Talking Tech: Which Element Comes First When Songwriting?

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Though we all share a common love for music, the way in which we create it differs from person to person. So when we asked ‘which element comes first when songwriting?’, we got a lot of varied answers. That and a fair few periodic table jokes…


Kevin Dodd: Melody should come first. The beat, and tempo can always be altered. The arrangement can change. But, you need a melody, or you’ve got nothing.

Shimron Elit: I usually work on the chord sequence first and play around with lead to see if it’s going to work. Then bassline, then beat, then I record those 3 and mix a foundation to work on lead and treble riffs. I have written massive amounts of lyrics and they should probably come first, but I have moved towards synthwave and that relies on sound rather than lyrical structure.

Johnny Morielli: I do not find there is one. Inspiration could come from anywhere. Either you see something, hear something or read a line that all of a sudden places you in a mood, either words come out or music flows, whichever.

Mark Oliver: It can be anything. It can be an emotion, a scenario, some lyrics, a melody or a riff. Sometimes working with another can make sure the song gets finished as in L&M. Some level of organisation can be helpful in terms of manual or electronic files. An imminent performance deadline can force the song to be finished. One of the commercial writers I met was clearly working cynically. Development of a song through constant practise is needed.

Jacob Cremer: I start either typing in a word processor, playing with sounds in the DAW, or just thinking in my head. My strategy is to create a lot of things and then clean them up and organize.

Brandon Mints: Normally i’ll make the chorus first and build off of if, the arrangement just comes together based off the idea in my opinion.

Rodolfo Romero: Could be anything. The sound of a truck, birds singing, a dream you had, drums, guitar, bass, any instrument. I usually do lyrics at the end, but it works for some to start with it.

Philip Cook: According to the late Sir George Martin, the first element of music is rhythm. On that foundation, the next element is melody. And the next element is harmony.

Mark Anderson: Chords. Get the phrasing sorted, then comes bass and drums. Melody last, see what words come from that melody, then I find out what the song is about.

Gary J Salgado: I believe inspiration and a desire to start and finish the song.

Simon Robb: Developing a hook/ultra riff

Navid Delshad Nilchian: Depends on what you are writing. Typically some kind of sequence or melodic elements for inspiration. Some like to start with percussion first to lay down the foundation structure of a track.

Jeff Phillips: For me it’s a title. Subject matter sets tempo, chords, and everything else that follows. But I think that it’s personal choice.

Ron Wilson: COFFEE! Because nothing EVER comes before coffee…