If you are a songwriter that is trying to write for the commercial market, there are some qualities or traits that your songs should have. I know some of you do not want to write with ‘formulas’ but there really is a reason this stuff works. It is not so much a formula, but more of a framework. So next time you write a song, try to incorporate these things into your tune….
1. The Verses should have the same melody, different lyrics – Too many writers don’t take the time to match their verses melodically. This is not boring to the listener, in fact it helps them connect with the song.
2. Your Choruses should have the same melody and same lyrics – Many writers try to be ‘creative’ and change up the lyrics in the choruses. This only confuses the listener, they want to know the words and sing along every time the chorus comes around
3. Your verse melody should be lower than your chorus. – Song energy should build as the song progresses. Start your verses as the floor and work up into the chorus
4. The Verses should have more descriptive and imagery words – Your first verse should help establish the Who, When and Where of your song. The second verse should expand the story
5. Your Chorus should contain the Emotional words – Your chorus is the Why of the song. Here is where you explain the emotions behind the ideas or situations you describe in your verses. It puts both the emotion and concrete details into context.
6. The Bridge is the highest energy part of your song. – As mentioned above, your song should build energy as it progresses, so make sure your bridge is a high energy part of the song
7. The Bridge should be different than the verses and choruses – Build in contrast between the other sections. The bridge is the ‘What happens next’, ‘Where do we go from here’ part of the song
8. Contrast your note lengths between sections – Contrast is very important between song sections. If you have long notes in the verse, try shorter notes in your chorus, or vice versa. If you get stuck on what to do in the next section, look at what you have already done and do the opposite. Listeners like contrast, it keeps them listening.
9. Don’t get too creative with your chord progressions. – People like to listen to things that are 80% familiar and 20% original. By all means if it sounds cool, do it, but there is a reason that many common chord progressions are used over and over. They work! Feel free to take chord progressions from songs you love. You can’t copyright chord progressions….Just make sure your words and melody aren’t ripped off. This is a great way to expand your musical vocabulary and start some sweet songs.
10. Prosody – Does what your lyrics are saying match what is happening in the music?
I hope these 10 things give you a little kickstart on your next song. Let me know if you have questions or comments below….