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The Art of Writing a Good Song
There was an interesting
post today on a message board that I go to. It was about
a guy that just started a new band and he wanted to know
if anyone could give him some songwriting tips.
First off, there isn't a wrong way to write songs. But
after you've done it for a while, you'll find out that
some ways to go about it are easier than others.
This is how I do it.
1. Music and Melody Come First
I never fit a melody to pre-existing lyrics. It's forced
and it doesn't sound good to me. When you write the
words before the melody, you're trying to force the
melody to fit your lyrics. The result is it doesn't
A lot of songwriters start
with an idea. It's just easier for me to know what angle
I'm coming from. Usually how it happens with me is the
music comes first and the melody comes right after that.
Why do I write the melody first before my lyrics?
If I don't know how many notes are in the melody, how do
I know how many syllables need to be in my lines? I
If there's 8 notes in the first part of the melody and 6
notes in the second part , you'll have to have 8
syllables in the first line and 6 in the second.
Let's say you want to put 4 lines in each of your
verses, You'll have 8 syllables in the first and third
lines and six in the second and fourth.
Here's an example:
In the song 'I want you to want me' the lead singer for
Cheap Trick wrote a four line melody that had six notes
in the first three lines and seven in the last line. He
knew that there had to be six syllables in the first
three lines and seven syllables in the fourth.
I Want You To Want Me
I want you to want me =six syllables
I need you to need me =six syllables
I'd love you to love me =six syllables
I'm begging you to beg me =seven syllables
2. Figure Out An Idea To
Ideas are everywhere. You can write about what a friend
of yours is going through. You can write about what
you're going through.
I keep a journal just for this and make daily
installments. I write down everything that I can think
of that happened that day. And after a few months of
that, I'll go through the journal harvest my ideas.
I treat my journal like the garden it is. Most every
song I write comes directly from my journals.
3. Put the idea into one to two sentences
The best way to show you this is to give you an example.
Keeping with 'I Want You To Want Me', heres the basic
'I want you to want me as
bad as I want you.'
You only want one idea for each song. If you have any
more, your song is going to last too long. And you're
listeners won't be able to keep up.
Believe me, nobody but you will understand them. I know
from very bad experience.
4. Write The Lyrics To Fit The Melody
Once you have the idea, you start to explain the idea in
the verses with the number of syllables you have in the
melody. The chorus is just the overall idea in a summed
That's how I write songs. Music and melody come first.
The idea comes after that. Write the idea in a statement
form. And then, write the lyrics to fit the melody.
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