Inside every hardcore guitarist is a little songwriter hoping to come out someday. It’s a natural part of the music process. You can’t be involved in music without also wanting to create, at least a little bit.
Whether you want to create a song from nothing or simply add a little something to the melody when playing lead guitar, a creative person is a must with guitar players once you get past the early technical stages.
So how do you go about songwriting? It’s a huge topic, so I’ll spare your time today by offering 6 tips some of my songwriting friends had to offer.
#1 Start Writing Right Now
All songwriters agree the best way to improve your writing is to start writing. Will your first songs be any good? Maybe, but probably not. Everyone has to start somewhere, but you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t start.
#2 Sing The Parts
I get it. Most guitarists don’t feel comfortable singing. That’s fine; you don’t have to in public. But when writing a song, you need to sing the parts to get a feel for how it goes. This doesn’t mean you need to sound great, but you’ll learn so much more from trying to sing it. Most of the best songwriters and producers in the business will sing their stuff, but they may not ever sing it in public.
#3 Don’t Be Afraid Of The Music Theory
For many guitarists, music theory is a bad thing. People are scared of it. Then, they hear from legends, like Paul McCartney, who say they don’t know how to read music.
Don’t equate understanding music theory with reading sheet music. If you ever listen to Paul talk about music, you’ll quickly learn he understands how chords are built, how melodies fit inside the chords, and how he can use chord progressions to get what he wants. He may not be able to read the sheet music itself, but he understands music theory.
It’s scary for some, but spend the time to get more comfortable with it. It’ll help your songwriting skills a lot.
#4 Keep A Notebook On You
Inspiration comes anywhere. If you get some lyrics or hear some words that strike you, you’ll want to write it down right there. Don’t trust your memory. Even if you never use the idea, you’ll have a bank of ideas to pull on when songwriting.
#5 Use Your Phone’s Recording Feature
By the same token, don’t forget to use your phone’s recording feature. If you get a tune or rhythm in your head, hum it into your phone. Then, you can listen to it later and figure out how to put it together.
#6 Try Different Starting Places
Some will tell you to start with the music first. Others say to start with the words. The reality? Start with what works for you. If you’re not sure what’ll work, just give both a shot. Most likely, it’ll be a combination of the two.
Speaking of songwriting, I love how Tom Morello’s Masterclass covers this topic. He does a great job of making it easier from a guitarist’s perspective.