Without the melody the lyrics loses that magic, that environment that gives it meaning and, it is out of context which makes reading it seem stupid. Without the lyrics, the melody has no direction and loses the power that gives the sound of the words as well as the meaning of them. For example, it is not the same to say “na na na” than to say “I love you”.
The great debate of the composers What comes first when it comes to writing a song: music or lyrics? Different ways to start a song, produce different things
How to start a song?
One of the things that we have to emphasize is that starting the creation of a song in different ways produces completely different songs. If the process is different, we will obtain different results. Each of these forms has its limitations in creation, but at the same time it gives us certain freedoms and inspires us to create a certain type of song.
Beginning with the lyrics gives us freedom when writing, we are not adjusted to the melody or the measures of the song and we can use the syllables or rhymes we want in addition to the message we want to give in the lyrics. The atmosphere, rhythm and sense of the song are given by the rhythm of the syllables. If the genre you write emphasizes the lyrics about the melody, like in hip-hop, rap, folk, verse, etc., it’s better to start with the lyrics. Starting with the lyrics, usually produces more complex lyricss , with better content
Starting with the melody gives us musical freedom. The lyrics of the song are adjusted to the rhythm of the melody and the song, acquire the sense and feeling of the music and then emphasize it. Genres such as Rock, Pop, and other musical styles begin with the melody. Actually, it’s easy to recognize which songs started with the melody when we can hum it and the song is still identified. For example, the melody of the happy birthday.
Starting with the progression of chords limits us melodically as well as lyrically. It also suggests a lot like the weather, the atmosphere or an idea of loudness. Maybe it serves as a spark to start a melody or to try to sing on top of it but in general it produces a tendency to follow the melody produced by the chords which limits us when creating if we are not very clear about what we want to sing. It is an excellent way to compose , if freedom is overwhelming, the biggest counter is that we can plagiarize or copy a song.
Start with a rhythm, it makes sense in the case of genres like Hip-hop, dance, R & B, etc. The problem that we find is that it limits the rhythm and the feeling but it can be a good place to create a catchy song, rhythm, dance or where the beat is very important.
Start with the title: The title suggests a lot, it can determine the environment, the theme and it gives us an address for the lyrics and the melody. Most professional songwriters start with the title, which 99% of the time is what they later use as a chorus or hook.
Start with a phrase: Similar to starting with the title, using a phrase is another of the most frequent ways of making a song. Many times then this sentence ends up being the title, although this is not always the case. A common phrase for a great song! An excellent method of composition and practice is to use a diary, or book and open and read phrases at random and try to develop a song from them.
Start with a brainstorm: This technique is widely used in advertising. The brainstorm or storm of ideas as it is known in Castilian, is very simple associations of words are noted that will go determining the atmosphere, the subject, and the direction of the letter. Then they are related to create the verses, the chorus, the bridge, etc. The difference with starting with the lyrics is that instead of writing verse by verse, line by line, we write down everything that comes to mind.
What comes first the music or the lyrics?
The answer is that without doubt, it depends on the artist. It is best to try different techniques when making songs so you can know which comes first if the lyrics or music. You never know how that song could begin. And as we mentioned at the beginning, it is important to note that starting to compose a song in different ways produces completely different songs. The best thing is to experiment, each musician or composer has his favorite method to start creating but it is important not to depend on one.