How to Write a Song on Guitar?

It is the dream of many guitarists to eb able to express themselves in the best possible manner by writing and playing their own song in the guitar. It is not impossible- anyone can write the song on a guitar.

Guitar has a certain edge in this regard as well- you can learn to play the chords on a guitar pretty simply. Because you are able to play all the 6 notes simultaneously, it becomes quite handy and easy. 

In order to help you through the process of writing a song on the instrument, we have compiled this guide with the steps necessary to follow. Songwriting is a special task and of course no two songwriters work the same way.

But some basics of doing so on a guitar are constant. The process we will elaborate on works the same way for both the electric and the acoustic guitars. 

It is important to remember that you method might differ. You may first come up with the melody of the song or the lyrics followed by the rhythm. Hence, this guide will only be a recommended skeleton.

You can follow your own pathway keeping the basics discussed here in check. The given ideas will help you unravel your creative self and motivate you into writing the song on your guitar. 

YOU CAN ALSO READ: How to Strum a Ukulele

Step 1: Get Yourself Acquainted with the Chords-

 It is important to get started with understanding what can take you towards starting to write a song on the guitar, not necessarily instantly becoming an expert in the task. Hence, start with the most important chords that can help you craft this skill. 

These chords will enable you to start putting the song into words. But what chords are we talking about? These are C, Dm, Em, F, G and Am. In case you have not yet mastered the skill of playing barred chords on the guitar, you can attempt to play these given chords in the open positions.

When you know how to play the barred chords, you should start playing the F major chord in barre, while the rest are in open. 

Step 2: Choosing the 3 or 4 of the guitar chords-

 If you are thinking we choose the aforementioned chords in random, you are wrong. These chords have to be played together to sound better as they come from either the C major key or the A minor key. You can 3 or 4 of these chords and start experimenting with them through several distinct combinations to figure out what sounds better. 

You will get more acquainted with the progression of the chords in the next steps. However, you must be aware that you can create a chord progression from many random combinations of chords that we have mentioned in the previous step. We have compiled a few examples of the different chord combinations which can be used or be useful to write the song on the guitar. These are:

C – Am – G – C

Em – Am – G – C

C – F – G 

Em – C - Am

F – G – C

G – Dm – C- G

Once you have gotten used to writing the songs on the guitar, you do not have to limit yourself to using only 3 or 4 chords of course. However, we are making use of the less number of chords in this case not only because it is easier to deal with or simple to practice at the beginning, but also due to the fact that most pop songs and rock numbers will be using small number of chords.

Step 3: Creating a 4- bar chord progression-

 After you have made the choice of the chords, you have to realize that you have also created a progression out of these chords. You only need to put these chords from the progression into clear bars.

When you make a progression consisting of 4 chords for instance, each chord is responsible to take up one bar. In the case of a sequence consisting of no more than 3 chords, one of these chords from the progression will repeat two times in the final bar. 

Step 4: Coming up with a few words and a tune- 

The previous steps have been following a good system. Let us recap- you started off by learning a few chords, went on to choosing some of them, and decided to put them one after another in a logical method. However, as mentioned before, writing a song is an art which requires you to let your creative self out.

When you start thinking of tunes, you might hesitate. You might feel not so confident, or even regard your initial tunes are dumb. You might even feel a little demotivated to start with. It is very common among songwriters, often referred to as the songwriter’s block. However, you can get rid of all these negative thoughts with some positive boosts.

Once you have some motivation, you can resume your mind. Bear the fact in mind that song writing is not a performance. It is a process of learning. No one is watching you or judging you live when you are coming up with words for your song.

You are not using anyone else’s time or service if you are repeating several times, or changing the tunes or words. You are all by yourself and you have all the authority to take your time to train your creative self. 

Be aware of the fact that you will be writing down lot of unnecessary things, or even things which you will probably disregard, and that is no problem. It is exactly how you will progress and learn. When you are aware of what is coming, you can get rid of the negative thoughts more easily. 

Coming back to writing the song on the guitar, before coming up with a tune, we will advice thinking of some words that you can sing through. You can put the words in the form of certain phrases and try to sing it on top of the progression of the chords that you have chosen.

You can then keep coming up with more tunes until you are contented with one that can match the chords and suit the melody that you desire. If you are unable to think of enough words at this point, try to simply keep repeating the same words or lines. In that case, you should be concentrating on the melody and you can work on the lyrics in the later stages. 

Step 5: Putting the rhythmic subdivisions-

If we try to keep everything simple, let us say each chord is going to be jammed only once for the entire bar. There is no problem in playing a chord at the start of the bar and allowing it to ring for its completeness.

However, this might not be as interesting to you as you might want your rhythm to sound, and probably not fast-paced either. If that is what you are looking for, we recommend playing each of the chord more than one time throughout the bar, thereby forming a more different rhythm. This will create a variety through the use of quavers, crotchets and dotted crotchets. 

Step 6: Adding several phrases-

Coming back to phrases, you can add harmony to the chords that encompass the phrases with words as well as tune. You can add or write several other phrases which can be in sync with the ones you have written, matching the melody and rhythm.

You will then be able to come up with interesting verses. You may start with coming up with lyrics that will not be the best in your opinion, and that should be fine. The best ones will come with time.

Step 7: Giving a structure to the song-

 You must try to keep the song as simple as possible when you are just a beginner in writing the song on your guitar. You can write two or three paragraphs of verses and back them up by the progression of chords that you have created earlier.

Then you need to insert a chorus (adding a rhythm to the chord progression and repeating it). Keep playing it two to three more times. Next, you can go on the different words for the next verses but you must be using the same chorus each time you play the words throughout the song. Yes, you have just written a song on the guitar.

Concluding Remarks

Following the method described in this guide, you will eb able to write a song on the guitar. You can then play around by trying more chords, different scales, distinct progressions of chords, studying the music theories and working harder on the form of the song and its structure.

You can also try listening carefully to your favourite numbers, and work on writing as many songs as possible to get better at it.

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