Simon Waldram


How to write a song

Posted by SimonWaldram on September 28, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Quite a few times when I have talked to someone who doesn’t make music about song writing they have said to something like they “would how no idea how to write a song” and will talk about song writing like it’s some unreachable mystical process. This is nonsense and any songwriter who allows such ideas to be perpetuated is probably doing so for the sake of their own ego - i.e. to convince themselves they what they’re doing is special and can’t be done by just anybody. Well, I think that it can.


First of all, nobody was born a songwriter. However at some point in their lives, maybe when they were a kid, they were drawn enough to music and had enough imagination inside them to try and create some of their own. Secondly, you do not have to “learn” a musical instrument to make music. All you do is chose the instrument you want to use and they play it just how you want to play it. Let’s say it’s a guitar: Noel Gallagher once said about his own musical influences that "There's twelve notes in a scale and 36 chords and that's the end of it. All the configurations have been done before." Now if you want to learn all the chords and scales and keys then that’s fine. This can be important to know for certain kinds of music. If you want to keep it tuned to standard tuning that’s fine too. But you don’t have to do these things. You can put your fingers anywhere on the fretboard you like…in fact you don’t even have to use the fretboard if you don’t want to. The possibilities are endless. The only important thing is finding a sound that you’re happy with and expresses what you want to express.


Songwriting is the same. There may be song writing methods, but there are absolutely no rules whatsoever. I’ve never learned scales and keys because I don’t feel there is any need to. To quote Benjamin Smoke: "I still don't really understand why everyone in the band has to play in the same key. If we all have the same key it means we have the same lock, and we know (that) is not true." Even in a band it's not necessary. I admit that this can make it harder to jam with people you've never played with before, but it's still entirely possible to practice together and build up intuition and harmony (or dischord, if that's your thing). This is, of course, what a lot of punk bands did. It might be a mess at first, but when it comes together it's more special than anything any musos could do.


Ther are good songs and there are bad songs, but however you choose to write a song is as valid a way as any other, just as long as you’re writing it for the right reasons.. Don’t let anyone ever tell you any different.




Categories: Songwriting, Random

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1 Comment

Reply Andy Brain
10:56 PM on September 30, 2012 
Right on brother! You can make music with whatever you have to hand. Life is music. In the flat there's the rhythm of the clock and the gentle whirr of the laptop, the improvised miaow-tunes of the cat, and even the TV provides a constantly shifting lyric-generating resource. There was a quote from Dr Who last week - something like: "'Keep out' signs? I tend to see them as suggestions, like 'dry clean only'." Likewise, any alleged compositional "rules" should really be taken as just suggestions.