If you want to have a go at writing music, these ten tips will help you get started. Getting started and putting pen to paper is often the hardest part of writing - maybe you’ve got creative block or are simply nervous to get started. However, once you get started you’ll realize that writing music is a therapeutic and enjoyable creative outlet which you’ll want to go back to time and time again. This guide will take you through every step required to write a song you’ll love, regardless of whether you’re hoping to share it or simply keep it for your own enjoyment.
1. Take inspiration
If you surround yourself with music you love, it’s hard to go wrong. Listen to how your favorite musicians construct their songs, examine the style, the tone, how different instruments work together and so on and so forth. What about that song really speaks to you? You can implement many of the same ideas into your own music or even take some of their riffs and tweak them to help fit your individual style. This is a great way to come up with new melodies.
You can also take inspiration from your own experiences. It’s often the songs that come from a place of heartbreak or even joy that speak to us most, as the artist has used their music to convey how they feel. If you pour your own experiences and emotions into your song, it’s much more likely to resonate with other people, and it may also take on a significance for you, the composer.
2. Start with lyrics
Not all songs have lyrics, but if you’re planning on writing a song that does you ought to start with them. It is much easier to fit instrumental parts of a song around the melody than to write your backing track before you even know what to say. Writing lyrics will sometimes feel like you’re writing poetry, and any poet will tell you that the trick to creating great poetry is to think about the placement and emphasis of your words. Lyrics should flow naturally and ideally rhyme, so be sure to say them out loud as you write to make sure they sound how you’d like them to.
3. Decide on a structure
This should be done as you write your lyrics - do you want a simple verse / chorus / verse / chorus structure to your song, or something a little more detailed? Perhaps one of your rhyming couplets works well as a pre-chorus or bridge to add an emotional element.
4. Take note of your progress
If you have a melody for your verse or chorus, always record it. Even if you don’t think it’s complete yet, it’s important to make a record of your progress or else you could lose all your hard work. The best music notation software (opens in new tab) makes it incredibly straightforward to keep a note of your progress so far, and it will let you add chords or make changes with ease. These programs aid in the writing process by organizing your work and allow you to see what you're playing. Quality software packages provide features including a metronome to keep beat, playback, so you can listen to what you've composed, input, so you can hook your instrument or microphone directly to your computer and notate a song you play or sing and tons of editing tools so you can easily compose a riff.
5. Do something different
It's easy to get stuck in a rut where all of your songs begin to sound the same. Even if you've found a great combination of notes or a catchy beat, changing it can be good and help you grow as a composer. An easy way to try something new is pick up an instrument you haven't played before. Sometimes you find yourself playing the same old keys or strumming the same chords on your guitar. A different instrument can lead you to melodies you may not have thought of otherwise. This also gives you the perfect opportunity to start learning a new instrument with online piano lessons (opens in new tab) or guitar lessons online (opens in new tab).
6. Add your accompaniment
Even if it’s as simple as a few guitar chords, finding the right accompaniment for your melody will make or break the song. You don’t need fancy kit such as drum kits or synthesizers to complete your song. In fact, a lot of notation software will allow you to add in virtual backing from brass bands to percussion instruments. You can also experiment with what you find at home - anything from a plastic cup to a metal pot can act as a stand-in for instruments and help you get an idea of what your song needs.
7. Seek feedback
If you are writing for yourself, you have more freedom to write what and how you want. In contrast, if you are writing for other people, it is a good idea to identify your target audience and write music they will enjoy. Regardless, people are always willing to give advice and opinions; take their comments into consideration when writing music. Give your music to family members and friends to get their opinion of your songs. Though people close to you may be biased, their comments are still valuable.
8. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Every song reaches a point where it’s at its best, and no revisions will improve it. However, a fear of making mistakes shouldn’t hold you back from trying to make improvements. Writing music is one of those things that get better with practice. Some melodies are catchier than others are, and everyone will write some bad stanzas. It's all right; that's why we have revisions. Remember this while writing music: it will make you feel better and help you avoid writer's block.
9. Record your song
Once you’re happy with your arrangement, it’s time to record! Find a space which is quiet and suitable for recording (you can check out our guide for how to soundproof a room on a budget (opens in new tab) to help you capture the ideal sound quality) and work on a demo. You can always make adjustments, but this will let you listen back to your song in its entirety and really take in what you’ve created.
10. Share and enjoy!
Not everyone writes music with the intention of sharing it. If that’s you, it will be enough knowing you’ve created something you’re really proud of without sharing with friends or family. However, recordings are easy to share, and you can even upload to social media such as YouTube to debut your song for all your loved ones. Regardless of what you choose to do with your song, you should be proud of what you’ve created!