1. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Song Writing Tips

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Killer300, May 8, 2011.

    Okay, I have no idea where to post this, so I'll just post it here for now I guess.

    Now, I'm trying to write a song. But I discovered something. I have no idea what the difference between writing a song and a poem really are. Besides that, I'm not sure where to start. Tips please?
     
  2. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    While songwriting certainly takes poetic prose, the biggest difference between them is structure. A poem can have one of many structures: Sonnet, Limerick, or even Free Verse, songs typically (though not always) follow this pattern:

    1st Verse
    2nd Verse
    Chorus
    3rd Verse
    Chorus
    Bridge
    Chorus

    Like I said, songs typically follow this pattern, but it might vary in different ways. Sometimes a song might have only one verse before the chorus. Sometimes a song might add a fourth verse after the bridge. Sometimes a song might have a "pre-chorus" before each chorus.

    Here I will assume you know nothing about "Verses" "Choruses" "Bridges" and even "Pre-Choruses"

    Chorus
    The "Chorus" is the heart of the song. It is the main point the song has to offer, which is why we repeat it so much. The melody is very catchy, and it is what we are usually singing after the song is over. Here the lyricist often repeats phrases in whole or in part, emphasizing key aspects. Below are two examples:

    "Hotel California" by the Eagles:
    Let it Be:
    Note how these are the sections you remember most about each song. Notice repetition in both examples of phrases in whole or in part. Also notice how "catchy" these songs are. The melodies and rhythms are very simple compared to their verse counterparts.

    Verses
    If Chorus is the heart of the song, "Verses" are body. Verses tell us the story behind the chorus. With each passing verse, the drama of the story unravels and the chorus has a deeper meaning. Here, repetition is minimal and melodies and rhythms are often slightly more complicated than the chorus. This is where your inner poet goes wild in imagery and use of other poetic devices.

    "Cat's in the Cradle" by Cat Stevens
    (Note: The chorus happens after each verse in this song. I removed them for sake of space.)

    In this example, the story that unravels is the relationship between a father and son. The father is too busy for his son in verses 1 and 2, and he says to his son in the chorus "I don't know [when I'm coming home], but we'll have a good time then." With the first chorus, this statement shows us a busy father that means well. In the second chorus, this statement now shows us a father with empty promises, who after ten years is saying the same thing. At the end of the third verse, the father now realizes his mistake, but the son says to him "I don't know [when I'm coming home], but we'll have a good time then." As the story unravels, the chorus has a deeper and darker meaning.

    Musically, the "Verse" and "Chorus" are very similar. While the melody is often very different, the chords, bassline, and drum part are often very similar with only subtle changes. The "Bridge", however, is often used to break up the monotony of a song. It gives us completely new chords, a new bassline, and a new drum part. Usually, there are no lyrics to the bridge (though if a lyricist adds lyrics to the bridge, they are totally new lyrics), and in its place is often a guitar or keyboard solo. Drum and bass solos are also common.

    Pre-Chorus
    A fourth section worth noting is the "Pre-Chorus" Lyrically, the pre-chorus is very much like the chorus: it has a catchy melody and repeats phrases in whole or in part. The main difference is that the pre-chorus is meant to set up the chorus, and this effect usually lies in the music itself, not really the lyrics. Below is the best example of a pre-chorus I have ever heard, and to get the effect you really have to listen to how this section builds into the chorus:

    "Wonderwall" by Oasis:
    Intro/Outro
    Songs will also sometimes have an intro or an outro. Usually, the intro is based off either the music from the verse or chorus, but just lacks the singer/lyrics. The outro is usually also a verse or chorus without lyrics that fades into the background. The outro can also be a new section like the Bridge, though it is very stagnant and repetitious musically, as compared to the Bridge.

    What I have described here is the most common way songs are structured. Not all songs follow this structure, or the general rules I have given for each section. For example, The verse to "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley is the same every time, much like a chorus. Also, "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin seems to be written "Free Verse", following no standard structure at all. The best thing to do is to take your favorite songs and analyze their structure, and see what interesting ways it might deviate from this standard structure.

    Anyway, hope that helps.
     
  3. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Thanks. This should help a lot.
     
  4. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    Just another tip...unless you're writing country, avoid being terribly literal in your lyrics.

    Also, avoid thinking to rigidly about rhyme scheme. You see so many aspiring lyricists who adhere to a '1-2-3-4 > 1-2-3-4 > 1-2-3-4 > 1-2-3-4 ' (say it out loud, it makes more sense) kind of thing. Where the rhyming structure is so regimented that the song as sung sounds mechanical and doesn't allow for more elegant vocal phrasing.

    I had someone tell me to write the ideas for the song and not worry about the rhyming so much. Just get it down first them craft the rhyming. At times you'll find that not everything has to rhyme every line.
     
  5. teacherayala
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    teacherayala Contributing Member

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    Excellent advice. I was wondering the same myself, not that I'm a songwriter.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm a sometime lyricist and can help you learn the craft, if you want... the best how-tos you'll find on writing lyrics are by sheila davis... she taught a course i took in nyc, at the songwriter's guild [she was sga's president at the time]...

    you can find her books at www.thewritersstore.com or on amazon...

    email me any time, if you want help...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  7. nalysale
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    nalysale New Member

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    I am not a song writer but in my thought inner inspirations greatly helpful to write a song or a poem.Good lyrics too much importent to a song.
     

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