HOW TO WRITE A SONG - One simple question with a zillion answers. Many, if not most of them, unhelpful.
However, the video above, from Jason Blume (one of the few songwriters to ever achieve the distinction of having his songs on Billboard’s Pop, R&B, and Country charts - - all at the same time - with his songs recorded by pop superstars Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, and Jesse McCartney as well as country stars including Collin Raye, the Oak Ridge Boys and John Berry) shows that there ARE organized ways to approach songwriting and that YOU can learn how to do it successfully!
So, we put in a LOT of research to find the very best, useful info about songwriting - and we found it!
Here you'll find excellent free tips on how to write a song, a free online chord dictionary [for strings AND keys], a free online rhyming dictionary and thesaurus - even advice on the best songwriting software [as songwriters, we've tested, own and use these.]
Plus GREAT books and videos by WORKING professionals, as we see above.
This section is organized around the process of writing a song as it usually occurs. Though, [as you'll read on the Jimmy Webb page, linked below] there is no hard-and-fast 'rule' governing this.
However, when we analyze how to write a song: we observe that it progresses through each of the following phases, if not necessarily in this exact order:
- THE INCEPTION OF THE SONG - THE FIRST GLIMMER OF AN IDEA THAT SOMETHING IS THERE TO BE WRITTEN ABOUT
- TESTING THESE IDEAS and EXPANDING THEM
- PUTTING THEM INTO WORDS THAT RHYME - Lyrics - [By the way, this also includes using a rhyming dictionary and a thesaurus, [More on this below, including links to the nicest online rhyming dictionary and thesaurus we've seen.]
- GENERATING A GREAT MELODY and CHORDS AROUND THE LYRIC, [These three, melody, chords and lyrics are, of course, quite "interactive"] And to help you with this, to start off, we have links to some frankly awesome online chord dictionaries for keys and stringed instruments.
- CHOOSING WHICH INSTRUMENTS IN WHICH INSTRUMENT FAMILIES ARE TO PLAY THE SONG
- RECORDING THE SONG, and then,
- GETTING MUSIC ONLINE, or distributed through other channels...
There!s a LOT to knowing how to write a song! But all info is available here for you.
YOU can use all these tools to make your songwriting more successful - whatever level of songwriter you are.
But first, let's go over some points which precede even these:
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A PROVIDER OF IDEAS ON HOW TO WRITE A SONG:
Now, just how did we decide who [or what] to include as a referral on this site, and who [or what] to discard?
Well, we followed this common sense principle:
If you didn't know how to fix a car and you wanted to find out the correct information about fixing it, who would you ask? The guy with the old clunker that keeps breaking down? or the guy who fixes Formula 1's that generally win races?
Now, the ACTUAL techniques on how to write a song, DO exist and they CAN be taught. So, who would you want to learn how to write a song from? Obviously, it would be somebody that you know can DO IT because he or she's got the track record!
That is the basic standard we used in our selection of what to put on this site - what's this person's ACTUAL track record?
ANOTHER TIP ON HOW TO WRITE A SONG: BE SKEPTICAL OF "SONGWRITING SECRETS" - A TRUE PRO DOESN'T NEED TO KEEP THEM.
My experience generally has been that the more successful someone is, the more "transparent" he is. That is to say, he or she is MORE WILLING TO SHARE KNOWLEDGE to help OTHERS achieve success.
So, labeling something a 'secret' is really just meant to hide insecurity or just plain lack of knowledge or skill. It can very often mess up the person who tries to use it, or cause a lot of wasted time or worse, waste of money.
A true pro is completely willing to have many others of his professional caliber existing in his field. He or she is secure enough in his or her own expertise to not feel threatened by the ability and success of another.
Therefore, he or she does not look upon others working in his art as 'competition' or 'a threat'.
Read the memoirs of the truly succesful person in any field and you will generally encounter this attitude of mutual respect.
Why? Well, as far as songwriting goes, wouldn't you would want the REST OF THE FIELD and THE AUDIENCE to be as highly aware as possible?
As one gets more involved in songwriting [or in any other art or craft, for that matter] one soon realizes this fact; If everyone clasped every useful discovery to himself as a "trade secret", then eventually the art or craft would have NO PRACTITIONERS due to lack of distributed knowledge and NO AUDIENCE due to lack of distributed ideas and understanding!
A good songwriter WANTS AND NEEDS to be involved in an art fertile with everybody's new ideas and techniques, and an equally informed audience that really 'gets it'. You will find this again and again in the material which is referenced on this site.
There is really not much of a risk in trying to apply a successful person's advice. The odds are quite low that they would be attempting to mislead you. After all, the successful person is ALSO known by the successes of HIS OR HER STUDENTS!
