Songwriting Basics: What are the basics of writing songs?
To answer this question we first of all need to look at song components. A song consists of words and music. For a song to be a success it must have great lyrics and music. For popular music, there is usually no need for anything complicated. The simpler the better. In this context, having a great song means having a catchy lyric and melody. It has to sound “good”.
The next thing we need to look at is song structure. A song is made up of verse, chorus and bridge.
Perhaps the most important part of your song, the one which has to be the strongest, is the CHORUS. The chorus is the part which the listener will remember. It is repeated several times throughout your song and usually consists of repeated lines and words. It is the part which is sang along to most of the time in popular music. Make your chorus simple but catchy. Make it stick in the listener’s head with a powerful HOOK. All you need is one chorus.
Then we move on to the VERSES. A song will usually have about three verses, sometimes two, or four for the most. Nowadays since songs are getting shorter and shorter, they have very few verses compared to days of old. Your verses should support what you’re saying in the chorus and tie to it nicely. It can tell a story and be as detailed or poetic as necessary.
Most songs today have a BRIDGE. The bridge gives the listener a nice wake up call so to speak. It adds a surprise element. Listeners have very short attention spans today, so it’s a great way to keep them listening. It consists of a sudden change in melody or thought. Sometimes the chord structure changes. The bridge sometimes leads back to your chorus and can end with a key change. It usually appears once.
You can structure your song anyhow you like. There are no rules. But since we are looking at songwriting basics, here’s a common song structure:
verse / chorus / verse / chorus / bridge / chorus/ verse / chorus
The TITLE of the song is very important. It needs to be part of your song’s lyrics, usually in the chorus. Think of yourself as a sales person. How can you create a title that catches people’s attention. The title should be memorable and fitting to the theme of the song. A song often starts with a title.
In addition to verses, chorus and bridge, popular songs normally start with an INTRO and end with an OUTRO. The intro can consist of between 4 and 8 bars. The main job of the intro is to grab the listeners attention. It should be able to pull them in so that they want to hear the rest of the song. The outro or coda is like a grand finale where you bring your song to a close.