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How to write your own song

Songs and singing are a big part of our everyday lives, especially in this age of mass media. Most of the time we sing, or play, songs that were written and performed by other people, people who seem to have talents and abilities far beyond our own. We may like their songs and music, but the words and feeling are theirs, not ours. A song is a unique expression of our feelings through which we can often say things that we might not be able to with just words.

If you have ever wanted to write your own song, one that expresses your own ideas and feeling, but did not know how, our Visiting Artist, singer/songwriter Thomasina  can teach you.

Creating your own song

There is a wonderful African quote which says "If you can walk, you can dance. If you can talk, you can sing." I'd like to add to this by saying, "If you can sing, you can create your own song."  Notice that I said "create your own song" instead of "write your own song"? The reason for this is that you don't have to know how to read or write words and music in order to create your own song. Song creating is a natural process. I have been with a three year old boy who spontaneously created the following song:

       {Writing a Song}

He didn't know how to read or write at the time. But, he did love to sing and he really loved the ocean and its waves.

One of the first things one needs to know about creating a song, is that every song tells a story. When that little three year old boy created the wave song, he was telling about the sea and the waves. Most song creators write about what they know or experience in their own lives.

Many people ask me "What comes first? The music or the words?" 

I respond that the music, usually, comes first because music is a language all its own. Think about how a song or melody can make you feel when you listen to it. That's the power of music touching you inside. 

Sometimes, when I'm "noodling around" on my dulcimer, I'll play a new series of notes that I really like. Then I start to play it over and over again. After a while, I think to myself, "What picture comes into my mind as I play this new melody?" Sometimes, no words come and the songs remains as a melody. But most times, a word or phrase will "pop" into my head that fits the feeling of the music. And the song just continues to create itself from there. Sometimes, a song or melody will create itself in a day or two. Sometimes, it takes weeks or months to finish. Sometimes, it takes years.

The point is,  that you are more than capable of creating your own melodies and songs.

Here are some steps to begin your own creations:

  1. Take the time to be in a quiet place with your instrument. Your instrument can be your voice, a drum, a violin, a guitar, etc.

  2. Start playing it, or just sing some notes. Keep doing this until you find some notes which sound good together.

  3. Keep playing it over and over and over.

  4. Think about how the sounds of your new melody make you feel. Is there a picture or idea that comes into your head which fits the music? Is there a story you'd like to tell?

  5. Try to put them together.

  6. Keep working on it. And with any creation, you need to edit, edit, edit until it's done.

  7. And most important-have fun!

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Content Last Modified on 2/9/2007 8:26:29 AM