Piano and Keyboard lessons from Glenn Sutton in Poway and San Diego

Song Writing with Your Guitar: Rock/Pop

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Interested in learning the electric, bass or acoustic guitar? Need lessons in the Scripps Ranch or Sabre Springs area? Would you like to learn to play your favorite songs?

Contact Glenn Sutton at 619-306-3664.

A Simple Guide to Composing Modern Music

Undoubtedly, you have heard a song you like playing on the radio and wished you could create a song of your own. The good news is that with just a little bit of effort you can also write rock and pop songs using your guitar. Here are the basics.

Before we proceed, here is a word of advice: you are just starting off on this journey. You are not going to have a hit on your hands with your first song, maybe not even with your 250th. That is not the purpose here, anyway. This is about making music for your own joy. Be patient, have fun, and enjoy the process.

Song analysis

Breaking down a song you like to its components may seem decidedly unsexy, but it is essential for understanding how a song is put together. You don’t have to have a full understanding of all the aspects. Just understanding the rhythm, the chord progressions, and the elements of harmony is a good start. Getting into the habit of doing this whenever you hear a song you like will make you a better songwriter.

Beginning songwriting

You do not need to know advanced song theory to be successful at writing a song. Here is a little secret: many, if not most of the most successful songwriters don’t know or use the advanced stuff! For now, let’s concentrate on a few basics.

Decide what you’re trying to convey with your song. We are not even talking about the lyrics, or even if there are any. Think of a feeling or a thought. For your first song, it could be virtually anything.

As a beginner, it is probably best to stick to a basic rhythm such as 4/4. Most pop songs are composed with simple rhythms, anyway.

A chord chart is essential for the beginner. One can be readily downloaded for free on numerous websites. Charts can also be purchased in book, card, or poster form at your local musical instrument store. They contain all the chords in a given musical key. The guitar-based ones will also usually show recommended finger placement for each chord, great for a beginner and a nice reminder for the experienced.

Using this chart, choose a key and strum a few chords within that key. (As you are beginning, stick to one key and don’t get too adventurous. There will be time for key changes later.) Find two or three chords in the key that go nicely together and alternate between them. Once you have found a working pattern, make a recording of them. It doesn’t have to be hi-fidelity; any recording instrument will work, including your PC, Mac, or smartphone.

A word on words

Lyrics are usually written after all of the other elements of a song are put in place, but there are exceptions. Some composers begin with a piece of poetry and compose a song around it. After you gain some experience with your own style, you will be able to find what works best for you.

It’s a start

There are more aspects to writing a song than a short article like this can cover, but this will get you started on the right track. Stay tuned for more in-depth lessons!

Phone Glenn Sutton at: 619-306-3664 or email: guitarman.glenn@gmail.com

Bass Guitar

Services include:

  • Electric Guitar Lessons
  • Bass Guitar Lessons
  • Acoustic Guitar Lessons
  • Keyboard Lessons
  • Piano Lessons
  • Organ Instruction
  • Learning to Write Music
  • Advanced Improv Techniques
  • Performance Techniques



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  • San Diego
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