How To Write Your First Song

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How To Write Your First Song

Writing your first song can be an exciting and equally anxiety-inducing experience. Not only is it a physical manifestation of your creativity and skills, but it’s also a chance to express yourself. It’s everything you’ve been building up to since you started learning music. All those hours of learning concepts and practicing exercises can finally come together to form something. 

Well, at least that’s how it is supposed to be. But many musicians will struggle with getting their first song out. The reasons can range anywhere from drawing creative blanks to not knowing the first step to take. 

It’s something that almost everyone has experienced at some point. From hobbyists to stage performers and even famous artists, they’ve all had the experience of writing out their first piece. 

If you’re finding yourself stuck in the same boat, then we have something for you. That’s because we’ll be giving you some tips on how you can compose your first song. This way, you’ll be able to roll out something that you can be proud of.

The Basic Song Structure

Every song is different, but most of them follow a fairly straightforward pattern. It can help to study that structure for your own song-making purposes. Not only will it help you understand your listener’s expectations, but it’s also useful if you find yourself getting stuck anywhere. So with that in mind, here the kind of format you can hope to expect from a track.

Intro:

An intro is pretty self-explanatory. It’s the part that kicks off a song into gear. Here, the idea is to build enough interest to draw the listener in. Just don’t overdo it, or you’ll risk overwhelming whoever listens to your track.

The key focus for your intro should be to establish the vibe of the track. This means things like laying out the tempo, melodic structure, track energy, and more. You can think of it as a teaser for things to come. 

Verse:

The verse is the part of your song where your theme gets fleshed out. It’s where you want your listener to home in on what the song is about. A lot of the ‘meat’ of your track tends to sit here. 

For a verse, you want to unleash your main musical ideas. This is where you want your vocals or unique melodic ideas to start filtering in. Any narrative ideas for your lyrics will likely start here as well. 

Pre-Chorus:

Not every song has a pre-chorus. But when they do, it’s for the express purpose of the build-up towards the chorus. It helps smooth things over from your verse to the chorus, especially if there’s a significant disparity in tempo, melody, or harmonic content. 

In terms of priority, your pre-chorus will likely be made after the chorus. You want to tailor it to how you want to accentuate building up your pace. For choruses that are similar to the verse, you want to slow it down to add a bit of a palate cleanser. But for choruses that are vastly different, you can do with having pre-chorus gradually pick up the time-feel. 

Chorus:

Choruses are the most recognizable part of your track. They’re the sections that people sing along to or get stuck in their heads. It’s the payoff section where you want to release all that pent up emotional energy you’ve been building up. 

Choruses are the section to place your hooks. Both your lyrical and melodic hooks will serve to captivate your listener with the song’s themes. All in all, you want it to be the penultimate climax of your track. 

Bridge

Bridge sections are all about contrast. Here, you’re allowed to take a swerve from your tonal path to explore something new. Things like key changes or solos are some of the most common uses for a bridge. It’s all about creating a sharp contrast. 

Bridge sections are all about contrast. Here, you’re allowed to take a swerve from your tonal path to explore something new. Things like key changes or solos are some of the most common uses for a bridge. It’s all about creating a sharp contrast. 

Outro

All good things will eventually come to an end. Your outro is the lead-up to that end. You ideally want to use it as a signal to tell your listener that they should be expecting and end soon. 

Outros can be done in a number of different ways depending on what kind of vibe you want to go for. You can use conventions and cadences to your advantage to either play towards expectations or subtly subvert them. This means anything from gradually slowing down your song to letting it fade out or even just having it come to an abrupt end. 

What Steps to Take When Composing Your First Song 

Now that you have a clear idea of song structures, you can start diving into the actual songwriting process. Believe it or not, it isn’t as hard as you might imagine it to be. Here are the steps you should be taking to get your song into form. 

Be Inspired

Inspiration is a big part of starting any artform. For making music, it’s practically a requirement. Without the right inspiration, it can be hard to even get a good sound going in your head. Sometimes that inspiration can find you, but other times you’ll have to find it. 

When you have a moment, sit down and try to get a feel for your song. Try asking yourself some key questions to narrow down your criteria. What do you want your music to be about? How do you want your listener to feel? What kind of techniques do you want to incorporate into the arrangement of your track?

If that doesn’t work, then try thinking a little smaller. Maybe there’s a musical phrase or concept that you really like. You can start using small ideas like these to start building toward the bigger picture.  

Just remember that it is your song. Make sure whatever inspires you is something you actually care about. Not only will it come across more genuine, but it will also define the style of your earlier works.

