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10 Tips For Songwriting On The Guitar For Beginners
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10 Tips for Songwriting on the Guitar for Beginners

Writing a song isn’t easy, but anybody can learn how to write a song if they have a passion for it. We all have something to say, and we all have the tools to say it. We all have the ability to make emotional connections, and that’s exactly what songs should do, connect with the emotions of anybody who is listening, including the singer of the song.

A painter isn’t born with the skills to paint a masterpiece, but what he is born with is a need to express himself. A painter develops his skills over time and will eventually paint his masterpiece, even if it’s a masterpiece to only him and no one else. It’s still a masterpiece because to him he has reached his peak of expression. Writing songs is no different.

Here are 10 tips for songwriting to help you with your songwriting techniques.

1. Be Spontaneous

A lot of people make the mistake of planning a song writing session. If you do this, you just might find yourself staring at a blank piece of paper. Also, you may not be in the mood by the time you come to sit down to try to write. Don’t plan anything. Pick up your guitar, have a play around and if anything develops, then that’s a result.

2. Keep it Simple

Don’t set out to write a masterpiece straight away. When starting out, keep things simple. Remember, once you are more confident as a song writer, you can always go back to your previous songs and add more if you want.

3. Record Yourself.

Record any idea that you have, whether it is a chord sequence, a phrase, or a whole song. Use a portable recording device (Most cell phones have voice recorders built in). Record any lyrics that come into your head. After a week, play them back and see if you have anything to work with.

4. Strum and Sing a Song you don’t know

We’ve all sat there strumming away to the latest song by our favourite artist. We’ve been familiar with the song and we know the tune, we know the tempo and the rhythm because we’ve heard it before.

Here’s a little tip for when you are struggling to find inspiration for songwriting:

Find a song (with the chords) that you’ve never heard before. Start by just strumming through the chords a few times, and when you’re comfortable with the chords, you can start singing the lyrics. Your own tune will develop and once you’ve found your tune, you can put your own lyrics to it.

Try different tempos and rhythms. Try fingerpicking the chords.

Listen to the original song you started with and you’ll find that you haven’t stolen anything because your song will be a world away from the original.

5. Keep your Ears Open

When you’re out with your friends, or at home with your family, listen carefully to what they are saying. Someone could come out with a quirky phrase or just say anything that sparks your creativity. A lot of great songs are built around just one phrase or even a couple of words. Jot the phrases and words down in a pad or record them into your voice recorder (do this when you’re alone or you may make them paranoid).

6. Explore Your Emotions

If during the course of a day, somebody makes you mad, or upsets you somehow, take yourself away on your own and think about how you are really feeling. Write down a few words that say how you feel. For example; angry or sad. Take a thesaurus and look up the words, and then jot down all of the different words that describe that particular emotion. This can help immensely when you are struggling to find lyrics. Use this technique with all emotions you go through and before long you’ll have a huge advantage when trying to really express yourself.

7. Listen

Try to make time to listen to as many other songwriters as you can. Listen to different styles and genres of music. Take a look on YouTube for singer songwriters (there are thousands on there) who aren’t signed up to a label. You’ll be surprised how much inspiration you can get just by hearing other peoples songs.

8. Write Poetry

There’s going to be times when you just don’t feel like picking your beloved guitar up. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be creative. Try your hand at writing a few lines of poetry. Not only will this get your creative juices flowing, but it’s good practice for when it comes to writing lyrics for your songs. Even if your poems don’t fit any tunes you may have found, you can use just parts of your poems, such as a single sentence, a phrase or just a couple of words that you particularly like.

9. Sing, Sing, and Sing

Do you sing in the shower? I do all the time, and some of my best song ideas have come from doing just that. You don’t have to sing anything specific, just make it up as you go along. Play around with words and have fun with using your full vocal range. When you’re not able to sing out loud (without getting carted off to the nearest institution), then sing in your head. Just make stuff up and see what you come up with. It’s fun.

10. Sometimes less is more

When you are getting frustrated with yourself because maybe your guitar playing don’t seem to be getting any better or your creativity has dried somewhat, just put your guitar away for just a couple of days and take a break. Don’t give up, just take a break. A lot of songwriters need to do this on a regular basis in order to refresh their thoughts and basically recharge their batteries. After a few days, pick your guitar up again and start again. Try something different. Try using a capo on the high frets of your guitar and strum a few chord progressions, or fingerpick some chords. It's suprising how just the slightest change of approach can open up a whole new bag of songwriting ideas.


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