How to Write a Country Song (In 5 Minutes or Less)
How to Write a Good Country Song
A good country song is all about deep emotion and memorable music. It should make you ache for the singer’s loss and wish you could pick up a guitar and play along. To write a song like that, you’ll need to know how to brainstorm, write lyrics, and compose music the way that all the most successful country artists have in the past. As long as you do, you’ll be able to write a good country song like the pros!
Brainstorming Ideas for Your Song
Decide what themes you’ll deal with in your song.Country songs deal with themes like loss, heartbreak, betrayal, family, and faith. More often than not, they also tell a story. Decide what classic country themes you want to engage with and how you want to tell a story about those themes.
- For example, if you just broke up with your significant other, you could write about that.
Think of a title for your song.One of the best ways to come up with song ideas is to think of titles and extrapolate from there. Listen for catchy phrases on TV, in movies, in books, and in real life and write them down in a notebook or on your phone to keep track.
- If you’re writing a song about breaking up with your significant other, the title could be “My Heart Left with You.”
Come up with a hook based on your title.The hook is the part of your song that sticks in your head because it’s catchy. If your title is memorable, it can easily serve as the hook of your song. Play around with your title and different melodies to see what you come up with.
- Try to come up with lyrics or a melody that you can’t forget. If you can’t forget it, neither will your audience.
- The most memorable melodies have what is called a “money note,” a note that stands out because it’s exceptionally high, low, or long.
- If your song is called “My Heart Left with You,” the hook could be “But my heart left with you,” and you could drag out the note on “you.”
Writing the Lyrics for Your Song
Build your chorus around your hook.The hook usually serves as the foundation of the chorus because if it’s catchy the audience should hear it as much as possible to make sure they remember it. It’s usually 1 line long and is often at the beginning or end of the chorus (or both) to help it stick out for the audience. Start with your hook, and write the other lyrics of your chorus from there.
- The chorus is usually around 4 lines long and should use vague lyrics that still key your audience in to the themes of the song.
- You should consider changing the vocal range for your chorus to make it stick out. Try singing an octave higher or an octave lower in the same key.
- The chorus to “My Heart Left with You” could be “I wish you could hear my heart breaking/With you gone, don’t know what to do/I wish you could hear my heart aching/But my heart left with you.”
Write the first verse of your song.Use concrete imagery in your verses. Your verses are usually around 4 lines long should have specific examples to make the themes of your song hit home. Play around with different rhyme schemes to see what seems most memorable.
- Rhyme schemes often alternate between each line (you/me/too/please), but you can try others like (you/too/me/please) or (you/too/view/me) or (you/me/see/please).
- The first verse of “My Heart Left with You” could have lyrics like “I wake up every morning and the tears come right on cue/And I can’t keep down the breakfast that I’m eating without you.”
Base your other 2 verses on your first verse.Once you’ve written the first verse of your song, you can write the next two verses of your song pretty quickly. The other verses should be patterned after the first while providing new information and imagery.
- The second verse of “My Heart Left with You” could have lyrics like “At work the hours fade away and I lose all sense of time/Cause without you I don’t care for money and my job ain’t worth a dime.”
Include a bridge in your song to add lyrical and musical contrast.The bridge is usually around 4 lines long and breaks up the monotony of your song by adding something new, different, and possibly unexpected. Bridges are like another chorus for your song: they’re usually vague, but they deal with the theme in a new way that adds some flavor.
- Try playing around with the same imagery from your chorus, but present the imagery in a new way.
- The bridge to “My Heart Left with You” could have lyrics like “There’s a hole in my chest where a heart should be/And there’s a hole in my life where you used to love me.”
Composing the Music for Your Song
Stick to simple keys and rhythms.The majority of country songs are written in the most common major keys (G, A, C, D, E, and F) and use straightforward rhythms. Start off by trying to write the song in a common key and a 4/4 time signature (the beat lasts about 1 second long and there are 4 beats per measure).
- Most songs usually transition from one chord to the next after 1-2 measures, or 4-8 beats (strums).
- Country songs also usually follow the same chord progression: the first chord in the key’s scale to the fourth to the fifth and back to the first.
- If “My Heart Left with You” is in the key of G, the chord progression would be G major to C major to D major and back to G major.
Build your music around a guitar.The guitar (acoustic or electric) is the backbone of any good country song. When you’re writing your song, use a guitar as the accompaniment. Start off with a simple up and down strum pattern along with the beat, and as you sing you can test out more complicated strum patterns that might go with the melody.
- For “My Heart Left with You,” try an acoustic guitar with some blues strings for a more mournful sound.
Add in other classic country instruments.After you’ve written the song with your guitar, you can start to add in other instruments, like the fiddle, banjo, harmonica, and pedal steel guitar. Together, these instruments will give your song that classic country feel.
- If you want a really classic country feel, you can also add in instruments like the washboard, mandolin, autoharp, and accordion.
- Your other instruments should be played in the same key and time signature as your guitar, but the rhythms and melodies can be different, however. Play around with your original melody and some scales to see if you find something new that you like.
- For “My Heart Left with You,” you could try adding in a harmonica and a fiddle to accent your mournful tone.
QuestionHow do I come up with the lyrics for a song?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUse a personal experience or story. Heartbreak, love, family, friends and work are common topics you can use for inspiration.Thanks!
QuestionCan I say anything I want in my song?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNot necessarily, because you want it to make sense to the people listening to it, and you may not want to offend those people either.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I make my lyrics flow together more?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThink about what you want to write about and just let your imagination write the songs for you.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I start writing a song?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWrite about how you feel or things that go good or bad in your life, or what you think is wrong in the world.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I overcome my shyness?Jonathan SmithCommunity AnswerI would suggest sitting down with a few family members or maybe a few close friends to get the feel of being in front of a small crowd. Tell yourself every day that you are great! Having confidence goes along way in the music industry. Once you have performed for a few friends slowly grow your audience and eventually you will have no problem getting on a stage to perform. It takes time so don't get frustrated.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I express my feelings on paper?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPicture the last major heartfelt experience you had. Think about how deeply you felt your emotions and how you expressed them to yourself and others. Then, just write that all down. Repeat the process whenever you think about writing a song.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I wrote a less cliche song, but still Taylor Swift-y?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerListen to what Meghan Trainor does. She is like a more original version of Taylor Swift.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I find a studio to make a demo? I have written and copyrighted two songs.Community AnswerYou can search online for studios near you. If there are none near you, and you have enough money, you can buy equipment and convert a little-used room in your house, apartment, etc. into a recording studio.Thanks!
Video: Country Songwriting 101: How Do You Write A Song?
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