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catchy melody
chord progression
How To Be A Songwriter
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How to Be A Songwriter

Standing in a corner smoking a cigarette, and wearing a leather jacket does not make you a songwriter. In the same way, getting shot in the chest five times, does not make you a rapper. When people think about songwriters, they think about the things that make them famous, but what really goes into making a master songwriter? Because there is a certain mystery around songwriters, people tend to down play the skill level that is placed into thier music. I believe that what truly makes a great songwriter, is knowing what goes into a great song.

Accordingly, having the knowledge of how to write an excellent harmony is one of the first steps to being a songwriter. When I write a song, I generally pick up a guitar, or maybe start off on a piano. Pretty much anything that you can play a few chords on, would be sufficient to write a harmony, or accompanyment to your main melody. Even back up vocals can be considered harmony. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys was considered a genious, as he had the ability to hold multiple harmonies in his mind before setting out to record, most of which ended up being vocal harmonies on the Beach Boys cds.

Next, in order to know what goes into a great song, you should be able to write a catchy melody. If you've found a good chord progression, or something that you feel you can add on to, one way to write a melody is to hum over what you have written already. The song "Paint It Black" by The Rolling Stones has some portions of the main melody that are simply hummed. No lyrics, just humming. If there's a part of a song that can get stuck in your head without you needing to know the words, that is the trademark of an excellent melody.

That's not to say that lyrics aren't important to knowing what makes up an excellent song. Can you imagine if every song you ever loved was just made up of wordless gutteral sounds? For some reason, I don't think the music would carry the same kind of emotional weight. I know that "Under The Bridge" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers was originally written as a poem. Because both music and poetry can stand well on their own independently, combining them both in a song strengthens the emotional level of your music.

What it all boils down to, is that great songwriters don't just have an air of mystery, they have skill. Knowing song structure, things like harmony, lyrics, and melody, are all part of being a great songwriter. These are skills that are developed over time and with years and years of practice. Anyone can be a great songwriter, all it takes it dedication, practice, and knowing what goes into a great song.


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