Songwriting made easier with the piano

What, exactly, is songwriting ?

Songwriting is the art of combining music and words to produce a song. This can be done in one of three ways by one person, or by a lyricist in collaboration with a musician. The method of creating the work depends on the preferences of the creator and the origin of the idea. You can, but don’t have to, score the music on a sheet, but you can use your piano skills to help you. 

How do you write a song ?

1. From words

A lyrical passage is created from words. Because of the regular patterns and rhymes and close rhymes, poems make a good start in songwriting. Songs can also be written from prose. Lyrics It is important that the accent in the lyrics coincide with the accent in the music, a concept called prosody. Using a piano you can easily play notes to match the lyrics, write down or record those notes and then take it further.

2. From music

With this method, you can play a melody on the piano to start the composition, and insert words to match the count and the style of that melody. This is easier in groove based songs, in which the creator gets his/her ideas from the vibe in the melody. The advantage in this method is that creating the melody first, gives you the chords with which you can work.find chords

3. From rhythm

The idea for a song can come from a drum pattern, which may be followed by lyrics and then melody or vice versa. Think of a hip-hop beat, and on hearing it, someone creates a rap. The rap is words to a beat, and if someone gives the rap a melody, they will get a song with beat, music and lyrics. Here is where the piano helps to pick out that melody.

Enhancing your composition

There are many details that make for a great composition. Some can be found in:

  •  the content of the lyrics
  •  the chord progressions
  •  the overall arrangement of the song. note

One such feature is the introduction of ‘hooks’. Most hit songs are laced with hooks, a repetition of a phrase. That is what makes them catchy and memorable. It can be a lyrical phrase, where a few words are repeated at several points in the song, or it can be a melodic phrase which is a powerful tool that can be worked out on the piano. A melodic hook that starts a song and appears at several points in a song is sure to make it attractive. A good example is the song Africa by Toto, that starts with a melodic hook, played four times as the introduction, and then appears at the end of every two lines. Who doesn’t love that song?

Benefits of songwritingsinger

Songwriting has become big business over the years because artists are always looking for new songs, and advertisers are always searching for songs to motivate and get consumers to buy. It has evolved from a simple hobby to a course that is taught at colleges. With technology, it is easier to synchronise beats and melody to match lyrics and create songs in every genre. Working with the piano, you can work out the whole arrangement, the melody, the guitar chords, and the bass line. Songwriters who play and practice piano find themselves at a distinct advantage because creativity is facilitated by the instrument.

What level of piano skills do you need?

If you were going to perform at a concert or live show you would need advanced skills to be able to maintain rhythm, and stay in the right key and play in sync with the band. If you decided to try songwriting, you would need just basic skills which allow you to make up a melody. You can then have someone help you find the chords and prepare to complete your song.

How good are your piano skills? Have you ever tried songwriting? Maybe now is a good time to set your poems to music or write some songs. Remember, you need only basic skills. You can get guidance with the songwriting courses or books by Jason Blume or any of the Robin Frederick Series of songwriting books, which are so easy to read and follow.

Are you ready?

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  1. AV2001

    Hey Joy,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this article as you’ve provided us with lots of valuable information. I’m a pianist as well. I’ve played in small concerts and have given couple of exams at the London College of Music. I felt like I wanted to take my piano skills to the next level. 

    It’s kinda boring to play the same tunes/melodies again and again. Therefore, I started with song writing, and I posted couple of videos on YouTube as well. It just feels interesting day by day. 

    Thanks a lot for taking your precious time in writing this detailed blog post. Keep up the good work Joy!

    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi AV, you are several steps ahead in your music career because you already know the piano. You have stepped into the wide  and exciting world of songwriting. Best wishes. thanks for your comments !

  2. Tracy cole

    There is no doubt this post is very detailed and Informative. This is a thorough and insightful content. There are so many useful tips on this page that I had to bookmark in order to checkback and gain extensively from the writeup. I am not a pianist but I have always wanted to learn on daily basis, this will surely help me with songwriting because I am a good writer and I sing a lot.

    1. Joy (Post author)

      Well Tracy, half the battle is won since you are a good writer. In order to use the piano to help your songwriting, you need only the basic skills. You will be able to create the melody, relate it to chords and you can get help from a trained musician to take it further. Thanks for you comments. Best wishes !

  3. afolabi anumicheal

    Thanks for writing this article on songwriting with piano. I really learned a lot in this article. It is so informative educational on song writing. Before now I have always wanted to write a song but since I don’t have the basics skills I could not do it. Reading this article I makes me realise is not too late to start practicing the basics skills in song writing online and offline with the use of piano 

    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi. Learning basic piano skills makes songwriting so much easier. Most of the music you want to write comes from you. The skills help you to put everything in order so that it comes out as a well written song. Best wishes, and thank you for your comments.

  4. Salim

    I’m really amazed to read through your post today, I’m a music artiste too, I have recorded songs and most of my songs are available online for free download. I aptly know the great relevance of piano to songwriting and I have always wished to play the piano but I haven’t seen someone who could teach me well. I believe there’s no age limit to learning it? Thanks for the methods of songwriting you provided us with, it was highly informative and relevant. Thanks

    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Salim, there is no age limit. First, decide on what type of music you want to play and enrol in a class. Great to know that you have recorded songs, but there is a big difference in the songs put out by people who can play (even the basics) as compared to those who just sing. So for the advancement of you music career, plan to learn. Thank you for your comments.

  5. Juliet

    Hi Joy, I would really love to write songs. But I seem to have a long way to go. On the piano, I can only play the scales. I play the violin but just learning to play by ear. Sometimes these melodies pop into my head but I don’t have any way of playing it till it disappears. I have a complex challenge where do I start? 

    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Juliet, you start with your phone. Anywhere you are in traffic, at the store, or at home, just take out your phone and sing or tap your idea into the recorder on your phone. Then, when you have some time you sit at the piano and find the notes you recorded. You can then listen to it over and over until the complete song comes to you. Don’t be afraid to ask a musician to help you. They have the training and the expertise. Don’t let your music die !

  6. DorcasW

    Hi; I enjoy reading your post. In a discussion about the topic. I often say some songs are ‘studyration’ while some others are an inspiration.

     Playing with the Piano keys helps to ignite the songwriting inspiration, and I am convinced that those songs that are written with the help of the musical instrument are more attractive to the hearers than the other songs.

    With the Bootleggers invasion in the music industry, do you believe that the average songwriter can make it financially in this time?


    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Dorcas, in some of the songs I hear these days, as you said, the art of music is lost. People who don’t know the rules of music and the concepts of harmony, arrangement etc just work with a beat and come up with ‘a song’. I guess there is a market for that, but there is also a market for well composed music. The artists must not be intimidated and get their music out there. The good thing with this digital age is that music can be registered and almost anywhere in the world it is played, it can be detected. Thanks for your interesting comments. Best wishes !


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