Writing Good Songs

I'd like to tell you something about writing good songs.

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I'd like to tell you something about writing good songs.

The Right Moment To Grab Your Guitar And Try To Find Something

Well, I'm quite lazy and before I'm not sure to might find something I don't get up to get my guitar.

It is something you have to feel.

One of the best moments I found out is before falling asleep (especially when you have played with your band this day looking for a chorus for an already existing verse or something like that). It's when you can hear every single instrument clearly. You have to get up and write it down or just sing it to your PC. Don't try to keep it in mind until the next day. Most of the time it's gone.

Another really good moment to pick up ideas is when you wake up. Therefore listen to a record of a band you really like before sleeping. And it has to be the first time!!! you listen to it. Maybe you like the Beatles but you are not aware of their B-Sides stuff and rare songs. Take them! When you wake up try to remember the impression of those songs (and maybe fall back asleep to dream of a melody which is a rare thing).

When you finally get up take your guitar (don't forget the coffee - good for voice) and think of the songs. You can't remember because you heard them for the first time but instead you can find great ideas based on this impression. Try to get a lot, collect them and listen to them all the next day. Decide what you want to keep. Now you can work on these parts or maybe you wrote a whole song but I prefer writing a lot of small parts because they often fit together.

Another moment: Go to your rehearsal room get ready to sing and play and listen to one of your favourite albums (loud) while you sit back and relax drinking a beer. When you're full of inspiration take your guitar and just play. Don't think about where to start. At least one (quite good to brilliant) riff might appear. Or you start singing making your guitar follow your voice and try different chords for the same voice melody.

You see it is all about getting in a mood.

Get Addicted To Your Ideas

Make sure you write one of those songs that are fun to sing. You know, there are songs that make you doubt your singing talent. It's because you can't feel these songs. And then there are songs you get addicted to. When you don't get addicted to your ideas it's probably bad stuff.

Collect Ideas For 1 Song

When you found something you think it's worth to keep of course write it down or record it simply. I used TABs to write down the singing melodies like for example (Beatles):

C d7 a G "I'm looking through you Where did you go?" e|--0-1-5-8-5-8-3-0-3--| (each number to 1 syllable)

The rythm is not important to write down because you just need to remember and it comes back. But just record it is of course the easiest way.

What I actually was trying to say is that once you caught one idea (and recorded/wrote down) leave it for a while and then try to remember without looking at your notes. Keep this as well and compare it to the actual idea. Very often there are interesting differences that help you to vary your song. It's quite the same but maybe you take the first idea for the first and second chorus and the alteration for the third chorus. Or you make two songs out of it.

"Steal" From Good Songs

I learned that nearly everyone who is successful "stole" (intentionally or unconcsiously) parts from other songs. Some obvious some tricky. Take three or four (but not too much) notes and give them a new ending or beginning. Looking for a chorus? Try to find inspiration in a verse. If you need a verse try to vary a theme from a chorus.

Another thing you can do is: Transport the atmosphere of a song you like into your own song (for example: Lenny Kravitz - Again / The Beatles - Free As A Bird).

Examples of inspirated songs

  • Eminem - Lose yourself / The Cure - 10:15 Saturday Night
  • Shakira - Underneath your clothes / The Bangles - Eternal Flame (beginning verse)
  • Metallica - The Unforgiven II / Iron Maiden - Children of the damned (Intro)
  • The Beatles - Come together / Chuck Berry - You can't catch me
  • RHCP - Under the bridge / The Eagles - Desperado (beginning of the song)
  • Offspring - Why don't you get a job / The Beatles - Obladi-Oblada
  • Offspring - Self esteem / Iggy Pop - The passenger
  • Radiohead - Karma police / The Beatles - Sexy Sadie (piano part)

    Hope I inspired you.

