How to Write a Song...

by REA MUSIC about a year ago in how to

Using a Melodic Idea

Something I get asked as a songwriter ALL the time is: 'How do you write a song?!' Non-writers are FASCINATED by this process, but writers also ask me this question a lot, because there's always something we can be sharing and learning from one another. Something I do regularly is breakdown the latest pop song I love, and see what the chord progressions are... listen to a review of a track to see how it was made (e.g. Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You" supersmash writing process was SO easy, but still had a process!) and it MAJORLY impacts my writing. You’ll also hopefully see that writing isn’t as daunting as it sometimes seems; it can actually be fun and easy!

There's also LOADS of literature/videos out there to help you with more musical theory (chord progression types, minor/major key pairings, arranging etc!) I mean, Beyoncé is incredibly talented, and slaying the music world with her vocals... but she still has a music coach... why?! There is ALWAYS something to learn. I don't profess to know everything there is to know, as I am also VERY much still learning, but I've got a few tips and tricks to help get you started. This first video is one of three main ways I write, and is 'starting with a melodic idea'. By that I mean, I am walking around my house, or sometimes trying to sleep(!), and an idea will come into my head. Now I am a songwriter in the lyrical sense of the word too, so my melodies always come with lyrics. But if you're a producer/composer/ambient songwriter, yours may not, but I'll do some videos on developing ideas further in the near future to help too…

The key points on this video that I’m aiming to help cultivate your songwriting are:

1. What is your STARTING NOTE?

In this video I talk about not having perfect pitch, some people are BLESSED and have this, so will skip this phase, but for most of us, we need to figure this out. So whether its sitting down at the piano, guitar, or app on your phone, find out your first note, and you’re already half way there!

2. What KEY is your idea in?

Now, sometimes writers just send across voice notes to producers and they take it from there; but even if this is you, it’s always good to know what key you’re starting from. Information is power, and even a few basics can really step up your music game, and give you more confidence in talking to creative partners . I work this out in the video from my starting note, and using a little music theory (just because I’m classically trained) to get me there. But even without classical/music theory training; this is super easy to do. If you start in A, are you in A minor, or A major? Then try it out and find out…

3. What are the CHORDS in your melodic progression?

So again, you don’t have to be a music theory whizz, and whether you use chord note names (e.g. C major 7), or you use numbers (e.g. If I’m in A and my first chord is A that’s called the ‘1 chord’) its the crux of any song . Once you’ve got your key, and some chords going for your idea; the rest of the song can flow. Whether your idea is a verse, chorus, pre chorus etc… this means you now have the platform to develop the rest of the song.

Check out my video, and hopefully it helps. I’ll do some more songwriting videos about how to develop ideas further, and also around how to write a song starting from lyrics, or starting from an instrumental. Would be great to hear your feedback, and if you have anything specific you’d like me to cover in upcoming videos/post. Drop my YouTube page a subscribe, or follow me on the socials for more content! @thisisreamusic



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Hey I'm REA singer-songwriter/musician based in London, England. I'm signed to Streets Publishing and love all things related to music, whether its singing, writing or playing cello! Check out my socials @thisisreamusic for more content! :)

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