Self-Study Song Composition

When listening to a hit song on a good record player, you wonder how the song is composed. You love music want to learn more about music and how to create your own songs. This article will give you some knowledge about song composition.

First human voice is a basic instrument. Vocals have the unique ability to sing and play music at the same time. Thus, unlike musicians who compose music for musical instruments, the composer of the song is obliged to understand the meaning of the lyrics and the relationship of the lyrics to the music.

It is not as simple as it sounds. There are many musicians, including great musicians, fail to understand fundamental characteristic. Chopin wrote very little song with vocals; Mendelssohn only had oratorio for the vocal and orchestral theme; Elijah the Prophet has little success in composing song and even Beethoven, who had composed many masterpieces in classical music, sometimes struggled to write for vocal.

Music sheet

The harmonious combination of lyrics and music is an art that requires special skills and experience. Song lyrics tend to force the song to follow its tone, tune and meaning, therefore, the song writer sometimes has to dictate the melody and harmonize based on the lyrics. On the contrary, music makes the poetry more polished, strengthen or even change the emotion of the word and lead the harmony.

Learn to Write a Song

Criteria of a Beautiful Song

Not only impress listeners, a good song needs to achieve the following four elements:

  • The melody sounds must be catchy with harmony, beat and tunes rather than being sounded like a poem read on music background.
  • The lyrics must be meaningful, must fit and be able to express the idea of the song writer.
  • The composition of the song must be reasonable, balanced with the lyrics and music.
  • The song should have the highlight part – the most beautiful and memorable melody in the whole song. Usually, the most striking part of the song is the chorus – where the song content is conveyed.

The Effect of Lyrics on the Song

The first effect of the lyrics on the melody is its inspiration toward listeners. The lyrics with words and phrases of words will reveal the rhythm, harmony and melody of the song. In religious songs, opera singing songs, folk songs, lyrics are converted to the music. Sometimes, it is not necessary to record the beat of the rhythm because the rhythm is naturally available in the sound of lyrics.

When poetry has the rhythm, the stress of the verse tends to lead the music and make music to follow the poetry word more than prose. It can be said that, music is the underlying music in poetry. And the harmonious combination between beats and lyrics is one of the important criteria of songwriter’s skills and talent.

Putting words into melody must also be considered by the composer of the song so that the words would fit with song main theme or topic that the songwriter want to deliver. Not only that, the rhythm should go with the song as well. A joyful melody may not go well with sad lyrics and a subdued mood is delivered with a dreamy happy tune. Those combination will make it more difficult to convince the listener.


Writing music

Prosody is the method of putting the correct accent, the tone of the lyrics to the music with the proper meaning of the phrase. Each language has its own characteristics that influence how the words are pronounce and placed. It can be call with the name – accent. For example, Vietnamese has intonation with tones and contour so it is not easy to put words into the songs that do not affect the meaning of lyrics.

English and French are polywa languages, but the English word is accented by the French word. For example, in a word consisting two syllables, in English the accent is usually pronounced in the first syllable. However, in French, this rule is not applicable. The songwriter can make mistakes by falling in the wrong beat.

The Keys to Make a Sing Become Hit

  • The song must have caught the attention of the listener for the first time.
  • The lyrics must be conveyed the meaning of the song theme, easy to sing along and memorable. If the songwriter wants the listeners to easily follow the song, the rhythm and lyrics must come together and make such a good harmony.
  • The structure of the song must be sensible in terms of melody, deliver a complete feeling
  • Rhythm and harmony must match the genre
  • The song is written for the right target audience.

How to Good at Writing Song

Playing instrument

  • You should know how to use at least an instrument. You can be not good at playing it, but must be well enough to help you developing the ideas that pop up in your head.
  • You should understand and know from the basic to advanced knowledge about music and song composition.
  • You should write often. Some people think that composers only write song when they have inspiration. In fact, it takes a lot practicing to become a songwriter.
  • Borrowing other people’s lyrics should be at the minimum acceptable of your song. If you want to use anyone’s work, you should ask for permission and pay for it if possible. This is the ethical matter.
  • Begin to write from a simple music with a few notes with the rhythm and then develop into a whole song by adjusting the beat, changing notes or adding more musical/instrument elements.
  • When using musical instruments to find ideas for melody, add extra strings to the chords (learn the strokes of the opposite chords). This can help you come up with new ideas for the song.
  • Listening to various genres of music and learn to analyze the good songs to find out the method of other musicians to enrich your skills.

Suggestions on How to Write Lyrics

  • You can find inspiration from the literatures such as novels, poetries, proses…or myth, legend stories. Everything happens around also can be good materials for lyrics.
  • Write about your emotions, thoughts, perceptions about your life experience.
  • People like to talk and sympathize with other stories. Narrative song or song with a whole story behind will bring attention to the listeners.
  • Do not underestimate lyricism. Always think about writing more literary sentences, using metaphorical words, analogies, comparisons and so on to deepen your lyrics.
  • Note the meaning of the lyrics in the melody, avoid the case where lyrics and the melody do not go together.

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