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The Simple Secret To Finishing Your First Song

Jan 23, 2024

Maybe in 2024, you finally wanted to get into songwriting or get back into songwriting after years away and you want to finish your first song, but you ran into some roadblocks. If that sounds something like you, then this is the video for you because we're talking about the simple secret to finishing your first song. Let's talk about it.

So really there's one secret here, but we're gonna break it down into three different parts to make it a little bit more actionable. And the simple secret is really just, well, to keep it simple when it comes to your first song.

The first way to keep it simple is to keep it simple with your chords or your chord progressions. I am a firm believer that at some point it's a great idea to move beyond stock chord progressions, which doesn't mean that sometimes you don't accidentally happen to write music that is a stock chord progression. It just means that you don't wholesale pick a stock overused chord progression and say, "Okay, I'll build my song off of that." Instead, what you would do is maybe write a bass line or a piano riff, and you might eventually realize that the underlying chords in that progression actually is one of the stock overused chord progressions, and I think that's fine. But for the most part, eventually you do want to not just be like, "Ah, I'll use one five six four for this song." But when it comes to your first song, the best way and the easiest way to get a song done, get that win under your belt, is to keep it really simple and actually just embrace stock chord progressions. In fact, if this really is your very first song, I would recommend using one chord progression for your whole song, because that is about as simple as we can make the music side of songwriting. So keep it simple with chords, don't overthink it, go with one of the tried and true chord progressions.

The next thing to keep simple is to keep your song simple when it comes to song sections. So hopefully this part is obvious, but if it's your first song, maybe don't invent your own song sections. In fact, not only should you probably not invent your own song sections, but really go with some of the most basic song structures you can. Your first song shouldn't have two bridges and choruses that have different lyrics every time, and a pre-chorus and a post-chorus. Don't mess around with any of that, keep it really simple. Do a basic verse chorus, verse chorus, verse chorus structure, or maybe a verse chorus, verse chorus, bridge chorus structure, or even go one step further and have actually only one song section just do verses.

Even 60 and 70 years ago, it was actually very popular to have songs that didn't have choruses at all, and still that is done as well. And that can be the easiest route to go because then you only need to worry about one chord progression and one melody for one song section, and you just have to write different lyrics for each of the verses that you have. But if you want me to make it extra simple for you, I'm gonna give you two choices. For your first song, either do verse chorus, verse chorus, verse chorus, or have verse chorus, verse chorus, bridge chorus. No pre-choruses, no post-choruses, no second bridges, no fancy song sections that you invented yourself. This is your first song, keep it really simple.

And a third way to keep your first song simple is to keep it simple when it comes to lyrics. You may be tempted to overthink your lyrics and someday to some degree learning to really craft your lyrics that some may even accuse of being overthinking might actually come in handy. But this is your first song, you don't wanna overthink it, you just want to get it done. That doesn't mean you don't want it to be good or at least put forth a good effort, but you don't wanna spend too much time overthinking it. So I'd actually recommend starting with a tried and true song map or song outline. This is gonna pair really well with the fact that if you followed my advice so far, you're going with a very standard song structure of just verses and choruses or verses, choruses, and a bridge.

Again, to keep it really simple, I'll give you two outlines or two maps and you can just choose one of these two and it will be a fairly simple way to go for your first song.

So one song map is basically a chronological story where the present tense is in your chorus. So your first verse would be the past, your chorus would then be the present, and then the second verse would then be the future. Now there are a bunch of different ways to go with the future. So you could go with, this is the future that I fear we might have, or this is the future I hope we can have, but I doubt it, or this is the future that it seems like we are actively trending towards. So then after your second verse, you would have the chorus again, returning back to the present. And then in the bridge, if you have a bridge, you have an opportunity to address the future you talked about. You can talk about how can we get to that future if it's the future that you hope for, or if it's a future that you dread or you hope to avoid, you can talk about what we can do now to avoid that future. Generally, when it comes to the bridge, just think about how you can address that future, how you can either get to it or avoid getting to it, what could happen that would screw up the fact that we're already trending towards it. There's a bunch of different directions to go, but basically go in chronological order. Where your first verse is the past, your chorus is the present, and then your second verse is the future. And then the chorus, of course, is gonna be the present again. And the bridge is where you can sort of get into more nitty gritty details when it comes to that future.

And a second super simple outline you can choose is basically a sub idea outline. So in this outline, your chorus is outlining your main theme and your verses are telling stories or getting into sub ideas that support that main idea. So let's say the chorus is a child's perspective on their parents' marriage seeming to break apart when they don't want it to. So that's our main idea. So now in our verses and our bridge, if we have one, we can address some sub ideas. For instance, maybe in the first verse, the child tells a story about a fight that was just totally unnecessary and it felt like their parents were looking for a fight. Or you can keep it more about an idea and less about a specific story and just be the child crying out, please stop trying to make everything into a fight. And then maybe the second verse is something like, stop trying to live around each other and kind of live in the same house, but not really have one life you're building together, but actually come together again and try to build one life where you are actually living together instead of just sort of living in the vicinity of each other. And then maybe in the bridge or in a third verse, you say something like, I just want my mom and dad to smile again. So please at least try to get along because it feels like you're not really even trying. It feels like you guys don't even want this to work out. I'm the only one who does want this to work out. Anyway, that's a random example, but you can take any core theme and then explore that theme with some sub ideas or maybe stories that sort of flesh out that central theme in each of your verses and perhaps your bridge if you have one. So if this is your first song or maybe your first song in a long time, keep it simple. You just want to get that win. You want to get the song done. You don't want to spend weeks and months or even a year just trying to make the perfect song. When it's your first song ever or your first song in a while, you just want to get it done. Keep it simple. In the future, there are certainly many opportunities to not keep it overly simple because I do think there's some value in sometimes keeping it simple, but sometimes working on crafting your song a bit more, putting more effort into the lyrics, putting more time into getting the music just right and actually thinking about the chord progression more than just taking a stock one. But for your first song, this is not the time to do that. Keep it simple with your chord progressions. Keep it simple with your song structure and keep it simple with your lyrics. So hopefully this was helpful to you. If it was something else you'll likely find helpful is my free guide, Breaking Down. 20 different ways to start writing a song and you're wanting to complete your first song and then hopefully write 20 more songs after that. So if you want a bunch of different ways to start writing a song, be sure to check out that free guide as a Thank you so much for watching. I appreciate every single one of you. I'll talk to you in the next one.

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