Writing your first song may seem like an impossible task. I know I felt like this when I first started writing music. In this guide, I show you the fast-track (fun) process of writing songs.
You will not have to learn any music theory or boring rules. Just follow the steps in this article, and by the end of this day, you might have your very first song to show off to your friends!
In short, if you want to write your first song even if you don’t know how you should:
- Be prepared if inspiration strikes
- Create a chord progression
- Use my secret for creating complete songs
- Use your own language
- Create the melody
- Start with the hook
- Come up with the subject
- Write the lyrics
- Write in the same way you speak
- Write authentically
- Keep it short
- Record everything together
Let’s get into it. Also keep reading to learn my secret for creating complete songs with zero skills!
1) Be Prepared When Songwriting Inspiration Strikes
First of all, if you want to write a song, you must be prepared, meaning you should always carry with you regarding advice for when inspiration strikes. Just use your build in phone’s recorder for this task.
Inspiration will strike me on almost every occasion I might be at work, chilling with friends, or even under the shower (that’s the worst one!!). Mostly I get ideas about melodies and hooks.
If you don’t know what a hook is in music, stay tuned because we are going to talk about this in a bit!
If you are looking for new studio gear, look no further! After spending hundreds of hours testing and researching, I have created a valuable page with the best studio gear available atm!
I have to warn you that I did not list the most expensive gear, instead I list only the most valuable and useful gear available. This is the stuff I use!
2) Create a Chord Progression
What I usually suggest to experienced writers is to always start with the melody.
- The melody is the most essential part of a song; it is the first element that grabs our attention and invites us in; therefore, a great song is a song with a great melody.
My experience has taught me that all the other elements in a song are merrily secondary elements that exist to support the melodic line.
- However, if you have zero songwriting experience that it’s easier to create a chord progression first.
If you don’t know how to play a musical instrument and if you have no prior experience using a DAW (digital audio workstation), don’t worry. I will reveal to you a neat trick that will allow you to create chord progressions and melody lines in a matter of minutes with zero music theory and zero skills!
3) Use My Secret for Creating Complete Songs with Zero Skills
Okay, are you ready? I’m now going to reveal my secret for creating complete songs even if you have no prior experience, no this is no magic formula, it is a fairly simple tool that you’re going to love since it is so practical.
- The tool I use to create full songs in minutes is called Hookpad. Here is the link to the software.
Hookpad is an easy-to-use chord and melody sketchpad with built-in music theory, melody guides, and intelligent chord suggestions to help you write chords and melody like a boss. It’s everything you need in one place to quickly and easily sketch out and explore musical ideas.
- You see, Hookpad is excellent for beginners and experienced songwriters alike as it’s It is effortless to create your own songs.
- You can add chord progressions, insert your unique melody, change the tempo and key. You even get chord suggestions and add lyrics.
- Plus, with the click of a button, you can add all kinds of instruments such as bass guitar, drums, piano, strings, and much more.
The free version allows you to export and save projects, but only if you use their simple piano version. If you want to change and add instruments, you must sign up for the Hookpad online software. It is a subscription-based software that is fairly low priced.
Have a Look at How Hookpad Works
If you find it useful and you see yourself using it, I would say go for it! Besides, you can always cancel after a couple of months if you don’t use it as often.
Have a look at Hookpad’s online guide: https://www.hooktheory.com/support/hookpad
To get you started faster, use the Autochords tool https://autochords.com. This tool will randomly generate chord progressions that you can use.
- Action needed: Create a chord progression using whatever tool you want. You use a musical instrument, a DAW, or Hookpad; it doesn’t matter what you will choose. Just create a simple four-chord progression.
- Register for Hookpad premium here so that you can save and export your songs!
4) Use Your Own Language and Capture the Songs Melody
Okay, now that I’ve revealed to you my secret, let’s talk again about how to use the recording trick.
The following technique is going to share with you is used by great songwriters and producers such as Max Martin, Timberland, Michael Jackson, and more. Again this is a fairly simple technique.
