Song Writing Tips-Beginners

a-grand-piano
Grand Piano

Tips-Writing Song Lyrics

There are many writing tips for beginners but the best one I know is to be yourself.
There are many that would say, “do this or do that,” but at the end of the day you are the artist that paints the picture, tells the story, guides the listener on an adventure. You know what you like and are best suited to reach out to your audience.
If you like what you are doing, there are people that have been where you are that will like it too. You must know how to play an instrument. You don’t have to play “lights out.” But a basic musical understanding is needed.

saxaphone-with-a-graphic-background
Making Music

Fast start tip

When you think of something, write it down. If it doesn’t all come at once take a walk and come back. Songwriting structure can be “involved” but starting out simple can get your creative juices going and start your creative process.
Go with what you like and what you want to share and communicate.
I like to tell stories and paint pictures with words.

 Two ways to go about songwriting

There are two ways to approach writing a song. You can start with the music and add the words. Or you can start with the words and add the music.
I am more of a sound person and tend to have a tune in my head first. But sometimes the word idea comes first and a melody is second.
With me, there is a groove that both the music and words seem to fit. Most of my songs are simple but have a phrase that is catchy. That would be the hook. ( more on that later)

The process is not that big

acoustic-guitar
Music or words first?

Most new songwriters tend to see themselves in a small light. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If you are creating, you are an artist. Just like if you play the guitar regularly you are a guitar player no matter what level you are on.
Some of your best work may come when you are not constricted by formality.

Most used song structures by Ralph Murphy on youtube
( order changed by Guitarsuite for preference)

1. – chorus – verse – chorus – bridge – chorus – end
○ This is the most common song structure.
○ The bridge should express the “what if?” or the opportunity of the song’s story.

2. Song Form 2 = verse – chorus – verse – chorus – music – chorus – end.
○ common in rock, dance, and country but lacks a bridge.
○ this is the song structure that has the most #1 hits.
○ the pre-chorus should be 2-6 lines that precede the title line.
○ the pre-chorus expresses the “and, if, but, maybe” of the song.
○ bridge should be just about 2 lines but not much more.

4. Song Form 4 = (a) beginning – (b) now – (c) what if? – (d) down the road.
○ no chorus
○ 1st or last line or each section is the title line many times.
○ sense of the passage of time is usually essential with this song structure.

5. Song Form 5 = chorus – verse – chorus – music – bridge – chorus – end.
○ this song structure is called a rondo… or at least, is similar to a rondo.
○ great for dance record songs.
○ lots of Western Swing songs are written in this song form.

6. Song Form 6 = preamble – followed by song in various structures.
○ the preamble sets up the premise for the song or introduces the song.
○ think Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer.

Fighting writers block

Every writer, songwriter, prose, poetry, fiction, etc. has to deal with writer’s block.
Carry a notebook so that when an idea or line comes to you it can be written down. Pin phrases and titles on your wall. I have a Onenote on my computer that I can make note of ideas. Do memory joggers such as the random writing of words and ideas.
Whatever your main instrument is, go to another. Change chord structure and word order. Change the beat and the feel of the song. Try different song patterns. Go chorus first, add a bridge. Remember a favorite line that fits in.
Change chord patterns. If you write a basic 1-4-5, make the 2 or 6, a minor chord. You can also work with sus, dim, 9th chords, etc.
Have fun and try things out. If you have the equipment record your practices and writing sessions.
You are a gifted artist with a wonderful talent that needs to be expressed.

Back to the hook

Every song must have a phrase or musical interlude that is catchy and sticks with people. This can be in the chorus but should be something that you go back to during the song.
Hey, it is your creation, enjoy!!!
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ASCAP vs. BMI Posted by Songtrust staff May 21, 2015 Repost: ASCAP vs.BMI which is better.

There are three main organizations that have been formed to protect songwriters royalties when their songs are performed, publically, or on radio, television, movies or advertising. Sesac is by invitation only so I will not deal with them.

crooked-keyboard-add-for-a-jazz-festival
Let your creative juices flow

Launched: 1914

Official site: ASCAP.com Location: New York, London, Miami, Peurto Rico, Los Angeles, Nashville, Atlanta

Vitals: With 500,000-strong membership of composers, songwriters, lyricists, and music publishers-its board of directors is elected by its members. The reason for existence is to make sure the members are treated fairly with due compensation for their creations.

Cost: Free for writers and composers if you sign up through Songtrust. $50 if you don’t or you are a publisher.

Publishing Companies: To collect your publishing share of Royalties as an ASCAP member you must be an ASCAP publishing company.( Becoming a Songtrust member will also allow you to collect your publisher’s share.)

BMI:

BMI, Broadcast Music, Inc.

Launched: 1939 Official site: BMI.com.

Location: Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, London, Atlanta, Miami, Puerto Rico.

Vitals: Founded by radio executives as a non-profit, BMI now boasts more than 650,000 members. According to their website, “BMI’ is the bridge between songwriters and the businesses and organizations that play their music publicaly.
BMI serves as an advocate for the value of music, representing 8.5 million musical works created and owned by more than 650,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers.

Notable affiliates:

Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Eminem, Rihana, Maroon 5, Sam Cooke, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton.

Fee: Free for songwriters, $150 as a publisher.

Publishing Companies: You do not need a publishing company to collect your share of royalties at BMI.

On a Personal note

As an aspiring songwriter, I wanted some protection for my creations and I decided to go with BMI. Although I haven’t had any public use of my material yet I have found BMI to offer much advice, training, and support. They offer in-depth training and webinars to help aspiring songwriters. They also provide a written record of my songs and have taught me about copywriting. To find out more on copy write law go to copyright.gov.

Thanks for reading, If you want to learn guitar. Please check other pages for
Guitars and lessons.

Marty

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4 thoughts on “Song Writing Tips-Beginners

  • October 31, 2017 at 6:54 am
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    These are really great tips! I love playing guitar, but usually I just play covers. I have tried writing some songs myself, but haven’t really felt that they have been good songs. I will definitely use your tips in the future when I want to write myself again, hopefully I can write a great song one day 🙂 Thanks again!

    Emilie

    Reply
    • October 31, 2017 at 9:25 am
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      Hi Emilie,
      thanks for reading my “song-writing” article. Never underestimate your talent. Writing a bad song is better than not writing and just a step to writing a really good song. The more you practice your craft the better and easier it will get.Thanks for your comment and I will be happy to answer any questions if I can.

      Marty

  • June 21, 2016 at 10:13 pm
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    Great post on song writing tips. I have written a fair bit of music over the years and even had one of my pieces licensed. I like how you encourage people to be themselves when writing because formality can definitely get in the way of creativity. And I agree you would be wise to carry a note book around and record inspirations that come up because they often pop up at the most inconvenient times! I love your site!

    Reply
    • June 21, 2016 at 10:30 pm
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      Thank you Liz, for visiting my web page on song writing. I think many have a song inside that needs to be shared but they don’t write it down so they can remember it. I don’t always carry a notebook but then the inspiration must go on a napkin or scrap piece of paper. I think creativity must flow and then it can be organized.

      Marty

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