ANOTHER POINT REGARDING SONGWRITING TIPS, which is: WHAT TO DO IF A PARTICULAR SONGWRITING TIP "DOESN'T WORK":
Supposing you try someone's songwriting technique and it doesn't work for you? - Well, FIRST make ABSOLUTELY SURE you have it right. And if it still doesn't work - find another songwriting technique. There are almost as many techniques in songwriting as there are songwriters. Keep looking and you will surely find the system which works for YOU.
In the following sections, we have included some advice on finding a comfortable technique [with a comment on using rhyming dictionaries which may surprise you] from one of the most successful songwriters ever -
Jimmy Webb, the writer of "MACARTHUR PARK", on How To Write A Song, and - using a rhyming dictionary and a thesaurus... Now in subsequent pages, we will look at some INDUSTRY-PROVEN ideas and techniques on how to write a song - collected from the best sources available - with all of the relevant links you need to follow them up.
And in this, I've kept the standard of inexpensiveness whenever possible and "bang for the buck" always.
Here are a few links to start with:
When you are trying to work out how to write a song on some difficult topic, and you need "that word" in a snap
try this FREE online rhyming dictionary and thesaurus. It not only gives you rhymes, but also SYNONYMS, ANTONYMS, SIMILAR SOUNDING WORDS ['near rhymes'] QUOTATIONS and more. So this is way more than just a thesaurus. It does the job VERY well - and you can't beat the price!
Now: some great tools for the MUSIC end -
This FREE online chord dictionary for the guitar is excellent and tremendously useful. The grid diagram, as you will see, is very attractive and readable and the response time is instantaneous. It has hundreds of chords in every form. You can see the chords in multiple positions up the neck, read the chord in tabulature. And even HEAR the chord, arpeggiated [played one note at a time] when you press the "MIDI" button. Guitarists, you will LOVE this site!
Also; This site also has an online chord dictionary for the KEYBOARD - with the same good quality graphics - attractive and readable, with an instantaneous response time. EVERY single type of chord is displayed, and of course, it's FREE. Not as many features as the guitar chord finder, but still quite useful.
Oh, yes There is also a FOUR-STRINGED INSTRUMENT online chord dictionary on this same site with amazing functionality - SEVEN different instruments - mandolin, ukelele, banjo, PIPA, bouzouki, BASS and BALALAIKA!! - EACH string can be independently tuned to any note for every instrument [so you can work out your chords for alternate tunings in a snap] and starting position is selectable on fifteen frets! Plus more features! And, if you're a bluegrass musician and play five-string banjo, you still should have this site bookmarked, as you can get tons of ideas for working out arrangements, plus cross-check your voicings BETWEEN the banjo, mandolin and guitar, which will give your band a definite edge over those that don't pay attention to this aspect. Well, there's the overview of "how to write a song". - I do hope that this information is of use to you in your songwriting!
Let's MAKE MUSIC BETTER![Return to the Home Page]
And the accolades continue: David Grisman [above] uses "The Original" Cowling System:
DOWNLOAD "THE ORIGINAL COWLING SYSTEM©" -- PDF "E-BOOK" - 70 pages [$22.50 via PAYPAL secure]
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And still more [actual and unsolicited] rave reviews for "The Original" Cowling System:
FROM A VIOLINIST:
"The Cowling System © is a set of 12 exercises designed to increase the flexibility and strength of the hand, wrist, and fingers.
"I bought the course in 1978 and have found them to be invaluable.
"I've kept them all these years and still use them to warm up with before playing."
~ Richard Barton posted on VIOLINIST.COM
FROM A BASS PLAYER:
?"My fingers actually DO what my brain tells them to do, WITHOUT getting confused."
~ Anthony Jerome Smith, 35-year veteran bass player.
FROM A PIANIST:
"In 1976, my teacher gave me his copy of all the exercises, whereupon I made xeroxed pages to put in a binder.
"My teacher was amazed at my progress that in a year I could play, for example, the prelude #17 of Chopin!
~ "RPN58" (from a pianists' discussion board in England, 2006)
FROM A GUITARIST:
"I was introduced to the Cowling System © in the 1980's by a violinist in his seventies, who had amazing dexterity on his instrument for HIS age.
"Through the use of the COWLING SYSTEM ©, I went from "amateur" to an "A" level in music in a very short number of years.
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FROM A VIOLINIST:
"I must say I am highly delighted with the way my fingering has improved since I commenced your hand strengthening exercises.
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~ "THE VIOLINIST" Magazine, December, 1924
I'd love to see YOUR testimonial on this list! If you really do "THE ORIGINAL" COWLING SYSTEM © of Hand Strengthening Exercises", you CAN master and truly enjoy your music!