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.


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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