Wonder How To Make A Song? - Here's A Quick Start

("Hot Tips For Smart Singers" Newsletter - May 3, 2010. See others here.)

Thinking About How To Make A Song? If you are new the idea - read on for a good tip on getting started. And for those of you who are seasoned songwriters, even we need a boost now and then.

I've been writing and recording original songs for many years. Most of the time, I write due to some thematic need... A show needs a song to carry the story forward or something has happened in my life the cries out to be told in song.

I had never created a song in the way I describe to you here today - until I gave a vocal workshop last week to a group of people (mostly in their teens but some older as well), who had come to my home town of Montreal, Canada from Toronto to learn more about the world of singing. Only two of them had written a song or songs before this session.

The workshop was divided into 6 parts. One of them was about songwriting.


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The group of 15 people were divided into 3 groups of 5. I gave each group several newspapers and magazines and very simple request...

Look for headings in the newspaper that seem like good song titles.

One person had the job of writing down titles as they were discovered by others in the group.

When I write songs, I often start with an idea and then go to the piano and noodle around until a musical idea comes up that gets me started. Many songwriters I know use the guitar or even a harmonica as a tool.

So I wondered how quickly or whether the groups would come up with some good song titles by looking through newspapers and magazines.

But things happened very fast.

As I wandered among the groups, I heard people reading out article headings from newspapers and magazines that had obvious possibilities as song titles.

A few of them are shown in the image at the top of this page: Waves, The Perfect Place, She Came Back, Now It's My Turn etc.

Each group had found about 10 titles. I made another request...

(My own dog friend, "Sniffer," is here on the right to accompany you on this journey!)


Choose one title that is so interesting to you that you need to know more about the story behind those few words. And then write down a few questions about that title.

For instance, with the title, She Came Back, you might ask: Who is she? Why did she leave? To whom or what did she return? What made her come back? etc.

I saw each group talking furiously for about 10 minutes. The person documenting the ideas in the group was filling up the page with questions and ideas. Creativity was really flowing. I was quite surprised at the progress. So I made one more request.

Now think about a simple, catchy chorus for the song - easy to remember. The TITLE might be an important, or even a repeated part of the chorus.

I heard them all singing a little bit - beating out a rhythm now and then. Soon one group was at the piano - writing the song. The other two groups followed soon after.

To my great surprise, each group had basically written a chorus and one or two verses to their song by the time we left.

This "How To Make A Song" process took about 40 minutes!

If you have never written a song, try this little experiment. Go through the process on your own or with a co-writer. See what you can get done in a short period of time. Do it for fun and see what happens!

If you are an experienced songwriter, and you do not work this way, try it! I'm going to go through this "How To Make A Song" process myself this week and write about it here next week.


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