From the Idea to the Finished song

From the Idea to the Finished song
Posted on: April 25, 2023
10 minute read
Last updated on: May 16, 2023
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From the idea to the finished song: the step-by-step process of making music

Every musical composition begins with the birth of an idea, followed by the lengthy process of songwriting. For musicians and songwriters, it is important and exciting, allowing them to unleash their creativity and create a piece that will resonate in the ears of listeners.
Songwriting is a painstaking process that can take days or even weeks. It’s not just technical work, but also creative work that requires a keen mind, a deep understanding of music, and a sense of taste. It is important not only to be able to play instruments and compose melodies, but also to be able to express your thoughts and feelings through words and music.
Today we’re going to look at a step-by-step songwriting process that will help you create quality compositions, find inspiration, and overcome creative stagnation. We’ll look at aspects such as creating a song concept, writing lyrics, melody, and arranging. All of the information presented will definitely prove useful to anyone seeking creative success in music.

Stages of Songwriting

Creating an idea

Creating an idea is the first and most important stage of the songwriting process. The idea is the foundation of the entire song, and the success of the entire project depends on how well it has been thought through. Here are a few approaches that are sure to help the musician with finding ideas for a future song:

  • Finding inspiration from personal experience. A musician can be inspired by his or her life, personal feelings and emotions. For example, one might write a song about love, separation, and the ups and downs that have happened to oneself.
  • Searching for inspiration in the surrounding reality. A musician looks for ideas for a song in the events that are happening in the world around him. For example, political events, nature, the hustle and bustle of the city, etc. can be an occasion for creativity.
  • Finding inspiration in other arts. A musician is easily inspired by books, movies, paintings, and other works of art. For example, songs are often written that are based on the plot of a book or movie.

Once you have an idea, you need to turn it into the basis for a song lyric. Here are a few steps to do that:

  • Determine the main idea of the song. You need to figure out what the song as a whole will be about, what idea or thought it will carry.
  • Find the key words. You need to determine what words or phrases can be used in the song to convey the main idea.
  • Determine the structure of the lyrics. You need to figure out how the lyrics will be structured, what the verses, choruses, bridges, etc. will be.
  • Work tightly on the lyrics. You need to choose the most appropriate words, phrases, and images to convey the main idea of the song. You can use poetic techniques such as rhyming, metaphors, alliteration, etc.

Writing a melody

When the idea and lyrics are ready, it’s time for the next step: writing the melody. This process is different for every musician, but there are a few common techniques and approaches that are sure to help you in this process.

  • Using sequencers and samplers. This is software that allows you to create tunes using a MIDI controller or keyboard. Using a sequencer makes it easy to create tracks, modify them, and add effects. Samplers allow you to use the sounds of different instruments and apply them to the creative process of writing music.
  • Finding harmonies. Harmonies are the combination of several sounds that sound together. Finding harmonies helps in creating a melody that sounds harmonious and pleasing to the ear. This often involves using chords or melodies that already exist and you like, so you can further build your own based on their harmonic structures.
  • Experimenting with melodic and rhythmic techniques. A melody is a sequence of notes, so experimenting with changing the length and tempo of the notes often results in new, unique tracks. Various rhythmic techniques, such as changing beats and tempo, using pauses, etc., are effectively used.
  • One of the most important parts of writing a tune is connecting the music and the lyrics. The music should match the mood and the words should be accented in the right places. To achieve a harmonious combination of music and text, professionals use a variety of techniques – using repetition, changing the tempo, or highlighting certain words or phrases.
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At the same time, writing a melody is a unique job that requires patience and creativity. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find your own unique style.

Songwriting Techniques


Rhyming is one of the main elements that make the lyrics melodic and memorable. Good rhyming helps to create an emotional sound to the song and makes the listener repeat it in their head.

There are many different types of rhyming, such as paradoxical, double, cross, and many others. Each of these types creates a distinctive sound and can be used to create different moods and emotions.

However, don’t get hung up on just rhyming, because the main thing is to keep the meaning and idea of the song. Sometimes it is useful to use non-obvious rhymes or apply them in non-standard places to add interest to the text.

The use of metaphors and allegories

Metaphors and allegories are an effective way to add interest and imagery to song lyrics. They help create unique imagery and capture the listener’s attention.

Metaphors are comparisons of two unrelated concepts that help describe the idea of a song in more vivid and memorable images. Allegories are stories in which events, characters, and details have symbolic meaning.

When using metaphors and allegories, it is important to choose words that fit the genre and mood of the song. For example, rock music may use harsher and more emotional metaphors, while pop music may use metaphors that are lighter and more playful.

