How to Write Songs on Guitar: 9 Easy Steps

By Monica | Guitar Techniques

May 03
How to Write Songs on Guitar

How to write songs on guitar? This is a question that has been mystifying every amateur guitarist. In fact, they deem that this task is reserved for professionals and advanced practitioners already.

However, that is just a fallacy that you should stop believing. You should realize that writing your original songs with guitar chords is a doable task, regardless of your skill level. In this article, we will explore more about this topic. Hence, read on!


How to Write Songs on Guitar


Choosing a Story

Choosing a Story

A song is a form of story. Therefore, it is logical that singing is a type of storytelling. Before you write a song, you should identify a subject or concept that you want to elaborate. Most of the traditional songs out there (e.g. Wake Me Up When September Ends of Greenday) are personal stories. But you could also use other foundations as well, like inspirations and motivation. Special characters could also benefit you.

But of course, there is no definite rule that music composition should start with a lyrics or a story. If you were able to create and modify a particular melody, then you should already skip this part. Just make sure that your melody will exhibit a fragment of the story to make it more compelling.


The Lyrics in Verses

The Lyrics in Verses

Most of the conventional songs today include choruses and verses. This is the basic structure that many musicians are using to form their songs. Specifically, the simplest verse has four lines. On those four, both the fourth and second line are rhyming. This is where you should integrate your story.

One good example of this is the song "Brilliant Disguise" by Bruce Springsteen. Each of the verse shows the progression of a growing suspicion by a husband to his wife. He just used the basic structure, but it was able to manifest an enduring and compelling story.


The Theme in the Chorus

We mentioned earlier that the verses serve as the progression of the story. But they would not make a complete story without a good chorus. To put it simply, the chorus is the summary of the situation that you are trying to depict. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to make a chorus. Some just include a single line while others are using couplet (four lines), just like the verses


The Middle Eight

When writing a song, you should try to include the middle eight. The latter or commonly known as the "bridge." It is a unique melody that is present within the song itself. Usually, the bridge is placed after the last verse. Its major role is to give a "new" and "refreshing" sound alteration. Regarding concept, the bridge signifies a sudden shift or climax to the story.

Is a bridge necessary to a song? No. It is a "dessert" that you might not want to include in your dish. Therefore, you should not feel any pressure or obligation when it comes to them.


Creating the Song Through Chord Progression

Creating the Song Through Chord Progression

If you got the lyrics already, then it is time to add the sound to it. To do this, you have to plan what are the keys that your song should have. Basically, you will have the A, D, C, E, G as your main arsenal.

Moreover, the combination of these keys can evoke unique emotions to your listeners. As a result, you will need to carefully choose the keys that would complement the overall theme of your song.


  • The primary keys usually exhibit jovial and festive emotions. Meanwhile, minor keys are being used to signify sadness. You can hear the difference between these keys by listening to the "Imperial March" song of John Williams (the track used in the Star Wars series). In the movie, this song is played on a G minor, which emanates a sad and scary feeling. However, there are a lot of renditions out there that used G major instead of E. It made the song like it is a parade march.

Meanwhile, check out this detailed video about chord progression:


Determining the Chords For Your Keys

Chord progression has numerical expression. Specifically, all the chords are in a particular degree in the key scale of your guitar. Typically, many guitarists are playing in the tonic chord key. A tonic chord is using Roman numerals to get the chords that are present in this scale.

For example, major chords are indicated by Roman numerals in uppercase. Obviously, numerals in lowercase represent the minor chords. Meanwhile, a numeral that has a "dim" on its end typically indicates a diminished chord.


The Number of Chords in Progression

You may think that a two-chord progression is just a walk in the park. But you have to realize that it is not as simple as it appears to be. In fact, many are oblivious that two-chord progressions have great limitations.

Therefore, you need to include other concepts and playing techniques to give an outstanding feeling to your music. Today, many musicians are using four and three-chord progression. They give you less restriction to the number of chords that you will be able to play.


Starting with the Basic

Starting with the Basic

When writing your own music, we recommend that you should use the three-chord progression (e.g. I-V-IV). The biggest reason for this is that the latter is beginner-friendly. Moreover, they are quite common, so there is a lot of references where you can take in. In this step, it is rightful that you explore multiple progressions and chords until such time you'll get the ride melody that would fit your music.


Exploring Melodies

Writing music on guitar is a not a one-day trial. Sometimes, it may exhaust more of your time than you expected it to be. Therefore, it is ideal that you have enough patience to find the right melody that would suit your song. If it is too difficult for you on the first try, then you should hum your lyrics first. In this way, you will be able to exact the right rhythm and harmony that your song should possess.


  • If you are really struggling, then just drop everything for awhile. It is not advisable to burn yourself for the sake of creating a song. Instead, this art should always be a pleasurable act. Just relax and do something that is less stressful. Along the way, you might be able to discover the melody that you are looking for.
  • Are you still stuck? Then you should find inspiration already. The best people you can turn in are the musicians that inspired you on this field. Try listening to one or two of their songs and determine the kind of melody they are using. From that point, explore their melodies by dissecting it. In this way, you will learn how to modify their chords and turn them on your own!


By following these steps, you will naturally learn the art of writing songs with guitar chords. Do not worry if you will not be able to master them in your first attempts. After all, nobody said that you could perfect this on just a few months. In fact, even seasoned composers and guitarists take their time to create a piece. Therefore, you just need to be patient and enjoy the process!

Did you learn from this article? Feel free to ask your questions, comments, and suggestions in the comment section below! Also, you can show your love to use by sharing this article on your social media accounts!


About the Author

Hi everyone! Im Monica and I am an avid lover of guitars and everything in-between. My current profession is not really music-related. It is quite discouraging but I just don't want to drop my zeal--especially not to guitars! I created GuitarTrance.Com so that I can keep up with my hobby. Of course, I want to engage with the community as well! Hope we can all get along!

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