Updated: Nov 10, 2022
Songwriting is one of the most beautiful ways to express our thoughts and emotions. Music speaks to the journey of life like few other art forms do. Thus, writing music can be very fulfilling. But we can't get around the fact that it is also very difficult to make quality music. One of the hardest things to do is to just start. Thankfully, you are not alone. Mike's Mix and Master LLC has some great tips for brand-new songwriters who want to put their heart into their art. Keep in mind that songwriting is a creative experience. Sometimes, several steps in this eight-step process will be happening at the same time. And that is ok. This is just a general guide to help you get started.
Step #1: The Concept
First off, you need some inspiration. What specifically made you want to write a song? Maybe you just went through a big change in your life. Maybe you just have to share that little nugget of truth that has made a difference for you recently. Or maybe simply seeing a beautiful seascape or sunset has gotten your creative juices flowing. Try to really dig deep. What message do you want to get across? What words are important? What mental pictures do you want your listeners to be able to see?
Step #2: The Brainstorming
Once you have your big idea, it's time to just write things down. Keep a journal with you wherever you go, and when a thought comes to you, don't wait to get it on paper. This is hugely important! Write down everything. This step will take some time, so just sit back and enjoy the creative process. As you think about what you want your song to say, you can start organizing your thoughts into measured phrases, lines, and verses. Only when you know what you want to say can you make it into something structured. Once you have a few lines down, and a tentative poetic structure in your mind, you can move on.
Step #3: The Jam Session
Step #3 is where things become really fun. You have an idea, and you have a few actual lyrics to get you started. Now it's time to put those lyrics to music! You may already have snippets of melodies in your head, which is great! Go ahead a take an hour or two to just sit down with a piano or guitar and turn your lyrics into a song. Experiment with different melodies and variations. Don't be afraid to try things that sound new or different. Just play. Enjoy your own personal jam session! And don't forget to take notes!
Step #4: The Chords and Rhythm
You probably already started finding chords and rhythms in Step #3. But here is where you really want to tease them out. Once you have a melody - it doesn't have to be perfect yet - you can really start adding in the details. What chord progressions fit the mood of your song? What rhythmic pulses should or should not be present? Do you want a key change in the song? Once again, feel free to experiment. Don't just throw in chords and rhythms because you can. Really try to think about what will get your message across.
Step #5: The Connections
So. Let's review what you have so far. You have a big idea, hopefully, most of your lyrics, a melody in the works, and supporting chords (harmonies) and rhythms. You probably have at least a couple of verses and maybe even a chorus. Now it is time to start putting all those pieces together to create one whole masterpiece! This is a super exciting moment! How do you want to connect your verses and chorus? Will there be any kind of instrumental riff between them? Will you change up the interludes or will they all be the same? Do you want to add a bridge? This step can be difficult, but it is rewarding!
Step #6: The Final Touches
Finally! Everything is beginning to fit together. Your verses, interludes, choruses, and bridge are now one continuous whole. Congratulations! First, step back and take a moment to breathe. You've accomplished a lot already. Then, when you are ready, take a little time to add the finishing touches. Tighten up the lyrics where needed. Tweak the melody if there are any problem spots. Add an introduction and an ending if you don't have those already. Try to analyze your song well without overthinking it. Remember that this step is still part of the creative process.
Step #7: The Feedback and Edits
Let's face it. All artists have to have thick skin. We would never improve if we can't take feedback well. So once your song is finished, it is time to get some outside opinions. Have a jam session with your musical friends and graciously accept their tips and ideas. Give your song to your music teacher or other professional musicians. Let them show you how you can make your music even better. Of course, you do not have to incorporate every single suggestion into your song. Especially take suggestions from your peers with a grain of salt. But do be open to advice and edit your song as needed.
Step #8: The Performance/Release
This is it. You have worked hard for a long time. You have put your all into this song. Well done! Your music deserves some showtime. You probably already have ideas for how you want to market your music (and if you don't, I can help). Try to find a place where you can perform your song. Or record it and release it online, with the support of your friends and family. This has been an exciting journey for you, and you deserve to celebrate!
Writing (and recording) a song is a difficult, but beautiful process. You will learn new things along the way. And remember that if you need help, you can always ask for it. If you need someone to mix and master your track, make sure to contact me. Your art is important, and I want to help you make it the best it can be. Happy songwriting!