Songwriter - Synth

Experimenting To Get a Better Verse For Your Song

You’ll wind up with a better song if you’re willing to experiment and change the things you’ve written. You like to think of your song as being kind of like your “baby” — you’re willing to accept it, warts and all.

But before you fall irretrievably in love with your song, experimenting by changing bits of it can lead to something even better.

Hooks and Riffs“Hooks and Riffs: How They Grab Attention, Make Songs Memorable, and Build Your Fan Base“, is available at “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” Online Store. Get it separately, or as part of 10-eBook Bundle, along with a FREE chord progression eBook.

This is particularly true of verses. A song verse can be the most difficult part of a song to write because most verses don’t have a noticeable hook. A hook has a way of focusing everything and giving that part of the song a real sense of purpose. So one of the most common problems with song verses is that they can sound somewhat aimless and disorganized.

This is where experimenting with what you’ve written for a verse can really improve things — a way of giving it that important aspect of focus. And you’ve got several things you can try changing:

  • lyrics
  • melody
  • chords
  • form

Here’s the best way to experiment with the verse you’ve written:

  1. Assume that there are better lyrics you could write. If it’s verse 1, try writing many verse 1 lyrics, and then choose the best one. Or combine different potential verses: take a bit of one and bit of the other.
  2. Assume that there is a better verse melody you haven’t discovered yet. Do this in small bits at a time. For example, keep the first half of melody, but change the second half. Or vice versa. Or try coming up with many melodies that fit the chords you’ve been using. Try this by humming bits of melody, or try letting the lyrics guide your tune.
  3. Assume you might find better chords. Any one note of a melody can have several possible chords that will properly support it. If you’ve been using a standard I-IV-V-I progression (C-F-G-C), try substituting chords: I-ii-V-I, I-IV-V-vi, or I-vi-V-I. If you want more ideas on how to substitute chords, try this article: 8 Tips to Guide Your Search for Chord Substitutions.
  4. Play around with the form of your verse. If it’s an 8-bar verse, try doubling its size by repeating the whole thing, perhaps with a different instrumental accompaniment (fuller, or rhythmically busier, etc.)

The basic idea here is this: whatever you’ve written, make the assumption that there’s something better out there that you’ve not noticed yet.

I love reminding songwriters that second ideas are almost always better than first ideas. Our brain has a natural way of building on what we already know. So don’t assume that the first verse you’ve come up with is the best one. In fact, it’s almost always the case that experimenting and improvising will give you something better.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 10-eBook Bundle“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” eBook bundle gives you lots of help when it comes to writing song melodies. Chapter 5 of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” shows you how lyrics and melody work hand-in-hand, and “How to Harmonize a Melody” shows you how to add chords to that melody you’ve just created.

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