Friday, May 15, 2009

Songwriting Tips - Where To Start?

Probably the most difficult part of writing a song is deciding where to start. There is no one trick that will work for everybody because each person's brain works differently. In other words, a technique that might work great for the guy down the block won't do a thing for you. So, what I am going to do here is give you a few options as far as starting points. Pick the one that you feel most comfortable with. Don't worry, you WILL get a feel for what works for you.

1. The Lyrics - A good starting point for many people is to come up with the words, or the lyrics to the song first. The reason this works so well for so many people is because the lyrical rhythm will tend to dictate where the song itself is going to go. For example, if you write in very short lines of text, your song will flow in that direction and have more room for creativity as far as melody. However, if you write in very long lines of text, this will confine the song to a certain feel based on those long lines. You'll notice many hard rock songs, such as a few AC/DC tunes, have very short lines of text, thus leading to the sound that they have perfected over the years.

2. A Melody - You could try starting with a melody...perhaps a tune that you have going through your head. The advantage of this is that a melody will lock you into a certain rhythm and lyrical form. This is also a disadvantage at the same time as quite often, the form it locks you into doesn't lend itself to easily fitting in lyrics. Many of your best songs are written with the meolody first (such as Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head) because they really lock in the mood of the song. Lyrics by themselves, whether happy or sad, can be expressed many different ways in music. But a tune, if it's a sad tune to begin with, it's very hard to match that tune to cheery lyrics. Your melody, in many cases, will be the most dominating part of the song when constructing it and will almost dictate where all the other pieces fall in place.

3. A Chord Progression - Many pianists and guitarists will start off with a chord progression. The advantage of this is that most chord progressions, because of their generic nature, will leave lots of room for a variety of melodies to be created. The problem is, especially with beginning songwriters, many of these generic progressions also lead to very generic melodies. AC/DC is a perfect example of chord based song creation. Most of their melodies, especially the versus, are very uninspired. Fortunately, in most of their songs, the choruses make up for this flaw. Chord progressions may be one of the easiest ways to write a song but one of the hardest ways to write a really good song because of how open ended they are.

4. A Beat - Many rap, R&B and dance tunes are actually written around a beat or rhythm. This may be one of the most difficult ways to write a tune for most people. However, if a drum beat inspires you and you can relate to it, this may be a viable method to use to create your own songs. If you listen to Queen's "We Will Rock You" it is quite obvious that this tune was written based around that drum beat which has become almost legendary today.

5. A Title - Sometimes, just coming up with a song title is all somebody needs to become inspired. I have written many songs after simply thinking of a title, which ultimately leads to lyrics and then a melody.

These are pretty much the main ways to come up with songs. There are others, such as getting inspired from a movie, a sound you heard, something you saw in the street and so on. However, if you stick to these 4 methods, I think you'll find that you have plenty of ammo to come up with a great tune.

In my next blog post, I'm going to go over some songwriting techniques in detail.

In the meantime, if you want a great resource that will teach you all about songwriting (until I come out with my own book) you might want to check out this site:

If you purchase this book from me, I will offer you my own personal songwriting tips and support for a full 7 days after purchase. That's how much I believe in this product.

See you soon with more.

To YOUR Songwriting Success,

Steven Wagenheim
PS - Check out one of my latest tunes "Panic At The Disco" at YouTube here:


  1. I must say that I actually have the problems you refer to within this article. I cannto write to a beat even though whatever I sing is pretty at times , and I cant write to chord progressions as they sound tooo stiff..I will try and write lyrical lines very short- tip number 1...Please provide more info when you can on the tip number 1


    Lover of great music

  2. Steve is there a minimun or maximum number of measures a verse should be?