It involves you grabbing a recorder with a microphone. As I mentioned in most cases, your smartphone will do the job.
You can also use a microphone that is plugged into a recording device, such as the Neewer NW-800
or in your computer via USB or the means of an external audio interface like the BEHRINGER U-Phoria
or the Audient iD4
A quick side-note: the Audient offers supreme quality and performance. If you don’t know what an audio interface is or how to use the microphone, don’t worry, we will talk about these tools at the end of this article.
- No matter the recording device, you’ll choose the process is identical in all situations. What you have to do is simply press record and start improvising melodies.
- Yes, I know this is very simple, but it works! At this stage, don’t worry about what words or sentences you’re using just focus on the rhythm, whether it’s in your head or not, and start making up melodies.
I can understand if this is a bit difficult for you, and the start to picture it is why you should watch this example of the King himself: Timbaland.
FYI Timbaland has created many no1 hits and has worked with artists such as Jay-Z, OneRepublic, Justin Timberlake, Madonna, 50 Cent, Missy Elliott, Nelly Furtado, and many more. Here is the video you should watch:
In the video, you will see him talking about his Masterclass. In case you’re wondering, I’ve followed it and it’s great! Because I am an experienced producer and songwriter already knew a lot of the techniques that he shared, but if you’re a beginner or intermediate songwriter artist or producer, this is an outstanding course packed with a lot of magnificent value.
Even if I knew a lot of the techniques, he teaches I certainly got 10X my money worth just after a few lessons. This guy has a unique charisma.
I highly recommend his course. If you’re curious, interested, and willing to take your music-making the next level (even if you’re a complete beginner) you can check out the Timbaland Masterclass right here.
Action needed: Imitate Timbaland and use your voice to improvise a melodic line above your chord progression (the one you are already made in the previous step).
- If you don’t have access to a DAW or don’t know how to use one yet, record on your phone, your melody, and then “paint” the melody into Hookpad. Try humming the tune when painting it; this will help you figure out the right notes.
Again what you should do is set the chord progression to play on a loop, hit record, and start improvising.
If it’s hard in the beginning to understand what notes you’re singing, don’t worry about it. You can create a completely new melody in Hookpad.
This article is not about re-creating what you sang. It’s about showing you how to create your first song with zero knowledge. So trust me when I say that you’re doing great! Keep going!
5) Try to Start With the Hook
Before I promised that we would talk about what a hook is in music.
A songs hook is a short melodic idea that is designed to catch the listener’s attention and instill the melodic pattern into their mind.
A hook can be a melodic, rhythmic, or lyrical part that stands out of the rest of the song and stays with you after the song is finished. It’s the part(s) you remember afterward.
Here are a few examples of popular song hooks:
- A hook is a significant part of a song, especially when our goal is to craft infectious melodies.
- The hook is usually found in the chorus section, but ideally, the songwriter and producer placed a hook in every section of the song, which means that we prefer having a hook in the intro, verse, pre-chorus, chorus, and bridge of a song.
I will now briefly mention the six most common parts of a song.
The 6 most common parts of a song
What Is the Intro of a Song?
The intro is created to grab the listener’s attention right from the beginning. The intro is designed to create a connection with the listener, plus it sets the mood for what to expect from the rest of the track. An intro is used to signal the beginning of a song.
What Is the Verse of a Song?
The verse is the place where you introduce your story. It is where the story continues to progress; it takes the main idea and creates a loaning for an answer, a resolution. It’s common to encounter more than one verse within a song.
- Think about your song as a journey and the verse as the road. The verse is the place where your story evolves, also a verse introduces new elements as the song progresses.
- Be creative! Maybe have each verse of your song tell a part of the story or maybe have each verse tell a different story about the same person and tie them together in the chorus.
What Is the Pre-Chorus of a Song?
