The Songwriting Process
So what comes first, the lyrics or the music? Svetlana Bilyalova
Believe it or not, Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday” uttered gibberish at the beginning when the former Beatle was playing with the melody in his head. He woke up one morning with the tune and didn’t hesitate to start playing it on the piano. The provisional lyrics were on the lines of “Scrambled eggs, you’ve got lovely eggs” which simply allowed him to get a feel for the vocal.
However, you’ll find that other musicians find it easier to put the lyrics down on paper and work on the melody. Elton John is a composer who reached international acclaim for putting the lyrics of Bernie Taupin to music.
Neither the chicken nor the egg came first, it really depends on each person and what they feel most comfortable with or what they wake up with in their heads. Whether it be writing lyrics first then finding an instrumental to match it after, or writing to a pre-made instrumental beat, both are acceptable methods.
To become a songwriter, you must commit to writing songs. That seems pretty obvious but this means you should really be carrying a notebook on you at all times. You never know when you might be hit by inspiration and need to jot down any song ideas.
We’ve spoken to an emerging singer-songwriter from Ireland, Padraig O’Connor, who’s given us his own insight into the skill of writing songs.
I would say just try to do it any way you can. Write words. Try to put a melody to them. The way it works for me is to listen for snippets of melody or words that come to you and then develop them into something that has meaning. At the beginning I spent a few years messing at the piano and figuring out what chords are and how they fit together. You can write with very simple chords c f g etc. Learning to play an instrument like guitar or piano would help with that. If you already write poems, you can see that there is an inherent rhythm to sentences/phrases and that can suggest a melody too. it’s generally rhythm first, then melody and harmony, so knowing the chords is helpful. And then letting your imagination run away with itself like taking a line for a walk. Oh, and one more thing, don’t give up. The first few times you do it, the songs probably won’t be very good, but keep trying and you’ll get better.
At Melboss, we have a specific app for singer-songwriters to upload their tracks and receive P2P coaching. This way, whilst you’re working o your track you can receive professional feedback every step in the creation of your song. If you’re still not part of the Melboss community, be sure to sign up and join other musicians in our professional music network.