Become a singer songwriter

Who is a singer songwriter?

A singer songwriter is one who writes, composes, and performs his/her own music. He writes his own lyrics and sings his own original melodies.

Lyrics

Lyrics for an original song usually come from some idea that the performer has. Just like a poet or a writer of prose, it is a delivery of text based on a theme. Many songs have been written with lyrics about love found, love lost, change, hope for a new life, loss, heartbreak, world peace, helping somebody, children and other popular themes.

It can start with a title and the writer can build a story or a series of related expressions. Conversely, the writer can choose a sequence of thoughts leading to a punch line or a hook.  A ‘hook’ is a repeated melodic or lyrical phrase that keeps the listener interested. There are so many variations in song-styles and a lot of it depends on the preferences of the writer. When the lyrics for a song are chosen, and read, they should suggest a metric pattern and the song as a whole should have one of a few popular forms in which verse, chorus and bridge are identified.

Melody

When writing a song the composer needs to arrange notes to form a tune which identifies the song. This tune is the melody of the song. The tune has to match the lyrics in accents and duration. Composing a melody is not confined to the knowledge of a musician, but the song, most likely, will require harmony in chords and sometimes a bass line and percussion to put it all together.

Performance 

Over the years most singer songwriters performed on an acoustic instrument, such as piano or guitar. Lately electronic accompaniment has become popular, making sure there is a balance between the volumes of voice and instrument. Such persons would need to be trained in the instrument they choose. The guitar suits arpeggios and chords and strumming and the piano appeals to those who like the piano action. In both cases the singer can adjust the pace and pauses depending on the mood. The singer is in full control.

Do you know any singer songwriters?

I am sure you know popular songs like Sounds of Silence by Paul Simon and Now and forever by Richard Marx,  All of me by John Legend and My baby don’t care by Nina Simone . These are examples of artists who play and sing. There are also many singer songwriters like Mariah Carey or Adele who are the creators or co-creators of their own lyrics and melodies, but do not usually accompany themselves in performance.

What about you?

Many people can write songs, and sing, but they have not taken the time to explore this artistic side of themselves in which they learn to play. Maybe you did a little singing in a school choir or children’s group. It is a good time to check out your skills in song writing and singing and add ‘playing’ as your next step. You might be surprised where it takes you.

Let me know your thoughts on this by leaving your comments. Thanks for stopping by.

 

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22 Comments

  1. Sergio

    I really like the idea of composing a song because I believe you can truly express your emotions into it, but I have never been able to really create song so far. I do play guitar, but I find it hard to compose an actual song.

    Do I understand it correctly that it’s best to first write the lyrics and then write the chords and the melody? Or could you also first come up with a melody and the chords and come up with the lyrics based on that?

    Cheers!

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Sergio. Composing a song is different for different people. Try both ways:(1) Decide on a theme and write some lyrics for a song with just 4-6 lines. Read the lyrics out loud a number of times and you will pick up a rhythm in the lyrics. Then put a tune to it in that rhythm. Any sequence will do. (2) Sing a groove (la la la la) of about 4 lines over and over. Create words that fit the rhythm. In both cases use the recording button on your phone as a reminder. Writing an original song is not difficult, and it improves with practice. If you leave your email we can be in touch.Thanks for your comments

      Reply
  2. Thabo

    Hi Joy,
    I’m not a singer but I have co-written songs as a lyricist. I think you’re spot on when discussing the different ways songs are created. I have written songs where the melody is already done, but the composer had no idea as to what words should be used.

    On the other hand I have worked with composers who needed the words to come first. My biggest thrill was writing the book and lyrics for an original musical. Yes, I agree with you that everyone needs the chance to discover the magic of music within.

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Thabo, that is a great accomplishment, writing lyrics for a musical. Wow!! Congrats. It could mean there is a lot more that you can do. Consider putting together some more lyrics, as you are inspired. You never know where it might take you. Discover the ‘thrill’ again. Best wishes and thanks for your comments.

      Reply
  3. Life Hack Guide

    My mum bought me my first piano when I was a child, and without a proper education, I learnt the notes and try to play a few simple music and immediately fell in love with it. Believe me, I was inspired to be a songwriter during that time. However without any proper knowledge or skills, the thought fades as time goes by. Reading this somehow made me miss the time I was playing the piano. I still have it with me though, guess it’s time to bring it out and start playing with it 🙂

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      There is so much fulfillment in being able to express your music. It’s time to bring out that piano and get busy. I will be providing training videos to help people who want to play as a hobby. If you wish you can leave some contact information and I will add you to my list. Thank you for your comments

      Reply
  4. Frank

    I am a lifelong musician, although not a song writer. My wife and daughter are good song writers and performers.

    I like the way you describe the difference between the two.

    I have been able to do a pretty good job of arranging the songs of others to fit a particular performance format. But that is an entirely different topic for discussion.

    I am sure that anyone reading your article will be both informed and educated and at the same time inspired to try their hand at writing a song.

