How To Song Write On An Acoustic With Just Chords

Have you ever wondered how difficult it is to write an acoustic track of decent stature? Well as long as you can sing and have any hint of imagination, its very, very simple. Well, and I left out that you need to know a few basic chords.

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The only two things that truely define a song are lyrics, which then shape rhythm and the speed of the guitar, and the emotianal feel of the song, which shape the amount of guitar and how loud you play, or how hard you strum. Rock musicians playing electric guitar often play a powerchord section as rhythm and then have someone else overlay what they play with a picking melody. If it's just you and an acoustic guitar, you can't really do this. For a start powerchords are a pain in the ass to play on a meduim gauge acoustic, and they just don't sound as good. Plus your rhythm won't seem distinct, or have that most important factor, personality. Acoustics are very easy to write songs with, and today I'm gonna show you how I would go about writting a song. First, let's take a topic. Er, for the sake of ease, I'll choose women. Now I'll choose a mood: Happy, Summerlike. Okay, now I'm going to list some basic happy sounding chords: G, D, Dsus, A, dm, So, looking at the chords I've thought up in like five seconds, let's see what the most logical switch pattern is: G, dm, D, A, Dsus so, now you have to judge how long you'll play each chord for. Do this by writing your chorus lyrics- I'll do an example for you off the top of my head: To do this, I think of what lyrics sound right against each chord; G: Hey miss summertime Dm: your a poolside angel D: And a bottle o' wine A: Your a devil in the sun Dsus: But the lovely kind This is just random so the fact that its not great is because I've come up with it off the top of my head. To get the strumming pattern, counting sylables of the words is in order- for instance:
Hey Miss Summertime
 1    1    1 1    1
To get the speed of the song just sing the chorus, that's a good indication. So you would have strummed five time on the G for this verse. I instantly stutter the third into the fourth, so don't worry if your playing this now and it sounds a bit off. Now you might of noticed that this chorus seems unfinished. Well sometimes you have to write an unfinished chorus to get it write. the little bit I added is simply a C chord, into a G chord, and the lyrics 'Your my (Slip into the G) Summertime' You use the chord pattern minus the extra bit for your intro outro and riff +chorus if your just a starting guitarist, if you've been playing longer like me you should play around and do maybe some finger picking or something. The verses usually can be written using an alternative chord pattern with the same chords. Here's what I came up with once again, just off the top of my head: G: The sun is beating down D: Your what I'm wanting Dsus: But your not around Dm: Come on baby A: be my summertime You write this exactly like the chorus, using sylibles, and then your set. If you wanna edit your strum pattern if your lyrics are off do it. No one can usually hear if your lyrics are good enough. DO exactly what I've done, even if you use the same chords and have literally just started playing, and I look forward to hearing your uploads on this site. If you do write a song using this method please send me a friends request once you've uploaded it. I might record this one and stick it up so you can hear that this method works, whenever I get chance. Enjoy, Matt Travis

23 comments sorted by best / new / date

    shamsen
    That's actually some great advice there, i'll keep that in mind next time i'm writing ;
    kinahead
    Hey mate I have been wanting to try this for a while, writing a song what you have given me is more fuel to start to do something now. I'm gonna give this a good shot and will send you a copy once it is finished but this is for your ears "only" thank you for your column its so kool dude.....
    guffick
    Good lesson thanx!! I have been playin a tune lately which I am still working on the structure of the chords. I capo 4th fret; The Chords are = D/Dsus2/D// Asus1/Asus1/Asus1// G/G/Dsus2]] the correct name for the Asus1 chord(use 2+3 string;2nd fret
    guffick
    Good lesson thanx!! I have been playin a tune lately which I am still working on the structure of the chords. I capo 7th fret. The Chords are C,Csus2C, Fmaj9,Fsus2,Fmaj9}
    Spartan God36
    This really helped me actually! The only part now that i find hard is choosing chords that sound good together
    xVyKariousx
    I find that writing in the key of E major on an acoustic gives me the most inspiration for an awesome chord progression. There's so many different ways to play different sounding chords that sound beautiful together. E C#m Bsus4 Asus2 is one of my favs.
    RapeMachine4787
    Dm is sad sounding lol but i think i figured out a nice little chord switch pattern thats a lil bit happier than the creator of this lesson... Amin, Emaj, Gmaj, Dmaj. Now take that and see what you can do with it o and it has a kind of melodic sound with a capo on the 3rd fret enjoy
    frusciantezone
    Timothy O. wrote: hey uh just wanted to note something: "Okay, now I'm going to list some basic happy sounding chords: G, D, Dsus, A, dm," you do know that d minor is considered one of the saddest chords right? xD
    Yeah, i thought exactly that =/
    Timothy O.
    hey uh just wanted to note something: "Okay, now I'm going to list some basic happy sounding chords: G, D, Dsus, A, dm ," you do know that d minor is considered one of the saddest chords right? xD
    jared12369
    this is really good advice, but i thought it was unclear if you wrote just D "sus" do you mean 2 or four. Or am i just such a noob that i dont know that when you leave sus with no number it automatically means something else?
    turtlewax
    I found this a little unclear in parts, but it's quite helpful thanks for some great tips
    MattTravis2
    yeah, this is matt here, and this is my new account I'm writing with, I've written 101 lessons so stay listening..
    acdcrocks31194
    this is some good advice, maybe now i can finish that acoustic song i've been failing at writing at for the past month.
    medoda
    good stuff mate. Every now and then somebody just hits the right notes for you and "bam" you get to see things more clearly.
    GORDY brown
    some great advice Matt keep em coming !! sometimes its easier when someone spells it out for you !! nice one !!