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How to make Songwriting easier

how to write better songs

Even if you have decades of experience playing music, when you start to write songs for the first time, you realize that it’s not that easy. But it doesn’t have to be that hard. You just need to learn new and different things in order to get on track with writing songs. So let’s see what are the things you can do to make songwriting easier.

1. Change your mindset

First of all, playing someone else’s music is relatively easy – compared to writing original music. When you play someone else’s song, what you need to play is given. The notes are there, and you just need to play those notes with your instrument. And when it comes to popular genres, if you are an experienced musician, you don’t even need to practice the song, you can play the notes right away if they give you the sheet music.

You have to understand that writing your original song requires a completely different mindset. There’s a reason why there are so many professional musicians, but there aren’t many good songwriters out there. When you write your own songs, you actually have to come up with your own melodies, chord progressions, and rhythm. That’s really hard if you have never done that. You are actually starting to learn something from zero, regardless of you are a pro musician.

This can make confusion in many people. Because when you are a professional musician, you believe that you already know everything there is to know about music. Until you try to write your own songs. Because the skills you have as a musician can be completely useless for writing songs. For playing music, you need to use your memory, muscle memory, coordination, good timing, accuracy in rhythm, and things like that. But you need none of these to write songs. You need to use a completely different part of your brain when you write music.

2. Learn the basics of music theory

Another thing that makes songwriting hard for some people is that they don’t know music theory. Music theory is not hard. It only looks hard if you don’t know anything about it. But once you learn it, you will realize that it’s not hard at all. While some successful songwriters are clueless about music theory (for example, Michael Jackson, Sia), it really helps if you know it.

And you don’t actually need to learn a lot of stuff in order to start writing songs. In fact, hit songs contain not more than SEVEN notes, and they are using only SIX chords at most, that are built from those seven notes. But most hit songs contain only 4 chords.

Keep in mind that music theory alone is not enough to write good songs. Music theory is only the “alphabet” of music. And you won’t become Shakespeare just by memorizing all the English words. But it helps a lot. It just makes songwriting much easier if you know the basics.

3. Learn to play the piano (or guitar)

There are some successful songwriters who don’t play any musical instruments, but it’s the same as music theory, it just helps songwriting in a big way. Most big songwriters play the guitar or the piano and use it to write their songs. In my opinion, playing the piano is easier than playing the guitar. (Although, I might be biased because I play the piano for 30 years now.)

But here is why I think that playing the piano is easier. If you want to play even basic triads on a guitar, you need to use both of your hands, and positioning your fingers on the strings is really hard at first. On the other hand, you can use only three of your fingers to play chords on a piano or keyboard. Another difference is that the piano is very visual. You can actually see all the notes on a piano, and on top of that, all the notes are in order. You don’t see the notes on a guitar.

You don’t actually need to be a virtuoso on a musical instrument. For songwriting, it’s perfectly enough to know how to play some basic chords. While you can substitute this with a DAW, programming the chords in it, you have a better connection with music if you actually play the chord with an instrument.

4. Take a course

You don’t actually need to write songs from scratch. You don’t need to invent everything from thin air (chord progressions, melodies, structures, rhythm). There are certain songwriting tools and techniques that are used by ALL successful songwriters. You can learn these tools by transcribing melodies, chord progressions, structures, rhythms of your favorite songs, and by trying to find patterns in them.

The only thing a songwriting course can give you is time. It saves you a lot of time because you don’t have to analyze hundreds of songs to find these tools and techniques. Our songwriting course is based on the analysis of more than 2000 songs. From this course, you can learn more songwriting techniques than from any other course out there. For example, rhythm is one of the most important aspects of a good song, yet no songwriting course or book addresses this topic, only ours. We have an actual formula for writing better rhythms in your songs, a formula that is used by top songwriters.

5. Write more songs

One of the biggest secrets in songwriting is that you need to write a lot of bad songs before you write a good one. When you listen to your favorite artist on Youtube or Spotify, you hear a really good song. What you don’t hear, is the many bad songs they wrote before that good one. Because they never publish those.

The difference between you and successful songwriters is that they wrote more bad songs than you did. There are hundreds of bad songs behind all good songs. This is the key to writing good songs. You need to write a lot of songs, and then you need to pick only the good ones.

On top of that, the more songs you write, the better songwriter you become. Ed Sheeran says that at one time, he wrote one song every single day. After some time, all the bad songs have “gone”, and only good songs came to him. But even highly successful songwriters write more than one song to publish one song. Before Pharrell Willams published the song “Happy”, he wrote 9 other complete songs with the same title. The tenth song was the one he chose, and he threw away all the other nine songs.

6. Transcribe songs

Many people would say to listen to music. But listening is not enough. You actually have to write down the music in order to understand what’s happening. Many times, I had huge realizations only when I wrote down a song and saw it visually.

If you want to know how to write a good bass line, you have to write down the bass line of your favorite artists. If you know how to structure your song, you need to write down the structures of your favorite songs. Although, as I mentioned before, we already collected these things in our course, so going through the course can save a lot of time. And it’s also useful if you don’t have the skill to transcribe music.

7. Collaborate

Many songwriters collaborate with others nowadays. Today, there are more collaborations than ever. The average hit song has 4 or 5 songwriters! Every person is different, everyone has different experiences, different skills, so a songwriting partner can bring in very different ideas to your songs. If you are not very good at writing melodies, you can try to find a “topliner” who is not very good at writing chord progressions. If you don’t know how to write lyrics, you can try to find someone who is good at writing them, maybe she doesn’t know how to write the music. You can find songwriting partners in music schools, Facebook groups, Reddit forums. But you can find professional musicians at airgigs.com or fiverr.com too. Just make sure to check their material before you order anything from them. Many people claim to be a songwriter but they are not better than the average person. If you write better than average music, you need a lyricist who is better than average.

The secret pattern behind successful songs

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About the Author

Producer, songwriter of the band Barrio Latino Hungría. Author of the Songwriting Essentials.