    Please keep up the good work, it is very interesting and educational.

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Frank, thank you for your kind words. There are so many people who have the potential of excelling as  songwriters, but they don’t know that, simply because they haven’t tried. If they find out what is involved, learn and practise, they might find themselves doing great things to bring out their inner musician. Best wishes to you and your musical family !!!

      Reply
  5. Otis Dube

    Hello 😉

    A singer songwriter is one who writes, composes, and performs his/her own music, i like that for my wife she is a singer and i think she can write songs as well.

    This site is very informative as they are people out there who have talent and are lost, will defiantly share this site with my wife so she can learn more from you.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Otis, I am glad to know that you will encourage her to write and sing her songs. It can be such a fulfilling experience. She got the gift of singing and so she needs to use it to inspire the world. Thank you for your comments. Best wishes

      Joy

      Reply
  6. Jordan

    I’ve always been a very musical person naturally and have played instruments most of my life.

    Reading and playing notes always came very naturally to me, but when it came to any kind of improv solos I was terrified.

    Not having the notes already laid out for me made it difficult. I think this is part of the reason that I’ve always been afraid to try writing myself.

    Its always been something I have considered and maybe I should actually try it this time.

    Thanks for this post reminding me of a long lost passion!
    I really need to get back into it.

    What is your favorite music genre to write in / instrument?

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Jordan, I started out exactly like you, reading all my music. I always wanted to play by ear and to play those wonderful chords and riffs and licks. This didn’t happen until I went to jazz piano lessons, where I learned some rules. This helped me with my song writing and arranging, which are my favourite activities. Now the music comes from ‘within me’ rather that ‘out there’ on the music sheet. I write and play in all genres, jazz, latin american, pop, blues, reggae, ballads etc and although piano and organ are my main instruments I also play alto sax. Take your music to the next level and do a jazz program, it will be fun and easy for you since you already know so much. It will change your life forever. Thanks for your comments !!

      Reply
  7. Marc

    Hi I always wanted to be a rock singer but never had the talent. I tried to learn the guitar at a young age but never had the patience for it. I also gave singing a try but I think I was tone deaf and the piano was way to complicated for me. Now that I’m older and have more patience maybe I should give the guitar another go and see what happens.

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Marc, from what you described it is clear to me that you love music and have a deep desire to play music. It is not too late. Get enrolled in a guitar program and soon you will find yourself playing and singing. Don’t worry about ‘tone deaf’ and ‘complicated’. When you are taught, you will understand and you will perform and be proud of yourself. Thanks for your comments.

      Reply
  8. Nimrodngy

    Wow. I really like this article. Recently, I started writing poetry about love, funny moments, and even poetry that expresses my mood on a certain day. You gave me a very good idea. I think I could turn these poems into songs with little imagination. I was thinking of publishing a book with poems and next to this to put song line of each one. Do you think that would be a good idea?
    Thank you very much and keep in touch. Hope to see more articles like this. 

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Thanks for your comments. You are definitely on to a great idea. Poems have expression and rhythm in the words. Just try singing the lines to whatever melody comes to your head, and you will have a song. I hope you follow up on this. In writing your lyrics a good portion of the work is done. You are on your way to becoming a singer songwriter. Keep going !!!

      Reply
  9. Julianne

    I got introduced to the art of playing the guitar from little and till now, I still play it. The only problem I have is that I have never written a song by myself. Everything has been strictly based on doing covers for other people song or rather, playing while others sing. I really do want to write my songs and play them too. So, I wish to inquire if there is a need for me to learn any basics again or how do I do it since I know a musical instrument already.

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Julianne, most of the battle is already won. Just choose a title or a theme, make a note of what you want to express. Write it out as a poem or as prose. Then pick up that guitar and strum some chords. Sing your writing to any melody you wish and when you think you have gotten something, record it using a phone or iPad . You can always go back to it and fix it more to your preference. There you go ! You have written your first song. Thanks for your comments.

      Reply
  10. Benny

    I guess the mistake I always make is the fact that I have prioritised the playing of music instrument while trying to write a lyric. I think I always jump the protocols. This is bad and uncalled for. Thanks so much for sharing all these for me here. I really appreciate a lot. Thumbs up to you for sharing here.

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Benny. Some people are better at doing lyrics first and some prefer to design a melody or a groove and then put words to it. There is no bad way. Try both methods and see what works for you. Thanks for your comments. Happy songwriting !

      Reply
  11. Shelley

    I’m very sorry but I still have difficulty understanding this so well. If it is that much easy to have a song written following this. I can write poems but not songs. Most times, I end up having problems maintaining the rhythm or singing well to the beauty associated with it. I really fancy this a lot and hopefully,I should give it a try again.

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Shelly, if you can write poems, you are halfway there. Read a poem over and over and you will hear and feel the rhythm of the words, the accents on the syllables, and notice how you raise and lower your voice as you read. To write a song, just sing a melody observing the same features. Grab your phone and record. It is easier than you think. Thanks for your comments

      Reply

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