Start composing your own music—here's how
Good and unique music consists of a wide variety of components. Some can create good sounds, interesting melodies and exciting rhythms, while others may prefer to focus on emotional lyrics, catchy choruses and profound verses. Only very few musicians can handle everything and compose good music without any help. And nobody has to. Of course, there are a few gifted songwriting talents out there, but as a team you can do a lot, too! In this post, we'll show you what's important when writing your music.
These challenges await songwriting beginners
Many aspiring musicians make music to express emotions or use it as a mouthpiece. But what's the best way to get started? The bad news is that there is no set formula, recipe for success, or DIY guide to composing music. While singers in particular usually have the theme and the associated lyrics in mind, instrument players are usually focused on the accompaniment. But how can these two sides be optimally combined in a song and how can you, as a musician, overcome the inevitable hurdles?
Especially with the first songs you should not be too perfectionistic. Good music takes time and doesn't happen at the push of a button like on an assembly line. If you can't come up with good lyrics or melodies today, you won't be able to force your creative approach. (By the way, if you'd like to learn how to boost your creativity, check out this post). A good place to start, however, is always with the lyrics. This way, you can define the theme of your song and the emotions, and later you can underline them with music instead of trying to find a way to fit the lyrics to the rhythm or something like that.
Improvisation as the most important element for composing music
It's perfectly normal if you don't have the perfect set of lyrics on your page after just a few minutes. To get ahead anyway, you can try your hand at some initial improvisations. This will loosen writer's block and maybe even give you new ideas and hooks automatically. Just take a piece of paper and a pen and write down a few lines of text. It doesn't matter how and where you put them in the song. You can also use the same approach the other way around and write down a few chords first, on which you will write your lyrics. Just sit down at the piano or take your guitar and play some chords. If they fit the mood of the planned song, write them down and let them flow into your composition.
Find your song's lyrics
To help you with your first songs, we have summarized some composing tips for you. As already mentioned, let's start with the lyrics in this example. This is a great way to convey your message or share your experiences with your listeners.
- Choose the title of your new song. Often the song title comes at the end, but sometimes—when the theme is already set—the song title can come first and shape the rest of the songwriting process. Then the title becomes like a little mantra in songwriting. It manages to organize the many thoughts a bit more clearly and to gather them under a fixed focus. If you are not quite sure about the content, you can simply work with several titles first. Your title should be short and concise and capture the general mood of the song in a few words. Sometimes one word is enough.
- Work on the chorus of your first song. A good chorus is often the heart and soul of a good song. Accordingly, it should be catchy from the beginning and fit the style of your music. If you devote more than half of the total time to the chorus, that's perfectly fine. It is not without reason that it is often the most memorable, and should therefore be well thought-out. It's best to refer directly to the title of your song or work it into your chorus.
- Work on the stanzas step by step. Your stanzas will help you tell a clear and unambiguous story. Build the verses lyrically on each other and start with the first part. This will make it easier for you to continue with the second and third parts after the chorus, which shifts your music towards the climax of the tension. A common thread in the song often helps to keep listeners engaged and prevent them from skipping through your music.
- Work out a suitable structure for the song. In order to combine all the small components into a functioning song lyrics, you should devote yourself to a structure. This can be a classic "verse-chorus-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus" pattern, or it can be experimental. However, never line up your song parts randomly or thoughtlessly. Depending on the scope of the individual elements, you decide for yourself how you want to arrange the individual sections and which phases your song must comprise for this. There are no fixed rules here, so you can give free rein to your creativity for the design of the song structure.
Work on your arrangement
As soon as you have developed a coherent lyrical concept for your new song, the development of a musical concept is next up on the agenda. The melody and the associated chords are the main focus of this phase of composing music in order to create a coherent overall impression. The choice of instruments and effects will also influence your songwriting.
- Choose suitable accompanying instruments. Which instruments best suit your style? Often it's the classics like piano and guitar that let you hit the right notes. But wind instruments, strings or even synthesizers can also give your song that extra boost. Try yourself out musically at this point - and if you're unsure what else might fit, take a look at our musician portal and browse the personals for musicians. You're sure to find the right accompaniment or creative input there.
- Dedicate yourself to finding the right chords. Once you've decided on the right instruments, the search for a good chord progression begins. One of the most commonly used sequences is G - D - Em - C, which can be used to play many combos with numerous instruments. This is how, for example, well-known "4-chord songs" were created, which can all be played on the same chords. In principle, you don't have to worry about infringement of rights when composing your new melody. Chords themselves are not protected, so you can use existing examples and songs worry-free. However, you should never copy—musician's honor and all that 😉
- Work out an interesting melody. Depending on the distribution of your chords, an interesting new melody often emerges almost automatically. This can be excellently linked to your text or can be found in instruments such as the guitar or the piano. It is important that music and lyrics form a unity later on. Ideally, your entire song should now form a coherent overall concept.
The most important questions for new songwriters
Especially for beginners it is often difficult to start songwriting and to set the right priorities. The tips from this article can already help you. Furthermore, you should always ask yourself these questions or have them in mind when writing songs:
- Does the melody fit my idea of the new song?
- Does the story come across well through the lyrics?
- How do I make my new song memorable?
- Which themes do I use to reach my listeners?
- Is the common thread of the entire song recognizable?
- Does the song manage to create any real tension?
To hit the bullseye with your first song, you need creative phases and good ideas. In our article on "Valuable tips in songwriting" or our post on writing a hit song, we have many more exciting tips and examples for you. Feel free to look around our blog and get inspired.
Make your first contacts in the music industry now
Take a look around for like-minded people on mukken so you don't have to start your songwriting journey alone. Browse through our personals for musicians or simply post a request yourself. This way you can find other composers, singers, or producers to accompany you in your new projects. We are looking forward to meeting you!
Originally published on May 25, 2023, updated on May 25, 2023
Main topic: The 10 most valuable songwriting tips