Chapter 2:Writing Great Music

After establishing how to attack your PR campaign head on and learning tips and techniques to get yourself out there, everything may seem that little bit clearer. Many artists place a massive amount of emphasis on having their music heard, but there is one vital element that has to be absolutely nailed before you even think about PR; the music itself!

Having the contacts that can get you into the radio one live lounge are absolutely useless if your music isn’t quite up to par, so ensuring that you know how to write great music is an absolute foundation that must be laid before you go any further.

Many people become musicians because they feel a natural kinship with music; it is something that comes naturally and is very often a vocation and not something that they just choose to do for the sake of it. Music comes to some people just easily as breathing does to everybody else. However, even for the most naturally musically inclined, writing the perfect song can be an absolute labour of love.

A good song is a culmination of great lyrics, melodies and harmonies and packs a bit of a punch when it comes to being catchy; a song should be appealing to the listener as soon as they hear the first opening bars.

Starting out: Get to grips with the basics

The first thing you need is the backbone of the song. For some people, the backbone is the melody, for some it’s the lyrics; start with the one that comes easiest to you. Once you have one of these elements, the other one usually comes easily.

Learning how to play an instrument is a great way to get started, as once you know how to play, you will be able to write music; lyrics without music are pointless and in many cases, music without lyrics is boring.

Work out whether you find it easier to think of lyrics first, or if the music inspires the words. Go with the flow and most of all, clear your mind in order for your creativity to flow freely – sometimes the best ideas come when you aren’t trying too hard to think of them.

DIY Tip:If you’re learning how to play an instrument, don’t spend lots of money at first. Instead, buy a reasonably priced instrument of your choice and spend the extra money on lessons with a good, reputable teacher. Knowing how to play an instrument is a skill that will set you apart from the rest as anybody can write lyrics, but not everybody can write songs.


Everybody has different sources of inspiration; some people just get hit with song inspiration when they least expect it, others need to have a degree of concentration to think about what their next move in their music making is going to be.

Many people try an exercise called free association, which consists of taking a pen and a piece of paper, thinking of a subject, then writing down every word that pops into your head in relation to the chosen subject. The key to free association is to literally let your mind run wild; don’t over think anything and let it flow.

If you can play more than one instrument, switch it up a little bit; instead of writing music using your guitar, why not use your keyboard or whatever other instrument that you have? Play your melodies at different speeds, sometimes a ballad can quite easily become an upbeat track.

DIY Tip: Have you ever been doing something and got a flash of a melody in your head, and then forgot it when you came to work on it? Carry a Dictaphone with you, as well as a notebook so that you can keep track of all your pangs of inspiration.

Listen to music as much as you can

What is your favourite song? Why is it your favourite song? You need to analyse the tracks that you consider to be classics and completely dissect them right down; by doing so, you will learn what separates a good song from an amazing song. Think of the emotions that this song makes you feel – this is what you should aim for when you write your own music.

Make a list of your favourite songs of all time and write down the theme of them. For the majority, you will notice that they commit to one emotion; happy, sad, angry, love, lust, heartbreak – very rarely will you find an amazing song that skirts around an issue. Good songs commit to an emotion and explore it and make it relatable to the listener.

Expanding your language by learning new words is also a must; rhyming is an essential part of song writing as it makes the track more interesting to the listener. By having an extensive vocabulary, you are giving yourself more phrases to play around with, as opposed to the cliché rhymes that often creep into music today.

DIY Tip: Expand your horizons and look at other genres of music; if you like dance music, look at some ballads, if you like rock, look at pop; by being diverse you are giving yourself more scope to experiment and stand out a little. Don’t aim to be like somebody else, aim to bring something that is totally new. Too many artists strive to be the next (insert superstar), when really, they should be striving to be the first whoever they are.


Structure is one of the most important aspects of a song, with the majority consisting of a verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus make up. Whilst this may seem predictable, they tend to have a tried and tested structure for a reason – because it works.

DIY Tip: Write down the structure of popular songs and play around with bridge breaks and choruses with your own tracks. Become accustomed with the kind of structure that songs need to make them flow well and apply them to your own.