Archive

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

While composing a song, do songwriters write the lyrics first, or the music?

April 20th, 2018 by

For several months I conducted a poll on the site to find out how songwriters start the songwriting process. This graph shows the results. What I learned from this is that most songwriters start with lyrics first. Followed by writing a chord progression. In third place was starting with a melody.

Here are the poll results. http://learnhowtowritesongs.com/popular-ways-start-songs/

Where do songwriters get inspiration for chord progressions?

April 20th, 2018 by

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.
  • 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 for Songwriter

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.

What is the key to create great melodies?

April 20th, 2018 by

A song’s melody is perhaps the most important element of the song. The bedrock of music belongs to the melody. One of the most important aspects that make a great song lies in the melody. Melody is what makes a song memorable.

The melody needs to be simple. This makes it easy for the listener to remember. A complicated melody may alienate the average listener. The key to writing a great song means making a memorable impact on the listener.

What is the difference between a songwriter and a lyricist?

April 20th, 2018 by

All songs consist of words and music. The words to a song are the lyrics. The music in a song is the melody. Someone who writes the words are called a lyricist. A person who writes the melody is called the composer. Both the lyricist and the composer are songwriters.

What is the definition of melody in a song?

April 20th, 2018 by

A melody is a sequence of single notes that is musically satisfying. Any series of single tone creates a melody. The human voice, the flute, horn,—all instruments capable of emitting but one tone at a time. Each of these instruments produces a melody. Melody constitutes, then, a line of tones. The quality of the melody depends upon the choice and duration of each successive tone.

A good melody is one that appeals to the music lover as tuneful, pleasing, and intelligible. It is one where each successive tone and each successive group of tones stands in a rational harmonic relation to the one before it, and even, usually, to several preceding tones or groups. To say it another way, the tones are not arranged haphazard, but with reference to their harmonious agreement with each other.

What is a good way to get started songwriting?

April 20th, 2018 by

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.

What elements makes a melody memorable?

April 20th, 2018 by

The thing that makes a melody memorable is the repetition of the motif or musical phase. The motif is a small musical phase that is used throughout a melody. By repeating the main motif it “embeds” the melody into the listeners ear. Think of it this way. If you want to learn how to do something real well. You will practice what ever moves or actions required to master that skill. In effect its the repetition that build a strong memory on how to perform it. The same is with a melody. By repeating a motif of phase several times will help the listener better remember the melody.

What are the principles of songwriting?

April 20th, 2018 by

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 story is developed through the lyrics.

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 are some ways to make a song chorus?

April 20th, 2018 by

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 and meter of the lyrics
  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 some of the element of a hit song?

April 20th, 2018 by

The song chosen to be a “hit” will 99% comply with a radio friendly format. There are several elements of a radio friendly format. These are some of criteria you can use to discover the best hit song.

Structural

  • 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

Message

  • 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.

Production

  • 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

Music

  • 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.

Hook

  • 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.

Lyrics

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

Intuition

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

What are some important aspects of the songwriting process?

April 20th, 2018 by

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 good daily songwriting routines that work for you?

April 20th, 2018 by

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 common mistakes that first-time songwriters make?

April 20th, 2018 by

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

How can an music artist get permission to record and sell songs written by other people?

April 20th, 2018 by

You will need to get a mechanical license to get the permission to record a song. Here is a website that offers this service http://www.songclearance.com Alternately you can contact the publisher directly. Another palce to go is http://www.harryfox.com

How many songwriters does it take to write a hit song?

April 20th, 2018 by

The number of songwriters needed for a hit song is as many as 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.

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  • Songwriter Tip:

    Here’s a tip for when you finish a ‘draft’ of a new song. Have a checklist handy to ensure that you aren’t just spinning your wheels, and that you have truly finished something before you send it out. Ask yourself if the song structure that you have chosen to use is one that is easily recognized. Remember, surprises are good at Christmas and parties, not when you’re trying to sell a song.