Category Archives: Songwriting Tips

Tips for Songwriting

12 Fresh and Helpful Tips for Professional Songwriting

Professional songwriting is about more than just the passion.

There is a method to the madness, and you’re going to have to get hip to that method if you want to succeed as a professional songwriter.

In this post, we’ve put together a list of 12 fresh tips that can help you break into the world of professional songwriting.

Tune in and enjoy the read!

1. Go To School

There is a debate about whether or not musicians actually have to go to college in order to make great music. While we won’t tell you that you have to go, we will say that getting a degree in music composition couldn’t hurt.

A formal education can drive home some useful skills (reading music, sight-singing, etc.). Not only that, but it can also help you make connections that will come in handy in the future.

2. Expand Your Horizons

You might have a preference for classical music. Or maybe you like jazz. Or maybe it’s rock music that gets your creative juices flowing.

Whichever genre rocks your world, you need to expand your interests if you’re to succeed in professional writing.

Sure, there is nothing wrong with specializing in a certain genre. That’s more advisable, however, after you have built your name in the industry.

As a newbie, covering a good number of music genres will broaden your skill set.

3. Record Your Writing Sessions

We don’t know what your writing process looks like. We’re willing to bet, though, that your first drafts aren’t your final drafts.

You likely sing potential lyrics out loud and vocalize ideas while you write.

For this reason, recording your writing sessions is a good idea. Recordings allow you to go back and listen to lyrics that didn’t quite make the cut the first time if you have a change of heart.

4. Get a Writing Partner

You may have some great ideas floating around in your head, and you can still go solo and hack it.

Sometimes, though, two heads are better than one.

A writing partner can pump more passion into a song that you might not be able to write by yourself.

The potential end result?

A heartfelt song that resonates with more listeners.

5. Become an Adaptable Writer

Adaptability is a cornerstone of professional songwriting.

Though many professional songwriters have a unique style, some have the ability to adapt their styles if necessary.

For example, new trends and current events might require a songwriter to tweak his or her style.

A songwriter could, of course, choose to ignore these trends. Sometimes, though, there is little artistic reward in avoiding them.

6. Choose a Starting Point

There are several ways to start a song. Some people, for instance, like to start by getting the lyrics down on paper. Other songwriters prefer to start with the music.

Whatever starting point you choose, make sure that it complements your songwriting process.

7. Keep It Simple

You probably want your songs to be memorable.

As a result, you might be inclined to write what you consider “deep” or “complex” music.

We’re not saying that complexity is bad. Even so, simplicity is often thought to be better. Listeners do, after all, want to understand what you’re saying.

If you don’t believe us on this one, just turn on your radio and listen to today’s biggest hits.

You’re more than welcome, however, to try something more complex. Just be careful about how you approach the songwriting process.

8. Format Your Songs Properly

Another cornerstone of professional songwriting is formatting. The format (musical notes, etc.) of your songs is a subtle yet important aspect of the songwriting process.

Simply put, you aren’t the only person who will look over your song.

As a result, you need to abide by the “industry standards,” and there really isn’t much more to say about this.

9. Emote

We did tell you that you might want to consider studying and creating music in more formal ways. That said, we don’t want you to think that you can’t put some heart into your music.

Yes, there are some technical aspects of professional songwriting. Even so, writing great songs is also about evoking emotions that listeners can feel.

10. Find Your Inspiration

Writers of all sorts get their inspiration from numerous sources.

Songwriters are no different. Some get their inspiration from novels, some from movies.

Some even get their inspiration from other artists’ songs.

If you draw your inspiration from a song, however, be extremely careful about how you act on that inspiration.

Some songwriters have been known to get a little too carried away with their “inspiration.” Such cases have at times resulted in lawsuits and claims of plagiarism.

Just remember that inspiration is artistic and that stealing is stealing.

11. Be Honest With Yourself

You may have just written a song that means more to you than life itself. Regardless of your feelings about it, you need to be honest with yourself about the quality of the song.

Sometimes professional songwriters write bad music. It happens.

How great a professional a songwriter is, though, boils down to whether or not he or she can put that beloved song on the shelf and start anew.

Setting something that is near and dear to you aside is hard. Still, you have to be willing to make the sacrifice in your profession.

12. Practice

You might have a natural, raw talent for songwriting. You might have so much passion for music that you develop the uncanny ability to put hits on the page within minutes.

Regardless of how gifted you are, though, you’re never going to get better if you don’t put some effort into your craft.

We’re aware of the fact that this tip doesn’t come across as “fresh” or “helpful.”

But the fact of the matter is, is that practice will never be optional for someone who is in the business of professional songwriting.

You must keep developing your skill as a songwriter.

You can do this by constantly writing, even when you’re not writing a song that will be performed. Try setting a daily goal for yourself so that you can get the practice you need to make perfect.

