A Great First Step Into Songwriting

Sep 04, 2021

Are you trying to figure out how to become a songwriter? Do you want to write songs but don’t even know where to start?

A great first step into songwriting is to write new lyrics for existing songs.

That’s right. Like a non-funny parody.

A song you might get sued over if you published.

Even as a seasoned songwriter, this exercise can be phenomenal for becoming great at some of the hardest parts of lyric writing.

Here are the 2 main reasons you should give this exercise a try.


It Will Help You Ease Into Songwriting

You might not be ready to tackle writing music and lyrics right away. Maybe you don’t know any music theory and aren’t much of a poet. You still might want a way to start songwriting right away despite your current knowledge.

Just because you’ve written poems before doesn’t mean it will be easy to write lyrics, melody, and chord progression.

There will be many new challenges and pitfalls once you add music to the picture.

On the other side, the transition from composing music to writing a song with lyrics is not a seamless transition either.

I got my start as a songwriter by writing my own lyrics to hymns when I was 12 years old. I wasn’t necessarily trying to copy the hymns so much as I was writing my version. At 12, your ability to write your own melody, riffs, chord progressions, and lyrics is not exactly strong. So this is where I started.

Regardless of your age, if you are just starting your songwriting journey, writing new lyrics to old songs is a great first step.

Writing your own lyrics to a song is a great way to learn lyric writing without the pressure of also writing your own melody and chord progressions.



It Will Help You Learn To Write Lyrics Within Confines

This exercise will teach you the important skill of fitting a lyric to a melody. This is an invaluable skill for the times you write the music of a song before you write the lyrics.

Even if you write lyrics first, this is very helpful for writing 2nd and 3rd verses, when you don’t have the syllable and word freedom you had for the 1st verse, chorus, and bridge.

Before you think that doing something to get better at writing 2nd and 3rd verses isn’t worth it, let me dispatch that thought.

First, in a typical song with 2 verses, a chorus, and a bridge, the 2nd verse is literally 25% of the lyrical content of a song.

A chorus may repeat, but each chorus is usually lyrically and melodically identical.

In the case of 3 verses, a chorus, and a bridge, the 2nd and 3rd verses make up a whopping 40% of lyrical content.

Secondly, there is only one part of a song that has heavy limitations with how it is written. Alternate verses.

No longer do you have full access to create a new melody, rhythm, chords, and rhyme pattern. Now you are constrained to the rules set by the first verse.

You won’t be able to go rogue with syllable counts or rhyming, so the skill to write a lyric for composed music will be invaluable.

And there is no better way to learn that skill than writing new lyrics to songs that are already fully crafted.

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