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Category: Songwriting Article

Which Songwriting Process Works For You?

I’ve always been really fascinated with the songwriting process and how there seems to be many roads that can lead to a completed song.

You can approach writing a song in a number of ways.

1. Write from a melody or riff
2. Write from lyrical ideas
3. Write from a song title
4. Write with a collaborator

The last two are my favourites ways to write songs.

These above mentioned points are nicely expanded upon in an article by Richie Gilbert called “The Songwriting Process – Finding What Works For You.”

There is also a heads up to the fact that not all roads that lead to a songs completion are suitable for everyone. In the article Richie also says that the songwriting process…

“…can be a rather personal journey. I’m sure there must be as many different ways to approach writing a song as there are songwriters.”

Here is the article below. Enjoy!


The Songwriting Process – Finding What Works For You
By Richie Gilbert

The songwriting process can be a rather personal journey. I’m sure there must be as many different ways to approach writing a song as there are songwriters. I’m going to outline a few basic approaches that I like to use when writing a song.

Some of them I use more often than others, because it’s easy to get used to doing things one way. But I tend to get bored using the same formula time after time, so sometimes I like to mix it up.

Writing from Melody

My most commonly used approach to the songwriting process is to write the melody first. I have always been comfortable writing melody, and I believe a strong melody is of extreme importance. So this is where I usually begin.

I’ve played guitar for many years and am very comfortable on this instrument, so I often sit around noodling on it. I play around with some of the melodies that always seem to be circling in my head until I fix upon one that I find compelling.

You don’t need to be proficient on the guitar or any instrument to write melody, although it can certainly help. Simply humming some lines into a hand-held digital recorder is enough to get your ideas flowing.

Once I have those initial strains of melody I play around with various chord progressions until I find one that I feel complements the melody.

I then move on to the lyrics, drawing inspiration from the emotion that the music evokes in me. I work hard to ensure the words and lines conform to the melody in a way that sounds natural.

This is one of the most challenging aspects of the songwriting process for me, so I don’t skimp on the effort necessary to achieve the results I’m after.

Lyrics First

Sometimes I know what I want to write about before having any music worked out. I’ll begin writing lyrics for my new song with only an idea of the rhythm I’m going to use, and no idea of the melody.

I generally don’t wait until the lyrics are complete before I begin working on the melody and the chords. In fact, once I’m happy with the general direction, the music starts to suggest itself to me pretty early on.

I find it easier to write good lyrics using this approach, as I don’t have to be concerned about making the words fit the music. It will be the other way around. However, I still have to create clever lines that flow naturally within a solid rhythmic structure.

I must also be sure it sounds like a song. When writing lyrics without music we run the risk of it turning out like a children’s poem, with each line the same length as the last, and with a predictable rhyming scheme.

Today’s hit songs don’t tend to follow this neat, buttoned-down format. They are much more likely to sport lines of varying lengths, and rhymes in somewhat unexpected places. Listen to a few current popular songs and you’ll see what I mean.

Try to keep this in mind when writing lyrics first.

Start with the Title

This is probably the songwriting process that has the potential to produce the most powerful, focussed songs. When you write from a title you don’t have to worry too much about where the song is going.

Your main job is to simply keep it on course. As long as you make sure each line and section points back to your title you shouldn’t have any trouble doing this. If you come up with a really good title your song will practically write itself.

Coming up with a great song title can be as easy as keeping your eyes and ears open. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, try to keep a small part of your mind on the lookout for phrases that command attention.

Newspaper headlines are full of potential song titles. So are presidential speeches, products on the shelves of the local supermarket, and museum exhibits. Great song titles are everywhere!

Just listen in on the conversations of little old ladies at the bus stop. You are sure to pick up a few golden nuggets!

When you have your title, start asking yourself questions about it. Let’s say our title is “Never Again”. Who is saying this? Is it you? Who or what are you saying it about? Has your trust been betrayed? Perhaps the title refers to a night of unbridled debauchery! (Never again!!!)

Keep asking yourself questions until you’ve gotten to the bottom of it. You’ll find your answers provide so much information that your song is already under way before you’ve written a single lyric.

Writing with a Partner

Whether you focus on the words or the music, collaborating with another songwriter is a priceless experience. I can’t say enough about the advantages of this particular songwriting process.

When you find a compatible writing partner to share in the act of writing a song, you’ll find the possibilities are almost endless.

The more you bounce ideas off of each other, the faster they start flowing. Many times I have come away from a collaborative songwriting session with ideas for two or three songs other than the one we’ve been writing!

The key is finding a writing partner who you trust and with whom you can exchange meaningful and valuable ideas.

Although it seems as though it would help to find someone who has similar influences and writing style, it might be better if they don’t. When you draw from different musical backgrounds, the songs you write together will become something you probably couldn’t accomplish alone.

Of course, you will have to be able to agree upon a certain direction, but if you can both be flexible (which is essential), there is the potential for writing some very interesting material.

What’s Your Favourite Approach?

When I set out to write a song, these are a few of the different approaches that work for me quite nicely. Try them for yourself and see which you are most comfortable with. There are, of course, many more that are not outlined here.

Experiment a bit and see if you can come up with some of your own.


About The Author

I’m Richie Gilbert and I have been passionate about writing songs for many years. I also spend much time in my home recording studio, and am active in pitching my songs to music publishers.

To learn more about the craft and business of songwriting, please visit my website at http://www.inspired-songwriting-tips.com


What is your favourite way to write a song? Do you stick to one of the points mentioned or, do you swing between them depending on where the inspiration takes you? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

The diversity of the answers to the above question and the opportunity to readily learn from other songwriters through their own songwriting experiences is why I love the process of songwriting so much.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Have Something To Say About Songwriting? I Want To Hear From You!

I firmly believe that everyone has a wealth of knowledge about something and if you have this knowledge about songwriting, the creative process, and the tips, tricks and strategies that go with it then I want to hear from you.

How about submitting something to this blog for me to consider? I promise I won’t bite 🙂

If you also have information about creativity, journalling or anything that’s remotely related to writing songs in general then let me know as well.

Now that I’m back into full swing with All About Songwriting, I am going to be on the lookout for new and different ways to get the best songwriting information out to everyone else and at times, there is only so much I can do as one person.

So…

If you have something to say then I want to hear from you and together we can do our bit to help other songwriters around the globe.

You know, over the years of working in Australia as a performing songwriter/musician, I have noticed that everyone has at least some opinions about songwriting that they can share with others.

Really credible and trusted songwriting information can come from all walks of songwriting life, from the bedroom songwriter who writes for the sheer pleasure of it to the seasoned professional who tours internationally.

By opening up All About Songwriting to others like your good self, I want to give everyone the opportunity to have their say.

So heres the deal…

If you have a songwriting idea, songwriting tip to share or a songwriting question you want answered, or a songwriting article that you want published on this site then let me know and I will have a look at it and publish it if I feel that it’s something that everyone will benefit from.

I want All About Songwriting to be one of the most trusted sources of songwriting information on the web and you can help me do that.

The only thing that I ask for in return is that if I publish your information you kindly add a link to this website onto your website or whichever social media platform you use.

From my end, along with me publishing your information, I will make sure that your website URL is mentioned and therefore a link to your site on this site is established.

All you need to do is contact me and we can both get the ball rolling from there

I really look forward to helping you share your own songwriting knowledge with everyone else. Give it a go, it will be a lot of fun and you can promote your website through mine at the same time.

As I have said many times before… “We are all in this together.”

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting