Guest Article: Songwriting – An Inside Look

posted by on 31st July 2010, at 5:24pm

This guest article comes from the RSBandB forum user Davo. Enjoy the article and remember you can send us your idea here!

When you listen to your favourite band on the radio or on your MP3 player, do you ever think of the time and effort that was put into that song in order to make it sound the way it does? Do you ever wonder what it is about your favorite song that makes it… well… well favourite song? Coming from an avid songwriter, I will give you a brief overview of the process of making of a song. To make things easy I will break it up into three parts which are: writing, organizing, and producing.

To start, I will discuss the first step which is obviously writing the actual song itself. This includes the lyrics and music. There are two main challenges in this first step. The first one is thinking of a tune in your head, and the second one is making the lyrics fit with that particular tune. The tune that you think of in your head is usually what will be used for the chorus of the song. If you think of a “catchier” riff, make that the chorus instead. You ultimately want to achieve what I like to call the “Resonance Factor” which is the combination of lyrics and music that gets stuck in peoples’ heads. If people sing your songs when they’re not actually listening to it, you know you have written a good song. Once you have a tune in place and written out, its time to write the lyrics. Each songwriter has their own way of writing music, but I can say from experience that it is much easier to write lyrics to music rather than write music to lyrics. This is because of a reason I don’t think too many people consider when they write music. Rhythm. Your words have to flow with the music. Believe it or not it can be hard to tell a story in a song because if you just take a normal paragraph and split it up into lines, the song sounds very choppy and a bit unprofessional. No, not all songs are required to rhyme but at least they have to have some sort of rhythm tied into the syllables or something of the nature. When you write a song you want all of it to flow nicely together. The music should not overpower the words (excluding solos of course), and the words shouldn’t always overpower the music.

Now that I’ve touched on the writing aspect of the song, it’s time to piece it all together in the organizing stage. Sometimes you will find yourself organizing before you finish writing because as you are writing you might find that you would rather use a certain tune for another part of the song. Possibly after you arrange all of the music together to form the song, you feel that some of the music or lyrics need tweaking. I find myself doing that a lot actually. This is the part where you put together all of your music and lyrics to see what needs final touch-ups. I like to read (sing) through the lyrics to make sure they flow nicely and don’t sound too cheesy. Once everything is put together, the most time-consuming part ensues.

Production/recording is probably one of the most difficult processes out of the three. Considering there is an entire college degree encircling the subject, it can get a little tricky sometimes. I can’t necessarily tell you what exactly to do in terms of effects and equipment because that all depends on what kind of sound you are looking for. There is one key phrase that I always keep in mind when I record music though: “Never settle for less.” When you are adding effects to your music, don’t just do it all in one sitting. Take breaks because the process is very mentally taxing. The human ear can only maintain full strenuous listening power for a few hours. After that, it begins to tire and tells your brain “That it’s good enough. Let’s just move on.” If you do that, you will come back and listen to your song later and could possibly be displeased with it.

Music isn’t something you should necessarily take for granted. It’s not something all artists can just crank out and sell hit records like its nothing. A lot of hard work and time go into songwriting and production. It takes some time to find your own style of writing and it takes some time to get good at it. Once you do though, your possibilities are endless!

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One Comment

  • Lawrence Gaulden Says:
    19th August 2010, at 4:08pm

    Like Tiggi I am not a huge Who fan, even though I own all albums except Join Together, Two’s Missing and Endless Wire, and have never heard those. Ok fine, I’m a fan, just not a huge fan. My vote went to Quadrophenia. I love concept albums, so it and Tommy were at the top, with Quad getting the nod because the Tommy movie was a waste of time, lol.