BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Music
404 Not Found

Not Found

The requested URL /cgi-perl/whatson/search/advance_search.cgi was not found on this server.

Listen Live RealPlayer

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

6 Music is also available on DAB Digital Radio and Digital TV
Listen Live Win Media
Songwriting Guide
Oasis's Noel Gallagher (left) is the songwriter in the family
If you like writing or using words - why not have a go at writing a song? 
No-one can tell you how to write a song. But a few tips can get you started.

Also in this Section:
Presenters' Favs | The Reading Festival
Blogging Guide | Useful Links

Elements of a Successful Song

Impact - is it going to stand out in its first listen?

Melody - is it catchy?

Lyrics - will people be able to sing along/will people relate to them?

Structure - does it "make sense" musically? Does it sound complete?

Musical Setting - is it set in the right genre? Does it use sounds that are in fashion? What about the harmonies?

Delivery - do you believe in the performer?

Take a well known myth, legend, such or story, think about what it means, and put your own slant on it.

Songs are not every day conversation - you can get away with being as shocking, unhinged or controversial as you like.

Most people have had a difficult relationship with someone in their lives. Think about yours, even if it was a long time ago: think about how you felt in this situation, why it was difficult, how you wanted it to be different.

Keep things simple and let the music do the talking sometimes. Make the two complement each other.

A whole load of songs are about "me and you". Remember relationship lyrics can be as simple or as difficult as you want.

People love gossip. Songs as confessionals can be fascinating listening, which keeps people hooked to the end.

Think about how you'd feel if your wish came true, and it went horribly wrong.

Eavesdrop everywhere - someone's on the phone on a train. What are they talking about? Can you imagine the person on the other end of the phone, what are they saying? How do you think the person speaking is feeling, compared to what they are saying?

Go somewhere you've never been on your own and see what happens.

Write a song, make every other line rhyme. Go back to it, and change every single cliché, find another way of saying the same thing.

There are all sorts of places you can find odd phrases which can kick off a lyric. Newspaper headlines or cryptic crossword clues can be a great source of ideas.

Try organising your ideas with the "cut-up method". Think of the theme you want to write on. Cut up a piece of paper into small scraps and write down odd phrases or single words, one on each scrap. Don't worry about rhyming or making sense at this point. Now you can form a finished lyric by moving the bits of paper around, re-writing the phrases as you go until you're happy.

Avoid obvious rhyming words. If you have to write a line just to get to a word which rhymes with the last one, then you're probably going off course!

Avoid Americanisms (unless you're actually American, obviously).

Pay attention to the accents on words. A word like "seven" has a definite accent on the "Sev-" bit. If your lyric forces the singer to put the emphasis on "-ven" then it's always going to sound wrong when you sing it.

More Info
Find out how to work on the other elements of your song including the melody, structure and much more at BBC Radio 1's One Music website.
Listen again
Shows from the past seven days on the
BBC Radio Player

Talks to Phill Jupitus

A live set on the Dream Ticket

Live session on Brain Surgery

Plays a session for Gideon

Theme time radio hour on jail

Steve Lamacq Steve Lamacq
Vote on the Rebel Playlist

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy