The main element job of a songwriter is to write a song. Not to do the song. Not to record the song. Not to market the song. Not to market the song. But to write the song.
Much of your skill as a songwriter is to select the proper notes and right chords to go with the proper words and right song title and write them into a song.
You write a tune for whom?
Firstly, for the end listener. The one who will actually emotionally and financially buy 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’ll turn a tune into a product (like an archive or CD) that may be delivered to the end 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 provide an efficiency that the record company may wish to capture and radio stations station may wish to play.
So you could argue for more visitors to be added to the list and for this list to be reordered. But essentially they are individuals for whom a recording songwriter writes.
So, now you know who to write for, how becoming a songwriter for these listeners is the important thing question.
What key skills do you really need becoming a songwriter?
As a songwriter you need to understand how to write lyrics, how to write melody, how to write chords and how to write your song as a lead sheet. As a tune owner and seller you need to also understand how to find the song to demo and how to record a compelling demo.
Put another way, as a songwriter, you’re a lyric writer, a melody writer, a chord writer and a lead sheet writer. That’s, to be considered a songwriter, you need to write in these four dimensions.
You could be a solo songwriter like Billy Joel and Bob Dylan do all things yourself. Or you can engage in a partnership like Lennon-McCartney or Holland-Dozier-Holland and specialise in the lyric or music role or move between the roles, with respect to the song.
So, how becoming a lyric writer is one of many sub questions of the big question: how becoming a songwriter.
The main element skill is the capacity to have the ability to tell an account rather than throw words or rhymes together. Among your key lyric skills is to have the ability to create song titles and then write your lyric around that.
There are various conventions about loading your chorus up with your title lines and making use of your verse and bridge to aid that line. Furthermore you need to learn to write your story within conventional forms.
Fortunately, you can find loads of resources both on and offline that will educate you on how to write lyrics. Naturally, becoming a lyric writer you’ll need to write habitually and exercise your skills daily.
The process of melody
Unfortunately there is less resource around that will 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.
Much of what passes for melody writing advice lives is usually the twins of superstition and obscure theory in drag, neither of which actually tells the melody writer how to choose the best notes for their melody. Nor teach them how becoming a songwriter.
Both main melodic skills you’ll need would be the concepts of contour and span. Contour means melodic direction and shape and whether any given note is at 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 Approaches for Writing Hit Songs (Berklee Guide).
There are actually hundreds of contours, depending how many notes you can find in your melodic phrase. These contours can effectively demonstrate how becoming a songwriter. Right now there is only 1 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’ll sing and hum your melodies while they wash their car or vacuum their house or console themselves. Awareness of span means you will write for the fans, not for virtuoso singers who never buy or sing pop music generally, let alone yours.
Anyone seriously wondering how becoming a songwriter will not neglect melodic span.
Chords and harmony
Fortunately one area where songwriters are relatively well served is in the chord writing area. There’s no shortage of stuff that teaches you scales, chords and chord progressions. In comparison to learning lyric writing and melody writing, learning scales and chords is straight ahead, like learning a yellow pages directory.
The more songs you write, the more you realise how secondary chords and voicings are if you are working with the absolute core of songwriting: deciding which notes go best with which words.
Scales and chords are not useful only at that time. They are extremely important however after you have selected the notes and words for the song and it’s time for an arranger and a producer to set up your notes and words into voices and sounds that your fans will love.
Nevertheless, selecting the most appropriate chord for the melody is an important section of how becoming a songwriter.
So in being a songwriter you’re being a lyric writer, a melody writer and a chord writer. But as important as these skills are, the most important skill has not been mentioned yet.
Rhythm to song is like oxygen to life
A key section of how becoming a songwriter is how becoming a talker, reader, writer and player of rhythm.
While we could consider rhythm as being a separate concept (and you can find reasons with this view) it is so embedded in lyric, melody and harmony, that you might want to understand how rhythm integrates each aspect in addition to how it separates from each too.
Words consist of meaning and rhythm. Melody consists of pitch and rhythm. Harmony consists of simultaneous sound and rhythm. Rhythm consists of rhythm and timbre. There’s no escaping the importance of rhythm and understanding, talking, reading, writing and playing rhythm is just a key section of how becoming a songwriter.
Again, like melody, the headlines is not hot here.
Ethnomusicologists report on many cultures around the world who have rich, verbal languages for counting and talking rhythm. Musicians of South India are abundant with 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 such as the solfeggio for rhythm—songwriters now have a simple to understand language that allows them to talk, read and write rhythm like their first language.
And speed up their knowledge of how becoming a songwriter and their ability to write a satisfactory quantity of songs to acceptable levels much faster than they otherwise would.
How becoming a songwriter in conclusion
And so the keys aspects 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 power to talk, read and write rhythm.
They are the skills that permit you to pick the proper notes and right chords to go with your words and song title and so earn you the proper to call yourself a songwriter.