The itch on writing a song and turning it into a hit is hauntingly magical. But writing a song is not as simple like getting a piece of paper and jotting down all lyrical and poetic ideas that came to mind. Although the little notebook of ideas will come in handy when the time comes, aspiring songwriters still need an ample amount of creativity, talent and patience before a song reaches its completion.
However, many aspiring songwriters spend more time thinking about writing a song than actually writing it. In fact, getting started is the most difficult part as well as it is the most important. So, spending an hour or two during a specific time of day and committing to write a certain number of songs per week are good ways to start. But before the first verse sees print, a songwriter must remember the following.
Familiarity with the contemporary song structure
Just like many hit songs, a conversational and intimate verse keep the listeners interested while an emotionally intensified chorus reaches the listeners making them connect and relate to the experiences in the songs. To understand how the structure works, it is best to choose one hit song and determine which part of the lyrics belong to the verse, chorus and bridge. Study how the song affects a listener and what specific parts of the lyrics make him relate to it.
Write the title and the lyrics
When the necessary pre-writing exercises are done, it is time to write the title and the lyrics. But the songwriter must first come to terms with this old argument on what should come first, lyrics, title or melody. Some songwriters already formed a habit in writing the lyrics first before the title. They followed their intuition in drafting the verse, pre-chorus, chorus and bridge yet this works best for the experienced writers. Newbies or aspiring songwriters, on the other hand, are highly encouraged to stick to the formula first and that means going after the title since:
Title is a treasure chest of ideas and inspiration. It is also what the listeners will remember and it will describe what the song is all about. Also, just like an effective newspaper headlines, a good song title also uses action words, short phrases or images. So, after writing a compelling title, it is time to write the lyrics and remember to:
- (a) list down all related words and phrases that relate to the title; it will keep the lyrics focused; and
- (b) provide plenty of information that the listeners will crave to listen.
To do this, make the story in the lyrics progress or make it move forward by posing answers to questions that might arise from the title.
It is also important to note that even though a good lyric follow a conversational moving forward type of story-telling, it doesn’t necessarily follow a linear approach and it also doesn’t need to look like a poem with rhymes and meters.
Writing the melodies is the next step and this requires basic skills in guitar playing or keyboards. However, not all songwriters knew how to play an instrument or two so if this is the case, collaborate with a musician who can help with the melodies. Many songwriters go for collaboration and many great musicians also play songs composed by a lyricist.
However, if a songwriter also knows how to strum a chord or two, he will complete the lyrics using a chord progression. But it is important to note that:
- Songwriters may use the same chord pattern over and over and still may use the same chord progression in the other parts of the song structure even though it should have a chord variation to achieve the emotional impact it needs.
- Repetition and variation are components of memorable melodies but too much repetition on the other hand is downright uninteresting and least to say boring.
- Lack of variedness in chord progression may alter the natural rhythm and pitch of the lyrics. The lyrics and melodies must complement each other and not that the other one is more important than the other. So, a more natural sounding lyric aided with a heart-pounding or an emotionally intensified melody should work together harmoniously.
- If the lyric writing and melody composition became a tedious task, take a breather and leave it for awhile. This will give the songwriter enough time to see his lyrics and melody in a new light.
- Songwriter must beware of plagiarism. Lyrics and melodies are copyrighted and it is only permissible to use existing hit songs to study the melody and lyric composition but not in any way copy it for reproduction.