How to Write an Original Song

I know of a lot of great musicians who have never written an original song in their life. They can play their instrument well enough but when it comes to creating an original song melody or lyrics to go with it, they just freeze up and just plain can’t do it.

Some of the greatest technically brilliant musicians of all time were never able to write good, popular songs. Rock music has their fair share of these types of artists but this inability to write a good original song sometimes baffles the mind. Some of the worst instrumentalists of all time have written original rock songs that have made millions of dollars so it is bewildering to think that the best have trouble creating original tunes.

Although the left side and right side of the brain theory has been debunked, it is still basically true that creative people do not always make the best technicians and vice versa. We all know of the people that can fix anything but can’t write or create anything original to save their life.

Before everyone gets their knickers pinched let me just add that this is just a truism and not the truth. The truth is that there are always exceptions to every rule. I am sure that there are great scientists out there that paint very well by night or play a mean blues guitar.

I compare the great instrumentalists to these technicians and scientists. They get so caught up in the minutiae and detail in the world of music theory that they can’t step back and write an original song.

Writing an original song that is any good has to come from a wellspring of emotion and a profound depth of feeling. Original tunes are not created using a formula. That being said, there are some guidelines for writing popular and rock tunes and that formula has worked brilliantly for many years and for many of the top selling artists of all time.

The formula has to do with the structure of an original song, especially for pop, funk, or rock music. The structure is simple and goes like this: 1) the introduction which is usually four to eight bars in length before the verse; 2) the first verse; 3) either the second verse, or: 4) the chorus, then; 5) a solo; 6) the bridge; 7) repeat a verse; 8) repeat chorus once or as many times as you like, and finally; 9) the outro or the ending.

The chorus is also called “the hook” and may be repeated at the end while the recording fades. These are just general guidelines that songwriting experts over the years have established as being the most common to use.

This does not teach you how to write a hit original song. You still need to use your imagination and have lots of feeling. Most of the time a hit original song comes from a person’s life experience or something painful that happened to them. Song hits from the past 50 years are full of dramatic and life-changing themes and lyrics.

There are structured classes where one can go and learn how to write songs, but no way can any of these classes guarantee that you will write a hit original song. The fact is that if you are writing with the expressed and intended purpose of writing a hit song, you will probably not succeed. True success comes from labors of love.