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 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.

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  • Songwriter Tip:

    Often, composers choose to use a key change either going into the bridge or at the end of the bridge as a powerful transition into the last chorus. You may even decide to make your bridge an instrumental-only section, providing you as a musician or a member of your band an opportunity for an instrumental solo. But whatever musical or lyrical departures you decide to take in the bridge to provide contrast, you must be careful not to get so far afield that you do not arrive back at the last chorus. Remember that the purpose of the bridge is to provide a new and fresh approach to the repeated and now familiar chorus.