Tips On Writing Song

This article will explain tips needed to write lyrics publishers are interested in. It will explain the various patterns used in popular music today as well as the tried and true formulas.

Ultimate Guitar
If you are like most songwriters you came to lyric writing through the gateway of poetry. After all, a song is just a poem set to music, right? Wrong! Although poetry and lyric writing share similar aspects they each have their own separate and unique style. So, with that in mind let's take a look at some lyric writing techniques and hopefully gain a basic understanding of the craft. First, let's take a look at basic song structure and how a song is written. The first song structure we will look at is the verse/chorus/verse format. This is the easiest and most basic song structure, with both verses played once and the chorus repeated at least three times. The next song structure is the verse/chorus/verse/bridge. This is the same as the verse/chorus/format but with a bridge added that is rhythmically and lyrically different to add that extra punch. Although there are other song structures these two dominate today's popular music. Now that we have an understanding of the most popular song structures let's take a look at the internal structure of the verse, chorus and bridge. Many songwriters use a guitar or piano and write the lyrics in conjunction with the music. However, if you are not a musician or you are away from your instrument you can still write rhythmic lyrics. The key is to use the same rhyming and syllable pattern in each verse. The chorus can use a different pattern because it contains the hook. The hook is the part of a song people will remember. Think about it, when you hear a great song for the first time what do you walk away humming? The chorus. Why, because it contains the hook. But we'll discuss the hook later right now let's examine the verse. Every song has approximately three minutes to tell a story, and each line has to be precise and to the point. So, time and space limitations combined with the fact that the lyrics have to be set to music are precisely why most writers use the tried and true formula. There are three popular rhyming patterns. The first one is the easiest. It looks like this A/A/A/A now what does that mean? Every line rhymes with itself. Example: The big fat dog/ sat on a log/He looked like a slob/ but that's his job./ O.K., I won't win a Grammy for these lyrics but you get the idea. This kind of rhyming pattern is boring and predictable, but writers still use it. The second rhyming pattern is the A/B/A/B this pattern rhymes every other line. Example: /I've seen my life/ through the pages of time/and though I've had strife/Well it's truly divine./ The third pattern rhymes the second and fourth lines. It looks like this A/B/C/B Example: / Jessie Franklin was a young man / in the spring of forty one./ He was called to serve his country/through the barrel of a gun./ These rhyming patterns are used throughout all of today's popular music. Listen to your favorite CD and see if you can identify some of these them. The next consideration when writing lyrics is the number of syllables you use. Each verse should have the same amount of syllables. For example, if the first line has eight syllables, the second and third line have seven and the fourth eight. Then your second verse should have exactly the same number of syllables in each line as the first. There are no hard and fast rules as to how many syllables you use in each line, but they should be the same in each verse. Now that we have covered song structure, lyric structure and syllable structure let's look at the chorus and the bridge. As I stated earlier the chorus contains the hook. The hook is the part of the song that has a catchy phrase and melody. The hook of a chorus should be repeated more than once throughout the chorus and say something other than the ordinary. Listening to your favorite songs on the radio will teach you more about the hook line than any article on the subject. If you choose to use a bridge it should be totally different from the chorus and verse in both rhyme and rhythm. I have given you a basic overview on songwriting, but like anything else rules are made to be broken. After you have written a song or two experiment within the rules, be creative and have fun. After all, if it isn't fun why do it? Life is hard enough without adding more to it. But, if you find yourself enjoying the craft of songwriting then go to your local library and check out some books on the subject. Learn all you can. Who knows maybe you'll write the next number one hit? -PageWise

