Rule #1: There are no rules

For better or worse, there are no hard and fast rules in songwriting.

Many successful, professional songwriters write the lyrics first or add music to lyrics already written by a co-writer. And many (just as successful) songwriters do it the other way around. They write the lyrics first and then the music. Then there are those who do both at the same time.

I heard an interesting concept from Paul Reisler. The idea is that the music is IN the words and the words are IN the music. Music conveys a mood and informs the writer what sort of lyrics to write. Likewise, when you write lyrics first, they make it clear whether it should be a sad, happy or bittersweet song. The lyric tells you where the conflict is, where the resolution or climax comes, and the music flows with it.

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