Great songs don’t just happen. Writing a song with creative, meaningful lyrics and memorable melodies can be a challenge. While there are many different approaches to writing a song, even professional songwriters could get stuck at some point.
Here’s a songwriting template that guarantees your listeners will stay engaged from start to end!
Build the Base of Your Song
- Begin with the Title
Starting with a memorable title helps you keep your song stay focused on a single theme. Craft a one-to-six-word phrase capturing the essence of what you want to express. Alternatively, you can look for an intriguing phrase that stirs up an emotion or situation for you.
To give your title some energy, consider using an action word. Including an image could also make it more interesting.
- Formulate Questions Based on the Title
We advise you to build your song on questions triggered by your song title. Start by deciding what you want to say about the title and what you believe your listeners might be interested to know. Compile a list of questions, perhaps including:
- What does the song title mean?
- What are your sentiments about it?
- What triggers such sentiments?
- What do you believe or wish would happen next?
You’d need about three to four questions.
- Determine the Song’s Structure
Your song structure is how you organize your song in sections. The following structure is used in many of today’s top hits:
- Verse/ Chorus
- Verse/ Chorus
- Bridge/ Chorus
To incite anticipation, some composers include a short part called a “lift” or “pre-chorus” between the verse and the chorus. There’s always a unique melody in the verse, pre-chorus, and chorus—which the listener can identify when the song is played.
- Decide on a Question to Answer in the Chorus and One in Each Verse
Since the chorus is the most important element of your song, we’ll start with it. Choose the question you’d want your chorus to answer. Create a short phrase that conveys your response.
Try to include action words or images to help you visualize these answers. How does the singer feel? What are they thinking or saying? What are the singer’s sentiments and how could you describe them? Are they dark or light? Cold or warm? Make sure you add emotion to your song lyrics.
Work on the Melody and Chords
- Determine the Melody of the Lyrics
Now, use your lyrics to generate a melody. Pick one or more of the phrases you thought up in Step #4. Say them aloud. Say them again, this time with a lot of passion and emotion. Intensify the sentiment in your lines!
When you say the lines with so much emotion, pay attention to the natural melody and rhythm of your words. This is where your chorus’ melody begins. Play around with it till you’re satisfied with the result.
- Start Incorporating Chords into Your Chorus Melody
Try out a very simple, reiterated chord pattern. There are many chord progressions to use. Keep playing with the chords and melody until something catches your interest. You could then try recording yourself singing and playing. Make sure to keep notes in case you forget it!
Divide Your Song into Sections
- Write the Lyrics of Your First Verse
Concentrate on the question you’ve selected in Step #4. Your first line should be something to grab your listeners’ attention—an intriguing remark, a depiction of the situation, or a question. Consider rephrasing your first line differently or giving more information in your second line.
Avoid moving on too fast; give your listeners enough time to process what’s going on in the song. Also, make sure to provide enough information for the listeners in Verse #1 to understand the chorus when they get there.
- Connect the Verse and the Chorus
Now that you have a verse and chorus, develop a transition between them to ensure a natural flow. You’d need to either lower or raise your verse melody—or to change the final line to smoothly move on to the chorus.
Note that chorus melodies are typically on a higher note than the verses because they’re more intense and emotional. We tend to raise our voices when we get particularly emotional!
- Create the Second Verse and Bridge
In your second verse, pick a new question to answer from the ones you’ve previously formulated. Step #7 is where you’ll go over the lyrics.
You’re almost done with your song now because your second chorus will essentially have the same lyrics and melody as the first chorus. All you need to do now is add a bridge.
The bridge part of your song adds a peak moment of intense emotion, a sudden realization, like an “aha!” kind of moment. You could add two to three lines that give the listener a full grasp of the singer’s situation or sentiment.
Your bridge melody should differ from those of both your verse and chorus. Change the flow of the melody, or perhaps use a chord that hasn’t been used yet. A bridge isn’t necessary, but it does add so much energy into your song.
Record a Draft of Your Song
- Record Your Song
The most integral part of your song could sometimes be a basic guitar/vocal or piano/vocal arrangement. Note that when writing a rock song, you need an “unplugged” edition.
A lot of drums or strings can actually distract your listeners. You should practice both the vocal and instrumental sections till you’re satisfied with them.
When playing or singing, the less you have to concentrate on, the more you can just let go and feel the powerful emotions of the song. Try singing out loud as though you’re directing it to someone.
While recording your rough demo, remember to take breaks between recording sessions to maintain the energy of the music and emotion!
A Final Note
Do you want to become a better songwriter? Keep doing it all the time. Write tons of songs, record them, and master them. We advise you to always have a song or more on the go.
This songwriting template can kickstart your success journey, but the most important ingredient is always: the doing. We hope you have lots of fun utilizing these tips in your next song!