How Long Does It Take To Make A Song? Breakdown Of The Process From Concept To Creation

How Long Does It Take To Make A Song? I wish I could give you a simple answer, like, “writing a song takes roughly 10 days; on day one, you write the chorus, on day two…” but nope, there is no average time frame when it comes to writing a song.

From my own experience, I could hear an instrumental, be insanely inspired, and write a hook and the first verse within 25 minutes, with a solid melody and flow for the entire song.

But, I can tell you in the same breath, I have songs I started 10 years ago that I still have never finished (and never will). I have even laid down vocals on many half-finished songs (which I enjoy to this day in their half-finished glory)

With songwriting, you never want to force it – it is an art and if you want your song to be a work of art, you need to be inspired and in a zone where your creativity can run freely.

With that said, sometimes, you just want to get it done and fix it up later…

I get that!

In this case, it may not be all about the writing, but the song construction and recording itself… so, let’s put how long it takes to make a song on the back burner for now and discuss the different elements that make up a song.

Understanding all of the different components might help you to adjust your expectations accordingly!

How Long Does It Take To Make A Song? Breakdown Of The Process From Concept To Creation

What Are The Steps

Every songwriter has their own process for creating a new track. Some throw lyrics together on their phones, some sit down and work through things with a piano, some even hop straight into a freestyle.

Whatever it takes to help you create an amazing new track, there are still a few main steps that you’ll have to take at some point. 

These are the main, basic steps, in no particular order. 

  • Write about your experiences
  • Figure out the structure of the song
  • Start putting together the Chorus and verses
  • Decide on a melody
  • Choose your chords
  • Refine the lyrics and structure
  • Choose a title
  • Record a demo

(The USA Songwriting Competition)

The Lyrics

The Lyrics

There are three main points to look at when creating a song. Those points are lyrics, melody, and the act of putting those things together to create a song. The eight steps above can be grouped into these three categories. 

Let’s start with the lyrics. 

Writing About Your Experiences

Writing About Your Experiences

No matter how you choose to write a song, you will always have to start in the same place when it comes to lyricism.

Step one is to decide what you want to write about and start putting down information, feelings and essentially just conceptualizing what you want to say in your song.

This can be in whatever format feels good to you, whether that is journaling, writing poetry, or just laying out statements that feel good to you. 

One of the beautiful things about writing music is that it can take whatever form you want it to. Artists of all sizes and styles utilize this process to express themselves and work through their own thoughts and feelings. 

Deciding Song Structure

There are tons of different ways to structure your song. Most singer-songwriters stick to the verse-chorus form, but depending on the genre and style of music you want to create, you could utilize just about any kind of structure. (Wikipedia)

If you do decide to utilize the verse-chorus structure, you can still play with the order and variation of the different parts of the song.

Usually, contemporary tracks use this format: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus; but there are so many ways you can play with these pieces to make your song fit the energy that works best for you. (Wikipedia)

Once you have an idea of the structure you want to utilize and your thoughts laid out, you can start to put them together into the first draft of your song. 

Putting The Song Together

With an idea of your structure and a concept of what you want to write about laid out, then you can start to draft up a song.

Everyone has their own way of doing this, some people like to wait until they have a melody to fit their words to, and others like to write out the poetry and then feel their way through the melodic parts. 

However, this feels the most comfortable to you is the way that you should do it. Some of the best parts about this step are that you can change things around and play with the different ways that the lyrics feel. The opportunities are truly endless at this point in the creation process. 

Once you have a generally solid draft of your song, you can start to change up things. This might mean changing a word to make it roll more smoothly off of your tongue, switching up the structure a little to add another repetition of a chorus that you absolutely love, or maybe adding an introduction to bring the whole piece into focus. 

Just remember, at this point of the process as well as all of the others, you are in control and nothing has to be set in stone if you don’t want it to be. 

The Melody

The Melody

Moving on from the lyrics, another important piece of writing a song is deciding on a melody. This is the point where you figure out how all of the sound is going to fit around your lyrics, or maybe the other way around. 

Some artists choose to find pre-recorded audio files to put their lyrics to, and others create songs entirely on their own.

Both directions are entirely valid in this industry, as playing to your strengths and the strengths of those around you is an important part of being a musician. 

Let’s dive into how you can create a musical track that fits your lyrics perfectly. 

Deciding On A Melody

You’re going to want to find a melody before you do anything else. There are a lot of routes you can take with this step.

