How to write a song – The Two Methods
To start off, it is safe to say that the method of songwriting is a relative one. Some say it is better to first write the words, and then to attach a melody to it, where others believe in first getting the melody and then to think about what words fits it best. That being said, before even thinking about the above-mentioned strategies, it is important to know that all songs are born from creativity far beyond the physical realm. Let’s discuss the challenges and advantages of each method.
Method 1: First words, then the Melody
This method is quite famous among the non-musicians, mainly because of the fact that they feel comfortable with words and not necessarily the music part of the process. Not all poets or writers have the talent to play any instrument, nor to apply their voice to the challenge. That being said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this way of writing songs, in fact, most of these writers are successful in the music industry as songwriters behind the scenes for the musicians and/or artist in the limelight. Still, it is necessary to present you as a reader with some challenges and advantages regarding this method, to subsequently give you a well- informed picture of songwriting.
The challenges include, but are not limited, to the following:
- By writing the words first, can create an art piece that is brilliant on its own, but does not fit in the mould of a song. A song is a combination of lyrics and music. The song needs to be written and created in such a way, that the one part makes room for the other. Have you ever tried to put two unteachable people together? Not one of them will learn anything from the other. This is mostly the same type of occurrence in music when you put two rounded off writing and music pieces together. One will not always make or give room for the other.
- Secondly, if you as the creator firstly write, you can almost certainly expect the words to change when combining it with the melody. At first instance it does not sound too bad, but what if you have written a song in such a way that it requires the sentences to work in conjunction with one other (line upon line).
- Thirdly, it is more difficult (for me, and maybe for you) to get a catchy melody to suit your well thought out words.
- Lastly, it is common that when writing a song before the melody, you try to feel clever with your word choice by using lengthy words, which again does not normally fit in with the song imagined. The general rule is that a word must not contain more than 3-4 syllables.
- If you are thinking of just writing a rough piece, and you are satisfied with the fact that the wording can change, it is a good thing to write it down when you get that creative insight. This shortens the song process, especially if writing does not come to you naturally.
- Secondly, it creates certainty and clarity of what the type of song will be and subsequently, gives direction as to what music to be added. If you write a worship- or love song, it will be highly recommended that you do not use many minor chords (like E minor) when singing of love, but rather use them when you sing about heartbreak. (I will do an article and session on what chords to use where)
- Lastly, in general, the words will end up to be less corny when writing it first, since the primary focus was the words when the song was created
Now that you have read some aspects of the writing-first method, I will discuss the melody-first method in the next article. Last-mentioned method is mostly the go-to choice, especially if you play music by ear.