About Me

My photo
I usually talk about video games, TV shows and music. I also give advice and reviews. Have fun!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Step-by-step guide: How to compose a song

For many of us, music makes up a huge part of our lives. Sometimes, we have the sudden urge to write our own songs. I mean, who doesn't? It's a great way to express yourself and all the details are yours to decide: the lyrics, the genre, the melody, etc.

You don't need to be a musical expert to compse a song. You don't need to buy a program or an e-book (rolls eyes) to be able to write a song. All you really need is creativity and a love for music... Oh, and a lot of patience! So, here goes:

Step 0 (it is named Step 0 because it is a fundamental step to song-writing): have a basic knowledge of music theory.

By that, I mean that you should know how to write nd recognize notes and musical symbols. Nothing too complicated- if you have taken a music class before or play a musical instrument, the knowledge is probably already implemented into your brain. If you are a newcomer at music, I suggest you go here: there are nearly 50 lessons that address any questions you might have about musical theory. There is no need to read all of them; just enough so that you know how you would write down your future song (it would suck if you come up with an amazing melody and don't know how to write it down!)

Step 1: THE TITLE!

I remember that when I was first inspired to write a song, I spent ages trying to come up with a clever tune or a unique verse. None of that is important now. What you need is the title of your song. It can be something simple, like the name of a loved one or a pet. It can represent something in nature, like "Rainy Days" or "Sunshine in December" (yes, very original, I know).

It can be anything you can possibly think of. There are no limits to a song title- it can't be too long, too dramatic, too simple, or too "weird". The title is the root and foundation of your song. It can decide the mood, lyrics, or melody for you. A song title is what you always look at first- whether you are the listener or the composer. You can spend hours, days, or even weeks brainstorming the title! Don't worry, the perfect title will come to you as long as you put your mind to it. Once you have the title, go to Step 2!

Step 2: Lyrics!

Now that you have your title, think of what that title makes you feel. Does it remind you of a memory shared with friends? A sad day? The day you got married? Or does it remind you of your grandparents, the rain, or a pancake house? What I'm trying to imply is that it is your title to interpret and put to words!

Before you get down to writing the lyrics, you have to be aware of many song structures. Although you can write a song however you want, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with common song structures. I suggest that you go here for a quick overview of song components.

You don't need to be a poet or an English teacher to write good lyrics. These lyrics come from your heart, so you can write them in any way you want. You can be direct and literal in your lyrics, or use metaphors and subtle characteristics. Rhyme your lyrics if you want, but it is not a must. Do what you think is right for your song. Remember, it's YOUR song, not someone else's!

Step 3: Syncronizing your lyrics with a melody.

If you have a simple instrument like a piano or a guitar near you, it would be a good idea to use them to help you hear the notes better. However, using only your voice to write a melody is not a bad idea either! Read each line of your lyrics and try to see what is the main focus (emphasis) of each line. For example:

Marie, I've loved you for a thousand years...

Marie, I've loved you for a thousand years...

Marie, I've loved you for a thousand years...

 See how the emphasis on each line can be different? After reading each line to your liking, try and vocalize them into a melody. Keep the "feel" of your song consistent, meaning that if it's a sad song, try and keep it in the Minor-chord spectrum.  If there is a certain tune you are fond of, make sure to write it down somewhere so you don't forget! Go through all your lyrics and look for tunes that encompass the meaning of each line. If you are stuck, get a chord book or look at chords online- they can be very helpful in deciding what your next notes can be. Once you have your main melody devised for the whole song, move on to Step 4!

Step 4: Accompaniment, harmonies, intros, etc.

Find complementary chords that go along with the melody. Do you know someone who plays the drums? See if you can add that to the song. Keep adding instruments and harmonies until you are satisfied. A lot of instruments in a song does not necessarily make it a better song, however. Remember that sometimes, less is more. A lot of artists choose to add an "intro" to their song so that any listeners can get a preview of what their song is about before the words come out. Writing a song can take a day or half a year. Each person and each song is different. Keep experimenting with your song until you feel like you can't change it anymore.You are done! It is now up to you to decide what you want to do with your song... show it to your friends, dedicate it to a loved one, put it on YouTube, your choice! Have fun!

  • If you are ever stuck, don't fret! Look for inspiration anywhere- listen to some of your favorite songs, read a few poems, take a walk, whatever! It'll come to you. 
  • Don't be disappointed if your first song doesn't come out as you want to. That can happen to all of us, and it is nothing to worry about. Learn from any mistakes you might have made and apply them next time you decide to write a song. 
  • I highly suggest getting a chord book (or looking at them online). They helped ME get a lot of ideas on notes and melodies for my songs. 
  • Familiarize yourself with music symbols, articulations, and dynamics. They can help make your song better and give it the little touches it needs!

No comments:

Post a Comment