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Composing or Writing A Song that Inspires You and Others

Updated on August 19, 2011

Songs that Inspire

Songs have in them an innate power to inspire, to motive, and to connect with people. There is something about music, or words set into music that summons greater energy within us and captures our deepest emotion. That is why one of my favorite teachers has always mentioned: "When the heart overflows, a song is born." If a picture paints a thousand words, then music captures a thousand emotions.

(image from teddmusic.com)

Getting Started - how to start composing and writing your song

Deciding on the Type of Song

To start off in composing or writing a song, you should first decide on where you would want:

1. an instrumental song

- for this, there a no words, just purely instruments or tones that capture what you want to communicate

- common examples of this are the classical composers like bach or mozart , where the melody and song is brought to life by the instruments

2. a song with music and lyrics

- here, words combine with melodies to bring the song to life

Tips in Writing your Lyrics

Making Lyrics that Connect with People and with You

Songs with lyrics create a unique connection with people, as the words reach out to people's inner most emotions when set to a melody. In writing the lyrics of a song, there are three things you have to consider:

1. A Clear Message or Central Idea

A focused, clear message or central idea for the song will help listeners relate and connect more with a song. The message need not be deep, it may be as simple as telling a story of an event, sharing how one feels about something that has happened, or communicating a point of view to the world. Deciding on the message and being clear about it will help in writing the verses and the chorus of the song. If the message is clear, both of these will flow from your central idea.

My personal strategy is to write the chorus first, which captures and drives home the point. Then the verses and other parts of the song begin to flow naturally.

2. Honesty

As one of my favorite teachers has said, "Great writing is Honest writing". In writing down your lyrics to communicate your message, honesty is the best policy. Being honest makes the words flow easily. It allows us to tell a smooth, flowing story that captures the listener's attention and hooks them to the song.

3. Simplicity

Some may argue, but often, i think simplicity in song writing is a key element. If you communicate in a simple way, more people will be able to relate to you. More people will get your message. You will inspire more.

Lyrics Tips

1. Clear Message - Central Idea

2. Honesty

3. Simplicity

Basic Parts of a Song

For starters, your song would have 2 parts:

1. Chorus

This is the part of a song which is constantly repeated. This part of the song i think should contain your central message, whether through lyrics or through notes for instrumental songs. It contains the central idea or thesis of your song.

2. Verse

The part of your song which creates a build up to your chorus. It either shares a story, or contains ideas (whether in written words or musical ideas) that support your chorus.

For more advanced composers, here are some additional parts:

1. Coda

Coda is an Italian word for "tail," it is the additional lines of a song which brings it to a close. The coda is an optional addition to a song.

(source: musiced.about.com)

Creating and Composing the Music

A basic approach to creating and composing the music for your song is a two step process:

1. Create your Melody

A good first step to creating your song is to come up with a melody. You can do this with some of the lyrics you've made or even by just humming a tune without lyrics. Once you have an idea, hum about it or sing it aloud. At this time, you can either put it down using notes, record it, or just keep playing it back in your head. Keep the tune or melody you made will be important as you move to the next step, making the accompaniment.

2. Create the Accompaniment

Once you get the melody down, one of the next things I usually is already create the accompanying music. You can ask someone who knows how to play an instrument, or if you know how, you can do it yourself. Once you've set the tune, start strumming or playing some chords to see what fits best. There are some elements you can consider.

The first is looking for the "Key" of the music you are playing. The key is the platform of where your accompaniment will flow from. Simply, the key is like a "pitch pattern". You determine the key through the notes you will be using, which sets initially how "high" or "low" you will be singing the song, and what notes are included.

Once you determine the key, you can set your tune into notes as a particular key such as the key of C or the key of E already has a family of notes or chords with it. The family of notes or chords will help you find what best accompaniment to set for the tune you made. By playing the different notes within the key, or staying within the family of chords within the key, you can quickly find the best music pattern to accompany your melody.

Be Yourself

Express Yourself!

You are perfect as you are!

Chord Families or Progressions

Creating the Accompaniment for your Melody or Tune

To create the accompaniment for your melody, I'll be sharing with you the concept of "Chord Families" or "Chord Progressions".

I would define a "Chord Family" as a set of chords that go together.

They are part of the "Key" of the song, which i mentioned earlier.

Here are some basic and simple Chord Families that you can use to start out your song writing. Usually, any chord you play within the family goes with the flow. I would liken writing the accompaniment for a song to a matching game. You just have to match the right chord for the right part of your melody or tune.

Basic Chord Families you can use:

C Family:

C - Dm - Em - F - G - Am

D Family:

D - F#m - G - A - Bm

G Family:

G - A - Bm - D - Em - F#m

A Family:

A - B - C#m - D - E - F#m - G#m

E Family

E - F#m - G#m - A - B - C#m

A Sample for You - How it Works: composing a song

Morning Star - a sample song composition - What it looks like - a song I composed as an example for you

To give you a flavor of what it means to write and compose a song, I'm sharing with you a song I wrote and composed a few years back entitled: "Morning Star"

Morning Star - the Lyrics

Morning Star

Music & Lyrics by: John Paul Cases Bernardo

Verse 01:

That day you shared

Your history

I had seen

real beauty defined

You braved life's pains

And never gave up the fight

I don't know how you do it

Captain in court, captain in life

I don't know how you do it

Rose above went the distance to fly

Chorus:

For you shine

So bright

Your light touches heaven

To the depths of the soul

For when you shine

Your light

One is humbled, uplifted

You also make us shine

Verse 02:

Through times

I've lost my way

was a wreck

You've seen right through

the p0ker face I project

Your thoughts, your words, your ideas

served as my guides

I don't know how you do it

You seem to read

People's minds

Must be some power of yours

For you have often

Read my mind

Chorus:

For you shine

So bright

Your light touches heaven

To the depths of the soul

For when you shine

Your light

One is humbled, uplifted

You also make us shine

Get Your Friends to Help you Out! - Morning Star - remastered version with the help of friends

After composing your song, it would be great to get your friends involved. They can share great ideas on how to make it work better. They can also complement your music skills with their own talents to come up with an output that rocks! Synergy is key!

