How To Write Better Songs
You Don't Have To
Read Music Or Play An Instrument To Write
Songwriter Roy John Fuller
Many successful writers don't play the
guitar or piano but they can still hear the
song melody in their heads. Anyone with
basic music skills can help you establish
the chords for your song melody. Don't let
this stop you from writing songs
With A Great Idea
Before you can
write a hit song
you have to have a
hit idea. Don't waste your time
developing an idea that doesn't rock the
house. How do you know if you have a great
idea? First, the idea should excite you.
Never write about anything that doesn't
excite and move you. If the song idea
doesn't keep your total attention and
devotion you will not be motivated to spend
the countless hours developing, moving parts
around and re-writing the song to make it a
hit song. It usually requires a huge effort
on the part of the songwriter from writing,
re-writing and pitching a song before any
material success is realized from that song.
Don't spend a lot of your valuable time on a
bad song idea. That doesn't mean you have to
have an old cliché or catchy title to start
writing a hit song.
You have to have a great
song idea. One that can project images of
actions or love. You song idea can about a
songwriter that meets the love of his life
while co-writing a new hit song. Could be
"Love From A Hit Song", etc., but you
need to be able to sit down and write out a
list of actions or events that will take
place in the lyrics of the song.
They need to eventually develop into the
climax of the song where you and your new
soul mate get married for instance. In any
case, test your initial idea from several
angles and ask your friends or fellow
songwriters what they think of the song idea
before you reach for that pen and start
writing your heart out. Make sure you have a
hit song idea first. Something new and
unique with a twist of its own
Writing An Interesting Melody
A Hit Song
consists of hit lyrics and a hot melody. One
without the other will not make a hit song,
it takes both. If you write only lyrics you
will need to co-write with someone that is a
good melody writer. A hit melody must have
variety and excitement just as the lyrics
does. Never settle for the first melody that
comes into your head, it will almost never
be the best melody you can write. A great
melody requires constant re-writing to make
it a hit melody.
You should have melody change ups in the
chorus and the bridge.
Most songs fit
one of several basic patterns such as a
verse with 4 or 5 lines, a chorus of 4 or 5
lines, another verse of 4 or 5 lines and
possible a bridge. My focus will not be on
song structure as there are many books and
articles on correct song structure. We will
focus primarily on things you can do to make
your songs better and hopefully hit songs.
The most successful song
structure I see in hit songs on Billboard is Verse - Chorus
-Verse - Chorus - Bridge - Chorus.
you have a melody that
can be complemented by one of the song structures above. If you
have a melody that uses its own verse, chorus, bridge or other
structure, you may not be able to locate lyrics that can be used
with your melody. You do not need a full production melody to
know if you have a hit potential melody. It does have to be
interesting, exciting, new and refreshing though. Take
your melody idea and experiment with slightly different
versions. Go high or low here and there instead of vice versa.
Switch things around and try for the melody that's the most
original and unique. You will need to make a great professional
demo of the song later, but for now you just need a great unique
The First Verse
first verse is the most important verse in the song. Not
that the other verses are not important because they are also
important to a hit song. If the listener is not excited by the
song during the first few bars and lines of lyrics they may stop
listening to the rest of the song. The first few lines of
lyrics must get the listener's attention and set the stage for
the rest of the song to develop. Be sure to use colorful and
descriptive words and adjectives. Don't tell the listener what
is happening, let the lyrics show the listener what is taking
place in the song. Make sure you explore the where, what, whom
and "what happened then" concept when writing your lyrics. Try
to keep reading those good parts over and over in your mind.
Then try to add some new and interesting information in the song
via imagery. Let your characters act it out in the song. That
way your listener becomes part of the song.
you want one main idea only in your song.
Once you determine what your idea is you
have to fully develop that idea and not
introduce other ideas that will water down
your idea. Write strong lines that will
develop your idea and contribute to the
listener's understanding of the situation of
our song. I recommend always using the third
person point of view when writing songs at
first. He, she or they is better at first
than I or me. You can experiment with
writing first person songs later. Also, Try
to write happy, faster paced songs at first.
