How to Write a Song in Ten Steps

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To everybody who has been wondering on how to come up with well composed songs and record them yourself as an artist, this article will provide you necessary songwriting method that will help you to get your message across and make sure listeners stay involved from beginning all the way to the end of your song.

Of course there are different ways on how people write their songs but this method is used by many professional song writers you hear in Malawi and other countries.

1. Start with the Title (Concept) 

On this one, the artist is supposed to come up with a title of the song that will help to shortly explain the message or the concept of the song. Try using an image or action word in your title to give it energy and interest.

2. Make a List of Questions Suggested by the Title.

Start by asking yourself what you want to say about your title and what you think your listeners might want to know. Make list of questions. Your list might include: What does the title mean? How do you feel about it? What happened to cause this? What do you think or hope will happen next? You’ll need three to four questions.

3. Choose a Song Structure.

The most popular structure is: Verse / Chorus / Verse 2/ Chorus / Bridge / Chorus. Many recent hits add a short section called a “pre-chorus” or “lift” between the verse and chorus to build anticipation. Of course the structure mostly depends on the genre of the song that you are interested to do hence the structure will not be the same at all times.

4. Answer one Question in the Chorus and one in each Verse.

Select the question you want to answer in your chorus. Look for images and action words to bring your answers to life. What emotion are you describing? How does it make your body feel? Is it warm or cold? Dark or light?  If you get too poetic, add a line that makes a clear statement so listeners don’t get lost.

5. Find the Melody in your Lyric. 

Choose the lines you like best for your chorus. (that’s if you will sing the chorus by yourself and not to feature someone) Say them out loud. Now say them again with LOTS of emotion.  Exaggerate the emotion in the lines. Notice the natural rhythm and melody of your speech when you say the lines with lots of feeling. This is the beginning of your chorus melody.  Play with it until it feels comfortable.

#NOTE this one mostly applies to guys who do genres like, RnB, Pop etc and not Hip-Hop.

6. Begin to add chords to your chorus melody.

Try a simple, repeated chord pattern. Play with the melody and chords until you find something you like. Record a rough vocal – even if it’s only on your smartphone. Just be sure you get it down so you don’t forget it.

7. Choose a question to answer in your first verse.

Make it one that will draw the listener into the situation.  Go through Steps 4 – 6 with you verse lyric and melody.

8. Connect your verse and chorus.

After you have a verse and chorus create a transition between them. You may need to raise or lower your verse melody or change the last line to get to your chorus smoothly.

TIP: Chorus melodies are usually in a higher note range than verses.

When we get emotional our voices tend to rise. The chorus is the more emotional part of your song especially RnB songs so it’s higher, while verses add information about the situation.

9. Build your second verse and bridge.

Choose another of your questions to answer in Verse 2. Proceed through Steps 4 – 6. Your second chorus will have the same melody and lyric as your first chorus. You are now almost finished with your song.

You just need to add a bridge. The bridge section adds a peak emotional moment to your song, a realization, or an “aha!” moment. Try two or three lyric lines that give the listener the best insight you can, or sum up what you hope will be the outcome.

The melody should be different from both verse and chorus. Try using a chord you haven’t used before or changing the phrase lengths or motion of the melody.

A bridge isn’t a requirement but it can add a lot of strength and feel to your song.

10. Record your song.

A simple piano/vocal or guitar/vocal can often be the most effective emotional statement of your song. If you wrote a rock, reggae song, do an “unplugged” version.

You don’t need lots of strings and synths – in fact, these can detract. Practice both the instrumental and vocal parts until you are comfortable with every chord, every note, every word.

The less you have to focus on playing or singing, the more you can focus on the emotion in the song. Try singing it as if you are speaking it to someone. Record for short periods then take a break. Keep the song and the emotion fresh! 

Now you have successfully learnt how to write a well composed song in just ten steps!!!!

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