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  • Zoe Lim

A Guide to Songwriting for Beginners


a person writing music and songs

Writing a song may seem like a daunting task but it can be really fun once you get into it.

Most people think that you need to understand complex chords and music theory to write a song, but

some of the greatest songs written are made up of really simple chords. Just as Bob Dylan once said, “All I’ve got is a red guitar, three chords and the truth”.

Once you’re ready, read on to begin writing your first song!

  1. Have a theme in mind

Before worrying about what chords or lyrics to choose, have a general idea of what your song is going to be about. It could be anything, ranging from your own life experiences to an inspiration from a movie you just watched. You might also want to ask yourself questions, using these ideas:

  • How did you feel about this experience?

  • Why did it happen?

  • How do you relate to it?

  • How is it going to impact others?

While thinking about these questions, write down some phrases or words that come to mind. It will help form a theme around your song and make it easier to transform them into your song title and lyrics.

2. Develop a title

The title of a song is one the most important parts of songwriting as it tells the audience what they are going to be listening to. For instance, the reason why most songs are centred around the theme of “Love” is because it is a universal experience, generally felt by every human which makes it easier to relate to.

We also know that in most songs, the song title appears in the song lyrics often. This helps to solidify the theme of the song, which in turn, enable the listeners to have an easier grasp on what they’re listening to. You don’t have to follow this general rule, but it would be a good step in creating your first song.

3. Develop your song structure

There are many types of structure that a song that can follow. Typically, a song will consist of verses (A), choruses (B) and a bridge (C). The most common structure would be A-B-A-B-C-B.

To get a feel of this song structure, listen to Radiohead’s High and Dry.

However, you should also explore other types of song structures to see which suits you best. Try listening to various artists and how they structure their songs. Some of the most unusual song structures include The Smith’s How Soon is Now & Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Have a listen and try to pick out the differences from a typical song structure as we just discussed.

4. Find your chords and rhythm