All Levels


iOS Apps by justinguitar

The JustinGuitar Store


Buying things through the links below cost you no more but contribute a little to the site! Thanks, J.


Justinguitar - Free Guitar Lessons

Starting Writing Songs

The Songwriting Lessons

There's a lot of people on the forum asking how to get started writing a song. I also get e-mails pretty often asking pretty much the same thing, or about song structure or rhyme or any of these kinds of things, so in this lesson I would like to mention a technique that you might like to try if you are struggling to write your first song...


A really good place to start is by stealing the structure, chords, melody or lyrics from a song that you really like. This is not the method I'd recommend for serious writing, but as a starting point can be a really fun introduction.

1. Choose a favourite song, something that really moves you.

2. Write the lyrics out.

3. Change the lyrics. Assuming this is not going to be a commercial release, don't worry too much about having to change it completely, and possibly a good idea is to stick with the same rhyming scheme - that is use the cow and now, love and dove, eyes and disguise etc etc but completely change the lyrical content. You need to make sure that you can still sing along with the original song with your new words, keeping to the same syllable count. This will help you understand the importance of a consistent melody, and give you something to work with.

4. Next up you going to steal a chord progression, it doesn't really matter where it came from, but try and keep it as a consistent kind of progression - stealing one from another favourite song is a pretty good idea, or failing that, just pick a really simple chord progression like G, D, C, D. Remember this is just to get you started, because once you've written a few songs you can get a bit of a vibe on it.

5. You should have your own set of lyrics that you wrote from (3). It doesn't matter at all that you kind borrowed the melody originally from somewhere else, because now we are going to change the melody :) Try singing your new words over that chord progression, you'll have to play about with it for a while most likely, it will take some fiddling...

You will have to sing if you want to write a song with words, so get used to it!! Even if you are not a singer, and have no intention of seeing the final version of the song, to be a songwriter it's important to be able to use your voice to express an idea. I know some great songwriters with horrible voices :)

6. You should have a song :)


Now of course, this is a very simplified, and the very beginning way of writing a song. But very often the hardest part is getting started, and this is a pretty easy and fun way to start.

If you already have a chord progression then steal some lyrics, change them, and then try and fit them over your amazing chord progression :) A very common question I see around a lot is " I have this amazing chord progression, how do I turn it into a song???", or this is a great way to get it going.

If you are a pure lyric writer, you might like to try looking at my other lesson called songs you love, because what you will most likely need is structure. It's probably the biggest problem I've seen with beginner songwriter's, and it can be fixed with a little study of songs that you really love, and or, one of the many books on songwriting.

I hope that helps you get started with writing your 1st song, and I'd strongly advise you check out my lesson called songs you love, because that's the way that I learned to write songs, and is therefore the only way I know that works :)



Lesson ID: SO-013