When you start a song with the intent to make it about someone else, your first step is to figure out what you want the song to say to the listener.
Is this going to be a song about that person's accomplishments? Are you writing a song about someone you're in love with? Is this a diss track that is going to poke fun at the person?
Find out what you want the overall message of the song to be. This will help make the rest of the steps quite easy if you do this first. At the very least, write a top 3 about what the song will be about if you're not sure.
For example, you might want to be highlighting a person's good traits, but you aren't sure if you want to make it about their actions that show they love you, the talents that they have in life, or the things that you imagine they will do in the future.
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After you have a general idea of what you want the song to say, you can begin finding as much information as possible that will highlight your song's message. The more knowledge you gain, the better options you will have for your song lyrics.
You might want to directly ask the person a few things about themselves in an interview-style conversation. You could also go on a deep dive into their social media profiles.
Another idea is to ask friends and family of theirs to give some details about that person's life. You might need to take multiple approaches when it comes to getting information on them.
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Once you have a good amount of information on that person, you will then have a better idea about your song's intention. Choose from your top few intention choices and begin to create the song's mood and style.
Your mood might be a slow, romantic vibe. Or you could be going for a reflective, mid-tempo bittersweet song about someone who passed away.
Once you have the general mood you want your song to capture, you can find a good tempo range.
Study songs in a similar mood to the one you're going for if you need some references and inspiration on the tempo you would like for your song. You can also begin to play with different keys to see what key feels the best for your song's mood.
Once you have the intention, content, and song mood, you will want to figure out the lyrics' perspective. Will the song be in the 1st person (I/we)? 3rd person (They)? Second person (You)?
If your song will be in the 3rd person or 2nd person, who will be the person that is speaking? Will it be a stranger? Will it be you? Or will it be another loved one?
Perspective has a critical role in a song that is written about someone in particular, even if the song you're writing is about yourself.
Subverting the listener's expectation with an unexpected song perspective is a great way to make a song that gets stuck in someone's mind and stands out from more typical songs.
Once you have all of the previous ideas in place, you will be able to start condensing all the content you found about the person into actual song lyrics.
Take your time with this part, as it will take a lot of creativity to get through. You can test out ideas with trial and error, possibly getting feedback from the person that you are writing about.
Don't be too hung up on the facts when it comes to your songwriting.
Getting the person's information is particularly just about having the person fleshed out, but you can add fictional details to the actual story of your lyrics if it's appropriate. It all depends on your song's intent and the song's perspective.
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After you have your lyrics, you can then begin creating your melodies based on those lyrics and the mood of your song.
Your melody ideas may lead you to make minor changes to the lyrics, but as long as the intent is still clear and nothing important is lost, this is perfectly fine to do.
Make sure that the melody of the song flows well with the message you are communicating. Your vocal and instrumental melodies should include appropriate emotional inflections to best get your point across in the song.
You want to have melodic lines that encapsulate all the hard work and energy you took the time to put into the previous steps.
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If you need inspiration, this is another moment where it's a good idea to search songs with similar messages and see how they created melodies that fit the song's intent.
Find out which section(s) of your song you want to have an emotional peak and the parts of the song where you want emotional lows. Reflect those moments with melodic phrases that dynamically follow your song's storytelling.
In conclusion, writing a song dedicated to someone is an incredibly personal and fulfilling experience. It allows you to express your feelings and thoughts about that person in a unique and creative way.
By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can create a song that truly captures the essence of the person you're dedicating it to.
Remember to start by figuring out the overall message you want to convey and then gather as much information as possible about the person. This information will help you create the song's mood, tempo, and key.
Consider the perspective you want to take and write your lyrics accordingly, keeping in mind that you can add fictional details if needed. Finally, create your melody, making sure it flows well with the message and reflects the emotional highs and lows of the song.
With these steps in mind, you can create a song that not only celebrates the person you're dedicating it to but also showcases your talent as a songwriter.
So go ahead, take the plunge, and put pen to paper. You never know; your song may just become a timeless tribute to the person you hold dear.
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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