How to get started with songwriting: a short overview for beginners

What’s up, ladies and gentlemen Tyler Preston here back with another lesson for you. As always today. I was having an interesting conversation with a new follower on Twitter and we were talking about how to get started with songwriting. And so I thought I would just jump in and Riff on that for a couple minutes for you now. I’m really excited about this question. I will say that

My primary goal in being a guitar teacher and being a songwriting teacher is to help create the next generation of artists. I really want to empower you with the tools to manifest your own heart and your own soul into your music and I want to help you do that through learning how to play other people’s music and through learning how to play your guitar really well and eventually maybe doing a little bit of vocal coaching and definitely

Drink some songwriting coaching and talking about how do we get these feelings and stories that we have kind of rattling around in our heads and all around us everyday into songs. But for today’s video Lesson, what I really want to zoom in on is the very the very bottom most requirements of starting to be a songwriter because I think a lot of folks

folks get this idea that they have to learn how to play guitar really well before they become a songwriter or they have to learn how to sing really well before they can be a songwriter or that they have to like have somebody come along and wave a wave a magic wand over them and be like, you’re a songwriter and one of the most valuable things I ever heard about song writing and being an artist in general comes from let’s see if I can remember her name.

Talk to top to taunt Amanda Palmer.

One of the most valuable things that I ever heard about getting started in songwriting and just being an artist in general comes from Amanda Palmer formerly of the Dresden dolls. Now, she’s a full-blown International artist in her own right really amazing. Definitely check her out. She said nobody comes along and waves a magic wand over your head and tells you that you’re an artist you have to grab the wand and wave it over your own head and that’s that’s what I want to empower you to do. I want

I encourage you to grab that wand grab that guitar wave it over your head and I’m an artist now and start creating. And so now let’s go ahead and talk about the very basic things that you need to know on the guitar before you can start creating because they’re super simple. They are it’s a way lower bar than you would ever expect and that’s why I opened up this video with that little riff that I just played which is based on the E and A chords, but it’s actually who’s actually only using two strings of time.

So I wasn’t even really using chords technically attack went on at the end there. But all you really need to write a song is two chords. There’s lots of great 2 quart songs, I could list them. If I took a few minutes to go wander through my catalog I’m not going to do that right now. I’m not gonna interrupt the video, but I’ll post some to chord songs tomorrow with this lesson on Twitter and stuff but point is there’s lots of songs that are written with two chords. It can totally be done. And so that means that all you need to know

Start writing songs is you guys did to courts and maybe a basic strumming pattern to go along with that. And so I wanted to show you the two chords that you should start using the right songs today. If you if you’ve been playing guitar for a while, you already probably know these and you can grab them and start writing a song like right now you could literally close the video as soon as I tell you what the chords are and let it rip.

So the two chords that you need to get started with songwriting re and a is that simple if you know e and you know a you have everything that you need to make up a melody and go back and forth. So let’s go ahead and talk about how to do that to find a Melody with your guitar. The first thing to do is to start by picking out a note to sing loud sounds a little flat. I’m playing the guitar. I’m singing the root note of the

So I’m singing the note E la la la.

It’s cool, but it’s a little boring. It’s kind of boring out to start on we could try to five. I think itís a Beat.

I just did there. I just kind of started riffing on it. I mean I I’ll be honest. I just pulled that one out of my if you know what I mean. All you need to do is just pick a note and start LOL. I know it sounds kind of crazy it probably drive your dogs and your cat nuts might drive your boyfriend or your girlfriend. That’s don’t worry about it. Just close the door go in a closet. That’s what Kurt Cobain used to do when he was writing songs start, LOL. I’m because what you need to do before you start writing words to your song.

Ang is kind of get a sense for the melody and what’s out there now, you could come with a concept of a melt or of a solid you might want to write you could have an idea like, oh, I love to start with titles recently. I’ve been working on a song called ticket to the high life kind of an interesting title. A lot of ways you can go with that so you can grab a title that you want to begin with, you know yesterday. There’s a classic title been used about a million times. Let’s run away. That’s that’s kind of an interesting premise for a plot.

