Songwriting Basics 1

Animated Songwriting Basics 1 tab by ActionTab on guitar. So easy you'll be playing in minutes.

This tune is from the Jamzone where we take a look at basic song construction.

We've talked about the different song components (intro, verse, chorus, bridge, outro etc). And we've talked about the fact that 1 riff or progression usually isn't enough for a song. You need to use these different components in leading your listener on a journey. Each component has its own qualities and function. Of course, the lines can be blurred, but we're dealing with basics here.

This example is a simple song arrangement to show you how a typical song is constructed. Refer to the Jamzone page for more info about each component's role. We're only using drums and guitar here, so don't expect a masterpiece. We're only concerned with seeing how the components can be slotted together to provide some movement in a song.

Intro - Just a simple melody from the A minor scale. The verse is coming after the intro, and is based around the chord of A minor. So this intro 'fits'. Generally intros are musically 'thinner' than the rest of the song. e.g. There may be no drums / less instruments. They may be slower than the rest of the song, for example. Intros usually serve to set the tone and build up into the verse / chorus. Not all songs use intros.

Verse - We're playing a simple chord progression using common chords, with a focus on the minors:

A minor - E minor (3 times)
C major - D major (once)

This repeats. Typically the verse is the 'story' part of the song. Where the lyrics give meaning / the backstory / paint a picture - for the listener. This doesn't have to be with vocals, it can be done with a melody (for example a lead guitar solo).

For the last verse end on A major then leave a gap. This is an example of a very small bridge. That is, a link between song sections.

Chorus - Now we use palm muting and a major chord progression. The chorus tends to be the most expressive and intense part of a song. The chorus usually involves the same short, repetitive lines - the 'point of the story' (that the verse has set up). That 'story' can be a solo melody, it doesn't have to be a set of vocals.

Palm mute each chord 4 times, open strum the full chord and hold...

A major - E major - D major

Then just play open D major - A major before repeating again.

Verse 2 - Now back to A minor to continue the story with the next verse (exactly the same stuff as Verse 1 earlier).

Bridge - A bridge links between song sections. They can be used a variety of ways, for example - to grab the listeners attention by interrupting the flow of the music. Just like we do with this short bridge. Only uses the F5 - E5.

Chorus 2 - Exactly the same as the first chorus, except at the end we go straight into the outro...

Outro - This is similar to the chorus, but not the same. This is a common way to do an outro. The chorus is typically the main part of a song. It has the main message / catchy tune. It's the part most people remember best. So it is common to end using a variation of that theme, just like we do here. You could sing a repetitive vocal line here, (typically just the last sentence of the chorus). A common thing to do is to sing that line over and over until the song fades out. The outro guitar here would suit that very well.

Although this is quite a basic tune, it has structure. It starts, goes somewhere, and ends. That is what we want you to see more than anything. A song is a journey. Using these components can help you craft that journey. When songwriting you must learn to move beyond finding 1 killer riff, and not knowing what to do with it! We'll be showing you how to do that in the rest of this series.

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