T . E . A . M .

T - Together

E - Everyone

A - Accomplishes

M - More

Level Up your Game! - Ways to Take your Song to the Next Level!

Create your Unique Sound: Alternative Chord Forms - Chord Finger Pattern Variations to break away with a new sound for your song

Another option you can take in making your song unique, and finding that right sound for you is through alternative chord form or chords played using different finger patterns. As shown in the picture, the F#m can be played as a chord in many ways using the standard bar form which is the first diagram in the picture. It can also be played using 2 other open chord patterns of F#m as seen in the next 2 diagrams beside it. There are also other ways to play F#m on higher keys.

Have fun experimenting with such alternative chord forms or chord finger patterns to create a sound that best fits your song and melody. Give it a try! You never know what great music you can create!

Perfecting your Melody through Note Families or "Keys" - a guide to understanding what Notes go together and why - Major Keys

In composing melodies, you'll already have a rough tune in your hear which you can sing. This is the start of a great song. The next step here is making your melody more precise, or expanding the melody into your head to create the other parts of the song. How can you accomplish this?

An important tool to sharpening or expanding your melodies is what is called a "Key" or simply, a family of notes that go together.

Don't be afraid in talking about notes or keys as the basics are simple. All you need to let go of your fears that it is complicated. As you allow yourself to learn, you'll find yourself pleasantly surprised at your progress.

Now first, the fundamentals. You'll need a piano diagram for this, as seen in the picture above.

I think you know the basic notes in the piano:

Do - Re - Mi - Fa - Sol - La - Ti - Do

or

C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C

My suggestion is you try to look for a simple piano keyboard, whether an actual live instrument or in the internet,

and play all the white keys. Which are the notes:

Do - Re - Mi - Fa - Sol - La - Ti - Do

Notice that all these notes go together. All the white notes in the keyboard form the Key of C Major or the Note Family of C Major.

Major keys have a bright, upbeat sound. When creating a melody, you can use all the notes in a Major Key and everything will go together.

How does one make a Major Key?

To create a major key, let's first understand how notes are counted.

All notes are counted as half steps. A half step is a move from one note to the note directly next to it or beside it.

Look at the keyboard: you will see that from "Do" or "C" to the black key beside it which is "Do # (sharp)" or "C #", the distance is one (1) half step. From "Do #" or "C#" to the next white key beside it which is "Re" or "D" this is another half step.

Now observe, the notes "Mi" and "Fa". They are directly beside each other. Thus, since a half step is a move from one note to the note directly next to it or beside it, "Mi" and "Fa" are one-half step apart.

To create a Major Key, you will use the following counting of half steps:

Root Note - 2 half steps - 2 half steps - 1 half step - 2 half steps -2 half steps - 2 half steps - 1 half step

Notice that there are eight (8) notes in a key or note family.

Applying this to the major key of C we see that this is whole family of notes forming the major key of C:

Do - Re - Mi - Fa - Sol - La - Ti - Do

C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C

Now let's apply this to the key of D or starting from Re. Let's create the Major Key of D. Remember the counting in half steps:

Root - 2 - 2 - 1 - 2 - 2 - 2 - 1

Re - Mi - Fa # - Sol - La - Ti - Do # - Re

D - E - F# - G - A - B - C# - D

How about for the major key of G?

Root - 2 - 2 - 1 - 2 - 2 - 2 - 1

Sol - La - Ti - Do - Re - Mi - F# - Sol

G - A - B - C - D - E - F# - G

Now you can create "Major" Keys or note families in the "Major" form - a happier, upbeat sound.

Stick to the notes within the family or key and your melody will flow smoothly.

Now it's time for you to try, sharpen and expand your melodies with the knowledge of Keys or Note Families!

Happy Composing!

Adding a Cultural Twist! - A glimpse into the interesting variations in scale or note patterns across countries

In composing your song in the key you've selected, you'll most probably have a scale that goes with it. A scale is a combination of notes that blend together which flows from the key you use. Most common would be a major scale for the song. If you'd like to add some spice to your song accompaniment, you may want to experiment with a "cultural twist" to the scale.

From my listening, I observe different scale patterns across countries. I'm sharing with you an example which I found in Youtube from a cool pianist. This is a song from an Anime entitled Bleach. The song's name is "Houki boshi" which means comet. Notice the distinctly Japanese feel and atmosphere to the song, given the unique scale combination it uses.

Learn More about Composing from Squidoo - More great Squidoo Lenses to jumpstart your song writing journey

Here a number of great lenses from Squidoo lensmasters that give great tips and knowledge to guide you in your song writing journey. Enjoy finding your voice, finding your sound, and finding your unique ways of expressing yourself!

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      reasonablerobby 6 years ago

      What a great lens. I really like your Morning Star song. You have provided a really good introduction to composing that is accessible to everyone. My mother was a music teacher and she transformed the lives of many people. You are doing the same. Well done!