Learning how to write songs

When writing songs there is no definite right or wrong way, every individual will have their own opinion of what sounds good or not.

There is also a search for some originality, and therefore you have to be creative and find your own methods.

Every song has different parts that form a structure. The structure can differ, but there are many patterns that the majority of songs have in common. The common parts in a song are shown below.

Intro: The introduction is a passage or section which starts the song, preceding the theme or lyrics. The introduction establishes melodic, harmonic, and/or rhythmic material related to the main body of a piece. The intro is of great importance for the song by establishing the atmosphere.

Verse: The verse will usually occur in two or more sections of the song, have almost identical music and different lyrics, each section is considered one verse. It is not to be confused with a pre-verse, which is an interlude between the introduction of a song and its opening verse.

Bridge: The bridge is a device that is used to break up the repetitive pattern of the song and keep the listeners attention. In a bridge the pattern of the words and music change. This helps the song develop itself in a natural way by creating a contrast to the previously played section.

Chorus: The chorus can make the difference between the song being a hit or just another song. A song does not have to include a chorus, but it is very common and it is a way to shift tempo and deliver some intense quality. It is almost always of greater musical and emotional intensity than the verse. Normally the most memorable element of the song for listeners, the chorus usually contains the hook.

Solo: A solo can expand a song and give it an exciting instrumental break. A common practice is to place the solo after the second chorus.

Outro: The outro can vary in many ways. The simplistic way is to just let some last chords ring out. Another way is to use a so-called fade out. The fade out can for example be done then the chorus is repeated.

Structure of the song

There are many ways to organise these parts, for example it could be something like this:

  • Intro
  • Verse 1
  • Verse 2
  • Bridge
  • Chorus
  • Verse 3
  • Bridge
  • Chorus
  • Solo
  • Chorus
  • Outro

The verse and the lyrics

The biggest part of the text in a song is placed in the verses. In addition to how good the text sounds when being sung, it is also of great importance how the text corresponds with the underlying music and chord sequence.

Getting started is usually the hardest part:- Ideas

Numerous well know and successful songwriters have declared openly that they usually start off with a ‘plot ‘taken from another song. This may seem like copying or even stealing, but by the time the exercise is finished, usually you will have come up with a totally new and original song.

The idea is to take a song you already like, write down the structure for example, the order (intro, verse, bridge, chorus..) then write down the chords along with the number of bars in each section. You now have a frame work and you have made a start.

You now need to change things around. Maybe look at the riff used in the intro and mix it up until you have your own new riff. Then change the key of the song, maybe alter the tempo a little. Once you have done this, start experimenting with melody lines over the verses and chorus sections. All of a sudden you have a totally new song. The original ‘plot’ has just served as a way to get started.

To discuss song writing techniques in more detail contact Tim at Guitar Lessons Gold Coast.