How to Become a Better Songwriter
When you love doing something there is motivation to become better at that activity. Songwriting is no exception. Most dedicated songwriters want to become a better songwriter. When you approach songwriting with the attitude of getting more knowledge and skills the result will be quality songs.
First of all there are several different elements in songwriting. There is lyric aspect and the musical aspect. The big chicken and egg controversy among songwriters is which way to start a song. There are those who start with lyrics and those that begin with music and I guess it depends on the individual on what element to start.
Good music will create some kind of emotional response. Understanding that music is to provoke feelings to the listener is important. Each song you write should have some sort of emotion that is brought out by the words and music. A great way to start your songs is to start with the emotion you want to communicate. For example, If you want to communicate the loneliness and heartbreak of a failed relationship or the joy and exuberance of a fresh new love, use these emotions to start your song.
Music is a special language that communicates by pitch, rhythm, tempo and dynamic. Creating an appropriate melody can move a songwriter forward in building the songs emotion. There are melodies that are sad, happy or make one feel uneasy.
Melody is one of the keys toward building the songs emotional element. Therefore, spend a lot of time creating the songs melody. This will build a nice solid foundation for your song. As a result, a good melody will follow good form. Seems like the better you become at composing melodies with strong emotions the better songwriter you will become.
As the melody develops start to add words to the music. You may need to include gibberish syllables during this phase. The key here is to now find words that match the emotion that the song will communicate to the listener. You could start with a list of these words. A thesaurus is very useful in finding matching words. Then you can start to find rhymes for these emotional words. These can be a “word bank” that you can use to write your lyrics.
A song must have some sort of form to it. Form consists of verses, chorus, and bridge. The best place to start is with the chorus. This is the part of a song that most listeners will remember. You need to become a master at creating hooks. These hooks will grab the listener’s attention and draw them into the song. This is true, especially if they can relate to the song’s hook and emotion.
The chorus will contain the songs main hook. Spend a lot of time crafting the chorus. The chorus is the main focus of the song but to get there you need to have several verses.
The verses will tell the emotional story where the chorus is the payoff or summary of the story. Verses need to paint vivid pictures in the mind of the listener. So the better you are at creating these emotional pictures; the better songwriter you will become.
Songs are simply stories set to music. The music adds additional emotional impact to a song. A good story will follow specific patterns. Knowing these story patterns will help you create better songs. In songwriting this is called Song Form. Constructing a song’s form will help move a story along a specific path. Learn different song forms and use them in your songs. Know when to have a verse, chorus, bridge, rap or instrumental break. These are all elements of song form. When someone listens to a song there are certain expectations. They expect and want a chorus to arrive at a certain time in a song. Don’t disappoint your listener though poor song form.
To become a better songwriter you need to analyze songs you like. Break them down into different elements. Examine the melody and take note of its movement and contrast. Look at the lyrics and identify rhyming patterns, how the story flows, number of lyric lines and find word pictures they use. Break down the songs form by identifying the verse, chorus and bridge. Figure out what chord progressions are used. Find the beat of the song and what instruments are used. You will begin to see certain elements and patterns that many hit songs use.Taking apart and learning form a hit song will help you write better songs.
When you write a new song don’t rush the process. Good songwriting takes time. It is really quite rare that a song is written in one songwriting session. Work on you song, take some time off from the song and return to it later. When you come back you can look and listen to the song with a fresh perspective. That chorus you though was killer my not seem like it after a second look. Always be willing to refine and rewrite a song you are working on.
Great songs are not written in a vacuum. To write better songs you need to know if the song can connect with the listener. Invite your friends, other musicians and fellow songwriters to listen to your song. Ask them what they liked and what they did not like about the song. Solicit honest feedback and don’t be hurt if they don’t love the song. It is your chance to discover what works and what does not work in you song. Maybe the storyline confused them. Perhaps the music did not really match the emotion of the lyric. To be a great songwriter you need to suck it up and get honest critiques. If you have a local songwriting group in you community join that group and participate.
Songwriting is a skill. As you embark on your songwriting journey you may find that the first 100 song you write are not that great. But each time you write a new song your skill level will improve. It takes time and effort to master any skill. When you write songs do your best to take each song to completion. Not every song will be great. That’s okay. Take that song and archive it. Somewhere down the road you may be able to take that song and cannibalize it for another song. Always be willing to rework your songs. To write great songs you need to write a lot of songs.
Make a record of your song by writing it down on paper and making digital recording. Capture your ideas. The more ideas you have available the more songs you can write. The more songs you write make you a better songwriter.
Knowing what your strength and weakness are will help you know where to shine and where to work. If you are a weak lyricist find a music composer who can write fantastic melodies. Many great songwriters work with collaborators. The ability to work with someone else increases you chances of writing a great song. As each person contributes their strength to the song it reduces the weakness.
Becoming a better songwriter requires work, effort and the motivation to improve. The more you write song the more skill you will acquire. Approach the activity with the attitude of getting more knowledge and skill and you will be well on you way to write quality songs.