Songs are like diamonds in the sky! They are always there, but sometimes you just can´t hear them!
Writing songs is a mystery. Something hard to explain as there are no clear instructions. There are so many ways to get started, and so many ways to go. And yet, getting started is the most crucial part! So, I have decided to narrow things down a bit and present some of the most common ways to start writing a song.
One way to come up with a song idea is to listen to people talk, watch movies, read books, browse through Amazon book titles and see if you can find some interesting combination of words, that could trigger curiosity or a feeling of comfort.
Once you have a compelling title, think about the story that it could hold. This approach is very lyric driven obvisouly. You are basically exploring a story plot, that might be somewhere within you…In order for this to work well, you need to get to your subconscious mind. Find what moves you, what´s something you haven´t spoken out loudly and allow for it to be heard.
Ways to connect to that inner voice, would be resting in stillness and waiting for answers. But that doesn´t work for everyone. So another great way is to do a mindmap of words that you associate with the title. Don´t narrow things down in the beginning…just write down any word that you associate and see if there are dots you can connect. This might bring up a little verse already…You can take it from there step by step, until your story is done. Now, to add music, think of how you would read out all the lines of your story…where are you raising your voice, where are you shying away etc.
Listen to your speaking voice and see if you can enhance certain parts by laying them in a melody. This is a very natural way…I am not saying it is the best way, or the one you want to stick with in the end..but it´s a starting point! Go slow and discover!
Writing to a groove could bring you a very different result. Consider this process like dancing. To write to a groove, you must feel the groove first. Think of ways to place fractions of meloies or words into the pattern and play with variations here and there.
See if any cool hook comes to mind. But do not force things. Let the groove take you there. Might sound silly, but it works, if you allow for your subconscious mind to take over again. Play a little, before you start deciding upon which bits of melody you may like. Make sure to try out a combination of long notes and short notes, as if they were colours in a painting! Light and shadow. Add some depth by climbing up the scale, then go back down again etc.
Writing a melody can happen anywhere and without an instrument at all! It could be all in your head. You could hum a melody or cry out a couple of blues notes and come up with something good! Likewise you could sit down at a piano and start hitting single notes…see where they take you, what sounds nice and how the melody builds itself in certain ways. Writing on a piano is a very common technique, as the notes are laid out in perfect clarity before you. You couldn´t miss a chance to try out every option.
Even if you are no piano player, this might work for you!
Writing to Chords
Writing to chords is a very common way to write for guitar or piano players. You start by strumming out a chord progression in a certain rythmic pattern that you like!
Start humming something to it! Everntually some words (or sylables) will come in…In a weird way you may suddenly sing out little phrases and lyric fragments, that come simultaneously with the melody. This approach is fun, as you may change the chord progression after a while or bring in chords you hadn´t thought about…then altering the melody again and vice versa.
A good way to create suspense is to change the chord progression in between verses, prechorus and chorus. The chorus often ends on the chord over the root note, to allow for that perfect resolution the listener is longing for in every song!
Writing to a guitar or piano or the like is like cowriting with an instrument. It´s like throwing a ball against the wall and seeing where it goes next.
There are many more ways to write songs. You could write to fully produced backing tracks, or start writing a poem and rapping it out etc.
There´s certainly no one way to write and there is no right or wrong! That´s the freedom songwriting grants you! Make the best of it!