How do songwriters make such catchy top hits and release them on Spotify? How do I even start songwriting? Let’s talk about how you can start making songs, no matter what kind of music background you have!
Do I need to know how to play an instrument?
The simple answer? No, you do not need to know how to play an instrument to start creating a song. The first song I made was from humming a tune I thought sounded nice. To be able to create a tune, or a song ‘idea’, you do not need to know how to play an instrument.
How will knowing how to play an instrument help?
Being able to play an instrument, you will have a tool to help you experiment with different tunes. Knowing about chords (simple music theory) can give you a foundation to creating a song.
For example, you may have heard of the magic 4 chords that you can use to play any song. Don’t know music theory? Don’t worry, here’s a simple explanation:
The 4 magic chords are: C major, G major, A minor, F major.
Simply put, C, G, A and F are all notes on the piano.
When played with other notes, like C with E and G, this forms a chord. The three notes C, E, G form the C major chord.
As seen above, if we give the number 1 to C, the other notes which make up the chord are E (number 3) and G (number 5)
For a basic crash course about chords, refer to this post: https://www.sgsongwriters.com/posts/chords-basic-crash-course/
How songwriters make songs
There are many ways to make a song. What songwriters usually do when they have a song idea is to materialise the song idea into an audio recording or some other form of recording, so they do not forget the idea.
When songwriters don’t have ideas, what we do is to start a song off something. The ‘something’ can be a chord progression, a sample (short sound clip), a lyric, a sound, a drum beat, a rhythm, and so on. It can be anything used to spark off a creative flow.
This is when having an instrument, or a music production software becomes useful. The chord progression can be played on the instrument, to spark off more ideas, or played on the music software, for us to add more layers of other melodies and instruments.
For example, we can start off with a piano chord pattern, then add drums, add string instruments and other instruments to the song. The fun part about using a music production software is that you don’t need to know how to play any instrument – you can just enter what notes you want into the software and it will play it for you.
Sounds confusing? Don’t worry. For now, let’s focus on the basics – starting off with a chord pattern:
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