At Song Academy we use interesting songwriting briefs for our aspiring young songwriters to spark ideas for new songs. Here are some ideas for starting new songs both starting with lyrics and starting with music.
Ideas for starting lyrically
- Start from thinking about what’s important to you – certain people, social movements, events, activities, feelings etc.
- Start from words/phrases that you hear a lot. Write a song inspired by a word or phrase that a lot of people say in everyday life – but not many people have sung about. Perhaps something that your parents/ grandparents/teachers always say to you or words/phrases that your friends say/you hear on TV shows or social media.
- Start from a title – Select 5 things in your bedroom i.e bed, chair, window, guitar, books – and then turn them into interesting song titles. For example: Bed – Safe Haven, Chair – Where I’ll Stay, Guitar – Broken Strings, Books – Read All About It.
- Start from a quote – Find a quote you like. For example: “It is never too late to be what you might have been”, “an obstacle is often a stepping stone”, “to avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing”, “your only limitation is your imagination”.
- Write a song inspired by the question “What if?” This could be a “What if?” about your own life, thinking forwards to the future or asking a “What if” about a significant decision you have made. It could also be simply imagining another world, a dream coming true. Think about your interests, what would you have fun writing about? Or is there something you would be fascinated to imagine and describe? Think about historical events that have had a massive impact on the world (9/11, WW2). What could the world look like if these events had not occurred?
- Song to self idea for a song. Write a song to yourself in a different stage of your life. This can be you talking to yourself in the past or the future. Decide whether you want to write the song in letter form, conversational (as if you are talking to someone else) or in the third person narrative (a story). Think about what you would love to say to yourself as a child and an adult, would there be any warnings you would like to give? Or reassurances? Do you want to give yourself some advice? Think about something that has had a profound impact on you or shaped you in some way. This can be positive or negative. What would you say to yourself? You could free write around this if you are stuck.
Ideas for starting musically
- Start from a bassline – Listen to ‘Uptown funk’ by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson. The bass line can be the hookiest part of the song in some occasions – think about the simplicity that is needed, the importance of rhythm (the bass and drums work so closely together in bands to achieve the best sound). The bassline has also rhythmic and harmonic importance it helps the listener feel the beat/pulse and add a groove/funk/atmosphere to the song.
- Start from a chord progression – Choose a key for your song and choose one of the three chord progressions, perhaps start with the key of C, E, F or G. Play your chords and improvise different melodies for your lyrics. Try these three main chord progressions:
- I, IV, V (Which is C, F, G when played in the key of C Major)
- I, V, VI, IV (C, G, Am, F in C Major)
- I, VI, II, V (C, Am, Dm, G in C Major)
Have fun writing your songs! It’s also a great idea to collaborate with musical & creative friends to develop your songs.
We’re looking forward to listening to your songs in The Young Songwriter 2023 competition! The entry period is the 1st February to 31st March 2023.