Unfortunately, when you put a word like "amazing" in front of ANYTHING; as a result, the fact becomes an opinion.
For example, the end product (the song), will only be determined if it's "amazing" or not by you. There are too many variables on what you can like in a song and dislike another; lyrics and/or instruments, who's making the music, how well is the music written, and billions of other reasons.
Good thing music has no right or wrong ways of doing things.
The "amazing" song we're going to write is mildly music theory-based. (Some elements such as texture and note duration will be determined by the author/composer's discretion.)
This song will be genre-less (meaning; you can take the end result and apply it to any music context.)
Additional note: you're required to know basic music theory, and have FUN doing it! Being concerned about the end result is important, but the process of getting there is half the battle.
Before you start writing a song, you'll need to determine your reason for doing so. Is the song to impress the love of your life? Do you have a political message you're looking to get across? Are you looking to EXPRESS the angst of your teenage years? Or, is it just of pure boredom?
Whatever the purpose you're doing it for; an amazing song, starts in the thoughts of your own mind, feelings follow, and the actions create the song.
*For this song, no lyrics are going to be involved-the notes will express the emotions for the music.
Once your reason is picked. We'll pick what tempo, key signature, time signature, and emotions are needed. The time signature, key signature, tempo (technical aspects) don't matter to the listener than the emotions that come from the song.
3 Emotions: Joy, cheerfulness, happiness
Key Signature: C
Time Signature: 4/4
(The reason is left out because you should be able to fill in what makes you happy, joyful, and cheerful.)
Now that the core elements are picked out; it's time to choose what chords and scales will be used! Picking the scale can be hard-that's where the emotions come into play (bum-diss... *crickets*).
Typically, a "major scale" resembles happiness, while "minor scale" is sad. For this we're going to stick with the happy, major scale.
Using the key signature of C in a major scale; there's no sharp or flats. The notes that make up the C major scale are (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C).
We're going to stick with a total of 3-5 chords in our progression for this song (C Major (C, E, G), F Major (F, A, C), G Major (G, B, D)). The major chord is built from...
...note (1-3-5) in it's scale. You'll probably notice that the F Major and G Major chords have different root notes-those fit into the C Major scale, but, they're opening the chance to use chords that fit outside of the C Major. For example, the F major chord has opened the F Major scale (F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F), allowing you to use the Bb Major chord AFTER the F Major chord; the Bb major chord doesn't belong in the C major scale but now it can be added in the original chord progression (C Major, F Major, Bb Major, and G Major). To save the confusion, we're not going to use such a method.
Once the chord progression has been picked, this now is where we can get more creative! We can decide if the chord progression is used solely by a single instrument or several! Let's use a rhythm guitar, lead guitar, and bass guitar. (Drums do have note pitches, but typically in western music they only serve as the groove (rhythm)/metronome in a song.)
We're going to assign the rhythm guitar to only play the chord progression, lead guitar will play melodies, and bass guitar will play the bass notes. All three instruments will play a homophonic (single) rhythm.
Putting It Together
In the time signature of 4/4 of 16 bars/measures, bars 1, 2, and 4 will play a single chord while the 3rd plays two chords (switching between the three chords):
1[C Major], 2[F Major], 3[C Major + G Major], 4[G Major], 5[C Major], 6[F Major], 7[C Major + F Major], 8[G Major], 9[C Major], 10[F Major], 11[F Major + G Major], 12[G Major], 13[C Major], 14[F Major], 15[F Major + C Major], 16[G Major]
We'll be using quarter chords/notes for the groove (rhythm) with different accents on each beats to keep a fresh variation, and preventing any from repeating.
The groove's beats will be as follows: bar 1 [Strong, weak, medium, weak], bar 2 [Strong, miss, medium, weak], bar 3 [(Chord 1)Strong, miss, (Chord 2)Strong, medium], bar 4 [medium, weak, medium, Strong], and repeat of this pattern for every 4 bars.
Sticking to the same chord progression and groove above:
The bass guitar will play the third note of every chord on bars 1-8; switching to the fifth note of every chord on bars 9-16.
For most people this part can be the hardest, or easiest. We're going keep it simple-this doesn't imply it's easy, either; in fact, it's usually vice-versa.
The melody can be composed of whole notes to 16th notes and fit into our quarter note rhythm. Everyone has different methods of writing the melody-today, we'll pick a melody from one of my two most common methods:
Method 1: "Creating A Melody From A Scale"
Our melody will consist of 8th notes (eight notes played in each bar), taken from the the C major scale. Our melody will look like this (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C)... Just kidding, that would be boring.
Instead, we're going to match the groove and it's accents while shortening the variety of notes from the scale: bar 1 (C+C, G+G, E+E, G+G), bar 2 (F+F, miss, A+A, C+C), bar 3 (C+C, miss, G+G, G+D), bar 4 (B+B, D+D, B+B, G+G)... etc. Rinse and repeat this pattern, while mixing up the chords in bar 3 every time.
*The "+" represents alternate picking.
Method 2: "Changing An Already Existing Melody"
Many people will look down upon this method, because you're "changing" an already existing melody and changing it up to fit your song. There's entire controversy about this in the music world... I'm letting you know the argument is stupid and it's perfectly ethical (the legal matter depends on your reason for doing it and using it, even the source of where you're getting the melody can be inaccurate). Musicians have been taking ideas from each other for centuries (look this up if you don't believe me); this is how we grow by "imitating, internalizing, and innovating".
*(The legal-side of things can be a slippery-slope that is played in a mine-field with trouble in any spot).
Anyways, the melody we're going to change is the riff from Kalmah's "They Will Return" off the album "They Will Return," at the start of the song. (We're going to transpose the notes into our key signature.) The riff/melody goes like this:
bar 1 [C+C,C+C,E+E,C+C)
bar 2 (C+C,C+C,G+G,C+C)
bar 3 (C+C,E+E,C+C,G+G)
bar 4 (E+E,C+C,F+F,G+G)
... This was the transposed melody of "They Will Return" - the original riff/melody was in a drop-tuning that's typically used in metal bands consisting of the root note being played open, while the third and fifth were accented on the snare drum up until the drum fill on bar 4. Notice this turned out slightly different from the melody of method 1, it manages to fit the 8th notes we've been talking about.
We've just built the first and second verses to our song! Congratulations!
Stay tuned for Part 2!
*I do not encourage or discourage the use of personally enhancing one's own creativity through various means depending from, or within, certain techniques that can/cannot be judged by the context of situation and intended purpose of use.
**This document, and everything within, is intended for educational purposes.
About the Author:Matthew Delano is a musician, songwriter, and teaches guitar lessons in Syracuse, NY. His music is a boiling pot of folk music to death metal. Go check out Matthew's teaching site for more information about his teaching.