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What Is a Song?
To put it simply, a song is a composition that combines melody and words. However, there are musical works without words which are known as instrumental pieces.
A melody is a group of notes of various pitches (how high or how low a note sound) which are played one after another. Together they make a tune in the same way that a group of words make a sentence.
The words of a song which are normally sung are called lyrics. The word lyric by itself comes from the Middle French word ‘lyrique’ meaning ‘a short poem expressing emotion’. Thus, that is why sometimes when you listen to a song, a person can absorb the meaning of the lyric especially when it resonates with what you are feeling at the moment. And when merge together with a memorable melody, a song can be so mesmerizing that at times you can even hear the song repeating in your mind long after it has stopped playing.
Is writing a song difficult and does knowing music theory a must?
Music Theory are elements such as notation, key signatures, time signatures and chord progressions that construct a piece of music. It is like a language that musicians used to communicate with one another. It is good to know the basic of music theory but do not use this as an excuse for you to not writing a song. In fact, you can write a song without having an instrument or knowing how to play it. Humming out the melody is one good way.
Getting started is often the hardest part of the songwriting process. Sometimes, inspiration may come to you unexpectedly. Suddenly, you may find yourself humming to a tune that you cannot seems to get it out of your mind or certain phrases and lines just pop out of nowhere as you were walking by. And when this burst of creativity happens, it is best to jot down those words on scraps of paper or in this modern times, just record the words or tunes quickly onto your phone. You will be glad of the reminder when you get back to the song later.
Now, let’s start writing that song!
Some of us may begin with writing the lyrics and some may start with the melody. In reality, there is no definite way of writing a song. It is best to just go with your flow. According to Gfire M in her blog ‘How To Write A Song For Beginners’, she gives 6 tips on this matter.
FIND YOUR INSPIRATION. Set up your surroundings, gather your materials and songwriting tools, and make sure your recorder is handy!
THINK ABOUR YOUR SONG’S STRUCTURE. Analyze the structures of your favorite songs, and determine which structure you would like for your song.
WRITE YOUR LYRICS. Think about your theme or the message you want to get across, and start writing!
WRITE THE MELODY AND CHORDS. Grab your recorder and experiment with different melodies, chords and chord progressions, until one feels right.
WRITE YOUR SONG’S TITLE. Consider using the “hook” or repeated words as the title, or simply a description of the song as a whole.
FINISHING TOUCHES. Set it aside, refine it, perform it, record it!
Still unsure you can write that song?
One important factor that you must keep in mind is ‘DON’T BE AFRAID TO FAIL’. If you find yourself failing and struggling to write the song you know is in you – just keep going. There’s no secret formula for successful songwriting, other than the combination of hard work, positivity and talent. This quote from the legendary Johnny Cash sums up the point perfectly.
“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash
This may come as a surprise but did you know some of the greatest musician of our time – Jimi Hendrix, jazz drummer Tony Williams, Stevie Ray Vaughan, famed composer Danny Elfman, Kanye West, Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, Eric Clapton, the Beatles, Michael Jackson and many more, never learned how to read or notate music. And yet they consistently wrote earth-shattering and face-melting music. Just think about that!
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