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If you are thinking of writing your first song, and you do not know music theory, you are wondering if it is possible to write a song without it. While it may seem impossible to write a song without being a music theory expert, the reality is that it is quite possible to write amazing songs without knowing music theory. Thousands of well-known musicians have written amazing songs without even knowing how to read music.
In this guide, we’ll go over the steps you need to take to write your first song without knowing music theory.
Do you need to know music theory to write a song?
While it is advantageous to know music theory to write a song, it is entirely possible to write songs without knowing music theory. This does not mean that you should avoid learning music theory altogether because it can be extremely helpful and will allow you to become a much better musician.
It is also essential to understand that mastering an instrument such as a guitar and learning music theory are two different things, and while you should study music theory if you are learning guitar, for example, or you should also play an instrument if you are learning music theory because it will help you become a better musician along the way.
How to prepare to write a song
Writing music is just like anything in life the more you practice, the better you become. Some people think that you need to be highly creative to come up with certain chord progressions and melodies, and while this is partially true, creativity is something that can be trained and improved.
First of all, if this is your first time writing a song, you should start with the basics:
1. Define the music style
Choosing the music style of a song before writing it will be helpful to you since this is your first time doing this. It will also create a few limits to your creative mind, which will help you to focus. If you are writing a song without knowing precisely what music genre it will be, it might be difficult to choose the right sound, chords, and everything else.
2. Get inspired
Being inspired allows us to be creative and start creating melodies, chord progression, and writing lyrics that inspire others. Start by listening to a few songs you know already within the same musical genre, and start thinking of why you like these songs. You should also take some time to listen to songs you don’t know well, because it may give you ideas.
3. Understand how music is created
Music is just a simple combination of rhythm, melodies, and harmony coupled with lyrics. This seems a highly redundant description of what music is, but beginners need to understand the foundations of any song.
Moreover, you want to listen to how the melody, chords, lyrics, and rhythm connect together because that is what creates a memorable song.
What you will need to write a song without knowing music theory
You do not need a lot of things to write a song, just a piece of paper, a pen, and your instrument. However, a great piece of advice you can use if you are just starting to write songs is to record your writing process. This will allow you to hear yourself and record any ideas you have.
You can even record yourself and hear the recording after the writing session, which can be extremely beneficial.
Writing a song step-by-step without knowing music theory
1. Start with a basic idea
Every song starts with a seed – a fundamental idea that allows you to start writing the song. This basic idea might be just a simple melody, lick, or a small chord progression you like. The basic idea can even be a few lines you have already written, and you would like to turn into a song.
What is essential to understand is that when you start writing a song, you want to take the basic idea and expand upon that. So if you are starting with the lyrics, you want to keep writing something related to what you already have.
Similarly, if you are starting with a simple chord progression, you want to take it and expand on that.
2. Define a structure and arrangement
Structuring a song is as important as writing the correct lyrics, and it takes practice to become good at it. You need to know exactly what the chorus will be like, the verses, and if you will include a bridge.
You’ll also need to know which will be the first or second verse and how often you want the chorus to be played.
3. Master your song
Once you have the proper structure, it is time to master your song. This means singing and playing it. You want to ensure that you are not making any mistakes and that you know how to play your song from start to finish.
4. Record it and share it
The final step is to record your song and share it with friends and other musicians, who can give you their opinion. This is a great way to get genuine advice on your song and even some advice on what you can improve.
While it may seem impossible to write a song without knowing music theory, it is clearly possible and achievable. It may take more time if you are just writing your first song and you do not have a lot of previous experience, but it is something that is achievable and can be done with the right mindset, structure, and approach.
I have been playing guitar for the past 15 years, and my knowledge and passion for guitars prompted me to start Guitaresque to share my knowledge, tips, and tricks with other guitar players. The sole purpose of this website is to help and inspire guitar players worldwide, to improve their playing and their love for guitars.