If you are looking for songwriting tips, you are in the right place! Whether in music, books, or art in general, songwriting is the only tool that can turn your work into a journey, the ultimate goal of which is to take people with you. The power of songwriting is behind some of the greatest hits in music history. Whether through derision, emotion, or denunciation, words give meaning to your songs. Want to know how to write a song that will make a lasting impression? Learn how to write melodies and chord progressions that are catchy and emotionally compelling? The writing process is different for everyone, but for beginners who don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered.
Here are 7 tips to help you develop your songwriting and make an impact with your songs:
Songwriting Tips #1 – Get inspiration from your idols for a good songwriting
The songs that have made music history, or those that are particularly dear to you, all have something in common: they are timeless. A song is often timeless because of its narrative quality and the universal message it carries. We all have idols that we admire more than anything else and that inspire us on a daily basis. These figures are an inherent part of your development as artists and musicians. Aspiring songwriters are known to find inspiration from the best songwriters that have come before them. These inspirations can shape you and allow you to find your own creative momentum.
Joy Division would be nothing without David Bowie, the Rolling Stones wouldn’t exist without Muddy Waters.
First of all, take the time to brainstorm and analyze the songs that you like. Make a playlist of all the songs that inspire you and ask yourself what makes them so good. What is the structure? What are the arrangements? The melodic progressions? The rhythmic variation? The tonality or the texture? What makes the lyrics to a song so special? By investigating the songs that inspire you, you will be able to better understand your tastes and ambitions and really dive into your creative process.
Are you trying to get your music noticed? ⬇️
Songwriting Tips #2 – Good or great songwriting ? 👉 Active listening
The most effective way to take advantage of your influences is to use the active listening method. When you listen to a song you like, take notes of the parts, elements and techniques that appeal to you. Schematize the entire work, giving shape to the ideas in order to get a visual overview of the entire creative process. This will help you visually represent the structure of your favorite songs. What moment in the song structure sticks out the most? Or is it a set of lyrics that grabs your attention? Writing music is about finding that balance between the verse and chorus and bringing your listener on a journey. You want to create tension, dynamics, and write lyrics that can be easy to relate to. That’s how you connect with your audience!
Songwriting Tips #3 – Keep a journal to grow as a songwriter
In order to improve your lyric-writing skills, the greatest favor you can do for yourself is to keep a lyric diary, and take it with you wherever you go. Sometimes even writing down your most mundane thoughts in prose can help you write lines you would never have thought of otherwise. Learn how to observe the world around you, noting down casual conversational lines or poetic inspirations. Got writer’s block? Don’t pressure yourself into writing lyrics for a song right away, just write. Good lyrics can sometimes be a happy accident- they come to you when you least expect them to.
No one witnesses your creative process.
IMPORTANT: If you don’t allow yourself to write, you risk staring at your paper and playing with your pen for a long time. Sit down and start with random lists, imagery, and observations. Write about what you did this week. Free writing without a filter is an important exercise.
Songwriting Tips #4 – Use a narrative arc to structure your songwriting
Songs are stories. Applying a narrative arc to your writing is a clever and effective way to make your songs more interesting to your listeners. Working with narrative arcs gives you a guideline when writing the lyrics to your song. The beauty of this method is that it allows you to structure your songwriting without restraining it.
Each section of your narrative arc allows you to gradually bring tension and density to your piece. Are you trying to write a love song? Get into the details in your song lyrics and try to distinguish your track from all the other songs about love out there. Maybe you can set yourself apart from the rest by using an original rhyme-scheme or unique phrasing. Just like in a recipe, season to your liking and most of all, be creative!
TIP: Building a song to its climax (climax then resolution) is a foolproof and recurring method in pop music. Similarly, hinting to upcoming parts keeps the listener on the edge of their seats (between the introduction and resolution for example).
