Hi all,

I've been writing songs for a very long time (knocked out my 1st one in 1977) and something I've never been able to do well is write instrumental music. Just about all my songs have instrumental breaks for keyboard or guitar solos, but that's just to add some variety and interest before returning to the lyrical song structure. About 95% of my music has lyrics and to me that's what makes the song actually about something, but to be honest...at this point I'm completely sick of writing lyrics and singing!

I want to take my songwriting in a new direction without lyrics/vocals and was wondering if those out there who like to write instrumental music can give some tips on how you approach a composition. The challenge is how to make a piece actually "say something" without lyrics to define what that something is. The worst thing about a poorly composed instrumental piece is when it falls into the trap of too much repetition...in those cases it can sound just like a song the vocalist forget to sing

I've taken songwriting detours before where I've written instrumental classical music forms (minuets, sonatas, fantasias, fugues, etc) and those are fun, but they don't actually say anything other than, "Hi, I'm a minuet/sonata/fantasia/fugue". I did try something new last year and had some success writing instrumental doom music as the band, "WytchCrypt"...I wrote 10 pieces which are all variations of a similar theme (they're all on youtube and here's one of my faves:
But, again, each piece doesn't really "say anything" unique to me other than "Hi, I'm doom metal".

Am I expecting too much from instrumental songwriting? Any ideas?

"Music is the only religion that delivers the goods" - Frank Zappa
Last edited by dennis.1960 at Sep 16, 2015,
The biggest thing to remember about writing instrumental music is that it needs a strong melody just like if it had a vocal on top. You can have one instrument carry that melody or a lot of instruments take turns but there needs to be a melody to follow and it needs to be really well crafted, because there's no lyric to support it.

Another part of "saying something" with the music is that you need to learn the craft of how different chords and melodies will manipulate emotions to give off the feel that you want. It's not something you can explain fully overnight but a good songwriting or music theory teacher can teach you it over the long term.

Hope that helps.