Songs are stories that are told musically. We all have our story to tell and songwriting may be the best and most entertaining way to do so. Though songwriting may seem difficult, it is a skill we all can acquire and develop.
In today’s blog post, we’ll walk you through the five things you need to know to write good songs:
Listen to Good Songs
I’m going to lay it straight: if your music playlist is filled with Zlatan and Naira Marley (no offense to their fans), you’re going to have a hard time writing good songs. To write great music, you must listen to great music. A good idea of what makes a song great are a combination of profound lyrics, storytelling, solid music and powerful vocals.
Learn a Musical Instrument
To write lyrics, you need a pen and a paper. To write songs, you need a musical instrument.The piano or electric keyboard and the guitar are two instruments favored by songwriters. They’re relatively easy to pick-up and can accommodate a wide range of styles and genres. The electric keyboard is better than its acoustic counterpart as it can create drum loops and complex harmonies from a single instrument.
Some tips for learning a musical instrument:
Focus on Chords: Both guitars and pianos are powerful solo instruments, but for the purpose of songwriting, you only need to know a few basic chords. Practice a few common chord progressions to create simple harmonies and songs.
Practice Simple Songs: You’ll be surprised to know that many of your favorite songs are actually very easy to play. Asa’s “Jailer” for example can be played with some very basic chords.
Pick up Some Basic Music Theory
Music theory isn’t necessary to writing good songs – a lot of great songwriters started out without knowing their scales from their chords – but it will come in handy when you want to write something more complicated. Of course, mastering music theory can take you years, but picking up the basics is relatively easy.
Analyze Great Songs
When you become a student of songwriting, you’ll realize just how similar most songs are. Certain patterns, themes, motifs and chord structures are repeated across artists and genres. As a songwriter, analyzing songs should become a habit, a reaction as natural as pulling your finger away from a hot stove.Song Structure:
Most pop songs follow a simple structure: Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus or similar variations.
Let’s take a look at the classic Backstreet Boys pop song, “I Want it That Way” as an example:
Try doing the same for other popular songs. You’ll soon realize how common such song structures really are.
For many people, writing lyrics is the easiest part of songwriting. For others, it is the hardest. Whichever side of the divide you may fall on, you can benefit from these lyric-writing tips:Notice how Adele stretches the ‘ee’ part in ‘deep’ when singing “Rolling in the Deep”. That’s because words ending in vowels can be stretched while singing. Keep this in mind while writing your lyrics.
Write like you would sing. Hum each line while writing, preferably accompanied by a guitar or piano.
Being poetic doesn’t mean being profound. Sometimes the silliest of things can sound great when sung.
Borrow motifs and themes commonly used in your genre, but don’t over-rely on them. To write truly great songs, you must break the mold and go beyond what’s comfortable.
‘Baby’ will be your staple filler for pop and rock songs.
Be judicious in your use of simple rhyming schemes. Newbies often make the mistake of rhyming all their lyrics. Rhyming can be extremely powerful when done right but more often than not, it make your songs sound like something from a kindergarten textbook.
A thesaurus will be your best songwriting partner.
So there you have it – a complete guide to writing a good song. For homework, analyze your favorite songs and see what kind of chord progression and lyric structure they use.
You can register for amazing songwriting classes, training sessions and other music programs at Tenstrings Music College at various study centres in Lagos and Abuja http://tenstrings.org
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What are your favorite songs and lyrics? Let us know in the comments below!