Crafting that killer track can be a daunting task so we’ve broken down the hard work for you. All you have to do is take note.
Posted: 29 January 2019
Writing a song can be difficult, writing a good song can be even more so. But don’t despair! There’s plenty of tips and techniques you can utilise as well as tools designed to make the job easier. We’ve taken a look at some of the most common and most valuable tricks of the trade to help you become a master songwriter.
Okay so a pen and paper may be a bit old school but keeping a notepad on you, or better still, keeping notes on google docs or something similar is invaluable. You never know when inspiration is going to strike and you need to be able to capitalise when it does. It’s worth taking down anything that pops into your head. A lot of it may be rubbish however there will be a few nuggets in there that could blossom into a song.
Some songs take minutes where as some take years. The Rolling Stones’ (I can’t get no) Satisfaction, and the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army each took less than half an hour to write. Queen estimated that Under Pressure took about 5 minutes, whereas Bohemian Rhapsody apparently took 6 years to complete. What this proves is that there is no ‘right way’ to write a song, so don’t overthink it and don’t rush it.
What you’re working on may not set the charts alight, but don't get yourself down. Possibly a section of the song's structure or even just a line or a chord could spark some inspiration and spur you on to greater things. No artist has a 100% hit rate and plenty of the greatest songwriters of all time have written some stinkers. Write lots and something will stick… eventually!
When writing it’s easy to get distracted. One way to avoid this is to set up a reward system and push yourself to reach your goals. Looking for some new equipment or a treat for yourself? Perhaps set a goal of writing 3 songs before you consider it. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys famously used this technique in the 80’s when for every song he wrote he would be given a hamburger. But beware, prolific songwriters could pile on the pounds if you do this!
A dictionary, thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary aren’t exactly new but are still crucial bits of equipment for any songwriter. Nowadays there’s also plenty of other tools to help bring out your creativity too. Apps such as Hookpad and ChordPulse can help suggest melodies and chord progressions to compliment what you already have, where as Hum, Voice Recorder, and GarageBand can help you put those ideas down so you can build on them in future.
Writing a song is a personal journey and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. David Bowie famously created a technique of cutting up lyrics and mixing them together but that won’t work for everyone. Try the suggestions above and keep plugging away and developing your own techniques, sooner or later you’ll stumble across your perfect set up and write something extraordinary.