The best types of songs are those that come from a place of pain and sorrow. There's nothing like a sad song to get you through a tough time and release pent-up emotion. If you're considering writing an original sad song yourself, take some of these ideas into consideration to try and make your song as touching and authentic as it can be.
Some sad songs offer hope in certain sections. Some sad songs are completely bleak with no positive points to be found. Some sad songs are in the form of a story told about the writer or someone they know. Some really interesting sad tracks have upbeat and bright energy from the instrumentation while delivering the most depressing lyrics ever.
What approach will you take with your sad song? What will it be about? Or who? Will this sadness be a type of sadness that we all share, something to do with the entire world? Or is it a type of very personal sadness that we all can relate to?
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Now it’s time to get in the right mental place to start writing this sad song straight from the heart. This will be a tough thing to do, as you will begin to spiral into a dark place. Be careful with the process. If you are someone who has trouble with depression already, you may want to tread lightly with inducing this mental state on purpose.
A good option for this is to wait until a somber mood naturally comes to you. This may be hard to do depending on your song approach style, especially if you’ll be writing a sad song about someone else’s experience and not your own.
If you are writing about your own sadness or sadness that you can authentically relate to, the best time is to start writing right when the emotions are most present. This will also help you release that negative energy while writing therapeutically.
Sad songs that are written in the form of poetry can really help bring out authenticity and emotional depth in the lyrics. Too often we as songwriters will hear some sad pop chords played and work their way from the music, defaulting to common sad phrases heard in several thousand songs with only slight variation.
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When starting with only lyrics, you will find that you have more creativity and range to think outside of the box and really get your somber point across in a way that will resonate deeply with the listener.
Many people today will hear songs without paying much attention to the lyrics. Writing your lyrics first can help you break through that barrier since you’ve made it more a focus than any melody line or instrument by putting it at the forefront of your creative process.
The first step to creating your sad song melody will be deciding if you want to do the song in a major or minor key. Most sad songs are sung in minor, but there are a few instances where a major key would work in a sad song. If you want to build up a sense of irony or humorous sadness in your song, putting your song in a major key is a good idea. If you want to focus on the positive aspects of a sad story in your song, a major key will also work here.
Now is the time to play with melodic phrases that will match your dark, deep, unique lyrical content. You may want to cycle through many melody ideas before deciding on which phrases to keep and what to discard.
During this process, you will naturally get a good feel for what tempo you want your sad song to be. Most sad songs are slow of course, but the speed is really up to you. Or you could make it a song that works at several different tempos leaving it up to the singer to perform many different interpretations.
Once you have your melodies, you can begin to create a structure of your song that will decide how many verses you want, if you want an intro and outro, etc. The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating your song structure. You can even end a dark, minor and depressing song on a positive note with a method called the picardy third.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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