Use of harmonies

Harmonies are combinations of musical sounds that create the basis for a melody. Using harmonies correctly can make a big difference in the sound of a song and make it more memorable. Here are a few techniques that are sure to help you use harmonies in your writing:

  • Use basic chords. Start with basic ones like C, G, Am, F, and Dm to create a simple but effective harmonic foundation for your composition. Gradually add more complex chords to diversify the sound of your song.
  • Experiment with tonality. Changing the tonality is an adjustment to the key of the song, which can make it sound more interesting. Try making adjustments to different parts of the track to create variety in the harmonic structure.
  • Use relative minors. A relative minor is a minor chord that has the same notes as a major chord. This approach will help add emotional direction to your music.
  • Create complex harmonic structures. Use chords that have common notes to create complex harmonic structures. This will be helpful if you want to create more complex and deep music.
  • Experiment with modulation. This can make your music more interesting and engaging for the listener. Experiment with different modulations to find the one that works best for your song.


Songwriting tools and programs

Songwriting tools and programs make the process of creating music and lyrics much easier. Here’s a brief look at some categories of songwriting tools and programs.

DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)

DAW is considered a key tool for creating and recording music. The list of these programs is huge, so let’s list the most popular ones: Ableton Live, FL Studio, Logic Pro X, Cubase and Pro Tools, which provide a wide range of tools and features for creating, recording, editing and mixing music.

Samplers and Virtual Instruments

Samplers and virtual instruments allow you to create sound effects and play a variety of instruments without the need for real ones. Native Instruments Kontakt, Spectrasonics Omnisphere, and Xfer Records Serum are particularly popular, providing libraries of samples and sound effects as well as virtual instruments for creating music.

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Audio editors

Audio editors are used to edit and process audio recordings. Good examples are Adobe Audition, Audacity, and Steinberg Wavelab, which allow you to edit, trim, merge, and process audio files.

Dictionaries and Thesauri

Dictionaries and thesauri are especially useful for writing texts. They allow you to find synonyms and antonyms for words, as well as provide definitions and examples of their use.

Note editors

Note editors are used to write and edit musical notation. Beginners are recommended to use Finale and Sibelius, which provide tools for writing notes, creating parts, and arranging music.

The secrets of quality recording

The process of recording a song is very different for every musician or sound engineer. It all depends on the genre and style of music, the instruments and equipment used in the process. For beginners, we’ll recommend a step-by-step algorithm that will help you decide and understand how and where to start.

  • Choosing a recording studio and equipment. Before you start recording a song, you need to choose a suitable recording studio that fits your needs and budget. It is important to choose the right equipment that you plan to use for recording and sound processing.
  • Setting up the equipment and microphones. This step includes choosing the right microphone for each instrument or vocal, adjusting the levels, and checking the sound quality.
  • Recording. Once everything is ready, you can start recording the song. Depending on the genre and style of music, recording can be done in varying combinations: vocals and guitar, live band or instruments are recorded separately.
  • Sound processing. After the recording process is complete, it is necessary to process the sound. This step includes removing unnecessary noise, correcting tempo and tone, adding effects, etc. Sound processing programs are used for this: Pro Tools, Logic Pro or Ableton Live.
  • Mixing is the process in which individual soundtracks are combined into a single music track. At this point, you can change the volume levels of each track, add effects, and adjust the balance between them. At the mixing stage, equalizers, compressors, reverbs, and DILs are used to achieve the desired sound of the track. Mixing is a very important stage that affects the quality of the final product.
  • The final stage, mastering, includes the final processing of the track. It is performed in order to achieve optimal sound and volume level on all devices, regardless of their characteristics. In the mastering process, you can make final adjustments to volume levels and add special effects to make your track more visible on the radio or other platforms. Done properly, it helps to make a track sound professional and balanced.

To summarize

Songwriting is a creative process that takes time, effort, and the ability to use personal emotions and imagination. But don’t be afraid of the challenges and start getting creative today.

If you’re just starting your songwriting journey, it’s worth paying attention to ideas and concepts, lyrics, melody and recording. Don’t forget that each stage has its own characteristics and requires certain knowledge and skills. Start with a small project and don’t expect your first song to be perfect. Don’t be discouraged, as the songwriting process is about constant improvement and working on yourself, so with each new song you get a burst of confidence in your abilities.

Be sure to study the work of other songwriters and use new techniques and tools to improve your songs. Never rest on your laurels, always try to move forward and improve.

And finally, don’t forget the most important thing: songwriting should bring you pleasure and be an expression of your individuality and creative vision of the world. Be bold and original in your ideas and don’t be afraid to go beyond the usual genres and styles.

Author Maxim Hetman
Highly skilled sound designer with over 15 years of experience in the field.
Maxim Hetman