The best country songs ever made often share several of the same songwriting ingredients that made them undeniable hits.
If you're looking to make a song that will resonate with your listeners, I want to give you a few suggestions that I myself have used when doing my work-for-hire songwriting projects in the country music genre.
One of the best things about the art of country songwriting is that it includes many of the rules that writing a pop song, an R&B, a folk song, or a gospel song would also have.
If you have success in writing in any one of the genres, chances are that your skills are transferrable between them!
"I think Ray Charles did as much as anybody when he did his country music album. Ray Charles broke down borders and showed the similarities between country music and R&B." - Willie Nelson
The first thing you want to do when planning out your country song is to make a live instrument the focus of your chord progressions and instrumentation.
The most common thing you'll find in association with country music is a guitar, but you could also pull out a banjo, an accordion, or another cool instrument that is often found in the genre if you'd like.
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When it comes to country music hits, you don't often find the performers stretching their singing range, so make sure that you choose a key that will fit with your voice or the voice of the singer that you will get to perform the song.
A good idea is to put the song in a key that people can sing in several different places depending on what is comfortable with their voice. You also want to pick a key that you or your selected instrumentalist will be familiar with playing common chords in.
Well-known country songs (and pop songs) often share the same chord progressions, which are rarely complex.
You don't need to plan out a chord progression that would fit something straight out of a jazz number. The more basic your chord progression is, the better!
According to Emastested, there are at least three common chord progressions that many country anthems all share, and it doesn't take away from the magic of each individual song. These progressions include I IV V, I V IV, and I V IV Vi.
Once you start thinking about the melody that you want your vocals to follow once you choose your chord progression, you also want to keep this element just as simple, if not more.
Your vocal melody will be a part of the song that stands out the most, and you want it to get stuck in the listener's ears like a worm.
Many people will say that country music is all about the emotion that comes straight from the heart of whoever is singing or writing the music.
Even if your song is about one of the most trivial things, you want to write it from an angle that puts the objects of your lyrics in the most intense light.
You could be writing a song from your perspective or from the perspective of someone else, but the story that is being told should be something that feels genuine to the listener.
"Of emotions, of love, of breakup, of love and hate and death and dying, mama, apple pie, and the whole thing. It covers a lot of territory; country music does." - Johnny Cash
When you write with passion and truth, you are bound to be tapping into an emotion that someone else out there can also relate to. The more relatable your song topic is, the more likely it is that your country song will turn into a hit song.
Some of the relatable emotions that people tap into for country songs include love, hate, grief, comedy, and patriotism.
Tell a story or send a message in your lyrics that will really resonate with a large group of people that are going through something just like you.
The most important melody, lyric, and chord progression will be the ones you choose for the hook, also known as the chorus section of your song. This is the best part of your creation that will leave the biggest impression on whoever hears it.
The height of your creativity should be encompassed in this part of your track, and it could serve as the climax in some cases, depending on how you want to do the bridge section of your song (and if you even want to add a bridge section to your song).
What name will fit the mood of the song best? What name will stand out and catch the attention of your potential fans?
What name is unique enough to make you feel like this is truly your own song that couldn't have been made by anyone else?
Some of the most positively outlandish song titles fall under the country music category. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to finding a good name, but these are some things to consider when trying to choose.
An unwritten rule in the world of country music is that you don't want to drop too many curse words, especially f-bombs.
Country music is supposed to be one of those genres that are appealing to all ages, especially the older generations. They don't want to hear a bunch of obscenities when it comes to their beloved genre.
Although the genre of country music may have one or a few unspoken rules, one of them is to have fun with the creative process and think outside of the box when it comes to your compositions.
Sure, you want to follow some of the general tips, but there are so many ways to make your song stand apart from the rest.
Some examples of being unconventional with your songwriting process can include the subject of your lyrics, the way you do your harmonies, the way you structure your song sections, what inspirations you take from other genres, and so much more!
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As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her recent collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!
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