Apr 5th, 2009 by Tom Vail

How to be a Better Songwriter

daves-picture-for-website-copy2In this post we are going to hopefully answer most of those questions beginner song writers spend hours of time fretting over.   Questions like:   1. What makes a good song idea?   2. What makes a good song title?     3. What makes a good lyric?   4. What makes a good tune?    5. What makes a good rhyme?   6. What rules do the professionals follow when they write a song?   7. Which comes first the lyric or the tune, the chicken or the egg?

So Where Do I Begin?

picture-of-music-notebookUsually a person gets interested in song writing because he or she feels they have a talent, a gift for either writing words or music or both.  Maybe you’ve been writing poetry, or just find yourself humming song melodies.  Whether you feel you possess that ability for putting words together or notes that make a sound enjoyable to the ear, you are going to learn that with either case good songwriting requires following rules.  What you’re going to learn here when applied correctly is going to give the efforts you put into songwriting your best chance of success.  You may want to think about taking up guitar as it is fairly easy to learn the basics and will give you something to bring your ideas to light.

So What Will We Cover?

masterwriter-graphic2In these articles we’ll be looking at the foundations of what a well crafted song is.  Notice I’ve used the word – crafted – because a well written song is just that. It is more than just a collection of words and notes put down on paper in ink in a moment of passion.  It is, more times than not, meticulously crafted.  It is usually and typically often hard work coupled with that initial inspiration and followed by a nagging persistence to get it done right.  An inner dedication to produce the best song possible from the current song idea you might be working on.   No matter how you get started it all  begins with the foundations of the song.     Here is a software I came across while searching online that looked like a helpful tool for your beginner songwriter.    Masterwriter 2.0

There are 4 aspects of what goes into creating the foundations of a good song.

They are:

1. The song idea

2. The song format

3. The internal song rhyming structure

4. The music must have prosody.    Without prosody the listener will lose interest in your song very quickly

What You Should be Asking Yourself

piture-of-staff-paperWhether what you write becomes a popular hit or not is really irrelevant.  The questions you should always be asking yourself are;  1. Have I given this piece my best effort.  2. Have I made this song into the best vehicle I could possibly make for this particular song idea.  3. Have I followed the time tested rules for crafting a professional song.  These are the thoughts and questions that should be going through your mind as you start, write, and finish any song you re working on.  So for understanding better what makes up this foundation of better song writing.  Let’s start at the beginning, the idea itself.

So How Do I Find Topics to Write About?

picture-for-topicA good song idea can come from just about anywhere.  It could be a phrase that you read in an article from a newspaper or magazine.  It could come from the topic of the article itself.  It could come from a movie you’ve just seen or a book you’ve read.  It could come from a conversation you listened in on in an elevator. It can come from your own life’s experiences.  So let’s explore some of these avenues and see how we can better utilize them.   Take a trip to the book store when you’re out of ideas and just go down the isles reading book titles, or go to the magazine section and read a few of the magazine covers for article headings.  See what’s currently thought provoking with the readers of America.  All these ideas are free to use, you wont be dragged into court for your inspiration coming from a title you caught on some book or the heading of a magazine article.  Titles from books, songs, articles etc. cannot be copy written.  So boys and girls, remember to bring with you your pen and note pad and write down as many ideas of inspiration you come across.  Later when you’re alone you can review all you’ve harvested and one or two or maybe more will strike a chord in you that will send you off in a whirlwind of inspiration to write the next big hit for the American charts.

Get Ideas From Talking to Friends

picture-of-friends-talking1Another fertile area for song ideas will be found in the lives and conversations of others, so again keep your note pad handy.  Your could just stumble onto the next idea that will send the song world abuzz with something you turned into gold or platinum.  You could be listening to someone describing the start of a new romance, how they met, how well they matched up, what activities they did on their first date together.  It could come from someone showing you photos of their first baby, their first car, the first real love of their life.  Or it could be the breakup and ultimate ending of what was once believed to be that special love that was going to last a lifetime.    When you are in conversations with someone who is speaking emotionally about this or that be sure to have your antenna up and radar turned on.  What you need is to keep your mind alert to is a phrase or word or two from this individual that can become the summation of what a song can be about.  Which translates into the song title itself.  An example of this would the phrase like  – she’s so hot – or – that girl does things to me – or – I am sooo in love.  Think of colorful comments you pick up on in conversations and today’ catch phrases as being possible hit song titles of tomorrow.  What’s new is very often what’s hot and whatever is hot, most people just cant get enough of.

Look to Your Own Experiences For Song Ideas

picture-of-holding-handsAnother vast area of song writing ideas would be you yourself.  What makes up your world and how you see it.  What life experiences have you had.  What roller coasters are you now riding in your life that could be turned into a chart busting hit.  What happened to you yesterday, last week, last year. What will you be doing today, tomorrow, five years from now.  What are your own personal hopes and dreams.  You simply have to look inside yourself and listen to the thoughts and feelings that pass through you to find a reservoir of song ideas.  Work on these avenues for song writing opportunities.  Make them a daily practice for you .  Let the practice become a habit.  And remember, making better habits will make you a better song writer.  So if you want to come across as a professional here, learn to do what the professionals do.

Good luck to you , and remember to look for the next installment from the Songwriter’s Studio.

Contact Tom

One Response to “How to be a Better Songwriter”

  1. euphonyproductions.com » Blog Archive » How Do I Get Discovered? Says:

    […] cannot go on and on without end.  Proper formulas of a hit song can be found in our past posts  “How to be a Better Songwriter” , “10 Steps to Being a  Hit Songwriter”, and ” Song Stucture 101″ Use the […]

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