First of all , let me clarify a few things about this article
- This article is for beginners
- The songs that you will write after reading this article aren’t going to win you a grammy. They are going to be average songs which are generally enough to impress a school or college crowd but not professional musicians .
- Some of the material in this article is based on my taste.
- This is mainly the rhythm part of the song you will learn. I play a guitar,but if you have a keyboard/piano I think it should work fine too.
For me , song writing is a really satisfying way to cope with sadness. I use it as an outlet for emotions and frankly speaking it helps a lot. And I mean a lot. But we will deal with my feelings when we meet for coffee of something *Wink* , right now , let’s just get down to it.
There are basically four things we need to focus on to create a mediocre song
- Chord progression.
- Strumming pattern.
- Lyrics .
- Structure of the song.
So , first , let’s go down on chord progression.
Perhaps the best analogy used to describe chords is that they are like the background colors of the painting. You choose the color as per the general mood of the painting, just like you use ‘red’ to describe hot or ‘blue’ for cold. So, perhaps the most basic thing about these colors is that majors are happy and minors are sad.
So , to be a little more detailed on this matter, the key of C is generally happy , D is classical , G is tragic ,F- is passionate , E- Disapproving .
Let’s take a look at the Major chord family in D.( The major scale formula is R-W-W-H-W-W-W-H , i.e Root note , whole step from that , whole step from that , half step from that , whole step , whole step , half step.)
So , we begin with the D major scale , which is
D , E , F# ,G , A , B , C# , D So , The chord family is
I)D- Major – Root
IV)G- Major- Sub dominant
V)A- Major – Dominant
Here , you can consider the Majors like the core of the family. D is the root , G major is called the ‘Sub-dominant’ , and A is the dominant.(I.IV.V)
And , well there are a ton of songs out there which consist of only root , sub-dominant and dominant. And , you might as well start with this pattern and go one chord for each 4 measures .i.e I,IV,V,I of any family you choose.
If you are writing a sad or thoughtful ballad , you might want to use I,IV,V,V for the verses.
An energetic song would use I , III, ,IV, VI
Other common progressions are I,II,IV,V , I , IV , I ,V etc
For the purposes of this article , we shall use The pattern I,II,IV,V in D major.
i.e D , Em, G, A
Now , you may want your chorus to sound different than the verse, I know I do . So ,we will use this handy thing called the circle of fifths
What we can do now is use the note directly below our root , or the adjacent ones. You might have noticed that the outer circle is the major circle and the inner circle is the minor circle. Since I already have set a major ‘mood’ , I will continue that trend and use A(I actually would have preferred to go for Bm , but this will be easier to play if you are playing along)
And what’s I,II,IV,V for A?
Well it’s A,Bm,D,E
So , Verse- D , Em, G, A
So far so good.
I want you to take a notebook and write down the numbers 1 to 8 as rows.The numbers from 1 to 8 are measures(You have 4 chords , so this pattern will repeat itself twice i.e 4 measures per chord…or you can use what you think sounds best, this is just a suggestion). Consider that one ‘strum’.
Now , the odd numbers can hold the down strums , and the even numbers can hold the up strums. We will represent downward strums as D , upward strums as U , and Pauses as P.
Now umm… make a pattern , any pattern that you think will fit best. For this article let’s use the following ones
Verse- D P D U D U D U,
Chorus – D U P U D U D U
To be quite fair, I cannot help you much on this part. All I can tell you is that the lyrics should be consistent with the mood of the song, And that you can use the common meter if you want to make the song easier to sing
The common meter is very accurately and beautifully explained by Vsauce in this poem
“The first line has 8 syllables
the next contains just 6
For emphasis , Iambic stress
That’s it no other tricks”
Some songs in the common meter are Amazing grace , Pokemon theme song , Gilligans Island , House of the rising sun , etc.
Constructing a song is very similar to constructing a building.. except you know..you can actually construct a song without studying in college.
The basic key parts of a song are
Writing the Intro , solo and outro is the job of the lead guitarist and since we are mainly focusing on rhythm here , we will leave that out. Although know that it is perfectly okay if your song does not have a solo or an intro. We are not aiming for the Grammy’s here. We just want to create something to impress chicks or guys or just want to channel out our emotions .
We will upload a video soon , which will be even more helpful to get you going and will feature a song dedicated to all our fans, so stay tuned. 😉
If you have any doubts please get in touch with us…please .. we have no friends.
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