Songwriting is a fun and rewarding exercise. The ability to create your own music from start to finish is a fascinating and satisfying process. However, good songwriting requires time and experimentation. It’s a battle which many budding song writers struggle with.
People often think great songwriting is the result of some mystical process over which they have no control. But it is actually a skill that can be learned, practiced and mastered. Although there is an element of “instinct” involved in writing music, it normally takes years of practice to hone this instinct and become a “natural” at songwriting.
No matter your current songwriting skills, here are 5 simple tips to help you bring your music to life.
1. Write, write, write!
Often, songwriting isn’t a result of a single brainstorming session while you’re sitting with your instrument. Ideas may come to you at random throughout your day. Don’t be afraid to write down anything and everything that crosses your mind.
Try to carry a small notebook whenever you’re out so you can organize your thoughts and jot down any song ideas that suddenly spring up. Don’t worry about how vague the ideas are, just capture them because they might be useful for later.
2. Listen, listen, listen!
Listening is one of the most important skills you need in order to be a musician. Be open to many styles of music and try to understand how they relate. Listen to as many different types of songs as you can. Work out what it is that makes you love the songs you love. Analyze the structures. Make a note about any particular part you like, as well as the parts you think could improve.
3. Don’t be afraid to try something different.
As we analyze others’ work, we tend to develop an obsession for doing things the “correct” way. This might keep you from being able to invent something new.
Sometimes it’s OK to break the rules.
Experiment with different chord progressions, rhythms, and tempos. A subtle change can make a world of difference. This may help you understand your instrument better, which will enable you to become a better songwriter.
4. Stay open to feedback.
Record your songs, listen to them, and think about how you can improve. Play your songs to others and ask them to be honest. Remember: you don’t have to get it right on your first attempt. Good songwriting is a process of constantly seeking “ruthless” feedback and reshaping your work.
5. Don’t be a perfectionist.
Doing any creative work can be very frustrating if you focus too much on perfecting the details – it’ll never be “just right.” Often, you have to let things go. The goal is to improve over time. Don’t be discouraged if a song just doesn’t work out the way you wanted. A better one is just around the corner!