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How to Learn Songwriting

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If you’re an aspiring songwriter, learning the craft of writing great songs is absolutely essential.

Yes, anyone out there can write a song. But as with any art form, there are principles to doing it well, in a way that resonates with other people.

There aren’t any rules to songwriting, but there are best practices. In this post, we’ll talk about how you can learn to write your own songs.

We’ll go over what to learn and focus on, and how to practice.

If you’re brand new to songwriting, be sure to check out our beginner’s guide to writing songs after this.

Let’s get into learning the craft of songwriting…

Catalog Is Your Classroom

The best way to learn songwriting is to listen to the greats – the world’s musical catalog will be your best teacher.

Learn about famous and critically acclaimed songwriters and what songs they wrote that propelled their careers.

Make a playlist of all these songs on your preferred streaming site and just listen to them as much as you can.

Try and analyze the songs and study the melody, lyrics, instrumentation, etc.

One of the best ways to learn songwriting is to re-create these classic songs from the ground up – learn the chords, lyrics and melodies and make your own version.

You can re-write the lyrics, or re-write the melody and that exercise will teach you a lot about song craft.

Filmmaking students study film. Songwriting students should study songs.

Learn Basic Theory

You don’t have to master musical theory, but you should start your study by learning the absolute basics if you don’t already know them.

You want to know how musical notes and chords work and how time/rhythm works in music. Knowing how to count in music is a must. Beyond that some knowledge about how chord progressions and harmony work will come in very handy.

You don’t need to go deep, just learn the fundamentals of how music works. We have a 6 part guide here at Deviant Noise on everything you’ll need to know.

Learn About Songs

Next, you should familiarize yourself with the mechanics of how songs work.

You’ll want to learn about:

  • different song sections
  • the “energy” flow of a song
  • song hooks
  • key changes

These things aren’t difficult to learn, and is similar to learning theory. Once you understand the concept, you’ll be able to apply it immediately.

Microphone Month at Sweetwater

Learn a Process

Everyone has their own process for writing songs, and no one is better than another.

However, different workflows/processes for writing a song work best for various people. So you’ll want to learn at least ONE process, and then refining it until you find what works best for you.

There are a lot of different ways to start writing a song – start with lyrics, start with a melody, write the chorus first, outline your song, etc.

We’re partial to writing the chorus melody first, and then working backwards from there. But that’s not the only way to write.

Learn different processes/workflows and keep whatever works for you.

Learn the Craft

Finally, learning the craft – or the art of doing – is extremely important. And the best way to learn the craft is by analyzing your favorite songs.

But there are also a ton of great resources out there that will deep dive into the various areas of song craft.

The things included in “song craft” are:

  • what makes a great melody
  • how to write compelling lyrics
  • writing a great chorus/verse/pre-chorus/bridge/etc. section
  • the most engaging song structures/arrangements
  • how and where to use song hooks
  • vocal arrangement and production

You can go really deep on all of these areas, and there are a million different opinions. But there are also tried, tested and true ways of doing things. 

And it’s important to learn those, even if you don’t want to use them for your own writing. Knowing the “rules” helps you break them in better ways.

So definitely spend time learning song craft.

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Final Thoughts

The best piece of advice I can give you about how to learn songwriting is to put in the work – get your reps in.

You have to write songs – a lot of them. It’s the best teacher.

Consider the fact that your first 100 songs are pre-requisites that will probably all suck. Once you’ve written those 100 songs, then you’ll be at the starting line.

The first 100 are just practice.

After that, make your goal to write 10,000 songs. It may seem unachievable, but it is totally doable within your lifetime.

And songwriting, whether or not you “get paid,” is a lifelong pursuit.

Regardless, that’s the only way to get good as a songwriter – write lots and lots of songs. Most will suck, but a few will be absolute GEMS.

If you really want to level up your songwriting skills, I highly recommend you join HitSongsDeconstructed – they’re the best resource on the internet I’ve found on how to write hit songs.

Thanks for reading this post on how to learn songwriting effectively. I hope it was helpful.

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    About The Author:

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    Omar Zulfi

    Omar Zulfi is a music producer, rapper, singer, songwriter and digital entrepreneur. He is the founder and head writer at Deviant Noise. Learn more about what he's doing by clicking here.