  • 132 comments sorted by best / new / date

      kennethdave
      creatin a riff is super easy, but creatin a riff that'll stick in peoples heads need to be felt by the creater....pretty gud stuff....
      Oasis-fanatic
      I understand what you meant by the discovering ideas bit, but i find everybody has their own styles of coming up with ideas. like mine would probably be riding my bike when i'm finding it boring and i start playing things through in my head or riffs and lyrics ive started but not completed. the only thing is by the time i get home its totally changed . its just easiest when youre in autopilot and not really concentrating on what youre doing. but like i said everybodys diferent because you could be on the toilet and come up with an amazing solo. It was good overall and im sure youve influenced people(sorry if ive just spoken a load of c*ap.) 7/10
      skoll 11
      last_biscuit wrote: Oh and I applaude skoll 11 for his/her attempt to write a helpful article for the benefit of other UG users. Cheers mate.
      not her
      xIxKilledxKenny
      another thing i found out that worked pretty well is listening to the radio with volume extremely low. it can't be loud enough for you to know what song it is or else it won't work but like eventually since you can't make out the song you'll start forming your own little riff. it works pretty good for me.
      last_biscuit
      Oh and I applaude skoll 11 for his/her attempt to write a helpful article for the benefit of other UG users. Cheers mate.
      last_biscuit
      metalhead296 wrote: I'm a grammar *****, but i can stand it if it's reasonable, but when it gets to the point to where you actually have to struggle to understand what your trying to read, it's just unbearable. The ideas seemed decent from what i read, but atleast try to improve your grammer to where its not a struggle to read.
      If you're a 'grammar ****' then you surely won't mind me correcting the following mistakes: 1) '...when it gets to the point to where....' you shouldn't use 'to' the second time. 2) '...what your trying to read...' should be '...what you're trying to read...' 3) '...but atleast try to...' at least is two separate words, not 'atleast' 4) '...your grammer to where its not a...' firstly it's 'grammar', secondly it should be 'to a point where' and thirdly 'its' should have the apostrophe. And yes, I did indeed post this as an attempt to try and persuade you not to critiscise someone else's grammar, when you yourself are fairly inept at it and you haven't written an article like it yourself. :p
      marto_fsu
      actually, coffee doesn't have to be drank with "lactose". its called black coffee.
      \m/(--_--)\m/
      Oh yeah and joeward, just write what ever feels right to you (providing it sounds half assed good). Forget worrying about it. And when I write a song, I almost always start with the verse. Bad habit of mine, so I suggest starting with the chorus. Sorry about the double post people.
      \m/(--_--)\m/
      Skoll, I have to hand it to you. You're definitly defending this article with your life. I think you almost have more posts here than everyone else combined...
      joewardnovice
      good article man!!! almost all of ur ideas is what im doing hehe and its definitely true specially about when ur waking up and try to find riffs in the guitar... but i can't understand why i can't make a complete song ehehe... one of my problem is i want to make a great song but i can't even forcing myself... i don't know what to do first, is the intro, solo, verse etc... and also its not easy for me to write a verse or something because im worrying about it... i just want it to be great, beautiful and clear... i really wanted to have my own song... plz reply co-musicians...
      skoll 11
      Pigdestroyer wrote: I learned that nearly everyone who is successful "stole" (intentionally or unconcsiously) parts from other songs No, no they dont.
      Everytime someone doubts this I ask them to give an example of an artist or a band who does not. Maybe you can.
      XAkitAX
      Cool lesson but... coffee (and all caffeine) is bad for your vocal chords. Even honey. Water is best for you.
      Pigdestroyer
      I learned that nearly everyone who is successful "stole" (intentionally or unconcsiously) parts from other songs
      No, no they dont.
      skoll 11
      jakebury wrote: ok ya u forget the best part play ur stuff nto otehrs first so u know u didnt unconciously steal an entire song
      This is the best part? Shit. How could I forget?
      skoll 11
      Chris5lf wrote: C d7 a G "I'm looking through you Where did you go?" e|--0-1-5-8-5-8-3-0-3--| (each number to 1 syllable) I dont get this
      e means the thin e-string and the numbers indicate in which fret you put your finger. Using notes it is: Im(e=0) look(f=1) ing(a=5) through(c=8)... chords change each measure
      jakebury
      ok ya u forget the best part play ur stuff nto otehrs first so u know u didnt unconciously steal an entire song
