Songwriting Questions and Answers

Songwriting Questions and Answers

Here is a collection of various questions asked by songwriters. If you have a question you want answer send it using the form below.

Is a "Bridge" or "Middle 8" really necessary in a song?
Song structure is used to frame a song's story. That can be either melodic or lyrical. In answer to your question. Does a song need a bridge? The short answer is no. A bridge is not necessary, but it does add to a songs interest. However, at the very minimum a song must have a verse.
How are songwriters paid when one of their songs is played on the radio?
Performance royalties are paid to the publisher and songwriter via a performing rights organization (PRO) like BMI, ASCAP or SESAC. You need to join one of the to get paid
How can i become a better musician?
Simply practice and then practice some more. Also you can improve by performing in front of people. I just read a post today that claim that to be an expert and any skill you need to invest 10,000 hours. (not all at once though)
How does a composer sell music for song (no lyrics)? In other words only music, which the studio can give to a lyricist to create a full song
How does a composer sell music for song (no lyrics)? In other words only music, which the studio can give to a lyricist to create a full song

Music compositions are actually licensed. That is how money is made. As a composer you own the copyright. The music can then be put into various media and put on the market. The music can be licensed for use in film, television, video games any where there is a need for music. Selling your music means you are selling the copyright.
How many songwriters does it take to write a hit song?
The number of songwriters needed for a hit song? As many at it takes. That could be one or seven depending on the circumstances. Now let's ask how many people does it take to make a hit movie? Just saw Iron Man Three. I like to sit through the credits. There must have been literally a thousand or more people to make that movie. But that is what it took to get it out. The same is with a song. The seventh songwriter, no matter what their contribution was needed to get the song out.
How may one get permission to record and sell songs written by other people?
You will need to get a mechanical license to get the permission to record a song. Here is a website that offers this service Alternately you can contact the publisher directly. Another palce to go is
What are some common mistakes that first-time songwriters make?
The biggest mistake a first-time songwriter makes is believing that the first draft of a song is good enough. The saying goes. Great songs or not written they are re-written. There's a lot of factors that go into a great song. Things like chord progressions, lyrics, melody, form, and presentation. Each part need to be examine and polished to make a song great
What are some good daily songwriting routines that work for you?
The most important thing to do is make a daily appointment with yourself. Keep that appointment everyday. This will create consistency and momentum in your writing. But what to do? Here are a few things to add to the daily routine.

1) Start a new song. If you have an idea book, use that that to begin writing. Create a title, write lyrics, melody add a chord progression and give the song a form.

2) Work on existing songs. It is a rare that a song is done in one day. Take an existing song and rework and rewrite it. Make tweaks to the lyrics, melody, chords and form. Make the song better.

3) Finish a song. Know when a song is complete and finish it. These are just a few things you can do during your daily songwriting routine.
What are some important aspects of the songwriting process?
Songwriting involves several disciplines. These include the ability to write a good story. Take that story an turn it into lyrics. The lyric need to have meter and rhyme. Then the words are fused with a melody. Therefore it's important to write music. A knowledge of music theory is helpful in creating chord progressions. Then the song needs to take some sort of form like: Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus. Then there is the production where the song is recorded. Each of these elements come together in create a song.
What are some of the element of a hit song?
The song chosen to be a "hit" will 99% comply with a radio friendly format. There are several elements of a radio friendly format.


The song length needs to be 3-4 minutes.
The intro should only be 4 bars maximum.
The song's chorus should arrive before 60 seconds pass.
A familiar song structure like: Intro-Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus-Chorus


The words need to connect with the audience
The topic of the song needs to be relevant to the listener
Lyrics should be universal in order to appeal to a larger audience.


The production of the song needs to be high caliber
The performance needs to be spot on.
Music needs to be play excellently with no mistakes.


The melody needs to be simple and memorable.
The melody needs to "hook" itself into the listeners mind.
Make certain that the chorus stand out from the verse by using creative contrast.


The hook in 95% of the time will be the title.
Make sure the song has a title that will hook the listener.
The hook title needs a great melody behind it.
Repeat the hook as much as you can get away with doing.


Make sure the lyrics tell a story.
Watch for grammar mistakes. i.e. verb tense, pronoun usage.


Most people can tell when a song is great. Tap into that feeling.

These are some of criteria you can use to discover the best hit song.
What are some ways to make a song chorus?
In creating a song you do want some contrast between verse and chorus. There are a few ways to do this.

1) Raise the pitch of the melody as you introduce a new melody
2) Vary the rhythm
3) Vary the chord progression.

Some songs will use the same progression throughout the entire song. The just vary other element like melody or rhythm.

As far as what chords to use. Basically you would use the same basic chords just in a different progression. For additional color you could include Dm or Em into the mix.
What are the principles of songwriting?
The principles of songwriting include the craft of taking both words and melody to create a song. For a song to be effective it should tell a compelling story. A story will have certain elements. These story elements include: the setup, the conflict and the resolution. The melody needs to be strong enough to stand on its own. The melody will enhance the lyric by adding emotional emphasis. In addition to lyrics and melody a song needs a harmonic structure. The harmonic structure consists of a chord progression. The chord progression is a series of chords that are played behind and enhance the melody. Another important principle in song writing is song form. The song form divides the song into separate but supporting sections. The song form will include these basic elements: verse, chorus, bridge. There are other song form elements but these are the basic ones. There is so much more to songwriting, but these are a few basic principles needed to write a song.
What is a good way to get started songwriting?
The first thing you need is to have an idea or concept for a song. From that brainstorm as many ideas as you can that relate to the idea. Once you finish brainstorming you can then pick and choose the best ideas and build from there. Start creating a chorus. This is help you write the verses.
Where do songwriters get inspiration for chord progressions?
There are many ways to get inspiration for chord progressions. One way is to find one of your favorite songs and learn the chords of the songs. Once you get a few songs figured out you may begin to notice certain patterns emerge. Of course there are other ways to find and discover chord progressions.

Here is a basic "Formula" for creating chord progressions.

Each key comprises of three different classes of chords. These classes are called, Tonic, Dominant, and Sub-Dominant.

The tonic class consists of two chords, one built upon the first scale step. The tonic note is the first note of the major scale, The two chords of the tonic class include the I and vi chords.

The dominant class consists of notes based on the fifth scale step. The dominate also has three chords. These chords include the V, iii and vii chords. The vii is seldom used.

The last class of chords is the sub-dominant. This class contains two chords. These chords include the IV and ii chords. The basis of this class is built on the second note of the scale.

Basic rules for movement.
* The chords in the Tonic class may progress or move to any other chord in the the same key
* The chords of the Dominant class can primarily progress into those of the Tonic class. On occasion, it the dominant move to the sub-dominant but preference is given to the tonic.</li>
* The chords of the sub-dominant class mostly progress to the dominant class.

To help you further along. Here are the classes in the key of C:

Tonic = C or Am
Dominant = G, Em or Bdim
Sub-Dominant = F or Dm

Here is a link that will provide additional information Chord Progression Generator

Not only does it provided an explanation about how chord progression are built, there is also a list of the most common chord progressions. I hope this helps you.

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