The pre-chorus is often referred to as “the lift” or the “connection” between the verse and the chorus. I like my pre-choruses to be musically rich and dynamically strong.
- Usually, the melody of the pre-chorus should contrast the melody of the verse and chorus.
- It is common that the lyrics in the pre-chorus remain the same throughout the song.
- Pre choruses tend to offer a sense of urgency and they signal change. The feeling of anticipation is created and eventually resolved in the chorus.
What Is the Chorus of a Song?
- The chorus of a song should be the most memorable part, we achieve this memorability by using hooks. That’s why one or more hooks should be present in the chorus section.
- The lyrics found in the chorus tend to have a dramatic setting.
- The chorus contains the “answer”, the message, and the reason why the song exists.
- The chorus summarizes the song, it’s the place where you can write about how much you miss your loved one or why you are so happy.
- Lastly, the chorus is the place where we discover the meaning and message of the song. The chorus must reach out and bring the listener in. Bring the listener in touch with his emotions.
What Is the Bridge of a Song?
A song’s bridge is used to prepare the listener for the final climax. Typically it’s used to connect two sections. A bridge introduces variety and contrast, which allows the listener to feel surprised and wonder how the song might end.
- The bridge is usually located between the last two choruses.
What Is the Outro of a Song?
An outro of a song is designed to ease the listener towards the song’s conclusion it signals the end of a composition. The outro is also known as “coda” sometimes also referred to as “the reverse intro” or simply the opposite of an intro.
- Using a movie reference, we could say that the outro of the song is the part where the princess is saved, the bad guys are dead and the story is concluded.
- We feel the satisfaction from being on an exciting journey as we experience a great ending.
- A song’s outro can be simple, there is no need to make it over the top, lyrically or musically.
Now it’s time to figure out what our hook will be. Because you’re a beginner, I suggest you focus on creating a hook in your melodic line.
I know what you’re thinking, “why did I spend all this time creating a melody without focusing on the hook?” Don’t worry; we did that on purpose!
We did the previous exercise to get our creative juices flowing. Our mind needs to get stimulated to perform at is best, plus you already know that a song has more than one section. Meaning we can still use the melody we previously created in, let’s say the verse section.
I suggest you read the: How Long Does It Take to Become Good at Writing Songs (Music) article. The information you’ll read in this post will be an eye-opener.
6) Come up with a Subject for Your Lyrics
Creating a subject for your lyrics, (a song concept if you wish) works as a lyrical compass. It will guide you and help you lyrically start and finish your song while preserving the interest of the listener as your story unfolds.
- The biggest mistake songwriters make is that they convey too much information in the first verse. Ask your self this: “If I know what the song is about right from the beginning, and if I know how the song will turn out, why listen to the rest of it?”
- In these cases, the melodic structure, underlying harmony, and arrangement must be very interesting to compensate for the lack of a good lyric.
With that said, the concept of your song could be fairly simple. Something like: “I had a crush – I told her that I loved her – but she was not interested – and now I’m sad.”
Don’t let this seemingly simple example fool you. This has been the core of many great songs!
Or you could try something like: “It’s Monday, and I’m at work – I don’t feel like working – I wish it was Friday so I could go out party.”
7) Is the Melody Done? Let’s Write the Lyrics
Remember, the melody we recorded before? I told you then not to worry about the words and phrases you use. That was because now that we have our subject its time to create our lyrics.
Here is a direct quote from Berklee, please read it as it beautifully illustrates the mindset you should try and adopt:
Get familiar with journaling using your senses. Taste, touch, sight, sound, smell, and movement are descriptors that help bring your listener into an experience of a small moment. A small moment is a snapshot of life, a scene where your song is set within. We hear these small moments all over in songwriting – the singer’s bedroom at 2am, driving down Santa Monica Boulevard, or hot-wiring a stolen car. It’s these moments that place the listener in the heat of the moment. Try choosing a small moment and writing about it using your senses of taste, touch, sight, sound, smell, and movement. Don’t try to rhyme, and don’t write with a particular rhythmic pattern. Just write.
