March 9, 2012
"Start With Your Strength"
By: David Randle
Songwriting Lessons show that when you set out to write a song, there are only three elements that you really need
to master. Those elements are lyric writing, melody writing, and harmonic progression development or chord
progressions. While there are other minor elements like song structure, rhythm, and tempo, the big three that I
first mentioned are the elements that are used by the Library of Congress to determine Intellectual property rights
and the basis for a claim of Copyright.
So ultimately, it would be a good idea to become really comfortable with all three of these elements, to the point
of mastering them, if you really want to be a great songwriter. And not only mastering them independently of each
other, but learning how to fully integrate them together so that they sound like its really only one element. This
is something you’ll be able to do if you follow along with our blog, practice the tips, and put the ideas we give
you into action, or especially consider some formal songwriting lessons.
Songwriting Lessons Tip #1
But I started out saying when you set out to write a song, and maybe you are a good ways away from mastering all
the elements at the moment and you just want to get better. So the first thing you are going to want to do is take
an inventory of your skills
Songwriting Lessons Overcome Writer's BlockAre you a great lyric writer? Is using words your default point of
communication? Do all your friends love the way you write verse, prose, and even speak? You are probably a natural
with language. Does that mean that you can’t improve your understanding of meter, accents, syllabification, rhyme
scheme and structure, like you would from taking some songwriting lessons? I think the answer is obvious. Even the
best lyricists can get better. At least if you’re in this category, you know that lyric writing is one of your
Do you think and feel in melodies? Does the shape and contour of musical phrases excite you? Do your melodies sound
just as good whether you sing awesome lyrics to them or just la la la? I find that many vocalists who have been
singing hit songs by other writers for their whole musical career, have developed a feel for melody almost by
osmosis. Does that mean they can’t benefit from an understanding of harmonic and non-harmonic tones, antecedent and
consequent phrases, as well as mastering the use of an anacrusis, appoggiatura, anticipation, or suspension like
they’d receive from the very best songwriting lessons? Anything to get better, right?
Piano SongwritingIs your attention mesmerized by the drama of the chord changes? Do you feel the lingering
connection of the common tones while the adventure of the leading tones make the changes happen? Do you feel the
thrill of dancing outside the key by grabbing secondary chords to make stronger resolutions? Usually these folks
have a strong connection to performance on a chordal instrument, traditionally piano or guitar. But you know I’m
going to ask, can they benefit from a strengthening of their music theory knowledge that can be greatly expanded
through songwriting lessons? Understanding how to weave between parallel major and minor keys, engaging relative
major and minor keys with their varied dominant chord functions, and folding tritone substitutions into their
progressions are powerful skills that can be worth learning if you want to be the best you can be.
Songwriting Lessons Inventory Completion
Hopefully one of these elements speaks to you and is where you feel your music most deeply. If so, your inventory
is done. But what I’m going to suggest next might surprise you. Even though I want you to become the total
songwriter package, including mastery of all three of these elements, I want you to start where your strength
If you’re a lyricist, write a great lyric. If you’re a melody writer, make some magic with melody. If you’re a
progression developer, create a foundation worthy of a hit song. By putting your best foot forward, you’ll get a
great start on a superior song. For now, don’t worry about the other elements. Take action! Make a start! And I’ll
be back soon to tell you what to do with the song fragment that you’ve just created, just like these are your very
own songwriting lessons.
David Randle is a lifelong guitarist and songwriter, with a highly developed knack for producing and arranging. He
spends a great deal of time mentoring and coaching aspiring music artists and songwriters to rise to the pinnacle
of their abilities. Music definitely is a language we all can understand.
Known as both My Songwriting Coach and the Guitar Lesson Expert, you can find articles throughout the web on The
Songwriting Blog and Music Lesson Expert.