Every songwriter has to start somewhere.
When you are just starting out, it’s hard to feel confident in your songwriting skills because you may not understand the basics of song structure or rhyming.
That’s why in this songwriter 101 class I am going to talk about how to learn to become a songwriter for beginners and go over some of the essential techniques you need to get started right away.
I created this as an actionable guide so that beginners who are learning songwriting can implement the techniques right away…
So let’s get started.
Songwriting 101: The Most Important Idea Before You Write Songs In Any Music Industry
When you’re first starting out with songwriting, you are probably going to be overwhelmed.
But the first thing you should learn with songwriting is that in the end, it is just a way to convey a message or idea to another person.
You want to have one big idea in your songwriting whether it’s about:
- Having a relationship with someone
- Some emotions you’re currently feeling
- Or even eating pizza at your favorite pizza store
If you’re just starting out songwriting, the best thing that you can do is write your ideas in a notebook and then put them into sentences. This will help with your songwriting because it’ll give you some structure when you are brainstorming ideas.
And this may mean even writing 100 “bad” ideas to find one decent idea.
Once you find that idea, you are going to want to learn how to find different ways of conveying the same message, so you have more options to choose how to express that same idea.
So let’s get started.
1. Practice Finding Details To Express The Same Idea
In every music industry, when you are writing songs, you want to figure out how to express the same object through different perspectives.
For example, let’s start with an apple.
We can describe it in various ways like:
- A juicy, red fruit with a nice crispy texture…
- The fruit Adam and Eve ate under a tree…
- Your typical fruit on a regular teacher’s desk…
- And on and on…
This is just some different ways to represent an apple, and people would most likely understand that this is an apple.
However, we can go more in-depth with talking about the sensory details as well.
- Smell – I can smell the sweet aroma as it wafts my nose…
- Taste – I can taste the juicy sweetness as I bite through the crunchy skin…
- Sight – I can see a crisp, red apple sitting along the grass as it fell down the tree…
- Touch – I can feel the smoothness and the texture becomes more rough as I get closer to the stem
- Hear – I can hear the crunchy noise as I bite into the fruit
The purpose of finding different sensory details is because we want to have as many options as possible to describe the same object.
Think of it as the songwriter’s toolbox.
We want to pick the right tools so that we can express our big idea with the biggest impact…
And this is because what draws humans to like our songs is the emotion it brings us, especially when we can imagine it with the sensory details.
So learn how to describe the same object to give it a different “feeling” while expressing the same emotion clearly and succinctly.
2. Learn The Basics Of Song Structure
If you want to become a talented songwriter in your music industry, you are going to want to learn the basics of song structure.
The importance of song structure is that it provides a song with some kind of “frame” so that it doesn’t lose focus.
This is important in songwriting because when you have an idea, it might tempt you to go off on tangents and write about all the other things that are happening to you at the moment.
However, this doesn’t make for a wonderful song because it’s the structure where humans unconsciously enjoy as it there is a frame so that the song doesn’t sound too chaotic.
Here are the basic lyric structures of songs:
- Verse – this is the song’s introduction. The songwriter can either talk about their own life or they might start with a story that will give listeners an idea of what to expect in the song.
- Chorus- this is where you repeat your key message again to remind people who are listening so it has more impact on them emotionally.
- Bridge – this is a songwriting technique where you can take a different songwriting perspective to convey your primary message in the song.
And you can mess around with the order as it creates an interesting experience for listeners through the structure of your song.
Here are some common song structures you can start practicing with:
- Bridge -Chorus
- Chorus, Bridge, Verse (or sometimes called a song cycle)
My advice is to just pick one song structure and master it before moving onto the next one. The idea behind this is that when you are writing music, it will carry on as the same foundations apply to every single song.
Read over these song structures so that when you are writing your song, you know what the structure might be like before starting construction.
3. How To Find Great Song Ideas
This is one of the hardest parts for songwriters when they are creating music, but there are many songwriting techniques that you can use to find song ideas.
I have a few songwriting tips for when you’re in the song-finding phase:
Learn how to read music because it will help with finding song themes and melodies easier. Even just a random melody can spark an emotion that could be your next big idea.
Another songwriting technique to find a song idea is to start with the lyrics first and then take it from there. When you do this, ideas will pop up and it will be harder to stray from your major theme as you are focusing on one big idea.
And another songwriting technique to find songs is to think of an idea and then ask yourself:
- What do I want my song to say?
- What would the song title be if I were making a song about this experience or theme?
- Who am I singing too in this song?
This might sound silly, but it’s just one way that songwriters can find inspiration.
Try these different methods and see what works specifically for you, as it can be different for other people.
4. Songwriting Tip: The Importance Of Rhyming Words
One essential technique for songwriters is rhyming words.
The basic definition of rhyming in songwriting is if you can have one word end with a similar sound to another, then that is a rhyme.
For example, pee and sea would be considered rhyming words but in songwriting, even something like keep would “rhyme.”
What’s important in this example, is the “ee” sound where it doesn’t have to be exact.
The reason rhyming words are an important songwriting technique as this helps with the flow of the song.
For example, if you are writing about a bird and you want to say that it’s “flying on high,” then ending one word in rhyming with “pie” has a nice ring to it (since I like pie…)
How can I teach myself songwriting?
The best way to teach yourself songwriting is to hand copy and analyze the music on the top 100. These are proven songs where you can breakdown and learn the structure of each song and learn the best techniques to add onto your own songs.
How does a songwriter sell a song?
A songwriter can sell a song by submitting their song to a music publisher and asking them for some feedback. If the song is good, then the songwriter can negotiate with the music publisher on what they want in return – i.e. royalties, percentages of songwriting credits or other rights.
How do you become a good songwriter for beginners?
If you want to become a songwriter for beginners, then I recommend that your songwriting technique is keeping in mind the song structures and incorporating rhyming words into your lyrics and practice writing sensory details for beginners.
I hope that this songwriting 101 class has been helpful for you, who is looking to understand song writing and how it works. This is a great skill to learn if you enjoy singing and playing the guitar as well.
Remember, these songwriting basics because if you can grasp the foundations of a song, then when you write your own song, they will be much easier as all songs follow a pattern.
What matters is that you try out songwriting techniques and use songwriting exercises to get better. Let me know in the comments below if you have questions.