One of the biggest processes I’ve been asked by aspiring musicians and curious non-musicians alike, is how a song comes together. What is the process involved; and how can I do this myself?
Sometimes it’s written out and outlined, like you would a book; and other times, it’s somewhat of a random process.
Sometimes it’s written out and outlined, like you would a book; and other times, it’s somewhat of a random process, like your day to day occurrences. You may have a thought, set in stone, or you might not know what will come of the writing. Regardless of which process you choose, or rather, which process chooses you, you can still find yourself with an end result that is powerful that has the ability to speak to you and others for years to come.
The first process; an organised approach
So we begin with the first process; an organised approach. As with any outline, you start with a beginning, middle, and end. You choose the subject to write on, the antagonist, protagonist, and the setting in which these are based. From that first concept, you build the story line to suit your idea, and lastly, you organise it in a way that may be pleasing to the ear.
The subject is the easiest part. Will you write a love song? Perhaps you want to tell a tale of your hardships, either overcoming them, or being destroyed by them? Whatever you want to write about, it is your freedom to do so.
Next comes the antagonist and protagonist. So long as you leave yourself an open mind, this step should come quite naturally. Either of these characters, can come in the form of a person, place or thing; perhaps even an idea. In example, a love song will have the antagonist as the one you love. He or she is the one that has caused you to write this song, and is therefore affecting you, the protagonist. In a political punk rock song, the antagonist may simply be a corrupt government or ideal, whereas the protagonist may be the people as a whole, or a specific group or class. Be open to who or what you want the cause and affected to be, and you will surely have a solid story to tell.
The last step of this process will be forming the path for the story line, and adding the music that backs the words. Your primary focus at this point, is going to be the overall feeling you want from this song. The plot of your story, can lead in a way that is comedic, or rather tragic. You have the freedom in your hands, of creating any message you would like to. The music you put in the background(or foreground), has the same effect in creating the overall tone of the song. You can follow the standard, emotion setting trend that you here in most popular music, or you can confuse your audience! In example, try putting a happy tune to an incredibly sad song. People will be forced to analyse on a deeper level.
With that final cherry on top, you have a full song!
The “Oh look, a butterfly,” process
As previously stated, we do have one more method of writing a song. We have the random,”Oh look, a butterfly,” process, the has produced many an amazing song in the history of music. I won’t go into much detail, other than the fact that it involves everything prior spoken about in this article. Ultimately, this is my favourite. Go with the flow, write whatever you’re feeling and see where it takes you!
Live life, write your story, and do it the way that YOU want to! As with the process of songwriting, you are completely in control of your antagonist, protagonist, and ultimately, the way you want the tale to turn.