As part of my new music themed series, this is the second installment and today I will be lending you guys my first hand advice and tips on how to write and compose songs all from scratch. All coming from my past experience during my time when taking BTEC Music as a subject in sixth form completing a variety of different units such as freelance music, coposition and performance, this series is a fantastic way for me to pass on my advice to any student out there who is considereing or is currently taking music, and maybe struggling in certain areas and units of the subject.
My Tips On How To Compose A Song
- Pick a genre you want to base your composition on.
- Familiarise yourself with the common structure of a basic song.
- Have inspiration from songs and artists. Listen to some popular songs from your chosen genre. This will be your main sources of inspiration and ideas.
- Do your research. Look up common chords, melodies and riffs that are used throughout your chosen genre for your own song.
- Go to a location where you know you will concerntrate and work yoir best. For example if you workwell outdoors go to an open space such as a park or if you are totally musically driven go to a recording studio or practice room.
- Record any ideas you have. This can be done in a notebook or even technically on a laptop or tablet. This is a nessesity to help you in the creation process of making your own song.
- If you are working as part of a band,ensure every member has some imput. This will be essential in orderto bounce ideas off eachother and that way it will definately be a group effort.
For the first tip, one of the units I had to take was composing songs appropriate to a certain decade of time in music. For example we had to as an ensemble, write all the lyrics and instrumentals that was suitable to a paticular genre four different times that was popular during a certain period of time. A solid example was for our seventies composition piece, and of course Disco music was absolutely huge throughout this decade. Therefore we had to make a song up that was disco inspired which was all our own work, ready to perform alongside our three over pieces we created and devised as a band.
For the second tip, once you have established your genre theme its time to get to know and map out the basic structure of your song. The standard structure of most songs out there in the music industry consist of the structure following this pattern. Introduction, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus and Outro. Of course certain structural elements suchas the Verse and the Chrous will repeat its self at least twice. Especially for the lyricsits paramount that this structure is planned out which willmake it easier to input the lyrics into their allocated sections followed up by the instrumentals.
For the third and forht piece of advice on my list, and probably the most paramount tip that helped myself and my band composing songs, is to gain inspiration through songs and artists that fall under the same genre you have decided upon for your own creation. For example for our seventies piece, we were reccomended and advised by our music teacher to listen to and somewhat mimic the instrumentals and incorpriate catchy lyrics like the song ‘Car Wash’ by Rose Royce contains. Once listening and briefly researching this Disco and R&B style song, this sparked huge inspiration on what things we needed to include into our own composition to carry off that distinct Disco sound that was the genre of this decade. Things such as catchy, memorable lyrics predomantly featured in the chorus using repetition was excecuted amazingly. As for the instrumentals infectious riffs and groovy notes and most importantly, a solid rythm kept in time with the drums and bass we ensured we used and as a result out of our four compostions, our seventies piece was by far my favourite.
Paired nicely with the research and artist themed tip, location in which you as a soloist or as a band will effect your work rate massively. Location of where you decide to get most of your composition complete, can easily speed up or slow down the rate you can get a compositon complete. If you know that you gain alot of ideas and are at your best mentally in a certain location, ensure that you are constantly on a regular basis are at a park, recording, studio, practice room, classroom, someones house or wherever you prefer because the regularity of working in these enviroments will encourage you to be at your best potential musically. For us because the majority of our work was done inside of school hours, we always worked best as a band in a practice room surrounded by musical instruments, equiptment and also we were able to excude ourselves from the other band or the rest of our classmates and we had access to professional advice in the form of our music teachers and instrunetal teachers. Therefore with all these positive factors around us, this made us work hard to ensure we completed the work to the best standard.
The last two pieces of advice go hand in hand and that is to have fair input and record ideas down. Mainly the first half of this advice is directed at ensembles, so any bands starting out in the industry listen up this is for you. To be able to work equally in a band definately when writing new material, ever single member assosiated in the bands needs to have some ideas they are willing to come foward with. In the early stages of a formation of a band normally arguments which can result in the break up of a band are more likely to happen at this moment in time. To prevent this from happening, communication and co-operation is key. To be able to effectively communicate with your band members and get the work done especially if you are in school, sixth form, college or university and have to meet deadlines, you will have to have a form of idea you can submit when composing songs because equal imput makes the workload easier and creates a strong teamwork bond which in order to be taken seriously and succeed, this needs to happen.
So to any aspiring bands, solo artists, music students and in general any music fanatic I hope this rather long blog post helped you to gain an understanding on what it is like to create your own songs from scratch and I hope that anybody that needs them does take my tips and advice on board because believe me when I say during the time I studied music and had to take a composition unit, I wish I had material to read like this so I didn’t struggle so much.