing a song. Whether you are an established musician or just an expert shower singer, songwriting can be a daunting prospect. But fear not, GTTF has got you covered with this easy 5 step checklist for songwriting. Writing a song can be hugely rewarding, and doesn’t necessarily require any in-depth musical training. Songs can stem from simple ideas into creative masterpieces (the current UK No.1 one is about a drivers license). So, grab a pencil, paper, and bring your creativity to the floor!
Step 1: Concept
The first and arguably most important step is to consider what you want your song to be about. Try and question what you want the themes of your song to be: is it about heartbreak, friendship, hardship, or maybe your love of plants? If you’re lacking in ideas, try to draw inspiration from things around you- maybe something you’ve observed, a conversation, or a memory. Songs don’t necessarily have to have a grand or complex theme, just something that allows the songwriter to portray emotions effectively to the audience. By establishing your theme early on, you allow the subject of the song to dictate the musicality, not the other way round.
Step 2: Melody (Chorus)
Once you have established what your song is going to be about, start playing around with melodic ideas that reflect your theme. If your song is going to be about something sad like being dumped or pink tax, make sure your melody reflects that. This step can feel overwhelming, but try to focus on getting a small melodic sequence written down. From there the song will flow naturally, instead of trying to focus on the whole masterpiece at one time.
Step 3: Melody (Verse)
Once you have nailed your melodic sequence, you need to come up with an opposing melodic sequence for your verse. Think of your song as a big, juicy sandwich with the chorus as the filling and the verses as the bread. However, finding the ideas for the “bread” is no mean feat so don’t panic if this doesn’t come at first. Try basing your melodic ideas in the same key as your chorus, and remember to draw inspiration from your themes to make your chorus and verse cohesive.
Step 4: Accompaniment
You’ve now got your verse and chorus and your song is starting to sound like the next big hit. Yet, something is missing in the form of an accompaniment. Composing an accompaniment for your song can be tricky, especially if you don’t have any instrument at hand to help you. Start by writing simple chords that are in the same key as the melody and provides a sense of rhythm to your song. Some of the world’s biggest hits are based upon the same four chords, so don’t be afraid to keep it simple when it comes to your accompaniment.
Step 5: Lyrics
You’ve got your sweet sounding melody, you’ve got your melodic sandwich, you’ve got a cracking accompaniment and now you’re missing one thing; words! You don’t have to be the world greatest wordsmith to find lyrics to fit your song. Look back at the themes in the first step and seek inspiration from what you wanted your song to convey, and begin writing down simple sentences that reflect them. When writing your lyrics, look to other songs and try to emulate their use of lyrics in complementing their melody. Assess whether you want the lyrics to rhyme, and if so, in what sort of meter. Remember, words are the final piece to your song puzzle, but not the main event. Try to focus on reflecting your themes in your words, regardless of how simple they may be.
By following these 5 simple steps you will now be well on your way to your first big hit. Try to remember that, although at times songwriting can be challenging, it can also be immensely rewarding. Songwriting should be approached with an open mind and with plenty of creativity. If things don’t fall into place the first time, keep trying! You never know when the next UK Number 1 is about to be written !