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June 15, 2023

Simple Steps to Write a Good Song for the First Time

Interested in writing your first song but don’t know where to start? Here we will give some basics on the simplest way to start writing a song. With a little bit of knowledge about melody and lyrics, you can write a song! Start by getting your creative juices flowing and think about your favorite songs and the artists that write them. There are many great songwriters in our time such as Taylor Swift, John  Legend, and Ed Sheeran. All these professional songwriters have written many hits for themselves and other artists. All of them use their musical genius to create thought-provoking and meaningful music. The songwriting process can be daunting especially when you’re trying to create something personal like your own song. Here are some steps you can consider when beginning the creative process of songwriting.

  • Big Idea: What do you want to write your song about? Create a “big idea” by coming up with a phrase or short sentence defining what your song is about. The more specific the better. (Don’t let your big idea be “love song,” instead choose something like “how loving you is like the first day of spring.”)
  • Melody Ideas: The vocal melody is the most important and memorable component of a good song. Try to create something to sing that sounds good to your ear and that you enjoy hearing over and over. Songs typically have at least two “contrasting” melodies, so if you write a Verse and a Chorus, make sure the melodies are both memorable, but feel different from each other.
  • Emotional & Sensory Language: The best songs are universal and specific. They capture an emotion that is universal (something everyone understands,) but usually present them with specific details. The best way to be specific is by using sensory language in your lyrics. Describe the scene. What do you see, taste, touch, and hear?
  • Choose Your Song Form: Song form is the bones that help the songwriter build the song. Different song sections usually accomplish different goals. Do you have a refrain line you want to return to? Or perhaps a Chorus? Making a good song means differentiating song sections to contrast musically and lyrically. Make sure the sections of your song do NOT all sound the same.
  • Prosody: Get creative with your musical ideas and song lyrics and think about how you want your listener to feel so that the message of your song is clear. Prosody is making sure your melody and lyrics are working together to tell a unified story.

Once you're finished with the first draft of your song, you should always record a worktape. A worktape is a rough demo (as basic as a voice memo!) of your entire lyric and melody as it currently stands. Make sure you have something to “keep time” in your worktape (even if it’s just snapping your fingers while you sing.) A “song” is made of melody and lyrics, so chord changes can come later, or in collaboration with someone else if you do not play an instrument. All you have to have a “good song” is a solid lyric sung with a compelling melody.

Happy Writing!

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