“Everything you need to write a great song is three chords and the truth.” Harlan Howard
If singing is one of your passions it is more than likely that you play with the idea to Write Own Songs, if you do not already. It is not essential, since you can be a great interpreter and not an author, but many times it goes hand in hand and is most natural. In fact, every time I believe more than one of our most essential drives as human beings is to create, it may even be number one. Create, not only art or songs but anything (companies, relationships, projects, systems, applications, life …) I think it is a fundamental part of why we are in this life. Or rather, one of the most important means to feel fulfilled and fulfilled. In fact, in the end, our passage through this world may be just that: a creation.
But although I love to be philosophical, my intention today is another. Offer a practical guide for you to start writing and composing your own songs. Writing songs is something deeply satisfying.
I would not dare to consider myself an expert in this field. In fact, I’m not. And this would not consider it a definitive guide, but rather a guide to help those who are beginning to compose or have that idea in mind and that little bug. In case you are not new to this, I hope you can get some new and interesting ideas to add to your own methodology. Years ago I proposed (and I’m pretty stubborn) to learn to write my own songs and finally I made it. Of course, making the road difficult, stressful and by far the most effective. A road of years. That’s why today I want to share some ideas and strategies with you. To save you some headaches.
To put you a bit in context I will summarize a bit my story about this subject of writing songs. Very young I dreamed of being a music star (yes, me too). And I think it’s a dream that is as legitimate as it is achievable. But like any objective you want to achieve, requires a way of thinking and acting to achieve it. Well, I had no idea what that way was. And I have many blind sticks. My musical knowledge was limited to the solfeggio and recorder classes that I received at school, and that was not taught in a very seductive way. I liked to listen to a lot of music and sing in the shower (well, and everywhere). Something that first did not do very well either.
My first instrument, apart from the then repudiated sweet flute, was a Casio organ in which you played the Tico Tico and the Guantanamera following some little lights. Later I had a bigger keyboard in which I invented feeds of movie soundtracks that I also invented (the only problem is that most of the result was only in my head). But what is said music, knowledge of music, very few?
So later, while studying Dramatic Art, I started teaching Modern Piano and Guitar. But it was a strategy not very well thought out or successful. Going to study jazz with the piano and Bossanova with the guitar when what you want is to compose rock and pop songs can be in some cases a bad decision. At least that’s how it was in mine. Not for the genres themselves, but for the complexity (and for the virtuosity that these teachers wanted to instill in me). It took me years to let go of the guitar to achieve the basics. And with the piano, well, if you put one in front of me, I just play with it (although the good thing is that it was a time when I heard a lot of jazz ). The fact is that I was losing myself in a sea of complexities without understanding or seeing the most basic concepts of music.
Why do I tell you this whole story? Simply because you have to know how to focus things clearly and concretely. You have to simplify the processes. In fact, everything has to be simplified. Because if not, you get entangled in many ways and you get frustrated without getting what you really started looking for. In this case, write your own songs. I never wanted to be a virtuoso of the piano or the guitar. I wanted to sing, to get on stage, and for people to listen to songs that would make them dream and get excited. Obviously, I also wanted those songs to be good and for that, I needed extra knowledge, but I could not start the house on the roof.
Fortunately, together with these failed strategies, I began to develop others that were more aimed at my main objective. The only thing, that not getting to see the intrinsic simplicity of how a popular song works in its foundations, my procedures were a bit ridiculous. Someone was as absurd as going note by note on the keyboard creating a melody for a letter he had written. When I think about it, I see it as ridiculous, but I also have to say that that’s where one of my favorite songs came from, even almost fifteen years after that.
These strategies, simple and simplified, are the ones I want to share with you today. I hope you find them useful. (As simple as you think, do not dismiss them.) We are talking about writing popular songs -pop, rock, reggae, rumba, ska, rancheras, …-, not a composition by Beethoven ).
9 Steps to Write Own Songs
The following steps are not written to be followed in a particular order. Rather, they are part of a system and complement each other.
1. Listen to a lot of music and varied. Before Write Own Songs, Open your ears The more different music you hear, the more your creations can be impregnated with originality and authenticity. Get out of the formula radio. There is an infinite amount of music in the world to satisfy your ears and to train them. Your sound life will be much richer and your own songs will benefit from it. If you still do not care about the originality of your songs and you just want to make songs like the ones you hear every day on conventional radios, I will not say no to you. I will not be the one to tell you to listen to “Jazz and Bossanova”. It is your creation. Even so, the more music you listen to, the more ideas, possibilities and ways your ears will have. And your brain.
2. Read. Before Write Own Songs, Above all poetry and lyrics. Soak up Study the sonority of words. Read in loud voice. Learn to enjoy the sound of words. Enjoy the conjugation of different words, of the images that are created. Look closely at what expressions or words are repeated in the songs to constantly re-engage the listener, usually in the refrains. And, very important, the next point.
3. Analyze the structure of your favorite songs. Study how your idols organize their songs. It is not very complicated. But this way you will have a template to facilitate your work.
You can find very different things, but do not complicate your life with this much. Experiment and play, but it also simplifies.