You can come up with a title on go for it. But really I think when you’re just getting started with songwriting the first and most important hurdle to get over is the idea that you’re going to start making sound that you that you didn’t hear somewhere else that you’re hearing in your own head and just kind of letting it flow out of you. So grab the E chord and start sounding that out. Once you’ve got something going on when you get to the end of the phrase just change the a corpse easy. You can start off with just four down Strokes on the down beats if you want to

There’s another one. Let’s see. What if we change it up and we started on a and went between A and E. And she said

It’s like you just kind of start La lying along. That’s the first that’s the first thing to do. The next thing to do start figuring out words that go along with your Lala’s you kind of heard me starting to sound it out bone Iver. The songwriter also uses this process. I read a very interesting interview with him several years ago when he had first come out with for Emma Forever Ago talking about how he was working in this cabin.

You know writing the songs and recording and he was practicing with and writing with mouth sounds that’s what he called them. He said that he lets the melody and the vowel sounds that you know, like that uses words like yeah. Yeah whoa whoa, whoa, like, you know just different different inflections that you can do with your voice. Each of those has a unique emotional connotation to it. And so if you start singing with those then you could start to let your lyrics kind of fold in there.

So that’s how you that’s how you call the Muse. That’s how you you know, shoot her quick test text message and let her know that you’re up late and you want to chat and write us and write a new song is by just sitting down with a couple of chords and LA on your way through things. The other thing that I wanted to show you was you can also get away with to tostring chords. If you’re not quite at the like the full-blown bar chord comfortable strumming.

Date yet. And in that case you can the most basic way to do that would be to just take your first finger and place it on the second fret of the a string. That’s the string above the low E. And you play those two strings the low E and the a string together and then when you want to switch you just take your first finger and move it up one more frappe, and now you play the a string and the D string so you’re playing string 5 and string 6, so

And once you comfortable playing both of those you can go back and forth. Yeah making sense. And then the last thing I’ll show you because I know you’re going to ask me if I don’t address it to play that intro riff that.

Play at the beginning what you do, this is a really great trick for songs that are in E Major, by the way, great for indie songs, which is what we were talking about earlier Indie Indie musicians love to use this this trick take your first finger placed on the 11th fret of the a string and you’re going to play the low E and the a string together.

So what I’m doing is I’m just sliding down to 9 and doing a little inflection there. I’m just playing those two strings now down to five seven and now we’ll play the the to note a chord that we just did open a and 5 that’s a slide up to 4.

Then I end with an E chord final last little bit of Tyler trivia for you. I’m kind of a country blues man. Now I shouldn’t even say kind of I’m a country blues man. Now that’s my stuff I play.

Blues folk and rock all of them together form Americana. That is my bread and butter. That’s what I do. But tiny Tyler back in the day was crazy about Indie music. I loved My First Love Was Nirvana and then from Nirvana. I graduated to Modest Mouse graduated. I found my this is sixteen-year-old myself. I’m talking about I found Modest Mouse more sophisticated then Nirvana, but

But Death Cab for Cutie the decembrists trying to think if there’s anybody else who would call out, you know, these guys are a little off the beaten path, but my very first concert like big concert I saw Modest Mouse and they opened up for them. They’re really incredible band with really amazing song writing using techniques. Like what I just showed are The Thermals Hutch Harris monster songwriter really incredible. Also writing very simple songs, like with simple chord and simple pop structure, but

Man, really happen. But anyway, I’m looking at the time. This video is run on for 13 and a half minutes some odd now. So I’m going to go ahead and wrap it up. That’s my little Riff on how to get started with songwriting a couple of things that you can check out with your guitar and until next time good luck. Oh wait, I forgot to tell you please subscribe. And if you do have any questions about anything you just want to chat about guitar song writing or whatever. Hit me up on Twitter at mr. Tyler Preston.

Or drop me a line at Tyler at Tyler Preston.com and newsletter at the website and until next time good luck. Have fun and happy strumming.

Tyler Preston

Tyler Preston

National touring singer-songwriter & music teacher. I'm a country boy at heart, but I paid my dues singin' the blues. Find me on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.