Songwriting Techniques 1: Getting Started

Songwriting Techniques is a new 10 part series on The Audio Tapes where I will be sharing songwriting and composition tips, techniques and ideas for you to try. Each week will have a different theme and will include ideas for you to consider.

For the first article in this series the theme is ‘Getting Started’. We all have a tendency to procrastinate and often the hardest part of a task is actually getting to work; with that in mind here are this weeks 5 tips:

1. Carry a small notepad and pen with you wherever you go, you never know when inspiration may strike. Jot anything down at all that you think may be useful, as you can return to this book at a more convenient time for inspiration and to work on any ideas you've already started. A good example of this is to write down ideas for song titles and use these as inspiration. Song titles may come from overheard conversations, dreams, current affairs, news headlines, social media or just random thoughts.

2. Choose any image you like, this could be anything from a photo to a painting, one you've created or one you have found online. Think about the subject in the image, the colours used, the lighting, and consider what mood, instruments and style of music this reminds you of. Use these thoughts as a starting point to write down some ideas and begin creating your piece of music.

3. If you are generating musical ideas by jamming or improvising on your chosen instrument, make sure you record your experimentations using a computer or mobile phone. You can then listen back to these recordings to analyse any parts you might want to use. It is also perfect for capturing those spur of the moment ideas that you would have otherwise forgotten.

4. Working somewhere away from any distractions and interruptions can help you concentrate. Find somewhere you can be ‘in the zone’, and turn off your TV, phone and Internet to ensure you remain focused. While it can be good to find somewhere that you are comfortable and productive when composing, remember to mix this up sometimes and try working in a different location. If you are working at home try moving to the conservatory, the garage or even the loft and you may find the random element triggers a new idea.

5. Now you’ve got started and have lots of different ideas, don’t be afraid to throw them all into the same song, 3 or 4 good ideas in a track makes for a much more interesting finished article. Don’t be afraid to use all your ideas in one go, remember the aim is to write the best song you can.