How To Write Music Lyrics That Match The Melody In Your Songs
Are you having a hard time trying to write lyrics for your music in a way that matches the melody in your song? If so, you are not alone. Most songwriters struggle to write a melody and lyrics together. This problem can be very frustrating when you want to speak your thoughts through your music in the form of actual words, but just don’t know how to do it in a way that sounds good. Believe it or not, even singers struggle to write a melody for their song lyrics (and ‘singing’ is their main instrument!). Fortunately, this challenge can be overcome once you learn how to write music lyrics using creative songwriting practice methods.
In many cases, songwriters give up too early on being able to write great lyrics for music because they become overwhelmed by too many unanswered questions. For example, you may have sat down to write a song and thought to yourself: “Ok, I feel like writing a song that makes me feel X emotion. Hmm so how do I get started? …how do I write a melody for the lyrics that matches the emotion I am writing for?...how do I match the rhythm of the lyrics to the rhythm of the other instruments?…how do the lyrics fit in with the ‘feel’ of the song as a whole? (etc, etc.)” While it is great to have many different ideas for your song lyrics, this kind of thinking often causes “analysis paralysis.” In other words, you have so many questions and thoughts you want to answer that the whole process becomes tiring to think about. This generally leads to procrastination on writing your songs, or maybe even never getting started at all. In addition to this common problem, there do not exist many sources of information on how to write lyrics to music. As a result, most songwriters to remain in the dark on the topic, and make very slow progress due to not having reliable songwriting methods.
In order to help you improve your ability to write music lyrics and melody together, I am going to use the rest of this lesson to show you some different methods that you can use during the songwriting process. Try using the following methods on their own AND together to write melodies for lyrics and improve your overall songwriting ability:
Write lyrics for your music after you have already written a melody.
This approach involves a heavy focus on preserving the exact melody of your music, while putting the lyric writing aspect in a secondary role. Start by creating the melody you would like to use for your lyrics by using either an instrument, your own voice or songwriting software of some kind. Spend extra time to make sure that you really like this melody; then once you are satisfied, resist making changes to it for the remainder of the time you are working on this song or song section.
By keeping the melody the same, you force yourself to come up with innovative ways to change or slightly alter the lyrics you use to write your music. After you write a melody for the lyrics, you will also have a restriction on the amount of words and syllables you can use. Keep this in mind so that you can write a melody that gives you enough space to say what you want to say. For example, if you feel like you have a lot to say in a particular song or song section (in terms of ‘amount’ of words), make sure that you write a melody that gives you enough notes to work with. Generally speaking, if you have a song melody containing 5-7 different notes, repeated 4 times in a song section, this will give you a good amount.
Keep in mind that these notes do not all have to be different ‘pitches’. This is a common misunderstanding that songwriters make when they write a melody for lyrics. Focus on the rhythm of your notes in addition to the actual pitches you use, and repeat certain pitches as necessary (listen to your favorite singers to hear an example of how this is done).
Begin with lyrics first, before you have created a melody.
If you already have lyrics created and you want to use them in your song, try this approach. By writing the lyrics for your music first, you preserve the exact meaning of the ideas you want to express without making compromises to fit the structure of a melody. This will force you to focus on how the musical notes you use can be used together with the natural rhythm in the words of your lyrics.
Most of the time when you write music lyrics, you will be using words with 1 to 3 syllables. When you go to write a melody for your lyrics, think of different ways to emphasize the syllables in your words by using pitch and rhythm. For example, if your song lyrics contain the 3 syllable word “forever”, there are many different options to choose from when deciding how to write music for this word. Here are some different ways you could use ‘pitch’ to write a melody for this lyric:
Word = “Forever”
Syllables = For – ev - er
- Use a different pitch for each syllable
- Use the same pitch for the first two syllables, then a different pitch for the last syllable.
- Use a different pitch for the first syllable, then the same pitch for the last two syllables.
Keep this in mind as you write your lyric melodies, by writing for each lyrical phrase (group of words or sentence) with a word by word approach. This applies to groups of words as well. For instance, the common lyric phrase “I love you” takes up 3 syllables even though it is 3 separate words.
Additionally, use this same idea for writing ‘rhythm’ to your song lyrics. For example, use longer or shorter rhythms over different syllables of each word. As a general rule for when you write a melody for your lyrics, focus on making it as “vocal-like” as possible by doing the following:
- Staying within a singer’s range. This means note writing “all over the place” by writing many notes that are really high and really low in the same melody.
- Giving the singer ‘pauses’ to breathe at different points in the melody.
- Write using the same vocal techniques or style used by singers. You can get better at this by listening to how singers make their phrases and pay close attention to how they articulate their notes. Learn more on how to write great vocal lines that sound like the ones sung by your favorite singers by downloading this free eBook on how to write vocal melodies .
Write both the lyrics and melody at the same time.
If you are starting totally anew without any pre-written lyrics or song melodies, you may benefit from taking this approach. To write music lyrics in this manner is like a combination of the other two approaches mentioned in this article. That said, it may take a bit more time to master.
Generally speaking, whenever you begin to write a song, it is good to at least have ‘some’ idea of what you are going to write about (an emotion, idea, situation, etc.). Once you have thought of this, start by thinking of either a short musical melody of about 3-5 notes OR a short line or two of song lyrics. Once you have chosen which one you want to do first, write the first half of your melody. Next, choose the alternate method to finish up this first half. After you have done this, write the second half by beginning with whichever method you did not choose before. Here is an example for this process of writing music lyrics:
Step 1: Begin the first half of your melody by writing one or two lines of song lyrics.
Step 2: Finish the first half of the melody by writing the musical notes for the lyrics you thought of.
Step 3:Write the next half of the melody by focusing on the musical notes first.
Step 4: Finish the second half of the melody by thinking of lyrics for the melody.
By using the songwriting approaches discussed in this article, you will be able to write great music for your lyrics in no time. Also, keep in mind that when you practice getting better at writing a melody for lyrics, you do not necessarily need to write an entire song. If this is an area of your songwriting that you feel needs a lot of practice, you will benefit greatly by writing at least 5 separate lyric melodies using each approach.
Of course, we are just scratching the surface on lyrics writing: there is much more to it. Your next step is to click on the button below to download a FREE eBook on how to write incredible lyrics in the style of your favorite singers:
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