Writing a Song


Note: This article was just started and is currently incomplete.

I'm a fairly new guitar player and a late starter. I started to lean guitar in 2012 at 37 years old. I started with the free guitar lessons on JustinGuitar.com. The lessons are excellent but after 3 months I got frustrated with my progress and gave up. In June of 2013 I took some private online lessons at TheZoen.com and tried again. I stopped taking lessons a couple months later, but it's been almost a year and I haven't looked back. I try to play every day, even if it's just 5 minutes.

I have a very hard time playing other peoples music though. The memorization skills required boggle my mind. I'd rather play something I wrote myself. This seems odd, especially for a beginner.

On this page I'm going to outline my process for writing a song. I struggle with the process myself, so I thought writing it down might help me and be beneficial to others.

Song Length

Most songs, it seems, are between 2 and 6 minutes long. I like mine on the shorter side.

For this article, I'm only going to talk about 4/4 time. It's probably the most popular time signature for a song today. 4/4 time means that a song has 4 beets per bar. It would be counted 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 4; and so on.

At 120 beets per minute (bpm) a 4/4 song has 30 bars per minute. That means you'll need 60 bars for a 2 minute song. At 80 bpm a 4/4 song has 20 bars per minute. That means you'll need 40 bars for a 2 minute song.

That sounds like a lot, but it goes by pretty quickly.

Pick a Form

There are lots of song forms to choose from. A form is just a description of the way your song is organized. For example, a popular form is Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Verse.

I like to pick a song that I really like, listen to it, and mimic it's form a bit.

Start with the Drums

As a guitar player, I actually find it easiest to start with a simple drum or base pattern. This can be very, very simple. For example, tap it out with a pencil on your lap.

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writing_a_song.txt · Last modified: 2020/06/01 22:53 (external edit)