The Art of Writing a Good Song - by Kathy Unruh
Did you know that good songwriting is often the key to establishing a successful music career? But more than that, it can be fun! When you write a song you are able to express yourself in new and creative ways. Whether you're sad, happy, angry, or in love... with words, you can fly!
Freedom of expression is one of the greatest priviledges we have, but with it comes some responsibility. Words are very powerful and have been used successfully by many for better, or worse. When writing a song, consider how your words are going to impact your listener. Do you wish to alienate them, or draw them into your perspective on things?
A good song will create an emotional reaction in people, and that's exactly what you're trying to achieve! You want to get your listener to feel with you. You want to move them emotionally. You want them to like your song and be willing to listen to it again and again. If you can get your audience to identify with you on some level, you will be on the road to creating a good song.
As you are stirring up your creative juices you may discover that finding just the RIGHT word is sometimes a bit frustrating. But with the RIGHT songwriting tips and resources it becomes a lot easier! Here are three of the most important songwriting tools you should have:
1. DICTIONARY - A dictionary is essential when writing. Besides giving you the correct meaning of a word, it will also help you to express yourself more clearly. You will discover new words while expanding your vocabulary too!
2. THESAURUS - A thesaurus is another important tool to help with creating your songwriting material. You can use a thesaurus to find different words that have similiar meaning.
3. RHYMING DICTIONARY - As the name implies, a rhyming dictionary organizes words that rhyme in alphabetical order using the vowel sounds A E I O U. For example, if you were looking for a word that rhymes with Abel you would look under A sounds. Words rhyming with Abel would be listed in alphabetical order.
There isn't really a secret formula for writing a good song because determining what is "good" is subjective and a matter of personal opinion (some great songs have broken all the so-called "rules"). However, many successful songwriters have used the following format to write a "Hit" song:
INTRO: Approximately 4-8 measures of instrumental music that contains part or all of "the hook" (a part of the melody that is easy to remember).
VERSE: Each verse should be written in such a way as to "set up" the chorus. Try to keep the meter of your song even by matching the syllables of your words. Be consistent with the sentences that rhyme. Verses should create an anticipation of fulfillfment.
CHORUS: This is where you make your statement. Stress the most important part of your song and make it tasty. Think of your chorus or "hook" as being like the icing on a cake. You want your words to be worth remembering.
VERSE: Continue to follow the idea of your song all the way through, don't get side-tracked!
CHORUS: This is where you have the opportunity to repeat your "hook" which should continue to emphasize your songs main theme.
BRIDGE: This is where you can create some interest and tension by changing your melody line, modulating to a different key, or adding an instrumental guitar part, etc. Don't make it too long, approximately 8 measures or so. It should build or crescendo to the final chorus.
FADE CHORUS:This is generally the same as your first chorus, but you will end by repeating it over and over, then gradually fade out to end your song. Use your "hook" generously, but don't over-kill!
Be flexible and use your imagination! Don't just copy or mimic what is currently popular. Remember that some of the biggest names in the music business made it to the top because they were not afraid to be ORIGINAL or have a different sound. So, experiment, be yourself, and most of all- have fun!
About the Author
Kathy Unruh is a singer/songwriter and webmaster of ABC Learn Guitar. She has been writing songs and providing guitar lessons to students of all ages for over 20 years. For free guitar lessons, plus tips and resources on songwriting, recording and creating a music career, please visit: www.abclearnguitar.com
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