Folk singer-songwriter

Evaluating Your Own Songs Is Part of the Songwriting Process

When you’ve written a song, it might seem like a logical next-step to ask someone, “What do you think of it?”

You might post it online, and hope that others weigh in on what the song sounds like to them. The hope is that the feedback will allow you to dig back into the song and make some changes.

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Once you’ve edited and modified it, you hope that you’ve written something that pleases the greatest number of people.

There’s nothing wrong with getting feedback, of course, but it needs to be meaningful feedback, based on knowledge and an understanding of the genre. Hopefully that much is clear. If you put out a general call for opinions, you need to be able to decide which ideas are good ones and which ideas aren’t.

But here’s the problem: if you’re a songwriter asking for opinions and an evaluation of your latest song, you might be missing the opportunity — and I would actually call it ignoring the responsibilityto evaluate it yourself.

To put that another way: If you don’t know if you’ve written something “good,” you’re not ready to ask someone else. That’s because evaluating your own song is part of the songwriting process.

The Many Levels of Assessing Your Song

Evaluating a song happens on many levels:

  1. As you compose the tiny bits and pieces. Each time you come up with an idea, you evaluate it to determine if it’s “good” — if it belongs in this song.
  2. As you assemble those bits. You create bits of music that you believe are good bits, and then you put them together with other ones. Again, you evaluate that new segment to determine if it’s “good.”
  3. As you finish a song section. Once you’ve got a chorus, or a verse, or a bridge section, or any other part of your song, you need to assess what you’ve done. You need to look at the many parts of the song and determine if all the bits you’ve written are properly communicating with each other.
  4. As you finish a song. And now you get to the stage where you play the song for yourself. Record a rough demo and listen. Now you get a fuller view of the entirety of the project. Do you like what you hear?

If you confidently and patiently go through those steps of evaluating your songs, an interesting thing happens: you feel less compelled to post your song online and ask for opinions. You feel confident that you’ve written something you’re proud of.

And you start to feel less needy when it comes to gaining the approval of others. That’s a nice feeling.

Confidently and patiently assessing your own songs means that you’re able to accept the fact that some people will love a song you’ve written while others dislike it. You’re OK with not appealing to everyone’s taste.

Confidence of that kind only comes by learning how to evaluate your own music. Always remember: evaluating your own songs needs to be part of your songwriting process.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter

How to Harmonize a Melody, 2nd ed.“How to Harmonize a Melody” shows you the steps to adding chords to that melody you’ve just come up with. With sound samples to help you understand the concepts.

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