4. Write, write, write. How do you learn to sing? Cantando. How do you learn to run? Running. How do you learn to Write Own Songs? Writing. Then you can sophisticate your learning in many ways (and in fact, it is more than recommended), but you have to know not to lose the north and focus on doing just “that”you want to learn. Keep notebooks with you, or the great Evernote app on your mobile, and write everything you can, everywhere. Or at least in your house. Make free writing and write also pretending to write songs. Do not judge yourself, just do it. And rereading it later you can correct, polish, etc. You may not be interested in writing “big” letters, but honestly, the beauty of a good verse is unparalleled. Although you can write songs in different ways, write the lyrics first and then put the music is how I move more easily. But sometimes I also do the reverse, as I will describe in another point. And others, almost magic, music, and lyrics come together. It is very personal.
5. Copy. Yes, copy. I’m not talking about plagiarizing a work, but copying, after all, is what we all do constantly. When someone starts learning any discipline, it is normal, for them to start copying their teacher or their idol. It’s natural. They are the references you have and it is a good way to simplify processes. Then there will be time to merge with other sources, create new combinations and include unique ideas in you. For example, look for a song that you like a lot on the internet. Find the chords of that song. Those same chords played your way with a letter of yours and your own melody are a new song. It’s that simple Do you know the number of mythical songs that share exactly the same chord sequence?But there are many more ways to copy: ways to write, stop singing, ways to fix songs, rhythms, etc. I do not say much less that you stay there, we do not want to make the war of the clones, but it is a very good starting point.
6. Study music, but be careful. It is obvious that to Write Own Songs you need to know some music. But how much? It all depends on how far you want to go and the degree of sophistication you want to achieve, BUT (and this is a big but) to start writing popular songs you do not need to lose yourself in a jungle of knowledge. In fact, it can be very counterproductive, as it was in my case. You have to start the house on the foundations. For example, with 3 or 4 chords and good lyrics you can create a masterpiece. Point. It is like that.And I recommend you start there. You can learn some basic chords with a guitar, with a piano or with a ukulele (my last big passion) and start writing songs right from there. Then you can sophisticate everything you want. But start with the most basic. Learn some chords and some rhythms to start, and as you will see below, sometimes you do not even need that. (Then you may want to add to your knowledge some scales, new rhythms, learn to create riffs, knowledge of harmony, tones, etc).
7. Record your ideas on the fly. Write Own Songs, Always carry a recorder with you. Now with mobile phones, there is usually no problem. Tom Waits says that the songs are in the air. At any time they come to you. If you do not catch them and use them, they will follow your path and another will do it for you. What sounds so met,a physical is a reality like the crown of a pine tree. Songs and ideas, in general, are floating in the air, in this kind of magma of universal consciousness or infinite intelligence. And sometimes they knock on your door. It depends on you to channel them or not. If you have a recorder always at hand, when inspiration strikes you, you can always record that first sketch. As it comes out. Do not judge him.It can be a hum, a melody, a melody already with lyrics, a sequence of chords, a riff, and in some cases, the whole song may appear to you. As always, you can come back later and start working and polishing it. But those moments are magical. Sometimes you may want to record a melody in an invented language to later write lyrics to it. I often use a kind of invented English.
8. Think about what you want to tell. Before Write Own Songs, You do not have to always be clear about what you want to talk about in a song, but it is easier to make a round song if you are already part of a base, of an idea. You may want to communicate an id about a, a claim, a complaint, a feeling, an emotion, a concern, a confession, an atmosphere. What you want. It may be transparent and crystalline or you may want to use more cryptic metaphors. Also, think who counts the song. Are you yourself? A part of you? Another person? The character in a book or news? Having clear these things give a direction to the song and a goal, two factors that help in the creation. If yo,u do not know what to tell, write, and what comes out.
9. Trust in you and in your subconscious. Before Write Own Songs, Creating is an act of faith. From writing a song to writing this article. You have to believe and trust that you will. And so it is. It is a process that seems magical and wonderful. Sometimes you can even feel more powerful and intelligent than you normally think. It is the power of the different mental states. And you have to work to create an optimal mental state to write your songs. For this, it is essential that you do not judge yourself and that you throw perfectionism at the wastebasket. And how is that done? Well, going from those voices and accepting your mediocrity and your clumsiness. The work of exigent of excellence and of filtering what you are worth and what is not to come later.It is a more reflective and a posteriori process. But when you are creating, you must flow into chaos and its imperfections. Allow it. It is wonderful. Feel a child, a beginner. Even what sometimes, during the process of creation, seems to you not to have many levels, in a later revision it may seem like a great job. And on the contrary, of course.
Remember. Before Write Own Songs, Everything in this life is practical. Because of your personal history, you can have more or less talent and ability to make better or worse distinctions than others. Greater or lesser vocal abilities. Greater ability to write. Etc. But in the end, what counts and what gives results in this life, is work. Accept the point where you are, adopt a beginner mentality, believe in yourself, and work. And believe in your imagination. That is the way to Write Own Songs.
I hope you bring out beautiful songs that open hearts and awaken consciences.