First off, shout out to Rapzilla for creating this space for songwriters! I believe the more insight we have on the creation process of song composing, will in return only help to make better song composers. The reason I chose to share my song composing process instead of that of my tracks (Instrumental or beat) is because in this way both the lyric and music composer can benefit from this process. There is A LOT that goes into composing a fully completed song. From choosing the best drum kit and sounds, to finding the right cadence or lyric, you will no doubt find having the right tools to do so is priceless. So with that said lets begin!
Step One: Play or sing anything!You will be surprised of what comes from just banging on a kick and snare, playing around with new chords or fiddling with a cool patch (a sound within a Virtual Instrument) or loop! Whether you have particular clients in mind or are just creating out of pure joy, this will keep you from being bored and help in your discovery of new melodies and ways to use them. For me, this by far is the most exhilarating part of the process because you never know what you’re going to create!
Step Two: Listen to where your creating journey is leading you and adjust accordingly.It is very important to recognize what direction your creation is headed, especially if you have a particular artist or genre in mind. For example, If I start with 808’s (the bass part of the track that makes everybody turn up) and trap snares, most likely this track is going to be in the genre of Hip Hop, Pop or R@B, and so I should began crafting the rest of the track in light of this. And while this is not always true, it is a good rule to follow when you feel stuck on a certain pattern or sound and need a little direction. Which brings me to ...
Step Three: Musical IntegrityWhen creatively challenged, fight the urge to copy or bite off another artist’s creation. This by far is my number one issue with today’s music producer and beat maker. While we are all influenced by a plethora of beautiful compositions, we should strive to compose AS ORIGINAL of a composition as possible. What I mean is, is that in some point you should be able to listen to where your composition is at and determine if what you did is an honest approach of what you heard in your head or a full out Drake (40) remake. Listen to what Professor Harold M. Best has to say about creative originality.
“If I am creative, I imagine a different way of music making music than someone else would. I must then possess the skill to execute this difference. If I can only duplicate someone else’s music making, I am not creative but merely skillful”. (Music Through The Eyes Of Faith)
Sheesh!!!! While we’ve all bit that bullet more than once during the creative process, it is imperative that we develop the discipline of not copying but exercising our own originality.
So, we’ve looked at how to begin the creative process, be intentional on recognizing where it leads, and having musical integrity. Now we will look at how to bring all this together to help make a mature composition ready for lyrics or music.
Step Four: Song StructureAfter hours or even days of putting together worth keeping lyrics, melody or music, at some point that bad boy has to grow up and turn into a real song. And this will not happen without the know-how of putting them together so that human beings can actually sing along. The simplest and cheapest way I’ve found to learn song structure is from listening to the radio! You will be amazed of what you can learn by just listening with the mindset of a composer. Ask yourself, why did the hook (or chorus) come in first, why does this part drop out or why did the song seem to climax at a certain point? All these questions and many more will help you discover why the composer of your favorite songs chose to arrange it the way he or she did. And while there is no perfect way to structure a song, there are ways that are proven to keep the listeners attention and better help them follow the story or emotion of a particular recording.
At the end of the day, we create because we were created to do so. And that this gift (like many others), we are to be good stewards over it. So keep creating, keep learning and may you find great joy in your quest to make the best composition you can.
Follow J.R. on Twitter @JRinstrereo