To Write A Commercial Song
Richard Melvin Brown
There are some proven methods for writing commercial songs, and
with a little bit of effort almost everyone with some creative juices
flowing between their ears can come up with some great song ideas
and turn those ideas into some pretty good songs.
good song is usually made up of two basic ingredients: Words and
writers will write the words first and then compose a suitable chord
progression and melody to compliment their lyrical ideas.
will often write a song lyric and then hand it over to a musical
composer to compose some appropriate music to it, and turn it into
writers (especially seasoned musicians) will compose the music first,
and then either write the words to the already composed melody,
or make a tape of their (music only composition) and give it to
a lyricist to find the right words to go with their musical ideas.
I have written many songs with both the words and music, I quite
often collaborate with lyricists to create good songs. The reason
I do this is very simple. I am a much better (music) writer than
is not to say I haven't written some good lyrics, it only means
that I am the kind of lyric writer that needs to be inspired to
come up with a great story. When I find that I just can't think
of anything to say, I call up one of my lyricist friends to give
me a hand.
be afraid of collaboration, sometimes two heads are better than
there are no absolute rules for writing a great song, there are
certain formulas and guidelines that seem to help enormously in
creating songs that are pleasing to the majority of people.
song is a song that has wide appeal to the masses. Pop Music, Country,
and Rock and Roll are styles of music that are very popular to huge
numbers of the population.
there are exceptions to the rules in songwriting, most popular songs
are very simple in structure.
that comes to mind that seemed to break all the rules of formula
writing is Jimmy Webb's "MacArthur Park". It is truly
a wonderful song, but it definitely does not fit into the mainstream
of popular songwriting.
To begin with the song is about 7 minutes long. Most pop songs are
about 3 minutes in length. Some songs, especially ballads can go
longer than 4 minutes, but that is pushing it. Most radio programmers
do not want to play songs longer than about 3, or 3 and a half minutes
song "MacArthur Park" also has a very complex chord progression
and melody, not to mention lyrical content that is definitely out
of the norm. I think you get the picture. Although there are certain
formulas that work very well in writing popular songs, that doesn't
mean you can't break the rules if you choose to.
beginner and amateur songwriters I think it is a wise decision to
keep to the rules and keep your writing as simple as possible, without
compromising your creativity.
you were to read one of the books that list the top songs of the
year, from way back when until the present time, you would find
that the majority of the hit songs use popular and proven song structures.
They have only 3 or 4 chords in their chord progressions. The lyrical
content is not exceptionally complicated but simply directed at
arousing emotions in the listener.
back I saw the great songwriters Kris Kristofferson on a talk interview
show. The host asked Kris what his song "Help Me Make It Through
The Night" means to him now, years after he wrote it and years
after many other artists recorded it.
scratched his head, paused for a moment and then said, "Oh,
about a hundred thousand dollars a year."
Me Make It Through The Night" is a simple song with only four
chords. It has a simple, direct message. And years after it was
written, the song still earns the writer a hundred thousand dollars
could better illustrate the virtues of clear and simple songwriting?
Richard Melvin Brown: "How To Write Great
from his book "The Lyricist's Assistant."
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Great American Song Contest