Gather Your Tools and Techniques

Once you have a few good ideas going in your head, you can start to lay them out. But how you translate them from your head to your sound can make the difference. That’s where your resources begin to come into play.

Your first order of business should be to try and take note of your abilities. This will help ground your ideas into workable outcomes. Bear in mind that you don’t necessarily have to limit yourself. If there’s room to learn something, then you can use it to do your song justice. Just make sure you don’t spend too much of the time over-extending your reach.

 On the other side of the equation, make sure you take stock of your tools of the trade. Everything from instruments, patches, studio equipment, and the software will dictate what you can achieve. 

This will come into use when you’re trying to place your hook onto an instrument. You may even have to transpose your melody into a different key based on what is possible and more comfortable to play. 

Feel free to head over and join our brand new private facebook group where we will be giving you weekly tips, tricks, feedback and answering all of your songwriting questions.

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Start Fleshing Out Ideas

When you have your ingredients and a general taste in mind, you can start crafting your songwriting recipe. One of the best ways to do this organically is to experiment with ideas to see what stands out.

Usually, the first thing to come to mind is the verse melody or chorus hook. At this point, you really want to focus on the music without thinking about the vocals. 

A go-to technique that most songwriters use is to sing out your hook with random syllables or gibberish words. These act as a placeholder and let you focus on the feel of the melody without putting away attention for lyric writing. 

Experiment with different melodic ideas either by singing out loud or using a midi keyboard. You won’t necessarily strike gold on the first try. In fact, plenty of famous songs have had to go through several iterations. 

That’s why you should record several takes that you can play to listen to discernable differences. Try to focus on how you want to articulate your hook. Exploring points of stress or using expressive techniques can really change how your hook ends up feeling to the listener. 

Map Out Your Lyrics

With a hook melody at your disposal, you’ll be able to proceed with writing out your lyrics. Doing that in a meaningful way will require you to map it to your song’s central theme. 

It can be helpful to refer to brainstorming techniques for your lyric writing. Start by placing a perspective on your idea. Decide whether you want to lay it out from a personal viewpoint or a narrative arc.

From there, you can start putting the idea into words using emotion. For example, let’s say you want to write about your summer as a teenager. Instead of basing your lyrics purely on facts, you want to use your feelings to make the words flow better. Here’s a great example from Me and Bobby McGee by Kris Kristofferson:

“Busted flat in Baton Rouge, headin’ for a train.

Feelin’ nearly faded as my jeans

Bobby thumbed a diesel down just before it rained

And rode us all the way into New Orleans.”

I

n just a few lines, you get a good sense of where the narrative direction is headed. Instead of being told what’s happening in the lyrics, you’re made to feel it. It’s a powerful, emotionally binding technique. 

Build a Structure

Now that you’ve taken care of the crucial parts of your song, you can work your way backward to build the rest of the song. This is the part of the process where you’ll be hammering in the DNA of the track. 

Things like your key will be based on your chorus hook or verse melody. But you still have control over the rest of your song’s aspects like tempo, groove, harmony, and so on. 

Right off the bat, you’ll need some supporting elements for your song’s melodies. These can be guitar chords, string ensembles, or electronic soundscapes. Double it up by adding a bassline underneath it to add body to your sound. 

Something to keep in mind is that you should keep this structure malleable. Depending on the cadence of your track, you want your song’s frame to vary a little. It’s something that can be done by taking away or adding in different layers of sound. 

For intros, you want a minimalist variation of what you have set up in the verse. On the other hand, you should go all out with your choruses to hit hard with that emotional punch. 

Each part will demand something different, and it’ll be your job as the songwriter to fulfill it. Make sure you follow the tension-resolution arc of your song by changing your structure. 

Finalize and Record

After everything is said and done, you’ll be in line to perform and record your song. While that may sound like an easy task, it can be the most demanding part of your track.

How you want to record your song is entirely up to you. You can do it all in one session or space it out over several instances. Just make sure you avoid any critical mistakes like going out of tune or stepping outside of the tempo. 

However, take it too far, and you might find yourself striving for the dangerous concept of perfection. It’s something that many artists deal with, and it can often render your song into another unfinished project on a hard drive. 

Your ideal mindset should be to follow the best practices like using a metronome and doing some warm ups. Beyond that, you don’t want to needlessly worry about the final product. Especially not if it’s your first ever song. 

Closing Thoughts

Composing songs is like any other. It’s something that you work towards strengthening. Taking your first step into making a song might feel terrifying, but you’ll realize how easy it is once you do it. Hopefully, the steps above should put your mind to ease and have your creative juices flowing in no time. 

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