Can you learn songwriting?

The truth about writing songs

Can you learn songwriting?
Image by Bas van Daalen from Pixabay

Can you learn songwriting? Is it something that can be taught and developed, or people born with great songwriting skills?

Most people believe that you need to be born with a talent to write good songs, and they think it's not something you can learn. But this is really just a misconception. And there are many reasons why people tend to believe in it.

The reality is that there are not many traditional music schools or institutes on the planet where you can learn songwriting. And this helps to perpetuate the myth and mystery around songwriting.

"If they don't teach songwriting in traditional schools, then it must be a talent."

But it's not really the case. The truth is, you can learn songwriting too, and you can develop your songwriting skills. It's just a little bit different process than what we used to.

Traditional music schools mostly teach about the fundamentals of music theory - scales, intervals, chords, rhythm values, keys etc. These are the building blocks of music. And of course they teach you how to play a musical instrument.

These are all great skills, and they help you to get a strong foundation if you are serious about music, and you want to "make it" in the music industry. But songwriting requires totally different skills than playing music. This is why there are many great musicians who can't really create good songs, and there are also great songwriters who are not always the best instrumental virtuosos.

So how do people learn the craft of songwriting?

Most successful songwriters didn't just go to a "songwriting school". They learned how to teach themselves. Mostly by listening to music.

The best thing you can do is listen to your favorite songs, and try to figure out what makes them sound good.

Everything you need to know about songwriting is there - on the recordings. Because hundreds of successful songwriters already tried and tested thousands of ideas. This is also something they don't teach you in music schools. A songwriter needs to be creative and they need to always test out new things in order to create new songs.

Of course learning something the traditional way is much different. In a traditional institute, you always have someone who explains everything in detail, which is a huge advantage.

But if you want to learn songwriting by listening to the songs, you need to figure out everything yourself. You need to recognize what makes those songs sound good.

If you want to listen and analyze the songs you like, it might take you months or years to learn from those recordings. You need to write down the chord progressions, the melodies, the rhythms, and then you need to analyze those songs to understand the correlations - so you can figure out what makes those songs sound so good.

On the other hand, you can save a lot of time if someone already figured out those "patterns", and published it in a book or a course. Those courses are made the same way: people transcribed and analyzed the songs to recognize certain patterns, and to understand what makes those songs work.

Because contrary to what most people think, there are certain patterns which are used in songwriting, regardless the genre or the style of music.

If you want to really accelerate your learning speed, there are a handful of songwriting courses where you can learn about songwriting.

Either way, the reality about writing songs is not what most people think. We tend to think that everything is taught the traditional way, in a school or in an institute, and everything else cannot be taught or they only come with talent.

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Dóra Dragos
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