Step # 1 – TOPIC
Try to say something in a new or original way. Instead of saying “I want you back”, Toni Braxton said, “Unbreak My Heart”. Instead of saying “I love you”, Ne-Yo’s song “When You’re Mad” explains how he loves her even when she’s angry.
This is a very simple difference, but it can be the difference between a tired subject or a fresh angle on a common subject.
The songs that generally work best are those that attract the emotion of the listener, the reason why “love and relationships” is so popular in music is because most people think a lot about those songs and, understandably, they love them. like to listen to music that communicates their inner fears. / hope / experiences on those topics.
Step # 2 – THE TITLE
A good title should be instantly memorable, it should put a picture in your mind of an event or situation, and it should lend itself to a catchy tune, or one that is suitable for your musical style.
A good title will naturally lend itself to a catchy hook, finding that title can be difficult, especially when so many songs have been released over the decades … how can you find a new one ?!
One way is to keep your “antenna up”. Be aware of what people around you are saying and if you are writing for a teen market, take a look at teen magazines, if urban is what you want, check out urban magazines. Words and phrases are everywhere … you just have to recognize them when they arrive!
Finding a title that draws an image on its own is also very important because it will create a deeper connection with the listener. The best songs create images in the minds of listeners or evoke an emotion, your title will help to achieve this.
Elton John’s “Sorry seems to be the hardest word” instantly evokes an emotion that we can all identify … a moment when we have experienced how difficult it can be to ask for forgiveness even though we know we should!
Step # 3 – THE LETTERS
Good handwriting paints a picture, says things in a new and unique way while dealing with topics that most of us can relate to.
Country music often has fantastic writing. One smart technique is to create a story that suddenly changes and means something completely different the moment you play the chorus. This is just a technique to engage the listener or keep them on their toes.
Another is to express things in a new way, like the song we mentioned earlier “Un-break My Heart”. Keep the chorus lyrics the same so it is easy to remember. You can also keep the pre-chorus or bridges the same.
Avoid too many words like “Love, Baby, Girl, etc.”. If used too often, they can sound shallow and cheesy. Keep your rhyme patterns the same and intuitive. Too many rhyming words can be unpleasant. For example:
“Looking at you, I see the truth, darling, it’s true, there is only you”
This sentence is full of rhymes and sounds awkward.
The following would work best:
“Looking at you, the truth I see, there is no one else, you are all I need”
If you use this rhyming pattern with the second and fourth lines rhyming, you should keep the same pattern in verse 2 so your song lyrics have continuity at all times.
Another popular rhyme pattern is to match lines 2 and 4, along with lines 1 and 3:
“Read my mind and you will know, the love inside, will never go away”
A good place to start writing lyrics is to scribble lots of words and phrases that are relevant to the theme of your song. Use it as a kind of palette that you can draw ideas from at a later date.
For example, if my topic was feeling like a star, I could start by writing down everything that comes to mind about being famous or rich …
celebrity, fame, money, limousine, jewelry, cruise car, lap pool, diamond, gucci, etc.
Anything to brainstorm. These can be mixed and used when you are forming your letters, just like you would use colors when painting a picture.
A good tool to use is a rhyming dictionary. There are many good ones online and they can be found through search engines.
Step # 4 – THE VOCAL MELODY
The vocal melody is extremely important, as this is what the listener will remember and hum while in the shower.
The idea is to create depth and interest by keeping the melody simple enough that most people can sing it.
The hook should be “catchy” or “memorable.” Take the Elton Johns song “Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” Now, if you know this song, you will understand that just reading those words is enough to ‘hear’ Elton’s vocal melody in your mind.
The vocal melody is simple and catchy enough to be memorable without the need to listen to music … that’s catchy!
Always add color – by this I mean creating more of what is already there. If a D major chord is playing, try singing a different note than the D major chord.
If the music has long chords, sing with a faster beat. If the chords are played low, try singing an octave higher to add more color.
This technique of adding color can be applied with the melody itself. For example, if the verse has long vocal notes, try changing it on the bridge to short rhythmic notes and change it again for the chorus. Apply the principle of adding color to your music and voice to create a richer and more interesting melody.
Always ask yourself honestly, “Do I lose interest at a certain point in this song?” If you do, rework the melody to give the listener something that will hold their interest.
Step # 5 – THE ARRANGEMENT
A lot of good songs are ruined by a poor arrangement. In fact, it may be the area that is neglected and not considered important.
A good arrangement is very important and is more complex than one might think at first.
You may want to have a standard three-and-a-half minute song, and you would be wise to do so, as most hit songs are this length (maybe the optimal length for a human brain to absorb information without getting bored ?! )
Suppose you go for a three and a half minute song, that doesn’t give you much time to squeeze everything out, and what order should you put things in? What good ideas should you put aside? These are tough questions and ultimately they come under one heading “The Settlement.”
The average song will have the following arrangement (although this is only a guide):
Fast tempo song
* Don’t make the intro too long, stick to 8 or 16 bars.
* Listen to your song from the beginning and ask yourself if it flows naturally, or if there are sections that lose energy / interest.
* Quickly access the hook / chorus to ‘grab’ the listener.
Step # 6 – PRODUCTION
In some songs of R&B and Pop, the production has acquired in some cases a greater importance than the vocal melody. This is not surprising if you have been to a nightclub and experienced certain songs and the power of production.
Times have changed, especially in R&B and Hip Hop. It is not good to send a demo to a record label saying, “imagine this with a proper production”, because the production is 50% of the song.
That’s almost like saying “here’s a great piece of music, please picture it with a good chorus”!
Production is about more than putting the right effects on instruments and balancing them, it’s the overall mood of the track and determines how professional you end up sounding.
Strange sounds that seem irrelevant to many people, such as a vocal breath, can transform a song if used in the right context. A song that would go unnoticed can suddenly inspire interest if the right sound is used correctly … One named ‘super producer’ commented that non-tonal sounds, like hitting a table or an ashtray, can add a great deal of interest and energy to a song .
Most people will listen to a song and judge their liking in seconds based on the overall sound. They may love the song, but unless the production is engaging, they may never hear it twice.
The biggest mistake people make is presenting a song with a list of excuses. The simple truth is that a song is a combination of sounds and the listener will hear them all as one and no excuse will change their first experience of the song or how they respond emotionally. Get the production right!