Most songwriting books and manuals make the assumption, quite understandably, that the reader is already a songwriter, and simply wants a bit of advice. But there are many people who feel that they’ve got the ideas for a song inside them, but have never known how to go about getting those ideas organized into a full-fledged song. Is this you? Do you have a fragment of a melody, or some other bit of a song rattling about in your head, but don’t know what to do with it?
The world of songwriting can be fun, exciting, and a thoroughly satisfying way to express your emotions. Music has a way of speaking to people that’s beyond the spoken or written word.
We’ve all been following the amazing rescue of the Chilean miners in the past few days, and isn’t it interesting (and quite predictable) that singing has been a part of the celebrations? Music has that ability to bring people together, and to “express the inexpressible.”
So what do you do if you feel you have the need to express yourself musically by creating music, but don’t know how? Here are some thoughts and advice that can help get that musical idea expanded and shaped into an actual song.
- If your musical idea is a chord progression, try playing the progression over and over on your guitar or keyboard, and improvise a melody above it. Record what you’re doing, and listen later on. Pick melodic fragments that you like, and see if there’s a way to pull several ideas into a full melody. Remember that verse chord progressions can be “fragile” (i.e., not rooted solidly in one specific key), but your chorus chords need to be much stronger, sounding unambiguously in one particular key.
- If your musical idea is a bit of melody, improvise chord progressions beneath the melody, and work to expand the melody: either create other melodic fragments that work as an answer to the melody, or could serve as a separate melody within the song.
- Keep in mind that songs need form. On a piece of paper, sketch out a form for your song. A typical one would be: Verse – Chorus – Verse – Chorus – Bridge – Chorus. As you develop your musical ideas, try so see what melody (or melodies) would work as a verse melody, and which ones work as a chorus. Chorus melodies are usually pitched higher than verse melodies, and bridge melodies are often pitched even higher than choruses.
- In general, song energy needs to increase as a song progresses. Increased energy will happen naturally if your melodies move higher over time, but energy can also be helped in other areas. For example, busier rhythms and shorter words can help to boost energy and momentum.
- Don’t be afraid to collaborate with another songwriter or lyricist on a songwriting project. Songwriting partnerships are great ways to utilize the talents of two or more people, and the results are almost always stronger.
There is so much to learn about songwriting, but it’s such a wonderfully satisfying activity!
I wrote my e-books, “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 6-ebook bundle, to address all of the areas mentioned above, and much, much more. For example, you can read more about how fragile and strong chord progressions work by reading Chapter 4 of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting”.
You can read more about how melodies and lyrics must work together by reading Chapter 5 of that same e-book, and can learn all about song forms by reading Chapter 2.
If you simply can’t come up with a chord progression that works, I’ve got two e-books full of chord progressions: “Essential Chord Progressions”, and “More Essential Chord Progressions.”
You can learn how to harmonize the melody you’ve created by reading “How to Harmonize a Melody” and “Chord Progression Formulas.” And you can practice your new-found skills by getting into “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting- LESSONS”
You can read more about those e-books right here.
The songwriting world is a great world! And it’s a way for you to learn a new way of expressing your innermost thoughts and feelings. GOOD LUCK and ENJOY!
Download “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” for your desktop or laptop, and get back to writing great songs!