6 Easy Guitar Songwriting Tips To Help You Write Better Songs
By Tom Hess
Emotion To Any Guitar Lick
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- They know what skills they need to become good with songwriting… and they practice them consistently.
(More on this below.)
- They see themselves as musicians (and composers) first – guitar players second.
And what’s the result?
They write more & better songs and have fun doing it.
...their music sounds more expressive than average songwriting.
You can learn to do the same...
...(whether you are writing your first song or have been writing music for years).
Emotion To Any Guitar Lick
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No matter what level your guitar songwriting is today, take just one guitar songwriting tip of the 6 below and use it to get better quickly:
Guitar Songwriting Tip #1: Master Pitch Range Management (As Shown In The Video).
What is “pitch range”?
Pitch range means how high or low (in pitch) the notes are. The more instruments you use in your songs, the more important pitch range becomes.
With good pitch range management, you can hear all the instruments clearly and the music becomes enjoyable to listen to.
Watch the video to see how to manage pitch range between guitar and orchestral instruments.
Guitar Songwriting Tip #2: Understand Voice Leading
Voice leading is how the notes in one chord move to the notes of another chord.
When you use good voice leading, your chord progressions sound like multiple melodies played at the same time.
This makes your songwriting sound very advanced (even when you are playing very simple chords).
Use the advice in this video as a guitar songwriting tip for how to use good voice leading:
Voice leading applies to all instruments (not just guitar).
Piano players typically play with much better voice leading than guitar players.
Guitar Songwriting Tip #3: Understand Emotions Of Notes And Chords.
To express yourself, you’d better know what notes create the emotions you want to feel.
This makes it easy to choose the right notes when writing your music.
Want to see an example?
Watch this video:
Guitar Songwriting Tip #4: Have Multiple Songwriting Approaches
What is your go-to process for writing songs?
If you are like most guitarists, you probably go to your guitar and improvise until you stumble on something that sounds good.
A lot of great music was written this way.
However: this way of composing is very limiting.
Here are songwriting approaches few guitar players explore:
Write A Melody First
Challenge yourself to write a melody first (before writing any chords). This is not common for guitar players at all…
So why do it?
Answer: To expand your songwriting comfort zone and create ideas you would never come up with any other way.
Tip: listen to singers and transcribe their vocal melodies. Then expand on them with lead guitar techniques.
Watch this video to see an example of how it’s done:
Plan Out A Chord Progression First
First, decide if your song will stay in one key or change between keys.
Next, plan out the chord progression(s) in the key(s) and decide on the chord voicings to use.
The chords you use are the backbone of your entire song.
Watch this video to see/hear how to build (and resolve) tension using chords:
Guitar songwriting tip (bonus): Experiment with leaving tension unresolved vs. resolving it quickly in your songs.
Guitar Songwriting Tip #5: Write Songs For The Waste Basket.
You know the saying “Quality over quantity”?
Good guitar songwriting does the opposite.
It's about focusing on quantity before quality.
Yes, you read correctly.
The fastest way to improve at songwriting is to write as many songs (or guitar songwriting parts) as possible.
Even if you don’t want anyone to hear them.
I call this exercise: “writing for the waste basket”.
Bottom line: Write your first 100 bad songs ASAP.
Guitar Songwriting Tip #6: Continue To Develop Your General Guitar/Musical Skills.
What are the most important skills to develop to improve your songwriting?
Music theory – contrary to popular belief, music theory is NOT a set of rules about how music works (or how it should work).
Then what is it?
It’s a way to explain or predict musical emotion. (Guitar songwriting tip: So you can write music that expresses the emotions you feel).
Watch this video to understand how music theory works:
Ear training – this is the ability to recognize chords, intervals, rhythms and melodies in your head… and play them. Imagine how much better of a songwriter you become when you have a good ear.
What’s the best way to train your ear?
Do it away from the guitar, in short blocks of a few minutes a time. Train it frequently and consistently. (This ear training article explains how.)
It’s an important guitar songwriting tip that you don't hear too often.
Fretboard visualization – know your fretboard just like a pianist knows the keyboard. The better your knowledge of the fretboard, the easier & faster you write songs and guitar solos.
This video shows you how to practice fretboard visualization:
Apply each guitar songwriting tip above into your practice to make writing songs easier and more fun.
The next step is to learn how to write awesome guitar solos and express more emotions with every song you write. Download this free lead guitar solo guide and discover how to play guitar solos that make other guitarists wish they could play like you.
About Tom Hess: Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, music career mentor and guitar teacher trainer. He teaches rock guitar lessons online to students from all over the world and conducts instructional live guitar training events attended by musicians from over 50 countries.Get additional guitar songwriting tips to become a great songwriter with the best online electric guitar teacher.
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