So, you’re looking to become a songwriter? Here are some quick tips to get the ball rolling
1. Have a deadline – this will force you to finish the song
2. Listen to reference tracks – this is a great way to get ideas if you’re stuck
3. Move on – when it’s done, it’s done!
But let’s take this from the beginning with the mechanics and innerworkings of the song. As they say, the most important instrument is the voice, so surely a song must be written with that in mind? Well yes, that is the most crucial part of the process of writing a song – imagining the words you are writing, sung alongside music, in all their melodic glory. Learning music theory can thus only be of help to you. Deciding upon your melody or main chorus gives you a substantial foundation upon which to grow your song. It is then critical that you decide upon your key chord progression. The melody and key chord progression provide you with substantial information to know what format you should be writing in. Whether you deem it appropriate to write in short or long sentences should be based primarily off these key properties.
Trust your instinct
Do not ignore your instinct, due to your proclivity towards music your brain will naturally provide you with melodies or instant lyrics. Do not write this off as musings from your monkey-brain! Take note of it all, record every melody you come up with. Many of the most all-time most successful bands have had classic hit songs that their brains seemed to unconsciously conjure up. Parts of the song can always be changed once written but lost material is seldom reproduced. Even the seemingly most innocuous thought can be worth noting down – never undermine your talents. A commonly implemented method to achieve this spontaneous explosion of lyrics and melodies in your head is to perpetually listen to music. Whether it be lulling away in the background of your everyday life or you plast it through your headphones – do not pass up the chance to discover new music, you never know what might influence you.
Take a break
Escape into your other hobbies and pastimes when the tedious and laborious process of songwriting becomes too much. Frustration and anger will not aid you in being creative and producing the best song you can make. A simple break from all of the stress can return you to base levels from which you can begin working efficiently once again. A short walk, meeting up with friends – it is best to do whatever drums up inspiration for you in this down time. Burnout is a tragedy that you would like to avoid altogether. There are many other ways to avoid unnecessary stress during the song writing process:
Focus solely on a single instrument to begin with, do not overwhelm yourself all at once believing that all instruments must be playing in harmony instantly. Songwriting seldom works well along those lines. It is best to start off with a minimalistic approach to this process. Start off simple. Figure out the guitar chords with how you would like it to sound throughout the song. Then add additional instruments such as the bass guitar or drums – whichever you feel would be more fitting. This allows you to climb each rung in the ladder of songwriting with ease and efficiency until you have your perfected and finished product that you can be proud of.
Writer’s block can be an immense burden upon the creative process, leading you to lose out on valuable time. Oftentimes the frustration of writer’s block will dominate over and attempt at writing for both beginners and hardened professionals. Adopting a laissez-faire attitude is important to overcoming this problem when it comes to songwriting. To simply just write what you know, to write how you feel is the unparalleled method when it comes to shaking off the stunted feeling caused by writer’s block. Once you have got your creative juices flowing it is time to move on towards the more practical and methodical side of songwriting and finish the song!
Make it heard
You’re going to want to show your precious song as soon as possible, that’s just how pride works! You naturally want everyone to hear what you created; you’re going to want to parade it around like your first newborn! First of all, do not be tempted to skip this step out of fear and dive directly onto the bigger stages. Think of your song a sculpture, and your first audiences – the sculptors. Obviously, you don’t need to heed every piece of criticism or feedback you receive upon playing your song, but often there will be some advice or tips that you simply can’t ignore. You’re writing your song to be heard after all, best to make sure that it sounds good for your target audience. Start off playing to small audiences such as your friends and family – in this case you can hopefully expect truthful feedback and not be overly disheartened by it.
Deal with criticism
Constructive criticism can sometimes feel like a kick in the gut, remember this is not directed towards insulting or hurting you, simply towards making you a better songwriter. “A songwriter writes songs all of the time, whereas just writing a song can be done by anyone, anytime”. This quote by the famous singer/ songwriter, Brian Adams, sums up this point perfectly. The art of songwriting is doing it consistently, not taking long breaks or giving up because you received some criticism you didn’t want to hear. Take it all in your stride and you will be a professional in no time, churning out professionally sculpted songs.
The final step, which may seem a bit contradictory after all the food for thought previously provided here, is to not overthink things. Let this all be second nature to you, have faith in yourself and get writing!