Updated: Apr 18, 2019
The best songs come from our life experiences would you agree? I've been blessed to be recognized internationally as a songwriter numerous times in my career. A common thread through each accolade has been my songs are based on a personal stories. Do you have a life gripping story that you've been dying to put to a catchy melody and beat for others to hear? A task like this sounds daunting-you know the story like the back of your hand but the blueprint escapes you, but never fear! In this article I will share with you the steps that have helped me take a story and transform it into a great melody!
1 ) Write out your story.
You still need to write it down. Include every detail you'd like to include in the song. This step sounds simple but once you start becomes very difficult when you try to include everything. Keep it short and simple enough to turn into lyrics unless you plan on writing a ballad.
2 ) Take a highlighter and highlight the 2-4 most important parts.
Underline the details that correspond to the important parts of your story. Afterwhich you will see all the unimportant parts-discard them because they won't go into your song. Then, with what parts you have left, rewrite it onto another sheet of paper, to keep it clean.
3 ) Write one stanza (usually 4-6 lines) for each main detail of the story.
It doesn't have to rhyme but typically your lyrics will, and put each stanza together so that it forms one long poem. These will be the verses to your song and will tell your story.
4 ) Think of the chorus.
This is a little challenging to songwriters, since the chorus usually doesn't tell your story- it basically sums it up. One great question that will help you find clarity around the overall theme of your song is: what is the main feeling you want the story to give? If it's a happy song about something uplifting, try to write a stanza describing that happiness. On the otherhand, if it tells the story of a break up, make the chorus a reflection of the feelings you had going through the break up.
5 ) Write out a pre-chorus if you feel the song needs one.
A pre-chorus is a short couple of lines that comes before the chorus but isn't actually part of the chorus. An example of a pre-chorus would be in Taylor Swift's "...Ready For It," when she sings
"I-I-I see how this is gon' go Touch me and you'll never be alone I-Island breeze and lights down low No one has to know"
6) Write the bridge to the song.
Generally this is only 1-2 lines that repeat over a few times towards the end of the song. The bridge doesn't have to have anything to do with the chorus- you could make it focus on a certain part of the story, or the entire story at once. An example of one of the catchiest bridges of 2017 and #4 on the Billboard Charts of 2017 is Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee feat. Justin Bieber, "Despacito" (Remix) , when they sing
" I want to see your hair dance I want to be your rhythm And you show my mouth Your favorite places (Favorite, favorite, baby) Let me surpass your danger zones To make you scream And you forget your last name"
7) Decide on a song format.
Figure out the order in which you're going to put the verses and the chorus. A popular form is Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Verse, Chorus.
8) Write a catchy tune!
Now that you have the actual lyrics, put them to a tune or connect with some other music creator to write one for you if you struggle with it. Once you have a tune, you can sing your very own song and share it with others!
One of my favorite songs of all time and examples of a story converted to a song was eleased in 1989- "Children's Story" by Slick Rick.
These are the vital steps, when I think about it-create the best songs from stories. So far in my career as a songwriter, they have been tried and proven-resulting in great successes for me and artists I have had the privilege to work with. Use them and change them based on your own creative space and methods and at the end of it all I hope you have written your best song.
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