      walkinbazooka
      Those things seemed fairly obvious and inspire unoriginality. (is that an oxymoron?) Poorly written. I expected much more, bro.
      skoll 11
      silent caution wrote: if you not sure you might find something you dont grab your guitar? im sure most of the players on this site dont put the guitar down and not looking for a reason to pick it up
      No, you got me wrong. Im only looking for ideas when I think its the right moment. Of course I just play and sing some covers or practise.
      silent caution
      if you not sure you might find something you dont grab your guitar? im sure most of the players on this site dont put the guitar down and not looking for a reason to pick it up
      trueguitarhero
      axiom wrote: Orneblad wrote: Please, everybody does not live in GB or USA. And really, who cares about the grammar in a text like this? true and I agree, but eh... I think it is the poeple in the US who use incorrect grammar most of the time. Just speaking in general terms.
      no fair! not all of us suck at grammar! even though, most times, i mess it up too...
      Imp
      Do not downrate articles because they "state the obvious." Not only is it NOT obvious to everyone, it may have a new meaning in a new context and you simply aren't getting it. Good job mate 8/10
      SumFan98
      This article does nothing but state the obvious. But I know exactly what you mean when you tell how you hear good music in your head while your trying to sleep. That's why i keep my acoustic beside my bed.
      IRONMAN_304
      yh ok article i guess, true points which i found out for myself already...many of my better riffs come after i've blasted out some pantera through my speakers
      skoll 11
      Though you dont have to know all that theorotical stuff in order to write good songs, Schwachkopp.
      skoll 11
      Whaaat? I can read chords, I know about scales and I know how to harmonize. Who do you mean? This is about inspiration Schwachkopp
      _angry_again
      blah blah blah...get a chord book, get a scales book, and get a clue about harmonizing. this is b.s, im goin back to bed (while listening to some pantera...good idea about that though). You all have fun argueing about this dumbass shit.
      Chris5lf
      C d7 a G "I'm looking through you Where did you go?" e|--0-1-5-8-5-8-3-0-3--| (each number to 1 syllable) I dont get this
      skoll 11
      advantages of alcohol for voice: Some vine makes the voice supple (good dehydration?) If your voice is thin you should drink some booze and shout a bit around so the next day youll have gained bass. It makes your voice more powerful. Anyway you should always speak up. Water doesnt get me in the mood. Its - boring.
      ClickClick
      Quit bitching about the grammer, this isn't a site about the English language.
      singer_johnny90
      most of the time, what i do is come up with something catchy first. i have to be genuinely inspired. and then i play only that for about 15 minutes, you know to get familiar with it and where it is on the fretboard, then i mess with it. i add hammerons/pulloffs, go to different strings than i would normally, add some open notes, some palm-muting, maybe a slide or something. you know, just play around. then i record it AND write it down. you can never have too many copies of your music. what if something happened to it? anyway, good article . im gonna try the go-to-sleep-listening-to- something-new thing tonight.
      Metal@melody
      Good article! Agree with what he said about writing songs before you sleep and getting atticted to your own songs. If a song you wrote does not come naturally to you its probably not that good. Cheers. Never stop PLaying.
      -kuddel-
      skoll, i liked your article very much although i dont agree with you in your opinion of stealing from other songs... but thanks anyway, it inspired me to write my own songs...thx,bro ( alter, nicht schlecht... mit ein bung wird das supi... *auf die schulter klopf) grammatical correctness sucks!!!!
      nadialeatz_4272
      So you're recommending drinking beer to write a song? ha. I find that comical. who says the people on this website are overage? I know I'm not. =P but whatever.
      Pathogen
      I don't write my songs like that but I guess it will work for others.
      .:.Ziggy.:.
      good article. but beer and coffee dehydrate you and are therefore terrible if you plan on singing
      joewardnovice
      hehe tnx 4 d reply, \m/(--_-\m/... tnx 4 wat u have said and im sure it will be helpful 4 me... and xIxKilledxKenny was right... it really makes some good ideas, coz ur trying to think or to familiarize that sound and u will end up to something better, and that's ur own song or riff... this made me realize that this site is really helpful for d life of musicians lyk us hehe... if anybody here does know about the song "far behind" by candlebox, plz reply... i really like that song and im desperate to make a song sounds good as that... tnx