Rolling Stones

Beyond Songwriting: How to Make Your New Song Even Better

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.

If you go to YouTube and type in the title of a really well-known song — one that’s been covered by numerous singers and bands over the years — you become aware of just how many ways a song can be arranged and presented to an audience.

Those many ways of performing a song typically use genre as a guide. You can hear “Jingle Bells” as country-swing, up-tempo jazz, dixieland, or even as if were composed by your favourite classical composer.

Any song can be arranged in probably dozens of different ways, and so it automatically begs the question: once you’ve written a song, have you given enough thought to the presentation — the arrangement — of your song?

This comes under the heading of production, and these days many songwriters do much of their own producing. Sure, you may be thinking that the song you’ve just written is a slow ballad, but have you considered other possibilities? You may discover that your very good song is actually a real gem if you change the way you thought you’d be singing it.

Here are some tips to help you discover new ways to present your song to an audience:

  1. As a first step, make sure your song is structurally sound, and really working well. The best way to do this is to sing it unaccompanied, or with a very sparse chordal accompaniment. The melody, chords and lyrics should work even in this stripped-down version.
  2. Try your song in various tempos and performance styles. Try to listen to what you’re doing objectively, and give the song a chance in each new tempo and style.
  3. Try some chord substitutions. If you’re not too sure how you might do this, read this article to help.
  4. Get creative with instrumental choices. Sometimes all it takes is to add a unique instrument to the mix, as The Beatles did when they added piccolo trumpet to “Penny Lane”, or recorder in “Ruby Tuesday” (Rolling Stones).
  5. Consider whether your song should be in a major or minor key. There’s a quirky recording online of a reworking of McCartney’s “Yesterday” in a minor key, and it’s certainly a surprise!

All this is simply to remind you: there’s no particular reason to assume that your first ideas with how your song should sound are necessarily the best ideas. Take the time to challenge your own musical imagination, and to challenge your own initial assumptions about what your new song should sound like.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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.

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