The Anatomy of a Song: Steps in the Song Writing Process

How to Write Songs | Wavemaker

Just about everyone has a favorite song; one that follows us through our lives and becomes the soundtrack to significant moments. If you are passionate about music and lyrics, you may wonder just how a great song is born. Of course, there are multitudes of creative ways in which memorable songs are written, but there is also a formula by which many writers and musicians use for collaboration.

A great song tells a story. It takes the listener on a journey. A hit song often has a magical combination of authentic expression and musical skill. Crafting a well written song is a process. And below, we offer you a guide to follow that any lyricist and musician can use to compose their next creation.

 

Choosing an Inspiring Title

Though there are many great songs throughout history that began with a beat, a rhythm, a chorus, or a phrase; the best way to write a song is to come up with an inspiring title; one that moves you, as the writer, on the inside.

The title of a song is many times, the phrase that all listeners remember. Many songs become automatic hits simply because the title is catchy and addictive. Listeners find themselves singing it over and over again. The title is one of the most important aspects of a song, and helps the writer begin to tell the story.

 

Find the Questions Hidden Within Your Title

The title of a song asks many questions. It is the songwriter’s job to find the questions that lie within their song title. For example; there are many popular songs in the last few decades, about hotels; “Hotel California” by the Eagles, “Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis, and Michael Jackson’s “Heartbreak Hotel”. Each of these three songs tells a completely different story, but the writers answered many of the same questions within the lyrics. “What is this hotel?” “What is the atmosphere, the energy of this place?” and “What happens there, and to whom does it happen?”

 

Connect Words and Images With Your Title

Do a brainstorming exercise by making a list of words and images that relate to your title. These words and images are what make the story of the song interesting, poetic and imaginative. Try the words out by using each of them in your verses and chorus until you hear the phrasing that sounds right to your ears.

 

The Most Common Song Structure

Once you have your title and some of your lyrics, you can begin to form your song structure. There is a popular and common song structure that has worked since people began writing songs. It is best to begin with this structure, and then you can creatively alter it as the spirit of the song moves you.

The song structure is designed in this way:

Verse – Chorus – Verse- Chorus-Bridge- Chorus

This song structure appeals to listeners because it allows for repetitiveness, which makes a song easy for the listener to learn. One of the best parts about enjoying any song is the ability to be able to sing along. This common song structure makes this aspect easy for listeners.

 

Create the Melody of Your Song

The melody of a song is often discovered by the repetition of lyrics. There is usually a melody that naturally lives within the lines of a song; a certain rhythm that matches the words, the phrasing. Try singing or simply, humming the song to yourself. The right melody comes through experimentation; and is one of the most intuitive aspects of song writing.

 

Though much of song writing is truly an intuitive process, knowing how to begin and following a tried and proven structure makes the process easier; while still leaving room for personal creativity.