How to Write a Song for Beginners

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Photo:Thibault Trillet

As a new artist, the prospect of creating your first song and coming up with lyrics might seem like a daunting prospect.

The good news is that it’s not as hard as it might seem. Even with relatively little musical knowledge, you can easily create a song with the potential to be a hit.

This article describes a potential workflow that will help you write and record a song.

1. Write a Chord Progression

Some guides might recommend that you start with a melody, but it can be quite challenging to come up with chords to fit a melody if you’re not knowledgeable in music theory. When you write your melody to your chords, the process is usually a lot smoother.

You can refer to music theory to determine what major and minor chords fit in specific keys, but you shouldn’t necessarily stick to these rules religiously. The song “Hey Joe,” as made famous by Jimi Hendrix, has an incredibly simple chord progression, but the argument about what key it’s in spans decades. Don’t be afraid to use a progression that doesn’t fit into standard musical theory. If it sounds good, it is good.

2. Use Your Progression to Come Up With a Melody

Once you have your chord progression, you should start trying to come up with the melody for your new song. You don’t necessarily need to come up with lyrics at this stage, but it might help to have a vague idea.

If you listen to the demo recordings of Kurt Kobain, you’ll notice that he sings unintelligible nonsense. This enabled him to focus on crafting a catchy melody and worry more about lyrical content later.

Once you have a verse or chorus, you should create a variation on your chords and melody to create the other. Don’t change things too dramatically, or the transition between the two will be jarring.

3. Write Some Other Sections

Of course, when you write music, you need more than just a verse and a chorus. Once you have the chord progression and melody down, try writing some other sections like an intro or a bridge.

An intro can be a slightly different version of one of your other sections, but a bridge should bring in some new elements to help bring your song into the climax.

4. Record a Demo and Work on Lyrics

Next, you should use something like a recorder from multitrackhq to record a rough demo. Listening to that demo will be helpful when you try to come up with lyrics to your song.

Don’t worry if this process takes a while. Some of the best lyrics take weeks to fully develop.

When You Write a Song, There Are No Rules

It’s important to remember when you write a song that there are no rules. While these steps are a great way to write a song, there’s nothing saying you can’t start with lyrics or a melody. It’s worth experimenting with the workflow and finding a system that works well for you.

If you want to learn more about other music-related topics, check out some of our other articles.