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. 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.
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:
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?
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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