How To Become A SongwriterThe key job of a songwriter is to write a song. Not to perform the song. Not to record the song.Not to promote the song. Not to sell the song. But to write the song.Your primary skill as a songwriter is to pick the right notes and right chords to go with the rightwords and right song title and write them into a song.You write a song for whom?Firstly, for the end listener. The person who will actually emotionally and financially buy thesong, either through buying a CD or record or buying a live performance of the song.Secondly, for the record company, who will turn a song into a product (like a record or CD) thatcan be delivered to the end user through radio or retail stores.Thirdly, for radio programmers, who decide what their listeners will listen to.Fourthly, for the performer of the song who has to provide a performance that the recordcompany will want to capture and the radio station will want to play.Now you could argue for more people to be added to this list or for this list to be reordered. Butessentially these are the people for whom a recording songwriter writes.So, now you know who to write for, how to become a songwriter for these listeners is the keyquestion.What key skills do you need to become a songwriter?As a songwriter you must know how to write lyrics, how to write melody, how to write chordsand how to write your song as a lead sheet. As a song owner and seller you must also knowhow to select the song to demo and how to record a compelling demo.Put another way, as a songwriter, you are a lyric writer, a melody writer, a chord writer and alead sheet writer. That is, to be considered a songwriter, you must write in these fourdimensions.You could be a solo songwriter like Billy Joel and Bob Dylan do all four things yourself. Oryou could be part of a partnership like Lennon-McCartney or Holland-Dozier-Holland andspecialise in either a lyric or music role or move between the roles, depending on the song.Writing lyricsSo, how to become a lyric writer is one of the sub questions of the big question: how to become
a songwriter.The key skill is the ability to be able to tell a story rather than just throw words or rhymestogether. One of your key lyric skills is to be able to create song titles and then write your lyricaround that.There are various conventions about loading your chorus up with your title lines and using yourverse and bridge to support that line. In addition you need to learn to write your story withinconventional forms.Fortunately, there are loads of resources both on and offline that can teach you how to writelyrics. Naturally, to become a lyric writer you need to write habitually and exercise your skillsdaily.The challenge of melodyUnfortunately there is not as much resource around that can support you in becoming a melodywriter. Whereas there is a sound lyric writing literature available to songwriters, no comparableliterature exists for melody writing skills.Much of what passes for melody writing advice lives is often the twins of superstition andobscure theory in drag, neither of which actually tells the melody writer how to choose the bestnotes for their melody. Nor teach them how to become a songwriter.The two main melodic skills you need are the concepts of contour and span. Contour meansmelodic direction and shape and whether any given note is at a higher, lower or same pitch asthe previous one.Jack Perricone identifies four contour shapes in his book entitled Melody in Songwriting: Toolsand Techniques for Writing Hit Songs (Berklee Guide).There are in fact hundreds of contours, depending on how many notes there are in your melodicphrase. These contours can effectively show you how to become a songwriter. At the momentthere is only one melodywriting site online that educates songwriters about these melodicgoldmines.Span is also important to your melodies and ensures that you write for ordinary people whowill sing and hum your melodies as they wash their car or vacuum their house or consolethemselves. Attention to span means you will write for your fans, not for virtuoso singers whonever buy or sing pop music generally, let alone yours.Anyone seriously wanting to know how to become a songwriter will not neglect melodic span.Chords and harmony
Fortunately one area where songwriters are relatively well served is in the chord writing area.There is no shortage of stuff that teaches you scales, chords and chord progressions. Comparedto learning lyric writing and melody writing, learning scales and chords is straight ahead, likelearning a yellow pages directory.The more songs you write, the more you realise how secondary chords and voicings are whenyou are dealing with the absolute core of songwriting: deciding which notes go best with whichwords.Scales and chords are not useful at this time. They are very important however after you haveselected the notes and words for your song and its time for an arranger and a producer toarrange your notes and words into voices and sounds that your fans will love.Nevertheless, choosing the right chord for your melody is an important part of how to become asongwriter.So in becoming a songwriter you are becoming a lyric writer, a melody writer and a chordwriter. But as important as these skills are, the most important skill has not been mentioned yet.Rhythm to song is like oxygen to lifeA key part of how to become a songwriter is how to become a talker, reader, writer and playerof rhythm.While we can think of rhythm as being a separate concept (and there are good reasons for thisview) it is so embedded in lyric, melody and harmony, that you need to understand how rhythmintegrates each aspect as well as how it separates from each too.Words consist of meaning and rhythm. Melody consists of pitch and rhythm. Harmony consistsof simultaneous sound and rhythm. Rhythm consists of rhythm and timbre. There is noescaping the importance of rhythm and understanding, talking, reading, writing and playingrhythm is a key part of how to become a songwriters.