How Music Works
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Writing Songs

Writing Songs

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(9.1)  The Songwriting Process

Songwriting is often intensely personal in content.  When you create music, you are capturing the moods and emotions that resonate with you and putting them into a musical form.

It is also a very personal process - everyone has a different way of getting from the first hint of an idea to the completed piece of music, and every song develops in a different way.

Sometimes it seems as though the song is writing itself, with one idea exploding after another in your mind until you find yourself (exhausted!) with a finished work in your hands.

Other times, the ideas can be frustratingly vague and timid - you know there is something there, but it needs to be delicately teased out, bit by bit.

Sometimes a song will lie half-finished for months or even years before you discover the missing piece of the puzzle that will allow it to be completed.

Usually though, you will be developing and refining all aspects of the song in parallel, rather than for example, completing the entire tune before you begin the harmony.

A fragment of a melody will suggest some words, or a chord, which will then give you an idea that helps you fill in the next detail.

There will be many times when you find yourself musically stuck, satisfied with what you have done so far, but unable to find a way to develop it further.

There are several techniques which can enhance the flow of ideas between the harmony and melody of your composition.  Throughout these tutorials we have stressed the idea that the musical structure of a song is created by its scale.

Once we know the scale of our song - at least in the area where we are working - we get a framework that will help to guide the development of musical ideas.

How do we discover the scale?  We can do it using either the melody (tune) or the chords (harmony) of our work-in-progress.

 

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