When getting into song composition, one of the most important things is to not be afraid of the finished product.
Many people find song writing difficult because it is personal and sometimes we have a fear of having our songs heard in case we are judged or people don’t like what we have created.
I think it’s important to forget about all of that and don’t judge the songs you write – just write them.
Some you will love, some you will throw away, but the point is just to produce work and not be scared to write something that isn’t perfect.
Like everything, the more you compose, the better you will get at it.
In this article I’m going to give you some ideas on how to approach song writing and I will throw in some examples along the way to illustrate what I am talking about.
Just remember there are many ways you can approach composition and there is no right or wrong method.
1. Free Improvisation
Free improvisation is a great way to get original song ideas.
If you haven’t done free improvisation before, please read this article and do it a few times before you attempt to write a song from it.
You will find that, at first, this exercise is not as easy as you would think. So just get to a place where you feel free to accept every note you play.
What I suggest is that you record a two-minute free improvisation and from there isolate any ideas you like and develop them into a song.
You can spend as little or as much time as you like doing this, and it can be especially fun when you are working with music programmes where you can add drums and other instruments.
Here is my Improvisation:
And here are the two ideas I have chosen to build on:
I think this is a particularly good way to write ambient music but I would like to hear your ideas on this and it would be great if you could post your experiment to the blog!
2. Using a Chord Progression From A Song You Like
I think you may be surprised at how many songs share the same chord progression.
Often, you wouldn’t know because of the variation of keys, melody, instrumentation, style, time signature, tempo and production.
You will be surprised at how original your song will sound if you take into account all these aspects of music and write your song with an inventive approach
I am going to take a well-known song (and chord progression) and change it for you to form an original song.
The song is “Let It Be” by the Beatles.
I am going to change:
- The tempo
- The Form – change the order in which the musical sections appear
- The style – dance music as opposed to pop
- The instrumentation – electronic as opposed to accustic
Here’s the original song:
Here’s the beginnings of my new song:
3. Writing A Blues
The Blues has a set 12 bar form. Please refer to this article for more detailed explanation.
As demonstrated in this “Joanna’s Diary” it is a great form in which to express ideas.
If you’re still not sure about the Blues, you can also read this article which will explain why it is a great form of music to get to know and compose in.
Have a listen to the various examples I have put in the article to hear how different your ideas can sound.
4. Writing Lyrics First
Sometimes lyrics just come into your head and not far behind them will be a melody line.
If you get these lyrics and a melody line, record them on your phone or any type of recorder, then it is just a case of finding the right harmony (chords to support the song).
If you don’t play an instrument, I suggest going to someone who does and ask them to help you find the sound you are looking for.
Collaborating is a great thing to do and often gives you the best work. As they say, “two heads are better than one”.
Of course, you have to be able to communicate well together too, so find the right person. It could be your teacher or a friend or an acquaintance.
5. Choose a Chord Progression
Sometimes you’ll just be mucking around on your instrument and come across a riff or a chord progression you like.
Make sure you record these little snippets. Keep them in a file and use them to begin to write songs.
Sometimes you may be lucky enough to find that a few of them go well together and over a period of time you have a song already put together.
I hope you find this article useful and I look forward to hearing your songs. Send them in if you like and I can post them on the blog.