If you already have your lyrics together, you can work off of them, finding a comfortable flow to the way they sound being spoken, or, if you don’t have them, you may be able to find a unique melody just off the top of your head. 

If you do have your lyrics set, try speaking them out loud with an emotional purpose. See where they naturally fall and what feels like it needs emphasis.

This is also a good point to go over your lyrics again and make sure that they flow well. If something comes together like this, you can make sure you’ve got a consistent and easy to listen to flow, and start working on the rest of the song from there. 

If you did choose to start with the melody, try playing around with different little tunes on an instrument or even just with your own voice. This part can come really easily for some people, or might be a real struggle for others.

If it does happen to be a little harder for you, maybe consider going back and working through the lyrics first. 

Once you have a tune that you’re happy with, and lyrics that go well with it, then you are ready to move onto your next step, whatever that may be. 

Choosing Chords

Choosing Chords

Another important part of creating the melody and overall sound of the song would be to decide the key you want your song to be in and the main chords you want to use in the song. This will help you to figure out the more nuanced part of the music your lyrics are set to so that you can continue to build on it. 

When choosing chords and a key, be sure to keep your own vocal abilities in mind. You don’t want to write a song that is uncomfortable for you to sing, though it can always be fun to write tracks that challenge you. Just be sure to be careful of that line.

Songs can have as many chords as you would like for them to have, as long as you are capable of putting them into the song and making it sound good.

Generally, there are at least three chords in a song, sometimes with modifications to add a little bit more texture and intrigue to the song. This is all up to you though. 

One big thing to remember when deciding on your key and chords is to keep the feeling that you want your audience to understand in mind. Whether or not they dive into the lyrics you’re singing, they will definitely understand the feeling that the sound portrays. 

When you come to a decision on this part of the song writing process, then it’s time to start putting it all together and finalizing it. 

Putting Lyrics and Melody Together

Putting Lyrics and Melody Together

Now, technically, you’ve already been doing this a little bit, making sure that your melody and lyrics match, and the chords fit the energy of the song you are trying to create. Now is just the time to refine it all, and get it to a point where you are happy with showing it the world.

Refining The Lyrics And Structure

Since you have put the lyrics into a structure and fit all of that to the chords and melody, it’s time to start fixing all of the little things that might bother you when listening to or playing the song. 

A good song should flow smoothly and feel comfortable when you’re playing it. If something seems to be tripping you up, take a look at it, and see how you can smooth it out.

This might mean changing the melody a little bit, switching up the words, or maybe rewriting a lyric or two. This is the point where you can start nitpicking a little bit, making sure the song sounds exactly how you want it to. 

This can also be the point where you start to decide on extra little filaments that you want to add to your song, if that is something you choose to do. You can really start to make the song into a unique piece of artwork. 

Choose A Title

Now, this step could take place at the very beginning, the end, or even somewhere in the middle. Whenever you find a title that fits the song, go ahead and add it to the piece. The fun thing about titles is that you can really make it whatever you want. 

If you want to go in the direction of comically iconic pieces like Fall Out Boy’s “Our Lawyer Made Us Change The Name of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued” you could do that, or you could be a little more direct to the song.

You might want to pick a favorite lyric of the song to take inspiration from, or maybe just draw from the things that inspired the song in itself. 

Truly, the possibilities of this step are endless. Just have fun with it. 

Record A Demo

record a demo

Once you have really decided that you like the song you have put together, you can start looking into recording it.

Most musicians start off with a demo, which is a sort of polished draft of the song. With a demo, you can start to pitch the song to producers and record companies that would help you to release the song.

If you choose to release the song independently, you can also take that route, working on getting the song mixed and mastered, and generally cleaned up to a point where you can start to release and share it with the world. 

The good part about a demo is that it is still a work in progress, so you are able to share a completed piece with others and get ideas on how you want to truly perfect the piece. They are incredibly useful tools and a perfect start for an artist looking to release their music. 

As I said before, songwriting is something that artists can do to truly express themselves and create art that they can share with the world.

The beautiful thing about writing music is that you can truly do whatever you would like to do to work through your feelings. Your songwriting process can be completely your own. 

It may only take you a few hours to write a song, or it may take months, but however you are comfortable creating music is the perfect way to do it. This process is something that can be truly yours.

At the end of the day, as long as you are happy with the music you’ve made, then you’re doing it right. Hopefully, my little tutorial can help you to improve and focus your own process. 

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