Songwriting for Beginners: How to Write a Song from Start to Finish

Songwriting for Beginners: How to Write a Song from Start to Finish

Songwriting For Beginners - Compose Song Lyrics

A majority of beginner musicians wonder how to write a song that people will be crazy about. If you have already written a song or two, you most likely know how amazing it feels to compose your music and articulate yourself through chords, lyrics, and melodies.

As you continue to learn how to compose songs, you’ll observe that songwriting tutorials aren’t the same. This is a normal thing as the songwriting process is different for every person. Some people like to begin with chord progression, some write the lyrics, while others commence with a melody. Moreover, some might write the lyrics first then come up with a title, or write a title then continue from there. All these tactics are ideal for writing songs.

Without further ado, the following are songwriting steps that will assist beginners to compose a song.

Finding Inspiration to Compose a Song

Inspiration For Song

Your surroundings need to be set up, given that ideas can come to you at any given time. You’ll want to either write those ideas on paper, type them in your computer, or record them using a voice recorder as soon as possible, therefore, have quality pens at home, car, work, etc.

Your phone recorder should also be near you where you can save your lyrical or melodic idea. Moreover, have journals or notebooks with you always. Even a short title is worth writing. In addition, you’ll also want to have:

  • A rhyming dictionary, which will assist you to think of rhymes that you’ll use with any word.
  • A thesaurus, which will assist you to find different words to use.
  • A dictionary, which will provide you with the exact meaning of any word you use.

It is time for some inspiration. Everyone is influenced by various songwriters, musicians, guitarists, composers, among many others. For you to find your inspiration, come up with a list of some of musicians and songs that have meaning for you. If your car has an MP3 or CD player, always have a playlist of inspirational songs to keep you constantly inspired. While at the gym, you can also work out with your favorite songs. Play your favorite songs as you start your daily routine.

Establish Your Song’s Structure

By scrutinizing the songs you enjoy, you’ll be able to get an idea of some of the various structures that you can utilize. As you learn to compose songs, you can try out several song structures until you arrive at the best possible match.

  • Song structure 1 – This is the simplest structure as it contains one type of lyric, the verse with a tag line refrain.
  • Song structure 2 – This is a structure contains both verses and choruses that contain 2 kinds of lyrics.
  • Song structure 3 – Songs using this structure tend to be more complex. They usually contain verses, choruses and a bridge.

How to Compose the Lyrics

How To Compose Lyrics

Whenever you compose song lyrics, you need to be aware that there is no correct way to begin. You might have a handful of words already written, a story or message that you want to communicate, or even the whole chorus figured out. When you begin, it can be advantageous at some point to describe the whole scope of your song in one sentence at the top of your lyric writing page. It will assist you to stay focused.

A song is a short type of art; therefore it is important to tie it together with a single idea. If you have many ideas, compose a different song for every idea rather than attempting to pile too much into a single song.

Moreover, you need to remember that it is not a must for you to compose a whole song in one sitting. You can come up with one verse or chorus and then keep adding more lyrics as you become inspired.

Writing the Chords and Melody

Piano Notes

While you’re trying out various melodies and chords, you can make use a recorder. Sing your lyrics in different ways (at least 3 times), and then listen back to your recording to see if you did a good job.

Moreover, you could also begin with some chords instead. Play several chord progressions on a piano or guitar and then record them. After that, experiment with a number of melodies against the chords using your lyrics (if they are ready). It’s a good idea to record your experiments so that you can tweak which chords and melodies are working and which ones could be adjusted to your satisfaction.

If you’re having any problems with producing a chord progression, you can ‘borrow’ one from a different song. Select a song that has a similar style and tempo to yours and then combine the chords with your lyrics. You can utilize any segment of the chords that works for you. Ensure that you do not copy the actual melody of the tune you’ve borrowed. Even though copyright law protects song melodies, chord progressions are not restricted. Therefore, you can borrow chord progressions any time you like.

Composing the Title of Your Song

Your song requires a great title. You’ll discover that most songwriters use repeated words from the chorus as the song’s title. Other songs utilize a descriptive phrase that isn’t contained in the lyrics as the title. Use the style that suits you.

The Final Steps

When you’ve completed your song, put it aside for several days and do not think about it. When you come back to it, you’ll be able to pinpoint lyrics that require adjustment, chords that need some tweaking, among other small details that will make your song become a hit. Afterward, think about testing your song(s) out live to help you fine-tune it.

Another excellent idea is to record your song. With advancements in technology nowadays, you can record your songs using the right software and a quality microphone. Having a recording of your song will open a lot of doors for you (if you eventually want to become a renowned singer and songwriter). Furthermore, the song can be published on iTunes, YouTube, etc. so that other artists, potential fans, and influential people in the music industry can access your songs. In addition, you can enter a songwriting contest. Who knows, you might be the winner!


There you have it. For all beginners out there, the above steps will greatly help you compose a song. Writing songs is not that hard; however, it is a skill that requires practice. The more you practice, the better you will become at writing songs. Furthermore, you’ll eventually be a good musician who’ll earn a living from the craft (as of May 2017, the median wage for musicians in the US was $26.96 per hour). Good luck and have fun!

Are there any other songwriting steps that we’ve not included?

Author’s Bio: Matthew Barney is a freelance writer and designer. He studied journalism at New York University. Also he loves music, travel and sport. He loves to discover the world and make money.
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