The goal of this article is to present these different methods so that you can find the one that suits you best. Because let’s not forget that composition is something personal: there are no methods more effective than others. The best method will simply be the one that works best for you.
Preamble: Defining the Purpose of the Song
Whatever method you use to compose, it is best to first define the feeling to be conveyed through the song. What are you trying to convey? Is there a particular message? Do you want to cry? Or on the contrary to make dance?
Method 1: Finding a chord grid
The first method, which I think is the easiest to start with, is to find a chord grid first and foremost. Find a 4-5 chord sequence that sounds good and you like, then set the rhythm. Once you have all of that, play your pattern in a loop and then try singing something over it. That’s it ! There you have the roots of your song.
Method 2: Find a melody then harmonize
This method is the reverse of the first: it consists in first finding a melody, then harmonizing it. (That is to say, find agreements that will complement and enhance it). Although it is a little harder to implement than the first, this method will allow you to develop songs that are less conventional and more complex.
Method 3: Find a Row
This method is a bit of a mixture of the previous two. It consists in finding what is called a “line” (a characteristic and often repetitive piece of song), then building your piece around this line. The line can come from any instrument: the guitar (in this case we will speak of a riff), the bass or even the drums.
Method 4: The Jam Session
Mainly used in Jazz, the jam session consists of bringing together different members of the group to then make them go on improvisation. From this improvisation can be born various ideas useful for the composition. The Red Hots used to resort to jam sessions. Their song “Give It Away” was thus born almost instantly from one of their jam.
Method 5: The sample
Sampling consists of borrowing a very short musical extract from an already existing song to create a new one. Sampling is widely used in electronic music. In addition, the origin of the samples can be very diverse and come from both a contemporary artist and a group from the 1930s.