Final Thoughts on Professional Songwriting

We’ve now reached the end of our crash course on professional songwriting. Hopefully, you’ll be able to take what you’ve learned here and start churning out the hits you’ve always dreamed of writing.

After you’re done writing, you’ll have a whole different challenge ahead of you as you try to sell your new tunes.

We’re sure that you’ll be able to find someone who’s just as crazy about your music as you are.

How to Write a Song

The Beginner’s Guide for Learning How to Write a Song

Many musicians and songwriters out there will tell you that songwriting is easy. You just get into a zen mode, get creative, and pop out a hit. A lot of the biggest and greatest songwriters of all time have agreed to this as well.

Unfortunately, this isn’t such an easy task for most. In fact, reducing songwriting to “just do it” almost trivializes songwriting as an art and a skill.

If you want to become a good songwriter, you’ll need to learn from the best and start somewhere. We put together a beginner’s guide on how to write a song with tips from professional musicians from around the world.

Check out this awesome guide!

How To Write A Song For Beginners

When one begins learning how to write a song, finding the theme is only a small part of the songwriting process.

Get a notebook and pencil and carry them with you everywhere.

Tiny notebooks work well and can be shoved into your pocket on your way out the door in the morning. Don Henley, founder of rock band The Eagles, is a fan of this tip: “I’m always jotting things down on pieces of paper. I’ve got pieces of paper all over my house.”

You can also use a smartphone note-taking app or an audio recording app like FourTrack. The point is to have something with you at all time for when inspiration strikes.

Have you ever thought of an idea for a split moment at a party or in the middle of class and told yourself, “I’ll have to write that down later!” Did you remember to write it down? Probably not.

If you want to take your songwriting seriously and create authentic music, you should do your best to carry songwriting materials with you for when inspiration strikes.

Experiment with different songwriting methods.

Learning how to write a song starts with experimenting. It’s a very creative process, and not all methods of songwriting will work for everybody.

There are several songwriting methods to consider:

  • Lyrics + Instruments
  • Instruments + Lyrics
  • Beats + Instruments + Lyrics
  • Vocal Melody + Lyrics + Beats/Instruments

Musician String is an advocate for going even more outside the box with songwriting, stating, “I don’t write the first line of a song. I write backwards from the chorus line or hook to come up with it.”

Try playing with each of these steps and see which one feels both easy and creatively satisfying to you.

Find your lyrical subject.

The next step in your songwriting should be looking for that theme or subject. Traditionally, listeners find more appeal in songs with lyrical subjects that are clear, engaging, and relatable. Why else would songs about heartbreak or falling in love be so popular?

This isn’t a set in stone rule by any means. If you want to create a song with a more poetic, abstract theme, then go for it! Songwriting is an art that is very specific to the creator.

There are steps you can take to brainstorm ideas for your song:

  • Build your song on a particular line that you’ve written. Did you have a moment of intense inspiration and write down a line or two? You can absolutely build a song around that.
  • Choose a specific word or phrase. This method can be a bit more adventurous but definitely works for many songwriters. Words like “love” “survival” or “beauty” can be the central theme to your song and you can build lines and lyrics around it.
  • Turn beats into words. Did you recently hear an instrumental beat that made you unconsciously put together lyrics? Did that beat remind you of a memory, event, or something else? Building a subject, theme, line, and eventually lyrics around a beat is a possible path to take as well.

Once you have your method and subject down, it’s time for the hard part of learning how to write a song– the actual writing.

Having trouble finding that great musical subject? Singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge has talked about finding her musical subjects and inspirations within herself: “My songs are inspired by my experiences. Sometimes they are more than my real life and, conversely, my life is more than just my songs.”

Musician Jason Mraz, on the other hand, tends to think in the opposite way: “The easiest songs to write are pure fiction. There is no limit to how you can tell the story.”

Create that “hook”.

The hook of the song is also known as the chorus of the song. Typically, the structure of writing a chorus is simple– find a melody that would work well for a chorus, write along with it, and keep it simple and brief.

You can be as brief or as thorough with your chorus as you want, but one or two lines usually will do the job.

Don’t be afraid to write multiple chorus lines and experiment with which one fits best. Sometimes the process of elimination works well with songwriting.

Take your time with the chorus, as it is the most vital part of the song. The hook literally “hooks” the verses and bridges together, making it a vital part of creating a catchy song.

Focus on the verses.

When it comes to the verses, you’ll need to find some balance. Verses sound great when they aren’t entirely symmetrical, but a melodic lyrical mess can be difficult for listeners to follow.

It can also be helpful to separate your verses into sections (like verse 1, verse 2, etc.) and designating a subtheme for each verse.

This way, each verse will get your undivided individual attention.

Rewrite, proofread, rewrite, proofread again.

Like any form of literature or art, you’ll want to work out the imperfections.

Take your time when proofreading and rewriting your lyrics. Ask peers and other fans of music what they think and decide if you agree with their advice, then rewrite and proofread again.

