Hi! I have been composing music in the last 4 years. It has mainly been more advanced generes like prog, metal, fusion etc. Im actually quite happy of my progress and results within theese styles. It always involves non diatonic chord progresions/ melodies and often odd rythms. Same goes for lyrics. Often very complicated "not everyday" stuff.
In the last year or so, ive been listening to alot of folk/ singersongwriter music (Dylan etc.) I really admire simpeler stuff now and i really want to develop my own songs in this type of genere. The problem is that i find it impossible. I got all the techniuqe to play this kind of music, but i just cant seem to write any myself. And trust me, i have tried countless times with no results. I just simply cant make a 4 chord diatonic song that dosent sound extremely boring or like someghing ive heard before. All theese folk/singersongwriter guys has plenty of songs in this formula, and they all sound different and intresting. I can try to make something simple but it always ends up with nothing or a wierd non-diatonic thing that is complicated. Has anyone else been in my situation before? Any tips?
You may find learning about pure melody and phrasing structure useful. Lot of the interest comes from a mix of phrasing and lyrics to suit phrasing.

cheers, Jerry
Write a good melody, then put 3 or four chords over it. If the melody goes outside the chords, change the 'out' notes to diatonic. Start there. Most of the differences you hear in these peoples' music is rhythmic diversity and a unique voice that sings a simple melody.
Yeah happened to me, i just went over to a smooth jazz type of sound and tried removing all the 7's and 6's i played. Play around with the dynamics on the bass notes of a chord or viversa.
As mentioned I think it is melody and groove. It is tough writing good simple stuff. Writing a great melody isn't easy. I can't think of any "way" or method. It's like asking "how do I come up with a great idea?" Idk, ideas come to people, they occur to us. All you can really do is listen to stuff, and practice. Try taking a simple popular progression, and loop it until you come up with a melody you like. The rhythm you choose on guitar will be an important factor as well. Try different ones. Be honest and go with feeling. Don't try to get it right right away necessarily, just ramble until you find something you love. It's tough though. A lot of people look down on simple music because they think simple is easy, but good is tough. It's like minimalist design. It's simple, but that doesn't mean it's easy.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Nov 10, 2014,
Quote by Usernames sucks
All theese folk/singersongwriter guys has plenty of songs in this formula, and they all sound different and intresting.

Not really. At least not what I've heard. It's always strumming a simple pattern with open chords like I - vi - IV - V or I - IV - V and singing some simple melody on that.
well your are learning that "simple" songs are not so simple..to make a song come alive it HAS to be real to YOU .. not sure who you are listening to-but you say you are "trying" to create simple songs..i feel that approach is what is stopping you..look into you own life experience and write about it .. pen & paper .. your feelings about it..good bad / happy sad..keep at it .. at some point a lyric line may appear very clearly..something real that you really know about..putting a chord pattern will be found to also..

some songs that I have been highly influenced by..In My Life /Lennon..Slip Sliding Away/Simon..its not the chord progressions that make the songs its the lyrics..they are not simple they are real..

point..just because a song has only 4 or 5 chords does not make it simple..it is how those chords are used...the blues has only 3 chords in many songs..yet I have found many players cannot play the blues to save their lives...they don't feel it..its not real for them..

play well

^ Agreed. A skilled composer can do more with 3 chords than a poor one can do with 50. Learning part writing taught me that, lol.

I used to think my old songs were really complex and shit because they had a lot of chords and stuff. Well, they were still VERY amateurish with horrible voice leading that went nowhere, etc. Also, I had no idea what an inversion is.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Nov 11, 2014,
Hi Username Sucks, there are a lot of way you can start writing a song. I guess up till now u were 'writing' your songs with guitar in you hands, coming up with riffs and licks and so on.
Try to write the lyrics first now and than just sit down with it and read it out for yourself. When we speak we tend to vocalize our words and put stresses on different words in sentence and a good melody will usually do that as well. it will point out the important words that tells the story or what ever you're trying to say with your song.
Dont stick with only one type of songwriting. I once read that Elton John never wrote a song any other way than by having the lyrics first.
And like other have said, you have to have something to say.
And one more thing. Go to youtube and look for Pat Pattison, he's the songwriting professor at Berklee.