19 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Not bad, I needed a few tips ( I've been writing ) a tad bit general but not bad.
    Im glad someone came foreward with some advice or at least some sort of guideline to follow. I dont know why people would bash this article. I agree that music is what you feel and there should be no right or wrong way to write it; however, being a beginner myself, I have never written song lyrics before. Ive been trying and trying but cant get it right. I think that this article is going to give me a good idea on the basic blue print on songwriting. Even though there is no right or wrong way, musicians need an inspiration. Whether it is what lyrics to put in a song, or how to piece the lyrics together to form a song. And this article does just that.
    HAHAHAHAHAHA you people aren't very smart. "OOoo OO...right what you feel like writing ooo ur not righting for anyone else but yourself...." Well that's cool if you live a hole in the ground in Iraq. I'd be surprised to know that you and your "awesome band" that hasn't posted any of your great lyrics sing in your basement for simply you own pleasure and for nothing else. NO! It's supposed to sound good for you and other people to hear. Unless your Jimmy Paige or John Lennon, you need some sort of guideline to get you going. This article helped me; I book-marked the page, thanks for giving me a start. And all you great musicians who need no structure to your songs, GO AHEAD POST THEM IF YOU'RE SO GOOD! what now? your turn.
    Some of you guys should put up or shut up. The article was a good guide line. You cant break the rules if you dont know them. Now lets hear these master pieces that "dont follow a rule". Pozers.
    When I do write I only write when something comes to me or I get inspiration from something around me or what im doing/listening to. I don't just sit and force myself to make up passionless lyrics.
    Davidian by Machine head is 4:56 long, and has just two substantial verses, no chorus. but listen to it, it works n they know what theyre doing. im the right hand guitarist in me band and i like to write the lyrics for or with my vocalist. (right hand thing is where me n lefty dont play lead n rhythme with each other so much, more like how korn coordinate the guitars, using them together as one riff ect.)
    to answer TheFourHorseman, this is partly due to the influence of punk, which is notorious for it's short songs, mainly because of their to-the-pointedness. another possibility is because the songwriter's are just getting lazier. and another is that people are getting too impatient to listen to long songs, either because we've gotten sick of them, or just because we're an impatient people who can't wait for the next song on the radio. no matter how you look at it i agree with you, songs need to be longer if you want longer songs check out up-and-coming metal band Stutterfly who's keeping the long-song tradition alive.
    I agree with thenephilim, you make music for yourselves, not for anybody else. All music is good besides Techno and Pop.....
    It was an OK article, but there should be no rules on how to write music. Write what YOU (and your band) like(s), and if you like it, that's all that matters. I don't have a problem with short songs if they are fast or if it suits them, but it would be cool to hear some new long songs. Also, darkness solos are really good. Peace
    The Darkness is pretty cool..... And UG stranger are right. There solos is good.
    The fact that u disagreed with the Rules that u had spent the article talking about sums up the abismal atempt that this cleary is
    UG Stranger is right. You write what you feel, not what is written in the 'How to write music' manual. Youre not going to get anywhere if you just copy the same old formula (adopted by popstars who dont play thier own instruments, nor write thier own music).
    Do you want the songs to be even longer? Are you fukkin stupid?
    I'm half-wondering where all the long songs went.. Remeber back in the 80's with those 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 minute long songs? -.o Every new song seems to have boiled down to 2 or 3 minutes, and with a rare 4 minute possibly at the end of a CD. The one song that comes to mind is Master of Puppets. Its about 9 minutes long, and it follows a different pattern. It goes Verse1:1/Chorus1:1/Chorus1:2/Verse2:1/Chorus2:1/Chorus2:2/In strumental Bridge/Interlude/Bridge/Solo/Verse3:1/Verse3:1/Verse3:2
    this is a very good article. i give it five stars. i knew most all of these tips. but i didnt know how to put them in words. i have been writing many lyrics and songs this year (somewhere around 30) and by using some of these theorys to song writing. i have come out with some really good ones. i wrote a song for the girl that i like and peolpe say it is the best song that i have ever written. I think lyric writing is a lot easier to do than actuall music writing and i have a bad habit of writing the lyric before doing the actuall music. most people think writing lyrics are hard to do (especially rhyming) but to me it doesnt seem hard at all. it is really easy for me to not only pull out not just a lyric but a really good one. the only thing that i struggle with is putting music to it. generally, you are supposed to write the music and then the lyric but i dont do that much. i am try ing to though, it is a lot easier afterwards. thank you i will tell my friends who are dying for tips on songwiting about this article.