Songwriting 101: 8 Pointers For Beginners Who Are Just Starting Out Thursday May 18 2023, 11:30 PM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
Songwriting 101: 8 Pointers For Beginners Who Are Just Starting Out

Songwriting 101


The world of songwriting can seem vast and overwhelming for someone who is just getting into the creative side of things. I started my songwriting journey over 20 years ago and was lucky enough to have a few family members to guide me along the way.

I'll never forget those experiences, along with the many lessons I've received from voice teachers, music directors, and some of my other singing inspirations over the years. 

I want to share some of the best things I know to be helpful for those who are just getting started when it comes to the exciting journey of songwriting. 

Try Songwriting Prompts 


A writing prompt can bring you creative juice very easily, which can come in handy for a beginner.

You may remember this songwriting tool, often referred to as an essay prompt, from school or college when you were in English class, and the teacher would hand you a list of ideas in the form of a question or statement that you could write your paper on. 










In order to come up with a song idea, all you need to do is review a huge list of varying ideas to get your brain moving in the direction of creating some magic. 

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Understand Song Structure 


All of the best songs in the world follow what is referred to as a song structure, with different sections of the song making a whole piece when you put them together.

Many bars (also known as measures) together form a full song section that could be a chorus or a verse of your song. All the song sections together make a complete work, so measures are a great way to subdivide things. 

The best thing about songwriting is that there are no definite rules when it comes to creativity, but there are often outlines and guides you can follow from past musicians that can help you form the perfect work of art.

There are common sections like verses, choruses, bridges, intros, and outros, and there are also lesser-known elements that can add depth and uniqueness to your music.

Verses provide an opportunity to tell a story or convey your song's message, while choruses are the catchy, memorable part that sticks in listeners' heads.

Bridges offer a chance to create climactic moments and introduce fresh ideas, while intros and outros are crucial for capturing attention from the start and leaving a lasting impression.

More complex sections, like post-choruses, pre-choruses, instrument solos, breakdowns, and adlibs, can elevate your song to new heights and showcase your creativity. 

To get more of a breakdown of song structure, visit my post here

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Get The Right Songwriting Tools


Using songwriting tools can greatly benefit your creative process and make it more efficient. With the digital and physical tools available to us, we can take our songs to the next level in terms of creativity and talent.

Using live or digital instruments can help you find accurate pitches and choose the key that fits your song idea best. Tempo control tools like Garageband's BPM and metronome features can keep you on track and in the right tempo.

Notepads, digital or physical, are essential for writing down lyrics, while music notation software like Sibelius First can help you create your songs visually and by ear.

Recording your melodic ideas with a voice recorder or DAW (digital audio workstation) can prevent you from forgetting your ideas.

Finally, a rhyming tool like Rhyme Zone can help you find the perfect words to fit your lyrics, with an unmatched amount of results and the ability to organize words by the number of syllables.

Start With A Template 


For all the new songwriters out there looking for guidance on structuring one of their first songs, I recommend starting with a template. You should know that if you'd like, you can structure your song any way you want it.

After you've gotten familiar with the possibilities of song structure, the template can get you actively engaged in your own ideas. Don't want a chorus? Then don't have a chorus! Want to skip an intro and get straight to the good stuff? Skip that intro! 

If you're not sure how you want to structure your song and want a popular song structure template to work from, check out a template on my site here.

Start with a simple major key like C major if you want to keep your music theory elements in mind. 

Music Theory 101 For Melodies


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One of the most basic and valuable things to know about as a songwriter and musician is a musical scale.

Solfege, sometimes referred to as solfeggio or solfa, is a musical system that makes it easy to identify notes on a scale when it comes to Western music traditions. 

Here is the full solfege scale in a major key:

Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do

Notice how there are two "Dos" or two tonic notes, the first and the last. 

In Western music notation, the most common key is the key of C. In the key of C, C is also the tonic note. Here is the full scale in the key of C major:

C D E F G A B C

Major scales are the most common, but there are plenty more options. Your song may be in a major scale or a minor scale. It could be in a unique scale like a pentatonic scale or an aeolian scale. 

All the notes of a scale are the ones you'll be working with to create your melody. 

Try Songwriting Exercises


Songwriting challenges can be a powerful tool to boost your creativity and overcome creative blocks.

Engaging in exercises like freestyle writing, writing a song backward, word association, one word each line, TV/movie scene songs, co-writing, 10-minute songs, short story songs, remaking favorite songs, and genre switching can invigorate your creative process and spark new ideas.

These exercises push you to think outside the box, experiment with different styles and structures, and tap into your imagination in unexpected ways.

The goal of exercises like these is not to create a masterpiece but to foster creativity, expand your artistic boundaries, and find inspiration in unlikely places.

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Follow A Rhyming Scheme


Since popular music is often all about rhyming, the phrasing of your song will likely follow a rhyming scheme with four lines phrased together.

You don't have to rhyme in your songs, but it's good to practice rhyming regularly, especially if you're a beginner just getting into the swing of things. 

ABAB


Many pop songs follow the ABAB rhyming scheme you will often see in poetry. That means that your first bar with also rhyme with your third bar, while your second will also rhyme with your fourth bar, and so on.

AABB


This is another common rhyming scheme for bars, where the first and second bars end in a rhyme, and the third and fourth bars end in a different rhyme.

AABBA


This is similar to the ones above, but for the context of a song, the rapper will likely shorten the two "B" sections to fit into one measure for the song to maintain cohesiveness and fit into four-line phrasing. 

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Consider Song Tempo


The BPM (beats per measure) is a way to measure the tempo of your song. Songs that are slow are often less than 100 BPM, while fast songs are usually over 120 BPM. 

If you have a slow song, your bars will be easier to get through and easier for your listeners to hear, so make sure you are writing some fire!

A fast song is way more likely to get impressed in terms of fast vocal delivery, but it will also be a challenge for you to get through in terms of breathing. 

It is important to be able to flow with a track no matter what the tempo will be while maintaining a steady beat. The best writers have such great control of rhythmic creativity that they can create their verses with varying rhythms that all fit well within a song.



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Yona Marie

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!

If you are in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her services page. As an Amazon Associate, Yona Marie earns from qualifying purchases. Amazon and other affiliate products are recommended to genuinely help readers and keep this site up and running as well.



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