There are numerous singers out there who have amazing vocals but can not write a single word or any original song. Many famous singers have their songs written by other people. Although the result may sound professional I have always thought that writing your own lyrics will always sound better.
Similar to writing a book, the reason many people can’t write lyrics is because they lack the creativity and imagination required. However this can be encouraged or given a boost with certain techniques as per below.
1. Read a poem – There are numerous free poems online, and the good thing is that many of the poems are written in broken chopped sentences. You could easily use these as a basis for a song and construct full sentences. That way you will never be accused of plagiarism. Many online poems are grouped up in topics e.g. Love, Relationships etc. If you are worried about plagiarism then why not use the Google translate tool and search for poems in other languages. Translating them back to English maybe result in some unnatural output however you can fix that for you own original masterpiece.
2. Keep a diary – You may need to keep this up for months. Re-capping on past life’s events is an awesome way to get ideas for writing songs.
Once you have the base for your song, remember that grammar does not have perfect as long as it is easy to understand and easy to remember. You will often need to adjust grammar or shorten sentences anyway in order to fit into the required number of bars. Also when writing lyrics, not everything has to rhyme perfectly like a poem or rap.
When writing lyrics for your song, remember that it doesn’t always need to fit neatly into beats and bars. Some sentences can flow beyond a bar leaving the next bar as a rest bar and enter the next bar a few beats late. The tighter you write your lyrics the more it will sound like rap which is something you may want to avoid.
Writing the melody
This being the most difficult or the easiest part really depends on the person. You will normally want to have something in your head regarding the melody however I think it is very important to play either the keyboard or the guitar.
You can easily create a melody with the keyboard even if you can’t play by simply tapping out the keys. If you have some experience on the keys then you may be able to accompany it with chords too.
The guitar maybe be easier for some people as it is more natural to strum and sing at the same time. The only problem with strumming and singing is that the melody can still be off, since you are singing over a number of notes (chords) simultaneously.
If you have access to a DAW it might be a good idea to program in some notes, a simple beat and practice singing over that.
If you are stuck with melodies and/or chords then you can also get help by referring to the basic 3 chord pattern which is a 2-5-1 pattern. This will never sound original but it’s a good basis for writing your own song. That would mean the 2nd (minor), the 5th (Dominant) and the 1st (Major) chords are to be used. So if you were to write a song in the simple key of C major then the chords to play would be Dmin, G7 and Cmaj. The notes you sing would be in the C major scale.
To spice things up you may want to play chords from other scales, similar to R&B and Neo Soul. If that’s the case then you need to make sure you hit the new note of that chord. For example moving from Cmaj to Bb maj will sound nice but takes you into another key. The singer should try to hit the Bb note on that transition. Even though you could still get away with singing C scale on a Bb major chord, hitting the Bb on the change will make it stand out more.