Most people approach the process of songwriting in the same general way of “how to write a song”. For those who write music, this process has to go to their instrument, first of all. Guitarists keep improvising until they get something of worthy sound. The focus of professional musicians is a completed song. While the majority of us learn a wide range of available composing ‘processes’. In other words, how to write a song on the guitar means to think of ‘what’ instead of ‘how’. So, pop rock stars share. Let’s assume your main instrument is an electric guitar and get into the magic of songwriting.
There are obvious pros and cons with every songwriting process and method. But one valuable advice is that you should begin with the most natural one. Improvise at your instrument, this is it.
- Natural improvisation is the most popular songwriting process.
- Begin immediately, no pre-compositional planning.
- The guitar offers natural possibilities of
*the number of simultaneously played pitches
- The guitar’s natural music plus your being a competent player will make a tandem.
- Most songwriters and even pros write in this way. That is why your musical results will similarly be successful songs.
- You may be limited by the instrument.
- You will repeat the previous ideas in other sessions.
- It is easy to start thinking as a guitar player.
- You may discover that not your true creative mind, but hands do the most.
- Having multiple processes of how to write songs on the guitar is better.
Well, go to your instrument and begin improvising.
6 ideas to begin with
Decide if your future melody will be vocal or instrumental. Vocal melodies need to have space for a singer’s breath. Besides, a singer’s pitch range is narrower than most instruments have. Also consider the melodic shape and direction.
Choose a tonal center to begin in one key. Later you can deviate from it if you wish. Think about the chord progression: the moments of tension/resolution and whether they are placed in the best order. Experiment by changing the chord/the melodic phrase and inversely.
Consider already used rhythmic patterns and make variations. One of them may be exactly what you need.
Dynamics, Texture and Form
Record companies usually hire producers to improve the songwriting quality in these 3 areas. Plan out what range of your new song will be: louder and softer parts, smooth transitions between them, etc. Playing on the guitar, down by the bridge, produces a totally different sound quality (than 12th fret: picking over the center of the string). Composing a keyboard part makes the results quite different. The form can do wonders. Consider the arrangement of the parts of a song in the early writing process.
Well, your entire writing won’t be easy. But never think of it as a hard thing. It often takes weeks or even months to be completely satisfied with your song. Good luck and only hits.