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Elements of a Song

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by Conrad Albrecht

Elements of a Song - Melody, Chords, Lyrics

When you hear a song, there are usually several instruments playing several notes at once. How do you understand this mess? We can break it down into three elements:

If you create a melody, a chord progression (a series of chords), and lyrics that all go together, you have a song! In ChordSong it looks like this:

Melody, Chords, Lyrics - Which Comes First?

An experienced composer can start with any one of these elements first, and then add the others. But to begin, I suggest you start this way:

Chords first. Why? Because chords are the most "technical" or "mysterious" of the three elements. So it's easier to play with chords all by themselves, find a chord progression you like, and then add a melody to it.

Once you have some chords, here are a couple of ways to add a melody:

Note: A pop song can easily be 100-200 measures long. You probably don't want to make up just the chords for a whole song first, without any melody. Try making up a few measures of chords, then add a melody to those measures, then add a few more measures of chords, then some more melody, and so on.

Next: Create a Chord Progression: First Steps
How to Write Music Contents


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