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Songwriting Exercise

An actual songwriting lesson. To learn and not apply is not to learn. 

Objective: To write an entire harmonic piece in the key of E Major. 

Skill Level: From beginner to intermediate level. Even advanced players may find something useful in this lesson.










Chorus repeated

Optional Outro or Chorus extension

The chords in the key of E Major can be used to sound bright and happy but can also be darkened by using the minor chords of the key. Heres a tip. You can start the intro with a C# minor progression or even a simple chord, drop down to the B and go into the verse. 

  • Pick 4 or more chords for each section. 
  • You can reverse the order of the chords for different sections. 
  • Make use of the chord extensions. At least one in each section. 
  • Write it out on paper first. Sketch it out with a pencil. 
  • If you want to add melody, sketch out on paper, a curved line with the exact curve of the melody you hear in your head over the chords you have written down. 
  • (Optional) For the bridge or choruses implement a meter change. From 3/4 to 4/4 or 5/4. Even 7/8, 9/8 or 11/8 to spice things up a bit. 
  • Learn each section. 
  • Rehearse it until you feel you can play it on video without screwing up. 
  • Go back and rewrite the entire song making sure each section sounds good and flows into the next section.
  • Record it in mp3 or video. 
  • Post for feedback. You can post it here and Ill gladly comment on it. We can even collaborate if you wish. 

You can do this with the melody as well. You can do this for any key and any song you already know or you can even use a cover song and make it your own. 

I’ll leave you with 2 quotes that inspired me today.

Enthusiasm is everything. It must be taut and vibrating like a guitar string. - Pele

I am the Great White Buffalo and I play an American made Gibson guitar that can blow your head clean off at 100 paces. - Ted Nugent

Chords - E Major.pdf Chords in E Major
Chords - E Major.pdf, 344KB

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Savo Kostic
@savo-kostic   2 years ago
Yup, its a basic song type you are talking about here. You gave example for E major, but it would be good thing to know that E major not fit to everyone who wants to sing it, so people - feel free to transpose it until it fits to your voice! :)
@pauljones   2 years ago
I'll record a song following the steps in this lesson, and post it on here ;)
@michaelsocarras   2 years ago
Got a progression I wrote the same day I posted this. Here it is:

Intro - C#sus2(addb13), B11

Verse - Emaj7 B11 Emaj9 Amaj7b5 Badd9

Chorus - C#m7 D#dim G#m7add11(no5)


Bridge - C#M7 B11 Badd9 A Amaj7b5 G#m7add11(no5)

Outro - E C#m7 C#sus2addb13 Badd9 B11 Emaj7

Heres the instagram link to some of it...