Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Tips on writing music

Ok.. got some great comments on writing lyrics; so on to the next part of the songwriting equasion: here are some tips on writing the music.

The Music -
  • should have a memorable melody.
  • should have structured patterns of rhythm. These structures can be more free-form, however it takes experience and study of patterned music to learn how to create free form music, such as musical theater dialog set to music, art music, etc. Most of the time I see a lack of patterned rhythm, I hear badly stitched together pieces of music that instantly cry out... well, BAD.
  • stands out better with an unpredictable melody line and/or chord progression. However, should be something that still fits the genre you are writing for.
  • SHOULD BE SINGABLE! Watch words and word combinations that the tongue finds difficult... try to get your lyrics to flow from the mouth. I also find that many musicians who are not singers tend to write melodies that are not very singable. Writing wide vocal range songs can be good if you are pitching to singers with great range, but remember that male singers usually have larger ranges than females.
  • As suggested by either Quincy Jones or Baby Face (I can't remember which), melody should be strong played on piano without the bells and whistles of production. Not always, but many times great melodies can cross genres when produced in varied ways, as in songs like "I Will Always Love You", "I Swear", "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight", etc.
  • should have a mesmerizing, identifying, great feeling and if possible, innovative groove if up- or mid- tempo
  • when recorded - should be produced, with budget considerations, with as much quality and sonic excellence as possible, comparing the sound to current radio hits in that genre.

Here are some suggestions I have for studying and researching the subject of songwriting:

  • Go to the NSAI website and check out the workshops there. Consider joining NSAI.
  • go to Ultimate Songwriting.com and check out the books on this page http://www.ultimatesongwriting.com/songwriting-books.html
  • Study the lyrical and musical forms and rhythmic structures of songs YOU love. How many lines in the verse and chorus? How many beats in the lines? How did they make a "bridge"? How did they end the song? What was the musical "riff" that makes you think of the song?
  • Try taking a song you love and putting your own lyrics to that song's music. You can't, of course, end up using that music, but you can structure your song the same way. Then you put new music to your lyrics.

Do you have any other thoughts, questions, websites or insights? Please join the conversation and click COMMENT.

Btw... another of my absolutely favorite songwriters is Hugh Prestwood. ("The Song Remembers When", "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone", etc.)



  • At February 22, 2008 at 1:37 PM , Blogger Billy Robbins said...

    One Saturday night back stage at the Ryman Auditorium when the Grand Ole Opera originated there, while Hank Williams the 1ST was sitting on and about to totter off of a stool, Miss Minnie Pearl walked over to him and asked “Hank, how do you find the motivation to write all your songs”?

    His answer was, “Miss Minnie, I don’t write these songs; I just take my pen in hand and The Good Lord writes them for me.”

    So in my opinion, the greatest (Country) song writer ever depended on the Creator to guide his song writing.

  • At February 22, 2008 at 5:08 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

    Yes, I happen to believe this is literally true. If it is a good song, God sent the thoughts. We get to participate and send it on through to our pencils, pens, computer keyboards and voices to someone who will, in some way, be better off from hearing the song.


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