Songs are vehicles that take a listener on a 3-4 minute journey. However interesting and captivating that journey is, that’s the measure of a song’s success.
Since songs are partnerships of many different elements all working together — melodies, lyrics, chords, instrumentation/production, tempo, time signature and more — it can seem to be a daunting task to get it all working.
But in that long list of song elements, the most important ones, I have always believed, are melodies and lyrics. Those are the parts of songs that people are going to be able to sing easily, and thus (hopefully) remember.f
Chord Progression Formulas will show you how you can create dozens of chord progressions in moments, so that you can get on with the parts of songs that really matter — the lyrics and melodies. It’s part of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 10-eBook Bundle. That bundle comes with a FREE EBOOK: “Creative Chord Progressions”. All eBooks are in high-quality PDF format, for any of your PDF-reading devices.
When you look at “Best of” lists, you’re really looking at songs for which the lyrics and melodies have made a powerful connection to the listening public. Production is crucial as well, because that’s the package — that’s the way it’s presented to the world.
So in my opinion, the most important thing you can do to ensure the success of the songs you write is to remember the following:
- Develop good melodies that people will love and find easy to sing.
- Good melodies will use a lot of repetition. Listen to the chorus of Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love” (Jesse McCartney, Ryan Tedder), and you’ll hear that the major part of that melody is a short, 2-bar fragment that gets repeated over and over, above a changing chord progression.
- Good lyrics need to be developed. In other words, you need to constantly work and rework lyrics, honing them to say exactly what you want to say. Coming up with a fantastic verse lyric in a moment of inspiration will sometimes make you feel reluctant to change it. Have courage, and don’t fall in love with your lyric until it’s done.
- A song topic can be mundane, because it’s what you say about it that really matters. A song might be about getting jilted by a lover, and you might think, “How will anyone find this interesting? It’s been done to death!” But it’s what you have to say about it, and the clever turns of phrase that you develop, that people fixate on, not the boringness of the topic.
- A good lyric needs to create images in the mind of the listener. Your lyric might say, “She looked at me, but I could tell I meant nothing.” But saying something like “Her icy stare froze me in my steps” conveys a lot more, and does it all in one short sentence.
- A good lyric touches the emotions of the listener. A listener will sing along to a song if they feel that they are players in whatever stage the lyric is setting. The listener needs to feel that the song is about them, at least on some level.
- A lyric and a melody are partners. As a lyric changes, a melody probably does (or should) as well. As words move up and down in pitch, they convey different meanings and have a different effect.
- Not every lyric or melody needs to be amazing. That may seem to be contradicting everything else I just said, but the fact of the matter is that some songs are simply not really about the lyric or the melody. The groove/feel/production/performance of a song might be more important. Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say” (1959) might be a great example of this.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter
Chapter 5 of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” is where you’ll discover the secrets of writing a melody that partners well with a song lyric. Right now, get a copy of “Creative Chord Progressions” FREE with your purchase of the 10-eBook Bundle.