Sunday, April 4, 2010

Song Writing Tips

If you have ever tried writing a song  you know it can be tough. I really cant help you write the words, but I can offer some tips that may make writing your song easier in the long run.

Natural Chords: These are your basic letter chords. Every rock song that has ever been written uses these. These are safe chords to experiment  with because if your looking for a chord to finish up a song line, and you cant find it, if you have used only natural chords, it will end on a natural chord as well.  Many simple melody uses natural chords. Everything from "I'm a little teapot" to "Mary had a Little Lamb"

Minor Chords: Don't let the name fool you. These chords can have a big impact of the tone of your song. Just one minor chord stuck in your progression will turn it into a love ballad or a funeral dirge. An entire progression of minors can also give your song a driving sound, so if you want the song to have a fast tempo, you cant go wrong with a Dm or a Gm

Seventh Chords: These are tricky . If you don't use seventh chords properly you can kill the movement of your song completely and you will be left with nowhere to go. I usually use them in a wrap around instead of the middle chord.  When your song is approaching it's end, finish the last chord and repeat the last three or four chords that you played, replacing one of them with a seventh. So if the last three chords of the song were   C G C  Then I would play C G7 C           

Changing the key: A lot of times I write a chord progression but when I go to write words, I find that its way out of my range. To combat this problem I simply transpose the chords. The simplest method of this is the counting method. In order to do this you take your progression and count from the letter of the first chord, to the key that you want the song in. For example lets say my progression is C G F C, but this is much to low for me to sing. I want this song to go from the key of C, (because that is what it starts with and ends in) to the key of E. I take the C and count the direction I want the key to go in (up) until I get from C to E.  From C to E it would be two.
   -2  -1   0   1   2  3   4
    A   B   C  D  E  F  G
   
 Once I  know how far it is to get to my key, I do the same to the rest of the progression.  So if im going up two keys with every chord, I'll end up with: EBAE.  If at any time ,your counting goes above G, just start again at A like a piano does.  This works with chords with suffixes too. If your progression has a seventh, a minor , and a diminished chord in it, just add the suffix to the new chord too. 

*WARNING: this does not work with Flat or Sharp chords. The pattern of Sharps and Flats is not perfect and it will ruin your progression.

As always...Stay Tuned!
~Ethan

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