Songwriting and the Guitar

February 27th, 2010

We all take up the guitar with the idea that someday we can play our own music. At first, the guitar is broken down into its sheer basics. Then, we slowly progress into chords, “hammer-ons”, “pull-offs”, and all the other skills needed to play along with popular songs. However, you’re never a “true” guitarist until you can play your own material.

Welcome to songwriting and the guitar; your guide to not only making great music, but great music that highlights the guitar. Writing songs takes a lot of time and effort. It’s true that practice will make you better, however some people are just born with a “natural ear.” They know what sounds great and when to incorporate it into the song.

In terms of songwriting, too many people focus on the finished product before they take into account all the components of songwriting. In order to master the craft of songwriting (and it is a craft), one must first master the basics. The song is generally broken down into different sections or components. When these components are fused together, a song is born. Your job is to combine all of them into a single masterpiece.

YouTube Preview ImageI like to compare a good song to a shake. The banana may taste alright in itself, but when you blend it with some berries and cream; the end result is a fantastic tasting combination. Thus, you may have a talent for writing lyrics, but the lack of a good sound will dull out the content. Here are the basics components of songwriting:

The first section of the song that the listener will hear is called the verse. The verse is the heart of the song, because it informs the listener what the song is about. A talented songwriter has the knack for creating a captivating sound along with imagery and details contained in the lyrics. The verse usually keeps a very natural and steady melodic flow, thus allowing the listener to connect with the lyrics.

The verse generally leads into a bridge and/or chorus. Some songwriters also refer to this part of the song as the “hook.” The chorus is the emotional high point of the song. The chorus is often repeatedly three to four times throughout the song, so it’s often very catchy and easy to sing along with. The chorus sums up the entire theme of the song. The chorus also differs melodically than from that of the verse. The main focus for the melody of the chorus is to create a bit of contrast between the verse and the chorus. This will give the listeners something to look forward too, but also will give them a sense of tension and release.

Songwriters love to mix the guitar into both the verse and chorus. Sometimes the guitar merely serves as a rhythmic backbone, while other times the guitar leads all the other instruments in the melody. The power of the guitar is also effected by the genre in which you play - as it will take much more precedence in metal/rock, when compared to country for example. Metal and Rock are renown for the guitar solo. Is is here where the guitar really takes off into an independent journey which represents both creativity and skill.

If you really want to become a master songwriter on the guitar, one should learn from the experts. Dial into your local radio station and listen to what’s hot. Songs are played over and over again on the radio because they are hits. Why are they hits? Because the songwriting is phenomenal and has the ability to connect with the audience. Aspiring songwriters should also reference music theory and the basics in order to gain a true understanding and appreciation for music. Also, Ultimate-Songwriting is a terrific one-stop reference.

One Response to “Songwriting and the Guitar”

  1. What’s the most suitable technique to tune a guitar? I’d been advised to find a pitch fork and so i got one to the key of E, but I can’t understand the way to tune the other strings because their not E!

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