One Element at a Time

To write a song means to create a melody with its own rhythmic pattern and (often) words to go with it, AND to put it to a sequence of chords that support and enhance the melody and lyrics. When you look at it that way, it sounds so complex.

What we do can be extremely complex or it can also be as simple as a nursery rhyme and anything in between. Take Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, for example. It has all the elements of a song: melody, lyrics, rhythm and chords (also known as harmony), and they all fit together in a coherent manner. What small child hasn’t invented his own simple song using a familiar melody as a starting point?

One saving grace in songwriting is that you don’t have to create all the elements at the same time. You don’t even have to create them in the same year. I had a chord sequence on the back burner for over two years (I recorded myself playing the chords on guitar). There was no melody or lyrics, just a set of chords played in a reggae style.

When I finally wrote some lyrics to those chords, I noticed the reggae beat was not quite right for the lyrics. So I found a variation on a hip hop rhythm that worked better. The point is, I didn’t have to envision it all at once. I could piece it together at my own pace (which is sometimes very slow). Songwriting can be done at any pace. Don’t rush yourself unnecessarily.

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One Response to “One Element at a Time”

  1. Songwriting by Numbers part 1 – Title and Lyrics « Songwright Says:

    […] What do I mean by that? I’m going to write a song as an exercise to illustrate a lot of common songwriting points. I’m going to go through it step by step, one element at a time. […]

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