The key job of a songwriter is to write a song. Not to do the song. Never to record the song. Not to market the song. Not to offer the song. But to write the song.
Most of your skill as a songwriter is to pick the best notes and right chords to choose the best words and right song title and write them in to a song.
You write a song for whom?
Firstly, for the finish listener. The person who will in actuality emotionally and financially choose the song, either through investing in a CD or record or investing in a live performance of the song How Much is Tekashi69 Worth.
Secondly, for the record company, who will turn a song in to a product (like a record or CD) which can be sent to the finish user through radio or retail stores.
Thirdly, for radio programmers, who decide what their listeners will listen to.
Fourthly, for the performer of the song who has to supply a performance that the record company would want to capture and radio stations station would want to play.
So you could argue for more people to be added to this list and for this list to be reordered. But essentially they’re the people for whom a recording songwriter writes.
So, so you know who to write for, how becoming a songwriter for these listeners is the main element question.
What key skills do you really need becoming a songwriter?
As a songwriter you have to learn how to write lyrics, how to write melody, how to write chords and how to write your song as a lead sheet. As a song owner and seller you have to also learn how to select the song to demo and just how to record a compelling demo.
Put another way, as a songwriter, you’re a lyric writer, a melody writer, a note writer and a lead sheet writer. That is, to be considered a songwriter, you have to write in these four dimensions.
You is actually a solo songwriter like Billy Joel and Bob Dylan do all things yourself. Or you might participate a partnership like Lennon-McCartney or Holland-Dozier-Holland and specialise in the lyric or music role or move involving the roles, depending on the song.
So, how becoming a lyric writer is one of the sub questions of the big question: how becoming a songwriter.
The key skill is the capacity to be able to tell a story rather than throw words or rhymes together. Among your key lyric skills would be to be able to create song titles and then write your lyric around that.
There are various conventions about loading your chorus up along with your title lines and making use of your verse and bridge to aid that line. In addition you need to learn to write your story within conventional forms.
Fortunately, you will find plenty of resources both on and offline that can coach you on how to write lyrics. Naturally, becoming a lyric writer you’ll need to write habitually and exercise your skills daily.
The task of melody
Unfortunately there is much less resource around that can support you in being a melody writer. Whereas there is an audio lyric writing literature open to songwriters, no comparable literature exists for melody writing skills.
A lot of what passes for melody writing advice lives is the twins of superstition and obscure theory in drag, neither of which in fact tells the melody writer how to find the best notes for his or her melody. Nor teach them how becoming a songwriter.
The two main melodic skills you’ll need are the concepts of contour and span. Contour means melodic direction and shape and whether any given note reaches a greater, lower or same pitch as the previous one.
Jack Perricone identifies four contour shapes in his book entitled Melody in Songwriting: Tools and Procedures for Writing Hit Songs (Berklee Guide).
There are actually a huge selection of contours, depending on what many notes you will find in your melodic phrase. These contours can effectively demonstrate how becoming a songwriter. Right now there is just one melodywriting site online that educates songwriters about these melodic goldmines.
Span is also very important to your melodies and ensures that you write for ordinary people who will sing and hum your melodies while they wash their car or vacuum their residence or console themselves. Awareness of span means you’ll write for your fans, not for virtuoso singers who never buy or sing pop music generally, not to mention yours.
Anyone seriously curious about how becoming a songwriter won’t neglect melodic span.
Chords and harmony
Fortunately one area where songwriters are relatively well served is in the chord writing area. There is no shortage of stuff that teaches you scales, chords and chord progressions. Compared to learning lyric writing and melody writing, learning scales and chords is straight ahead, like learning an orange pages directory.
The more songs you write, the more you realise how secondary chords and voicings are when you are coping with the absolute core of songwriting: deciding which notes go best with which words.
Scales and chords are not useful as of this time. They’re essential however when you have selected the notes and words for your song and it’s time for an arranger and a manufacturer to prepare your notes and words into voices and sounds that your fans will love.
Nevertheless, deciding on the best chord for your melody is an essential part of how becoming a songwriter.
So in being a songwriter you’re being a lyric writer, a melody writer and a note writer. But as important as these skills are, the main skill has not been mentioned yet.
Rhythm to song is similar to oxygen alive
A key part of how becoming a songwriter is how becoming a talker, reader, writer and player of rhythm.
While we can think of rhythm as being a separate concept (and you will find reasons for this view) it is so embedded in lyric, melody and harmony, that you’ll require to understand how rhythm integrates each aspect as well as how it separates from each too.
Words consist of meaning and rhythm. Melody contains pitch and rhythm. Harmony contains simultaneous sound and rhythm. Rhythm contains rhythm and timbre. There is no escaping the importance of rhythm and understanding, talking, reading, writing and playing rhythm is really a key part of how becoming a songwriter.
Again, like melody, the news headlines is not too hot here.
Ethnomusicologists report on many cultures all over the world who have rich, verbal languages for counting and talking rhythm. Musicians of South India are full of this regard. Musicians of the west are not so blessed. Which slows our rhythm education down a bit. And hamstrings us as songwriters if we do not overcome this handicap.
Fortunately with the emergence of rhythmeggio–which is just like the solfeggio for rhythm—songwriters will have a simple to understand language that enables them to talk, read and write rhythm like their first language.
And accelerate their knowledge of how becoming a songwriter and their ability to write a satisfactory quantity of songs to acceptable levels considerably quicker than they otherwise would.
How becoming a songwriter to sum up
And so the keys areas of successfully knowing how becoming a songwriters lie in becoming proficient at writing lyric, at writing melody, at writing chords which in turn is accelerated by your ability to talk, read and write rhythm.
They’re the skills that allow you to pick the best notes and right chords to go along with your words and song title and so earn you the best to call yourself a songwriter.