How to write a song – 15 killer tips to help you start
Hey there, music enthusiasts! If you’ve never written a song before, starting may be a little tricky. Don’t worry, starting is always tricky, no matter what you do. At Drooble, we’re crazy about music, to say the least, and, as you already know, we’re always looking out for you. Because we know how hard and confusing the creative process can sometimes be, today we’ve prepared a few tips on how to write a song. Hope this helps
1. Calm down
Calm your mind and clear your thoughts. The more relaxed your brain is, the more likely it is to access the part of itself where the good stuff is. Anxiety is not going to get you anywhere. Deadlines can be a boost but also a terrible enemy – if you’re usually not good at working under pressure, the chances of it happening when you have a creative task are close to zero. To create, you need to relax.
Put some music on. It can be something you often like to listen to, something you only hear occasionally or something you’ve never heard before. You can often get “infected” with the creative and emotional vibe of an artist through their music. Try listening to whole albums or to separate songs from totally different musicians. You never know what’ll get your juju going.
3. Get inspired
Inspiration will definitely not appear out of thin air although it’s not entirely impossible. And while music itself can induce inspirational thoughts, they usually come from the outside. Do something, go somewhere, eat something, read a book. Expose your body and mind to ideas, images, tastes, smells, feelings. Experience is where all the connections between your brain cells come from and that’s just the way music is made.
4. Start with the melody
Try humming or playing a simple tune. Start with the first thing to come to your head and work from there. Even if an idea sounds bad or boring in your mind, give it a chance. When you start to develop that basic melody, who knows how different it may turn out in the end? Starting with a melody may also help you think of lyrics or harmonies which could inspire further changes to the initial concept.
5. Start with some chords
Play one chord, then another, then a third one. If you feel like it’s not what you’re looking for, start from the beginning. Work on a chord progression that best fits your mood. Try again and again, until you get closer to what you’re trying to convey as possible. You can have different harmonies and progressions for different parts of the song – the verses, the chorus, the bridge. Experiment, change places, switch parts, add elements – it’ll do the trick.
6. Start with the lyrics
Sometimes it’s easier to express yourself verbally first. Putting your thoughts into words will give you a better understanding of what you’re trying to achieve. Starting from the lyrics may also give birth to ideas about structure, rhythm and tempo. Trying to sing the words could also help you come up with a melody. Perhaps you wrote a poem a year ago? Or you were inspired by a famous quote you heard recently? Use it, it wouldn’t harm to try.
7. Share your ideas
It’s always a good idea to ask other people to tell you what they think of your music. However, it’s not a good idea to always follow every advice and try every suggestion. Stand your ground, only you know what you want the song to sound like. At the same time, stay open. Every feedback is valuable, even if you don’t necessarily agree with it. Accept constructive criticism and make the most out of it.
8. Mix different songs
A weird and interesting approach is to play one song and sing another on top of it. Just mix two songs that weren’t meant to be together. Most times it will sound horrible but sometimes you hear a harmony, a progression, a combination of sounds that makes you think: “Yeah, why didn’t I think of that?!”. It sounds a bit non-traditional but if you try it, you’ll be very surprised of the results.
9. Don’t get attached
It’s very important to always remember that just because you came up with an idea, it doesn’t inherently mean that it’s the best one you’re capable of. Sometimes, when you’ve played the same riff or sung the same chorus a thousand times in a certain way, it’s hard to accept change even when it’s good change. Don’t get too attached to ideas, they could always be better – it ain’t over till it’s over.
10. Sleep on it
Slow down. You don’t have to write that song right now. Even if it sounds good, wait for a day or two, listen to it again, play it again. When you hear what you’ve created with a clear and refreshed mind you may not like it so much, you may point out which parts are boring or inconsistent with the rest of the song. You may also think of ways to make the song better that didn’t seem so obvious when you started.
11. Take care of yourself
Eat, sleep, move. In order to write a song you’ll need to be alive and fresh, which can be quite a challenge if you’re an undead zombie that hasn’t touched a bed and normal food in three days. Walk, run, dance – move your body and drink a lot of water. Your physical condition can greatly influence your creative performance.
12. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Sometimes you’ve actually got a good idea but you’re so concentrated or distracted that you get the impression it’s not good at all. Just remember, some of the most famous songs in the world started from something someone really hated. Have more faith in your abilities.
If nothing helps, improvise. Just let the music flow through your hands, your voice, your mind, whatever. No frame, no rules, no goal. If you feel you’re not good enough, you are. If you think you can’t do a good jam, you can. Just play. Ideas will come.
14. Be patient
Yes, sometimes things happen fast. In most cases, however, you have to work hard until you get something you’re happy with. Some songs take minutes and some take years. Don’t push yourself if makes you uncomfortable. It’s good to aim high but with the right amount of realism. Give yourself all the time you need to finish – the goal is to make a song you like.
15. Have fun with it
Don’t let yourself get frustrated, nervous, sad, anxious or angry – unless it’s for the song, of course. Remember what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Things are much easier when you’re having fun. Usually the results are better as well. Write that song. And make sure you’re enjoying every second of it.