Many of us are musicians and songwriters…..we are composers and lyricists. Songs are created when lyrics, melody and harmony come together….great songs result when the content of all of those 3 work together to communicate emotions. Songs can be born from any starting point….what comes first….the music or the lyrics? It can be lyrics, melody or harmony that start bringing your song into the world. Today we are starting with chords and chord progressions…..also know as harmony. Give these steps a shot if you need an extra little boost to bring your song to life….
10 Steps to Writing a Song from a Chord Progression:
1. Listen to your chord progression. — record it, play it, feel it
2. What does it make you feel? — write down the emotions you feel. Really describe what it feels like
3. Write down as many situations that you can imagine that would cause the emotion from Step 2. — What could happen that would make you feel that way? Write down anything that comes to mind until you have to try to think of something….then think of 1 more.
4. Choose the most interesting and original idea from Step 3 and free write about what you or the character is feeling about the situation. Do not edit. This is writing down any ideas that flow from your mind. Do this for 5 minutes.
5. Underline, select, write down or circle phrases and words from Step 4 that stand out as great titles lines, or ideas.
6. Use lines from Step 5 to write a chorus. — The Chorus is the emotional center and the Big ‘Why’ of the song.
7. Set the chorus lyrics to the chord progression.
8. Write the first verse using a contrasting rhyme scheme and number of lines to the chorus. — The First Verse should set up, describe and establish the Who, When and Where of your song. Set it to music. The verse melody is usually lower and contrasts to the chorus melody.
9. Write the second verse and set to music — Second Verse can describe how we got to where we are now. The melody here is the same as verse 1.
10. Write a bridge and set to music — your bridge can describe or explain, ‘ where do we go from here? Or How do we get there?’ The bridge is usually higher than the chorus and contrasts with the verse and chorus.
These steps are very simplified, but I hope they inspire you to get writing. Many times all it takes to get unstuck is to simply begin. Starting from a chord progression is a very efficient way to start. Need a chord progression that works? Use one from a hit song. You can’t copyright a chord progression, and millions of hit songs use the same progressions….so start with one that works. Just make sure your melody doesn’t copy other songs.