How does someone write a song?
I've said before that everyone has different ways of working when it comes to producing a song. I am not the authority on what is the "proper" way to start writing a song and know-it-all of how to put a song together. I just know what works for best for me. From my perspective there are many ways to start a song. I highly recommend for anyone who wants to understand the songwriting process, find the book "Songwriters on Songwriting" by Paul Zollo. There is actually so much literature out that anyone can really be an expert in being a songwriter. But to answer the question more specifically, I can explain how I go about writing a song.
First, as crazy as this sounds. Before I go to the piano or guitar to start writing a song. I actually write the lyrics first. I actually believe I learned to be a lyricist before I learned to compose music. Even though I actually won many music composition competitions as a child, I think my strength grew faster in the words I used versus what music I incorporated. Since I am a classically trained pianist, the emphasis on how accurately I played each note written by the composer took more importance over training my ear to hear the chords and music theory that was going on in the music. This is the opposite of someone who's been trained to be able to improv on piano.
Once the lyrics are done I then go to the piano and try to find the best chord sequence and melody that best serves the lyric. This approach lets the lyric lead and give the music a direction and a purpose. Call it a foundation if you will. Since lyrics can "make-or-break" the song, I consider lyric writing of high importance. If I still am not satisfied with how it sounds, I then go to another producer and collaborate with someone else who has different taste than me. If the project involves me working with someone else from the start, most of the time I'm given the responsibility of being the lyricist. I am very influenced by Musical Theatre and Country Music and how the lyrics tell the story. Being in musicals at a young age has definitely taken its toll on me.
While I am working with other composers, I am studying to be a composer under my mentor Doug Wood at Omni Music Library. Doug Wood has had much success himself and now sits as one of the Board of Directors at ASCAP (The American Society of Composer, Authors, and Publishers).
From there I record the song on a Digital Audio Workstation. Since the industry standard is Pro Tools and Pro Tools is the DAW I studied Audio with in college, Pro Tools is what I use today. I must say though that over the years I have learned working with other people and doing projects as teenager. There are many programs out there like: Logic, Cubase, Digital Performer, Cakewalk Sonar and Ableton. I have experience with most of them or I have worked with people who have experience with them. They all work the same and if you are comfortable with them that is fine. I also use Melodyne or Reason with my Pro-Tools Setup, even though they function as standalones as well.
When I need to print out sheet music for the copyright office or for copyist reasons, I use Finale. Other people may use Sibellius because it's easy to use. I prefer Finale even though it is complicated at first to learn, it is extremely powerful. Another program that is on the rise in scoring music is Notion. I use the Notion app on my iPad and it is extremely easy to use as well.
This is how I write a song. Again if you write the music first, that's fine. That will make it all-the-more merrier to work with you.
-Musically inclined to say what's on your mind,