Many songwriters have told me that the hardest part of songwriting is getting started. Once they’ve got an exciting idea then things begin falling into place. But there’s no need to stare at a blank page wondering where to start. Get your next song going with these themes and chords. If you’re looking for more, check out my book Song Starters: 365 Lyric, Melody, & Chord Ideas to Kickstart Your Songwriting.
LYRIC THEME & STORY STARTERS
Song Starter 1: Write a song in which you tell another person about what you want most from life. Why do you want it? How do you think you’ll get it? How will it make you feel? Make a list of images, words, and ideas that describe your desire and how it makes you feel. Choose a title for your song from your list.
Song Starter 2: Write a song about something you lost. It could be a relationship, an opportunity, or an object. Why was it important to you? What was its emotional worth? How did you cope with the loss? Be sure your chorus sums up the emotional heart of your song. Make us feel what you felt. (Hmmm, I think I’ll go write a song.)
Song Starter 3: Pick a story from a news program, magazine, or talk show and write a song from the point of view of one of the people in the story. Choose a peak emotional moment and let the person tell us how he or she feels. Take us inside their experience of what happened and make us feel it, too.
CHORD PROGRESSION SONG STARTERS
Try playing one of these chord progressions on guitar or piano. Then use the Theme and Story Line starters to find a title and develop a song over it. Repeat the chords in each section as needed. Learn more about song sections (verse, pre-chorus, and chorus).
=> Chord Progression #1
VERSE & CHORUS: | G | D | Em | C | Repeat 2x in verse and chorus.
To hear a song that uses this progression, listen to “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz.
=> Chord Progression #2
VERSE & CHORUS: | Bm | G | D | A |
Gavin DeGraw’s “Lover Be Strong” uses this four-chord progression through the verse, pre-chorus, and chorus. Listen to the song and notice how he changes the melody in each section to keep the structure clearly defined.
=> Chord Progression #3
VERSE: | Am | F | Am | F | – 2x
CHORUS: | C | G | Am | G | – 2x
=> Chord Progression #4
VERSE: | C | C | F | F | – 2X
PRE-CHORUS: | G | F | G | F | Do not repeat.
CHORUS: | C | G | Am | F G | -2x
You’ll find more Song Starters by clicking on the Song Starter category link on the right.
by Robin Frederick
This post is based on my songwriting books: Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting, Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV, Study the Hits, and The 30-Minute Songwriter. Find out more about all of my print and eBooks on my Author page at Amazon. In each book you’ll find dozens of useful, real-world shortcuts that will show you how to craft songs that work for today’s music market, plus dozens of hands-on exercises to get your creative ideas flowing.