You can write sad, slow, cheating songs
later after you have developed more skills
and have had some chart topping successes of
your own. You want all the odds in your
favor when trying to write your first hit
The Second Verse
The second verse needs to continue the
story to another level. Don't just repeat what the
listener already knows, add new information, new
action that will contribute to the listener's
understanding of the basic story line.
Keep asking yourself, "then what did they do"?
then what happened? Be sure to use more
colorful, descriptive and entertaining words and
lyrics. Use rhyme carefully and don't overdo. Rhyme
is used to help sell your song to the listener.
The rhyme will help the listener predict what's
coming next and in remembering the lines to your
song, especially in the chorus where you will
repeat the lines.
Writing The Chorus
The chorus is
where you bring your primary idea to bear. This is where you
provide the solution or the result of the actions in the verses.
melody of the chorus should be a change up
from the melody of the verses also. You need to use variety here
to keep the story interesting, but to the point. Always
stay on target with your one idea and every word of the song
needs to contribute new information to the idea you are
developing. Don't take off on another angle that leads you away
from the main basic idea of your song. Every line of your songs
needs to point to the main idea or title of your song. If any
line of your song does not point directly to or complement your
main idea and title, cut it now. Always keep reading your title
and main idea over in your head while you are writing new lyrics
or re-writing old lyrics. Stay on track with your
one main idea.
in your chorus to drive home the main idea of the song. Repeat
the title more than once. Use rhyme in the chorus to drive home
the main idea that you are repeating. The chorus is not
the place to inject new angles or directions. It's the place to
drive home the main theme of your song and maybe the
consequences of the actions in the verses.
sure a song is really ever finished. I
have songs I have been writing on for years
with demos completed and I still find a
better more creative way to deliver the
message. Always stay open to new ways to
improve your songs with new lyrics and new
melody changes. Strive to make your song as
strong as possible. Only then will it have a
chance of being hear and recorded. Make sure
you have tied all the lines of you song back
to the title. Can the song do without one of
the lines? If so, cut it now and write
another. It won't survive the test of
pitching a song these days. Publishers and
recording artists are not looking for good
songs, they want hit songs that will further
promote their careers. The good songs they
record will be written by their friends,
etc. You need a hit song to get anyone's
attention today. That's why its so important
to have a great idea before you start
writing the song. Only a song with a great
unique idea and carefully crafted lyrics and
melody will get consideration in today's
competitive songwriting market. Don't fall
into the trap of writing long songs. The average
radio song is 3 to 4 minutes with less than 4 minutes more
desirable. Long songs may not get airplay.
co-writing with another songwriter. Co-writing offers many
rewards, one of which can be hit songs. Find someone that brings
something other than what you bring to the table. If your
strength is writing lyrics, find someone that is a better
melodist that you are. The combination can result in stronger
songs. When it comes times to cutting quality song demos and
pitching to artist you have two resources to contribute with a
Final Songwriting Comments:
I have been writing songs many years now and I have a collection
of some nice song starts, tunes, verses, etc. I literally have
a suitcase full of napkins, torn off paper with lines on them
and let's not even talk about my home studio where I have
hundreds of tunes to music waiting on lyrics to finish them.
The best advice I can give to a songwriter is stick to just one
song and force yourself to make it strong. Make sure you
have a hit idea though before you spend your time on a song. .
Roy Fuller a BMI songwriter has had several Top 10
Billboard Pick Hits starting with "Angel In Disguise"
(1975 Nashville Columbia Studio B), "Your Song" (1975
Nashville Columbia Studio B), "The Image of Me"
(1978 Nashville RCA Studios), "Giving Up Getting Over
(1979 Nashville Tandem Studios), "The First Time"
(1981 Nashville Woodland Studios), "Do It"
(1981 Nashville Woodland Recording Studios), "The Shoe's
On Another's Foot"
(1981 Nashville Woodland Recording Studios).
He has Pick Hits and write up's in Nashville Entertainer,
Songwriter Magazine and other music industry publications.
Resources & Information
Country Music Songwriters
Why Get A Song
Critiques & Evaluations
Typical Song Critique
HOW TO WRITE SONGS