How To Write A Song
My Four Part Mini Series
Lesson One ‘FORM’
If you would like to write a song of your own but you are not sure where to start, or if you’ve had a go but find songwriting to be quite difficult, then this mini series on how to write songs is for you.
I have four tutorials for you. Tutorial one is all about mapping out your song to make the writing process so much easier and faster.
Tutorial two shows you how to brainstorm ideas to write your song about. Tutorial three will cover basic chords you can use and in Tutorial four, we talk about lyrics.
It’s going to be a lot of fun so drive right in, and don’t forget to subscribe to my email list to get free vocal warmups and more tips on songwriting.
If you are interested in writing your own songs but you are not sure where to start, this video is for you.
When you want to write a song but you don’t have any solid ideas of where you want to go, then the best place to start is with a map. Just a like a road map. You wouldn’t get into a car and just start driving, you’d have a look the best route to go.
You can do the same thing with songs and working out this map in songwriting speak is called ‘FORM’ and it refers to the structure of the song.
So in terms of a pop song you’re talking about verses and choruses. The chorus is the super catchy bit of the song that is the most memorable. This is the bit that you sing along to if you dont know the song properly. Which means the verses are the story telling parts of your song they set the scene and lead up to the chorus.
So when you are writing a song, to create your map, you want to place your verses and choruses in the right way.
Now when you think of verses and choruses as building blocks, there are a lot of different ways you can place them. You can put erses first followed by a chorus, or vice versa, or do two verses and one chorus…
But to keep things simple, we are going to start mapping our song like this:
Verse, verse, chorus, verse, chorus.
Now one cool thing about doing this, is that to get this much song, you only need to come up with two different melodies. One is your super catch chorus, and the other is your story telling verse.
You can have a go at doing this too – come up with two bits of melody that go together and you’re almost finished.
Then we wanna add a little bit of something new to our song because too much of the same thing gets boring. So this where we add the last building block to create our map. Its called our BRIDGE. now the bridge is a seperate bit of melody that sounds a bit different. Now you can have fun with the bridge. It doesn’t have to be singing, it can be instrumental. It can be rap, add some electronic FXs anything you want but dont go too far our cause it has to go with the rest of the song.
So now we have this:
Verse, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, BRIDGE
Any to finish off the song, we just add in two more choruses to end and we’re done!
Obviously there is much more you can learn about songwriting but creating your map is a good place to start.
What’s more, your songs will sound better if you have an organised structure.
Give this songwriting technique a go and leave me a comment below if you felt it helped you.
TUTORIAL TWO: IDEAS
In Songwriting Tutorial #1 I showed you how to create a map for your song which helps you to work out how much music you actually need to write to complete your song. This technique also helps to keep your song flowing in a pleasing way from start to finish.
Now in this second Songwriting Tutorial, I’m going to help you to fill up your song with material – so we’re going to look at how to find inspiration even if you have no ideas.
People write songs in a whole variety of ways – some people start with a drum beat, others with a bass line, I often start my songs with lyrics, other people hear the whole song in the head all at once…
What you need to do is to try a few different methods but one thing that is common among all of the different ways you can write is song is that songwriters listen to a lot of music.
So this is how we are going to get our inspiration. I want you to think about the style and feel of the song you want to write first. You probably already have a collection of favourite songs or artists that you would like to emulate.
So, I want you to go and listen to your favourite three songs, try to pick songs that are all in the same style for this exercise and see if you can pick ONE thing from that song that you can use as inspiration.
Listen to the drums – do you like the rhythm? If so, use it. start with that rhythm for your song – its not copying, because by the time you’ve finished writing your song it will sound totally different, but taking ideas from other songs will give you somewhere to start.
Maybe its the piano you like the sound of, or maybe you like the structure of that song that you want to use instead of the structure I gave you in the first video.
So just go and really listen to your favourite music. Listen behind the vocals.Try to ignore the singer and listen to the rest of the song and see if you can pick out something to start with.
Have fun with it – then in the next video, I’m going to show you how to come up with some chords to use in your song.
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TUTORIAL THREE: CHORDS
For some songwriters, coming up with chords is the hardest part of the process. So in this video I’m going to show you how to come up with as many songs as you like by using four magic chords.
The reason these chords work so well is because you can put them in any order and they still sound good. This will work in any key as well.
These are in the key of G Major
Root (or 1st): G, B, D
4th chord: C, E, G
5th chord: D, F#, A
Minor 6th chord: E, G, B
Welcome to video 3 in my Songwriting Tutorial Series. The last two videos were all about how to create a map for your song before you start to make the songwriting process easier, and I showed you how to come up with some ideas for your song even if you have zero inspiration.
This video is all about chords. I’m going to show you how you can make a whole heap of different songs using just four chords so even if you can only play an instrument a little bit, this video is definitely going to help you out.
There are so many songs – really popular ones that only have three chords. There’s this super funny video buy this Australian comedy group calle Axis of Awesome and they do this cool meddley of a bunch of smash hit pop songs that use the same four chords – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pidokakU4I
For this video our first chord is going to be our root chord; so if our song is in the key of G this chord will be G B D = a major triad.
You can use this chord for ages and you’re probably going to want to end with this chord too because the ear likes to come back to something that resolves. Its a nice happy place to be, the root chord is ‘home base’.
Next we want to go to first base so we’re going to move up to the 4th chord = C, E G.
From here, you can you can go back to home base OR you can move onto second base, the 5th chord of the scale = D, F#, A. From here you can shuffle things around and move back to the 4th chord or you can go home to the root chord.
Most of the time after you’ve hit second base, you want to go home because your ear will want to resolve the tension that you have created within the song.
Finally our fourth chord is the minor 6th chord of the G major scale = E G B and we’ll use this chord in our Bridge to mix things up and keep it interesting.
Now you have your four chords you can play around with them, sing some melody lines over the top and try out different rhythms. Four chords is all you need to create many, many different songs.
So have fun and play around with the order you place your chords in – they all work together really well and you can jumble these chords up and they will still sound good.
In the next video, I’ll show you how to easily add some lyrics to your song.
TUTORIAL FOUR: LYRICS
Writing lyrics can be a real struggle for many songwriters. So much so, that some writers steer clear of them altogether and only write chords. They then search for that special someone who can add words to their songs for them.
I know this because I work with many different songwriters on a regular basis and over half don’t write lyrics.
So why is lyric writing so daunting? Its probably because some people just don’t like writing or find it difficult, or its because many people feel they have to be really clever and cryptic with their words in order to sound good.
This just isn’t the case.
I absolutely love writing lyrics and so I’ve put together three techniques you can use to make your lyric writing a whole lot easier. These tips work even if you don’t know where to start.
Did you enjoy my mini tutorial series on songwriting? If you did, I’d love to here how this helped you in the comments below.
Thank you for reading right to the end!!! You’re awesome 🙂
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Awesome Nicola! Please keep the tips coming! The songwriting video really helped! Thanks a lot! Peace+Joy+Love.
Thanks Nicola, that was great and I can’t wait to see more.
Lara!!! How are you honeybunny?? So glad you enjoyed the video – I’ve got a performance vid coming out next but then I’ll post another songwriting one after that xx
I’ve just found your website. Thanks for sharing such great information Nicola!
You’re welcome! x