What’s Your Song Writing Process: Music or Words First?

I met with a couple of my singer/songwriter friends this week for a song writer’s group. I asked them what process they use to write songs, if they write the melodies or lyrics first. One comes up with the guitar music first, then she comes up with a melody, and she adds the words last. The other comes up with the words first, then the melody, and the guitar chords and music come last.

I’ve done it both ways. I usually get the line of a melody with or without words that I build a song from. Usually the melody comes first, but sometimes words and melody come together. Other times, I’ve written the words first and then added a melody afterwards, but that way feels a little unnatural for me.

I tried an experiment last week and came up with a melody for the verses and chorus of a new song without any words. Coming up with the music was fairly easy. I recorded it so I won’t forget it, but the song has lyrics. I don’t even know what it will be about. No title or anything, but it was a fun new way to try and write. I think I’ll do it again next time.

Some people use just a drum beat to write a song. I think I’ll play around with that on Garage Band next and see what I come up with. I’ll let you know how it goes. If you haven’t already done it, try it and see if it works for you.

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About alicebeesley

Hi, I'm married and have three kids and a dog—she's a shnoodle named Kizzy. I enjoy playing the guitar and writing songs. I've published some poetry in magazines such as Avocet, a literary journal and Mylight, an online children's magazine. I have a bachelor's degree in writing from Brigham Young University. In the evenings I teach English as a second language. For fun I like to hike, bike, camp, and cross country ski. One of my favorite things to do is read a good book in bed and eat sugar-free chocolate.
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