The love of music is a natural part of being human. For many, loving music means listening to it, dancing to it, singing or playing it.
For others — many readers of this blog would fall into this category — it’s not enough to enjoy someone else’s music; they get enjoyment out of creating their own.
How do you know if you’re a songwriter? Let’s say you’ve come up with a catchy chord progression that you like, or perhaps a bit of melody with lyrics that seem to work. Does that automatically mean that you’ve got the makings of being a songwriter?
On track to make songwriting a full-time or part-time career choice? Read “From Amateur to Ace: Writing Songs Like a Pro.” It expands on some of the ideas in “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting,” with chapters like “How Do I Write Songs When I Don’t Feel Inspired”, “How Do I write Good Vocal Harmonies”, and others.
There’s really only one important indicator that you’re a songwriter: you love creating music. Is it enough that you’ve got simply that one musical idea? Yes, as long as you have the desire to write more.
If you’ve never written a song, but you’ve got some ideas, how do you do it? How do you turn that initial little musical fragment that’s rolling around in your mind into a song?
Here are 7 tips that will help you if you’re hoping to give songwriting a try:
- See if you can add to your idea. There are many ways to do this. You might see how it sounds when you repeat the idea with a different chord progression, or try to come up with a second idea that sounds good when played right after your first one. In any case, see what you can do to expand on what you’ve written.
- Listen to songs in your genre of choice. But don’t just listen as if you’re simply an audience member. Think about what makes your favourite songs work so well. Don’t worry about musical terminology — try to put into words (write them down) what you like or even dislike about certain songs.
- Learn to sketch musical ideas. You can do this with songs that you’ve not written, but just happen to be ones you like: draw a timeline at the bottom of a piece of paper, and map out how the song progresses. Show Verse 1, Chorus, Verse 2, bridge… and so on. Doing this gives you not just a visual indication of how your favourite songs work, but it can be the start of helping you build up a kind of musical vocabulary. For more on this, check out this blog post, “Sketching Ideas Before the Songwriting Begins.“
- Use your instincts, and start writing. You know that songs can be assembled in many different ways. Some are verse-chorus, some are just several verses with no chorus, some are verse-bridge, and so on. One of the best ways to know how easy or difficult songwriting will be for you is to use your instincts and dive in. As you write, you’ll find that some things sound good, and other ideas you come up with sound lousy. That’s normal, even for seasoned, experienced songwriters. Change what you don’t like, and see how far you can go.
- Enjoyment is more important than quality when you are beginning. If you like the process of creating songs, that’s far more important than how good they are, at least at first. There’s lots of time to improve your songwriting skills, so don’t be overly critical of your first efforts. If you enjoy the process, you’ll find that improvement will happen. Be patient!
- Learn about what good songwriting is. Knowledge is an important part of improving. It’s why I write this blog, and why I’ve written eleven eBooks dedicated to this topic. I love seeing people realize their fullest potential, and love when people feel successful.
- Don’t let others define songwriting success for you. If success means writing something that you love, even if you have no intention of letting others hear it, I say go for it, and love what you do. If you feel that this could be a career path, you may be right. Patience, experience, and knowledge will give you your best shot.
As you explore this new activity, listen to music daily. And try to venture beyond your favourite genre. You have a better chance of writing music that sounds unique and fresh if you allow yourself to be influenced by genres you’d never usually consider listening to previously.
If you think you’d benefit from a Skype lesson, I’d be happy to schedule one with you. I thoroughly enjoy helping others discover their hidden talents. Read this article to learn more about my Skype songwriting sessions.
“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” eBook bundle comes with a free copy of “Use Your Words! Developing a Lyrics-First Songwriting Process”