Have you ever written a song? Chances are you have, as it seems to be an urge that many people get from time to time. Most of them start out playing a few guitar chords and try to come up with a melody and some cool lyrics. And this can be an excellent way to begin your composing career. But what if you want to take it to the next level and compose something more advanced? As you probably know, there is some theory that is essential in the world of composing. Knowing the rules and some tips can make it much easier to come up with awesome music, no matter what genre you’re into. So, here are two tips that will help you learn how to compose music.
The three building blocks of music
There are three elements that music consists of: melody, harmony, and rhythm. You probably know what melody is. It’s the line that you would sing along to in a song. And you’re likely to know what rhythm is as well, i.e. notes played in relation to the beat. But what is harmony? Simply put, harmony is what happens when several notes are played at once. It’s what accompanies the melody and creates a nice background for it. For example, when you accompany your singing on the guitar, the guitar’s chords are the harmony of the song. But you could also add another singer that sings a different part. Or even other instruments.
When composing a song, you need to come up with a melody, harmony, and finally rhythm that ties everything together.
Write the lyrics first
If you want your song to have lyrics, it’s oftentimes easier to put music to existing words than vice versa. If you have the words before you start composing, you know that they sound well together, as well as what rhythm you need.
We can try this out using ‘Itsy, Bitsy Spider’. Sing the melody but try it with these lyrics instead:
‘Spi-ders are defi-ni-te-ly real-ly sca-ry’. This doesn’t work for two reasons. The rhythm is all wrong. We’re trying to fit in ‘scary’ over three notes. And we haven’t considered what syllables the emphasis normally lies on. Instead of singing De-finitely, we sung defi-ni-tely.
How to compose music and become a great composer
Of course, becoming an amazing composer takes time and patience, and there is a lot to learn. The most important thing is to practice often and compose many songs in different genres. You also need to study composition and learn about different techniques. All this after you’ve learned the basics of music theory.
The best way to learn is to take a course or private lessons with a good tutor. But you can get started on your own by reading this book on the subject. It will teach you what chords and cadences to use, how to use techniques such as retrograde and inversion, and all it takes to compose a great melody.