Songwriting Techniques & Tips


Here are some songwriting techniques you can use to write a song.

1. If you play an instrument, go to it and start playing. Just play. Have fun with your instrument and keep your mind open to ideas. Play chord patterns or just play anything you like. What will happen is that you may play a particular phrase or chord pattern that will trigger an idea for a song. You may begin to hear a particular melody which will lead to a new song. You may begin to hear topics/themes for a song.

2. If you have recording software, record a chord progression and let it repeat. Common chord progressions include I V VI IV (C G Amin F), I IV V I (C F G C) , I VI IV V (C Am F G) and I IV I V (C F Dmin G). You can search the Internet for popular chord progressions. Let your progressions play over and over again till you begin to hear melodies and lyrics that match them. Depending on the kind of writer you are, sometimes, you will hear melody first, lyrics first or both simultaneously.

If you don’t have recording software you can simply play your instrument while you tune in to ideas. I prefer to do the former so that can I can focus totally on the song I’m trying to write. Similarly you can write to instrumentals or “karaoke tracks” without the vocals. 

Songwriting Techniques:

3. Choose a song that you like in the genre in which you intend to write. Keep the melody (for now) but change  the words. After you have re-written the words, change the melody. The trick is to get that original melody out of your mind so you come up with a completely different song which breaks no copyright laws.

4. Hold a particular rhythm in your mind and write to that rhythm. This works well for dance music in particular. This will help you get the bounce you’re looking for. Use a percussion instrument if you like or drum on something.

5. Be adamant that you’re going to write a song. Hold the intention of writing a song in your mind until you come up with the desired song. Write, rewrite, trash lyrics and melodies, alter them, do whatever, until you have a song that you are satisfied with. Refuse to give up. This process can sometimes take one or two days in my experience.

6. Write a song based on the theme or topic of another song. Add a new twist to the song and make it yours. The melody and lyrics will be different but keep the theme of the song. You can even use the same hook, phrased differently or altered slightly.

7. Forget rhyme. Just write whatever you’re feeling. (Or record it on a recording device, like a phone.) Tell your story/write your song without being hindered or affected by the need to rhyme. Later, go back to what you’ve written and add rhymes, trying as much as possible to keep the original message or idea.

8. This one is metaphysical. Quiet your mind and let ideas flow in. The song is already in your sub-conscious mind, let it get to your conscious mind. Let go of all judgements and criticisms and let ideas come to you.  Speak to your subconscious mind and tell it that you want a hit song. Let go of all negative thought, especially those of not being able to write a big song. Believe that you will receive the song you’re asking for and you will receive it.

Songwriting Techniques & Tips From Our Visitors

The following is from visitors like yourself. Feel free to take the tips you want and discard the others.

Andrew from Sackville, Canada writes: Like the Nike commercial: just do it! Don’t worry about rhyme or reason, just try and write from the heart. If its ever been broken… there’s a song. It might be hard to start it but once it comes, it should flow. Don’t force anything, unless you’re looking for ideas. Never sit down and force yourself to write a song. 9 times out of 10 it will suck! Just be yourself and dig deep. Think of things you’ve forgotten.

I like to write with a pencil that has no eraser. Pencils have always just flowed easier for me, and its good to not be able to erase anything. You might look back on it and it will spark something else so keep it all. And remember poems are songs too!

For recommended songwriting techniques and tips, click here.

Derry from Pottsboro, United States writes: I have to say, always carry a note book with you, wherever you go. You never know when you will hear or read something that will inspire you.

For instance, I was with my friends out eating at Mcy D’s. My ex-girlfriend who was with us was trying to get someone’s attention and she said, (or I misinterpreted the words), “Don’t ignore me, I would do anything for thee.” I’m not sure why but those words inspired me, so I went and wrote a melodic metal (my band style) song based on shakespearean iambic pentameter.

I mean since then I always carry a notebook with me wherever I go and when I hear a good line or misinterpret one, I write it down. Almost always, I’ll eventually use them…

Songwriting techniques and tips from our visitors: 

Tom from Endicott, United States writes: You need to convey your message to the listeners. Let them feel your pain, or happiness. Write the lyrics as if you were telling a story to your listeners.

Charlie from Brown Deer (We’ll call it Milwaukee), WI, United States writes: A few things that I have learned through extensive writing.

1.) Do not limit yourself to rhyming. It can only prolong the time it takes you to write.

2.) Get in the mood of your song. If the song is sad, get sad, listen to sad songs, and the like.

3.) For me, my best writing occurs either at an inspirational place (ie. the lake) or in an (altered) state of mind.

The whole point of this site is to help you write better songs. For tips, tricks and techniques to become a better writer, click here.

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