The Beautiful Art of Songwriting
by Redwan Hamzah • March 18, 2020
Songwriting is one of those things that just seem to be borne out of magic and stardust, with the greatest songwriters being lauded and embedded into popular culture.
A songwriter gets to craft both lyric and melody, a process that can be wonderful and cathartic. The idea of songwriting itself can seem intimidating at times, especially to someone who has never done it before. It can feel like a huge endeavour that requires many different skill sets working in harmony to even have the slightest chance of success.
However, like with many things in life, it can be broken down into smaller, bite-sized concepts that can each be tackled individually. This prevents the chance of anxiety you might face when dealing with a complex, challenging task, which in this case, is songwriting.
Let us take a look at some different ways we could start writing a tune.
Think about harmony as being the foundational bedrock of sounds that your song will be built upon. This would typically refer to a chord progression, which is a series of chords played in succession, usually returning back to its starting point in a cyclical fashion. This sort of repetition definitely helps to make a sequence of sounds stick clearly in a listener’s mind, and will add to the effect of creating a musically interesting journey as a song progresses.
Chord progressions come in many shapes and sizes, with many common ones being reused time and again, perhaps due to the fact that its overall feeling and sound is now familiar to most any listener. Deciding on your chord progression will be the first challenge you will face: should it feel dreamy? Should it be grounded, and have a sense of resolution? Should it have jazzy overtones, and sound sophisticated?
Melody, by definition, is a succession of notes that form a distinctive sequence. With that in mind, it is important to choose melodies that best reflect the feeling you are trying to bring across.
This is normally the tune you hum to yourself and listening to a very catchy song: the melody can be said to be a blueprint for your song.
The easiest way to start crafting a melody is to first record the chord progression you have chosen, and play it back as you create your melody line. There are various ways to start creating your melody: you can improvise with your voice or play a couple of notes on an instrument of choice be it guitar or piano until you arrive at a sequence of notes that you are happy with.
Now we arrive at the lyrics, which will carry the message of your song and artfully translate your expression into a tangible language.
If you have no previously written ideas around what it is you wish to express, you can begin by identifying a key statement or phrase and then exercising free association to come up with words that are related to it. You could then break up the song into two sections: the verse and the chorus. Think of a syllabic pattern that you want to have for these sections, and attempt to include these words at the end of each line.
You can now begin coming up with ideas to fill in these phrases and sentences, and also decide on your rhyming scheme. For example:
This means lines A will rhyme with each other, and lines B will also rhyme with each other. Perhaps this could work better for you:
Where lines will rhyme in alternating fashion. This all depends on the kind of feeling you would like to convey – an A A B B rhyme structure feels more resolved and flowing, whereas an A B A B rhyme structure has a sense of forward motion and less of a resolute feeling.
Arrangement & Editing
Once you have the previous elements complete, or near completion, it will be time to think about arranging and editing your brand new song!
Think of this as refining the frame in which your art piece will be presented and experienced by someone: you would want to think about the emotional journey of the song and mapping out points where the song should climax, or when it should die down and be in a quiet lull.
Arrangements typically involve understanding the entry points for the various instruments used in the song, and at which points they should switch from playing smaller-sounding parts to being more rhythmically involved and having a louder, grittier tonality. It could also involve taking out instruments as the song progresses, in order to enhance and spotlight certain sections or vocal melodies.
SongCreator @ Insyncsg
Create and record songs that will motivate and inspire your entire organization! And who better to write your company theme song with than your own employees?
This highly interactive and innovative team-building program focuses on building a customised song that will reflect powerful take-aways: what differentiates your organisation? What are your important goals or mission? What is the essence of your message and company culture?
Through the guidance and expertise of highly-experienced music facilitators, you and your team will be practicing active collaboration and fostering creative problem-solving skills as each person finds their voice as part of a songwriting team. Watch as collaboration becomes transparent and idea-sharing the modus operandi of your team of songwriters!
How it’s Done
Each programme begins with a musical and spoken introduction that sets the stage, provides context and warms everyone up. This is followed by vocal warm-ups and an innovative game of collective vocal improvisation, that will help get creative juices flowing and imbue a feeling of joy and openness in everyone.
After this introduction, the team will decide on a style for the song and discuss key messages and themes that they would like to include in the lyrics. They will then be split into smaller groups to work with a songwriter-facilitator who specializes in musical team building. As melodies are brought in, the conversation begins: what are the goals and challenges? What are the big themes, and small ideas?
These ideas become the basis of characterful verses and anthemic choruses; groups who have completed their sections will then be recording their various song parts in a professional recording environment by our studio engineer, and the completed song will be heard in full during a listening party at the end of the session.
Get in touch with us here for your next team-building programme.