Friday, February 8, 2013

Songwriting for beginners

Songwriting for beginners

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Songwriting can be an incredibly rewarding creative endeavor, but it can also be quite frustrating, especially for beginners. To them, songwriting can seem like a mystery, and it can be difficult to know where to start. Truth be told, at times it can also seem quite mysterious to seasoned songwriting veterans. Inspiration can strike at the oddest of times, and can just as easily desert you. Songwriting isn't an art that you learn overnight. In fact, many songwriters consider learning the craft a lifelong journey.

  1. Getting Started

    • A good place for a novice songwriter to start is to study the songs of successful writers. Closely examining the structure of hit songs is a great way to learn how songs are assembled and how their commercial potential is maximized by the careful placement of verses, choruses and bridge sections. Although there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to songwriting, with some successful songs having unconventional song structures and arrangements, it pays to become familiar with classic songwriting patterns that can give the beginner a solid template from which to work.


    • It's a good idea to get into the habit of carrying a notebook or a hand-held voice recorder around with you. This way, you can make a note of any interesting phrases that catch your ear. It may be a snippet of overheard conversation, a headline from the newspaper or just a random thought of your own. But if you get into the habit of writing them down for future reference, you'll have a treasure trove of inspiration for song ideas. These words may either inspire a song of their own or they may serve as a way to fill in missing lines in a future composition.


    • If you have a phrase that sounds good to you, but are unsure marry it to a melody, it's a good idea to speak the line out loud, like you would in a conversation. Doing this can often suggest a suitable tone for its delivery. When people converse, their statements include natural changes in pitch, rhythm and tone in order to get their message across. This is what you're attempting to do in a song, so emulating this will often accentuate the emotional content of the phrase and give credibility to the melodic delivery of your line.

    Time Frame

    • Some songwriters start with a melody, then add lyrics afterward. Others write lyrics first, then attempt to come up with a melody to match the tone of the lyric. For unsure beginners, it's best to simply start writing something and either write it down or record it. This will often inspire further ideas. If not, leaving the idea to sit for a while can often be beneficial. Listening to these song fragments with fresh ears is often enough to generate new ideas for finishing the song. The key is not to rush the process. Adding parts to songs just for the sake of finishing them is likely to make the song's structure sound awkward and forced.


    • Collaborating with other writers can be very rewarding. Of course, there's no guarantee of compatibility, but every writer, no matter how accomplished, can bring something unique to a song. One writer may be lyric-oriented while another may have a better sense of melody. Either way, writers with different writing styles who work together on a song can often take it into musical territory neither would have found independently.


    • It's important to document all song ideas, regardless of how well developed they are. Coming up with an interesting idea, working on it, then coming back to it at a later date can be a letdown if you forget lyrics or chord changes. Recording these ideas will mean that you can refer back to them at any time if inspiration strikes. As well as making sure that you don't lose valuable ideas, listening to recordings after the fact can help you better evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your material.


    • Waiting for inspiration to strike before writing is fine, but you may be waiting a long time. A better bet is to make it a rule to write something every day, no matter how small or seemingly trivial. It's true that you're probably not going to write brilliant verse or fully realized melodies every day, but even something that you might consider subpar may have redeeming qualities. Sometimes, an idea that's in danger of being discarded can end up being the perfect finishing touch for a different song you're developing. Sometimes such ideas can sit for years before finding their rightful place. When this kind of magic happens, it can be exhilarating for a songwriter.


Tags: good idea, into habit, song ideas, Songwriting beginners, will often, with melody