Ten Essential Songwriting Tips
If you are new to songwriting or struggling for ideas, here is a list of ten essential songwriting tips to help
you start writing music.
Keep a list of perspective song titles and lyric ideas in a notebook or on your wall. Whenever you hear a
good word or phrase write it down and refer to it when you are trying to come up with new material.
Try using different time signatures. If you write all your songs in 4/4 try using 5/4 or 6/8. Not all of the
song has to be in the same time signature, a verse could be in 4/4 and the chorus in 7/4.
If you’ve come up with a great chord progression but you’re struggling where to go next, try reversing
the chord order of the part you already have. For example, C-G-am-F becomes F-am-G-C.
Always carry a notebook with you. Inspiration can strike at any time. Most phones have a notepad
feature and some even have voice memos so you can record your voice.
If you usually write songs with a lot of chords try restraining yourself to just four or even three. Likewise,
if your songs usually have four chords try writing a piece with six or eight chords.
Try contrasting the lead vocal with a countermelody in the backup vocal. For example, if the lad vocal is
singing a long held note you can try recording and entire phrase or line under it in the backing vocal.
Write in different keys! It’s very easy to stick with what you know. Look through your songs and see if
there is a key you favour and if there is one you haven’t used. Write a song in that key.
Collaborate! It’s amazing what a new set of ears can give you. That 8 bar loop you thought was rubbish
could be the start of a hit song all you need is a different perspective.
Try to introduce dynamic and metric contrast in your music. A song should be like a mountain range
with ups and downs. If the metre and dynamics stay the same for three minutes the listener will lose
If you’re all out of ideas technology can be a huge help. Arpeggiators and algorithmic composition are
just two tools you can draw inspiration from to kick start your next masterpiece.