Songwriting can be broken down into 3 key elements:
Below is a brief definition of each element and a TIP for those who are composing for congregational singing:
Words that express subjective thoughts and feelings.
TIP – Be creative. Obviously, the words must be biblically sound, but each phrase and line should continue the story flow, expressing the gospel in new, inspiring ways
A rhythmically organised sequence of single notes that is musically satisfying.
TIP – Be creative. But it must be singable and memorable
A progression and structure of chords.
TIP – Be creative. Chords I, IV, V and VIm are most common in contemporary music, so try variations such as IIm, IIIm, VII, as well as different bass notes
Songs also contain a particular rhythm/feel, arrangement and of course a riff/hook, but these are topics for another post.
How long does it take to write a worship song? The team at Blimey Cow reckon you can do it in 5 minutes:
But seriously, the art of crafting a great song takes time…lots of time. Thomas Edison is quoted as saying,
“Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration”.
Well, you could say the same about songwriting! Rewrite…rewrite…then rewrite some more until you have something that might really stand the test of time.
FINAL TIPS –
i) Set realistic expectations for your ministry and ask yourself why am I writing? It could take 20 attempts at a song before finding one which can be used to bless the congregation. Be encouraged by the fact each time you sit down to write/sing/play, is an opportunity to worship God
ii) Listen to lots of music, from various artists for inspiration. Analyse what you like/dislike about it?
ii) Find someone you trust who can give you constructive, honest feedback. Listen and be willing to accept feedback humbly that is both positive and negative. They are not ridiculing your first born son!
iii) Try co-writing with a number of different people. More and more popular songs nowadays are composed by multiple writers who enjoy working with one another