The ABC of writing lyrics
A) Write in the Same Way You Speak
A rule of thumb is that “lyric you’re writing must be something you would say in an everyday conversation. If it’s not, if it sounds odd or out of place, then change it.”
- You want your lyrics to captivate as many people as possible. That’s why writing in everyday English, (the same way we speak) resonates more with our audience. No matter if that audience is a stadium with 30.000 people or simply our mom. 🙂
- Don’t try and be poetic when writing lyrics for your song; keep it simple but interesting, that’s the secret.
B) When Writing Lyrics Try to Be Authentic
Being authentic is subconsciously the first element we seek when we hear a song for the first time.
It’s a lot better to write about an experience you had than to try and write about something imaginary. Writing about our experiences adds a level of authenticity that can’t be faked, at least not easily.
C) Write Short Lyrical Sections for Your Song
Don’t make the mistake to write a verse with 10-12 lines. This will not hold the attention of the listener for long. Instead, opt for short sections with 4-6 lines at most.
- Simplicity is hard to master but worth pursuing. The longer a section becomes, the greater the change for confusion.
Here is how a typical song could look like
- INTRO: Instrumental
- VERSE 1 (part 1): Four lyrical lines
- VERSE 1 (part 2): Four lyrical lines
- CHORUS 1 Six lyrical lines
- VERSE 2 (part 1): Four lyrical lines
- VERSE 2 (part 2): Four lyrical lines
- CHORUS 2 Six lyrical lines
- CHORUS 2 (repeated) Six lyrical lines
- OUTRO Instrumental
Using a pre-chorus section is not always necessary. In this example, as you can see I went straight from the verse to the chorus.
- Verse 1 and 2 should have different lyrics. They should also progress our story and unfold more information about the main characters and the situations they are facing.
- Chorus 1 and 2 should have the same lyrics. It’s not common to change the lyrics in the chorus section. Of course, there are a few rare exceptions, but that ‘ts what they are… Rare.
- It’s not necessary to write only about your personal experiences. You can always combine reality with fantasy or use only fantasy. It’s just more often than not; it takes an experience writer to come up with a “believable story that never happened.”
Action needed: Create the lyrics for your song using the song’s subject and melodic line as your guide. Try to fit 90% of the lyrics on the melody line, but it’s okay if you add/remove a couple of notes.
Fast recap: remember to keep it simple and exciting, write from your own experience if possible, use everyday language, and don’t criticize your self. Simply keep the pen flowing, you can always polis them up later.
8) Record Everything Together and Finish Your Song
Bravo! You have completed 90% of your first song! Now the last step is recording it all together (or not), but I’d strongly suggest finalizing your creation.
- Even if you maybe feel like what you just made is “not that good,” you will still benefit enormously from recording it. Doing this will open the musical gates and signal your brain that Yes, it is possible to write my own songs! Look, I just wrote and recorded one!
- Recording your song can be as simple as having Hookpad play in the background, hit record on your phone, and sing the lyrics.
Action needed: Use your phone to record your song. Press play on the chord progression you created in Hookpad and sing the lyrics.
Alternatively, use the better approach of recording your song on the computer. Visit my article Record a Song at Home Without a Studio for $0-$99 in 4 Hours to learn how to do that. In there, I demonstrate how the recording process can be fun, effortless, and very quick!
Pat yourself on the back! You just read the entire article! I trust everything was clear, and I really hope you enjoyed the process. By writing your first song, you differentiate your self from the 99% of others who just talk. You did walk the talk!
By the way, are you looking for studio gear?
After spending hundreds of hours testing and researching, I have created a very valuable page with the best studio gear available.
I did not list the most expensive gear, but instead, I listed the most valuable and useful gear. This stuff actually works!
Some of the things that you will discover on my recommended gear page are the best microphones, the best external audio cards, the best laptops for music-making, and much much more.
Happy song making!