Example of an iconic Beatles song that follows this narrative arc:
Of course, the melody of this track in addition to the lyrical storytelling is what makes it a hit song. In addition, the emotional lyrics add that extra authenticity and honesty to the song.
IMPORTANT: The narrative arc can take many forms, so it is up to you to find a structure that suits you and allows you to optimize the creative process of your songwriting.
Songwriting Tips #5 – Improve your songwriting by collaborating with other artists
If you find it difficult to write lyrics on your own, try working with other people. There are many advantages to writing a song with someone else. You’ll find that you can learn a lot by sitting down with another musician and working on a song together, especially if you’ve never done it before. Finding collaborators that come from other genres can also add a new perspective and groove to your original songs. If you want to write lyrics in a second language, collaborate with a native speaker and make your song together. If you don’t play an instrument, reach out to a guitarist or music producer who can help you make your demos to reality.
Some great songs had more than just one lyricist or just one composer. Think about Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), John Lennon and Paul McCartney (The Beatles), Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones). The list goes on and on… Co-writing songs has many benefits. It allows you to:
- Build your network
- Open doors to new ways of writing
- Learn more about your strengths and weaknesses
- Obtain relevant criticism
- Give a new dimension to your creative process
Songwriting Tips #6 – Experiment, experiment, experiment
Once you’ve tapped into the songs that inspire you, you’ll have the background to develop your own style. Listening leads to creation. Once you’ve captured the essence of these pieces, enjoy yourself and take the time to deconstruct and rearrange them to your liking. This is a kind of “creative destruction”. Start from several established bases in order to completely transform the inspirations into something new. Be a sponge: the goal is to mix everything that inspires you in order to end up with something unique that resembles you. After all, you don’t want to sound like anyone else.
Let yourself be influenced, but don’t fall into copying. Enjoy yourself.
The important thing to remember is that nothing happens under a flash of genius, you must first understand what you like and then have the tools to shape your own creative universe. Likewise, don’t set any limits on the creative process of your songwriting. There are a whole host of myths and anecdotes about legendary artists who used completely crazy methods to write songs. One of the most well known is Bob Dylan who started each writing session with a few minutes of deep meditation by listening to a song that inspired him. Or David Bowie who used the “cut-up” technique which consists of writing a bunch of words that come to mind, cutting them out and rearranging them into ideas.
Songwriting Tips #7 – The art of songwriting : one good song is never enough
Now that you’ve got the tools to develop your songwriting, there’s only one thing left to do: write a ton of songs! The songwriting process is like a sport. It’s with experience that you’ll progress. Finding your unique sound is not easy. Take advantage of failure or attempts that are too adventurous. The music business is full of award-winning songwriters that have been honing their craft for decades. Some of those popular songs coming up on the Billboard charts have a whole songwriting team behind them who have nailed down the science of what works.
Leave room for experimentation and your creative impulses- you can never be too ambitious. Also remember that sometimes writing a song takes time! Not everyone can make a song in one day. Be patient with yourself. Did you finally write that catchy chorus you’ve been looking for? Savor success and learn to value your progress. Your next great song only needs one last important ingredient: experiment and never give up!
Final thoughts: How to improve my songwriting skills
Still want some more tips on how to improve your song lyrics? Repetition is key. Give yourself daily challenges to come up with better lyrics faster. Maybe you want to get better at the instrumental part of composing a song, improve your choruses or verses, or fine tune your beats. Dedicate a session just to rewrite hooks, experiment with the possibilities of a pre-chorus, or arranging where vocal harmony fits in.
Once you narrow in on what you want to improve, the songwriting process becomes a lot easier. Don’t be afraid to use outside resources such as a rhyming dictionary for playing with lyrics or drum loops and samples for composing that killer bass line. Songwriters don’t come up with good songs or a new chord progression confined in a bubble! They are influenced by the world around them and every song that came before. Find the joy in writing music and lyrics– and have fun!
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– Article written by Amy Cimpaye in its original version, translated by Mackenzie Leighton –