For some it is an unknown and complex world, for others, it is the ambition of a lifetime and for many, it is simply a… “job”: writing good songs. It has been debated for years on winning formulas, schemes, and writing methods. The reality is that there are as many ways to write a good song as there are authors of good music!
Often it is the combination of circumstance, place, and mood that generates the best pieces of the story. There are those who are comfortable writing in a dark room lit only by candles, those who are inspired by the sun and the summer – to each his own, find your personal Nirvana and compose! Creativity can be stimulated by many factors.
Don’t get distracted
Even though it’s tough these days, try ditching Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for a while. Writing songs requires peace, quiet, and concentration!
Sometimes it’s just a beat played on the edge of a table that generates the process of making a song. So why not just record that sound? There are several songs that contain in the mix the original sounds recorded during the conception phase. Getting a great piece out of “poorly refined” sound sources is no small challenge!
The first idea is often the best!
Record all your ideas, especially the initial ones, with the help of a smartphone. Often, in fact, the first idea conceived is the right one but, relying on fleeting memory, one can often forget the initial intention of the piece. Try to record the piece in a decent way so you know where you wanted to go.
There are endless examples and tutorials on how to create new sounds from pre-existing sounds, loops, chord sequences, vocal lines, and much more with the use of plug-ins within a DAW.
With the freedom available in today’s musical world, why not experiment in a “crazy” way? Do you have two midi piano and guitar tracks? Invert them and listen to the result. It is also always a good practice to “test” the song at different BPM to understand if the “tempo” chosen initially is the right one for the piece or if, on the contrary, the song would benefit from being reproduced and played faster.
Finally, and it’s always good to mention, try playing with the tonality of the piece. It’s amazing how certain songs dramatically change their mood depending on the key.
Sometimes it is necessary to think with another tool
Often changing your instrument and getting inspired is the best choice to compose something “different”. Mandolins, Banjos, and accordions are ideal for indulging in melody and simple progressions.
Bass is also great for melodies as it eliminates harmonies from the equation. Often the bass follows the chords making it very “intuitive” as an instrument and, at the same time, freely modifiable in terms of groove and timing.
Too often we play chords on instruments such as the piano and guitar, limiting our overall view of music.
Practicing is a waste of time
Mistaken! No one has ever hurt to know the music in depth to understand what to use, both theoretically and executive. Practicing makes art perfect and this also applies to music.
Nobody expects you to reinvent the wheel, the fact remains that you cannot challenge yourself to create something innovative. Be careful though: according to various analyzes, musicians tend to spend an enormous amount of time on sound care and little time on writing and arranging. This leads you to enter a loop of frustration and constant changes. A good song sounds good even when performed with few instruments and few “superstructures”. The rest you can add later.
Trust your instincts
If you are firm on an idea, totally change your project and dedicate yourself to something else. Not every idea deserves to become a song as not every idea is always a winner. Often during the making of an album, dozens of songs are produced which are then skimmed to get the most captivating 10-12. Often the pieces are arranged and re-arranged even at the last minute.
Music is fun!
Even if your day of writing hasn’t been very productive, know that it will still have served to improve and practice. Creativity is a “muscle” that must be trained. How? By analyzing the songs you like the most (both on a harmonic and rhythmic level as well as on an emotional level) and the way in which they are interpreted.