irst of all, a lot of what I’m about to say is of course very subjective, and as the saying goes, ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. Or in this case, ‘Beauty is in the ear of the beholder’. So what I’m trying to really say is that no matter how much we analyse and theorise on what makes a good song, it really depends on who the listener is.
For me, what can sometimes make a great song are a catchy melody, some great lyrics, and a great voice. Although you don’t have to necessarily have all three!
When I listen to music I like to be moved – whether it’s my feet, or emotionally. I like all types of music for example, like dance, pop, ballads, blues, rock ‘n’ roll etc, and if it’s got a catchy tune, then I’m happy.
So how do you actually write a great song, or tune? Well, you’ve clearly got to have a few things going for you. A good ear for music, some ability to play a musical instrument, a good level of creativity, and some inspiration to push you in the right direction. Without just one of these, you are going to struggle. Once you are happy you’ve ticked all these boxes, it’s now time to start creating the song.
First of all, which approach do you take? Do you create the melody first, or the chord progressions; or do you write the lyrics?
There are many different ways to write a song, and each will work differently for you. First of all, you might want to decide what the song will be about. Is it a love song? Is it in memory of someone? Is it a dance song? Once you’ve got the theme, you can then decide to either write the lyrics, or create the melody and chord progression. Most people go for the latter as it’s easier. But again, it’s your choice.
One of the hardest parts of writing a song is not always the lyrics or the melody, but finding the ideas and inspiration in the first place. You’ve got to listen to hundreds of songs, and get some ideas floating around. If you play the piano for example, you might just sit and hit a few notes or chords, and see what happens. You might suddenly get a eureka moment doing that, and the rest falls into place.
You could also try starting with the chorus first, and once you’ve got that nailed you can figure out the verses. Some people may argue it’s better to start at the beginning, but my advice would be to start wherever comes naturally to you. There is no concrete formula for writing a song, and it can’t be forced. It has to come naturally from the heart and not the head, otherwise it just won’t happen. Sure, it helps if you know how to read and write music and you can play an instrument, but you don’t always need to have an amazing knowledge of musical theory in order to write a great song.
Take Paul McCartney for example. He’s not a great pianist, but has written hundreds of great songs by using the piano. All he will do is play a few chords and create a melody to go over the top. Simple, but very effective!
One final thing you can try, to get those creative juices flowing, is to write with other people. It could just be the two of you, or the whole band. This can be a great way to bounce ideas off of each other, and help create the song together incorporating many different ideas.
Once you’ve finally written and completed the song, it’s time to get it out of your head and onto paper, and also to mp3. You may also decide to video the song, which is also a great way of promoting it. Either way, you must try and do this quickly before you forget it. That may sound silly, but if you don’t do this for a few days, then you might forget exactly how it went. So get it written down and recorded onto mp3 quickly!
And then share it to the world 🙂