Song Writing Basics
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What does it take to write a song? If it is a song for your own enjoyment, a hit song, or a song for your church or whatever, there are some guidelines to keep in mind. There are elements of songs that make them work and pleasing to listen to.

WHEN WRITING LYRICS you will want to know what you are going to write about. Hopefully the title of the song gives us a clue. You should support that title with lyrics. Who are you singing the song to? Is it a lover, a friend, the world, God, the general public? Think about the emotion you are going to express and support it with the lyric content. Dont get too complex. Keep it fairly simple and clarify what you want to say in your song. It is best to have UNIVERSAL COMMUNICATION. This is something we all relate to. An experience or feeling which is usually understood and shared by the mass public. Love is of course one of the most popular writing subjects.

A GOOD TITLE can interest your listener into hearing more. The music and the lyrics should help carry the title throughout the song. Manytimes, a song that repeats the title numerous times become popular and good response will follow. When you write or sing that first line of your song you best grab peoples attention, whether it is an audience or a music producer. You want them to stay interested in the song all the way to the end! The first verse of your song should answer many questions for the listener. What the song is about and who it is about.



Most songs contain 1) VERSES, 2) CHORUSES, 3) BRIDGES or RELEASES, 4) PRE-HOOKS

VERSES- will contain most of the information in your song. Each verse, usually following the same melody line, contains new information about the song. The verses are in the process of telling the story to the listener. Dont change your subject, and be focused on your purpose of the song.

CHORUS- the Chorus should have the same lyrics each time it comes to pass. If there is a variation, try to at least keep your music and melody the same in this section. By repetition you will make your listener remember the song easier. Make it a catchy lyric line or a melody they can easily hum or whistle because they like it! The title of your song is usually stated in the Chorus.

BRIDGE OR RELEASE- This section is different from the verses and choruses. You have given your listener just the right amount of verse and chorus. Now is a good time to bring something different into the song to prevent any monotony. The music is usually different and the lyrics can provide a different perspective on the subject. This release is only a temporary diversion, which will get back to the chorus or verse shortly. An instrumental SOLO is also a nice release from the song.

PRE-HOOKS-are not always found in songs but can be a nice way to precede your chorus. It is a building up to, or climbing effect, which also has the ability to keep the song interesting and exciting. It "rolls out the red carpet" for the chorus. Once again keeping the same melody and lyric content in this section helps keep the song simple. This section is also optional.


HOOKS- This is what "hooks" you in and catches your attention! What is it that makes you like this song? Is it that awesome vocal line, the guitar riffs, the cool effects, the bass line, the story line?

- If you like that jammin bass line, or that drum sound or that awesome guitar riff, then you have been hooked by an instrumental hook! Continued

"Masterful technique and dazzling skills, does not make a song

appealing to a wide listening audience. But rather, sincerity in a heart

and soul-felt song."

LYRIC HOOK- Do you find yourself singing that lyric of your favorite song over and over? Is the lyric so appealing and irresistible you just have got to get that song? Well my friend the Lyric Hook has hooked you in! This type of hook is closely related to the instrumental hook. It is a powerful melodic or vocal phrase that keeps us interested in listening more, and hopefully to purchase the recording.

STORYLINE HOOK- Are you moved by the story the song conveys? Is it the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald? The Cherry Mine Disaster? The Titanic? Is it a Love story that hooks you in? Well, different subjects interest different folks for various reasons. If it is the story of the song that appeals to you then the storyline hook has hooked you!

TECH-PRODUCTION HOOK- an effect(s) sound that catches your ears attention, and it is a sound you really like hearing in the song. These sounds are usually non-musical and could be considered ordered noises or "borderline" musical effects.


Every song has a format of how it is constructed. It is put together in well-balanced sections that will appeal to the listener. These sections could be called A, B, C, D, etc, Your verse, chorus, bridge, etc, could be arranged in many different orders and can be dictated by the flow of the song.


A B A B A B Each verse is followed by a chorus in this form.

V Ch V Ch V Ch

A B A B C B Here a bridge or release is inserted after two verses and choruses.

V Ch V Ch bridge Ch

A A A Three or more verses with much lyric content. The title is found either in the first

V V V or last line of each verse. When a big chorus is a bit too much and it just gets in the


A A B A A B B A common format in song construction is the two verses followed

V V Ch V V Ch Ch by a chorus.

A B C A B C D E C Here is an example of pre-hooks preceding the chorus

V ph Ch V ph Ch Bridge ph Ch with a bridge about a third of the way through the song.

A B A B A A song could also start with the Chorus and alternate with a verse.

Ch V Ch V Ch

A A B A or A B C A B C


I hope that I have given you some ideas about writing songs and how important it is to make it interesting for your audience. Remember that there are no rules really but rather guidelines. Become good at your instrument and listen to a whole bunch of music and pay attention to the format. Ask yourself what is appealing in this song which makes it so enjoyable to listen to. What kind of hooks are "hooking" you?

Becoming a good songwriter takes skill and talent and you surely can develop that talent. Know how to work with words. It helps to have some good language skills so you can communicate effectively. This means doing good in your grammar classes at school! This is developing communication skills for you to use in your lyrics! However if youre from the "street" and you only want to communicate to others like you, then you will have your own language. It just depends who you want to reach in your songs and music. The musical knowledge you acquire as you grow as a musician will all help you into crafting some good songs.

"Dont write with the specific goal of trying to create a hit song."

Simply write what you feel, because of that need for expression."