How was our guide on how to write a song for beginners? Tell us what you think, along with your own tips and tricks for songwriting, in the comments section below.

how to write vocal melodies

7 Tricks to Writing Beautiful Vocal Melodies

Some music, like classical, is perfect without words.

But for most other genres, a good vocal melody is key. Though sometimes it’s not as easy as it sounds coming up with one.

We’ll show you tricks and tips that’ll teach you how to write vocal melodies.

The basics of how to write vocal melodies

Just like anything else, there’s no one, tried-and-true way to write vocal melodies.

That’s probably a good thing because then we’d end up with all songs sounding the same way.

But, there are some basics concepts, along with a few common approaches that can help.

Brainstorm first, don’t edit (yet)

This is a trick writers use, too.

You need to get things down as they occur to you. Are they perfect? Not likely.

Are they all even useful? Maybe not. But, if you want to give yourself a severe case of writer’s block, write and edit at the same time.

Pretty soon your creativity is at a standstill, and so is your writing.

In the first phase of figuring out how to write vocal melodies, just write. Then you can go back and figure out what’s good, and what’s gotta go.

It’s better to find a gem or two and toss out three more, than have nothing to work with. And don’t just get rid of the other stuff.

Just because they don’t work in this song doesn’t mean they won’t work in your next one.

Pro tip: make sure you’ve always got a pen and paper handy, or a good voice recorder on your phone. You never know when inspiration can strike.

Make sure you’re ready to record it.

Skip the predictable

Turn on music services like Pandora, Google Music or SoundCloud.

There is a massive amount of music available to listeners right now. Who wants to hear a song that sounds mostly like the previous ten?

Skip the predictable riffs and rhythms. Try putting the accent on the weak beat, or use a hook.

Syncopation can be your friend, too. Sometimes when you’re trying to write a song, something gets stuck in your head.

But if it’s starting to sound predictable or vaguely familiar, maybe it’s time for a break.

Don’t get trapped chasing that same chunk of melody around on your keyboard or guitar. Take a walk, grab some coffee, take a shower.

Shake up your creativity so you don’t get stuck in a musical rut.

Write it, and then write it again

Chances are good that the very first melody to pop into your head isn’t perfect.

There’s not a single note and rhythm can’t be improved?

Even if you truly think that, try this trick. If it’s perfect, it’ll stay that way.

We’ll use the phrase “My song will be a hit” as an example.

Trying changing the emphasis, the notes, the rhythms as you move through the progression.

My song will be a HIT

My song will be A hit

My song will BE a hit

My song WILL be a hit

My SONG will be a hit

MY song will be a hit

You can try repetitive sounds or melodic hooks, too.

“My my my song will be a hit” or even start with an “oh oh oh”.

Think about a song like Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”. She uses both techniques very successfully.

(And did you notice how that song just got stuck in your head?)

Again, this process is still part brainstorming, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Distinct, fresh and memorable

The song you’re writing is your song, no one else’s.

While yes, you’d like to be the next Bruno or Gaga, sounding like them isn’t the way. The best songs are written from a place of emotion within the songwriter.

You can’t duplicate that or fake it, and that’s what makes these songs memorable. That emotional narrative will give your melodies a distinct, memorable sound.

Mix it up

Let’s say you’re trying to write a country song.

So you’ve been listening to all sorts of different country songs. From bluegrass to honky tonk to classic country, you’ve listened to everything.

Now try switching genres to get a new perspective. And, you might even try genres that you don’t normally ever listen to.

Switch from country to rap, or hip hop. And over to rock.

Give your creativity something new to grab onto, it could do the trick.

How to write vocal melodies: try one section at a time

It may seem daunting to think about writing the entire vocal melody in one session.

Instead, think about the melody in sections. Maybe you’ll come up with a catchy rhythm that just writes itself.

Pretty soon, the first verse has built itself around that rhythm.

And if you don’t already have lyrics, leave those for last. Remember writer’s block?

Something similar happens when you try to mash words onto a particular section. And then the only sound you’ll hear is the sound of your teeth grinding in frustration.

No one said that a song has to be written from beginning to end, in a linear way, either.

It’s your song, write it the way you need to.

Contrast and variety

Keep your listeners interested by offering their ears variety.

Is the chorus built from short, choppy, hard driving rhythms? Change up the verses with something slower and more delicate.

Then, build a bridge that brings the two together in a smooth way. Most people don’t wear monochrome clothes (we said, most), so don’t give them mono-melody songs.

But be careful, there can be too much of a good thing. Your song shouldn’t have a bunch of different melodies fighting for the listener’s attention.

Most successful songs have two melodic concepts, so keep that in mind.

Whether you’re just getting your music career started, or you’re experienced in how to write vocal melodies, we want to hear from you.

Are these tips helpful? Any we missed?

Let us know in the comments below!

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.