Loops: A lyric-only writer’s secret weapon
If you only write lyrics and don’t play an instrument: don’t worry. This is no longer an obstacle to your songwriting abilities. Loops are your new best friend. With loops you can now write songs on your own without needing to learn to play an instrument or work with a co-writer. Not that there’s anything wrong with writing with a co-writer, but a co-writer may not always be available when the inspiration strikes you. And speaking of that, with loops you can write songs anywhere these days. There is software that can work with loops that is available for your phone, tablet or laptop. Much of the software is low-cost or even free. How great is that?
As I’m sure you know, songwriting is two main parts: lyrics and a singing melody. Some songwriters may compose their singing melody first, then find chord changes that work with and compliment their melody. A lot of songwriters who do play an instrument prefer to create a musical groove with chord changes first and then craft their melody to work with those chord changes. Songwriters who don’t play an instrument face a challenge when it comes to creating the musical portion of a song. They can only create melodies accapella (singing without musical accompaniment). They may want to work to a music groove, but don’t have the ability. This is where loops come to the rescue.
Finding the Groove
The first thing is to find a groove that inspires you. This is where loops are a great helper (even for people who do play an instrument). With loops you can write to loops of almost any kind of instrument. Maybe a guitar groove fits your mood, or a piano ballad. Perhaps a bass groove gets your heart pumping. The list goes on: a mandolin, ukulele, banjo, organ, violin, cello, synthesizer, or even more exotic instruments from other countries and cultures. You can even write to drum and percussion grooves, but of course those won’t help you with musical keys and chord changes. But the main point is, using loops removes the limitations of not playing an instrument and opens the ability to write to all sorts of instruments. Writing to these instruments may help you conceive of fresh and original ideas you may never have thought of otherwise.
Many songwriters like to write the song’s chorus first. There are a several good reasons for doing it this way. The first reason is, the chorus is usually the main and most important section of a song. It’s usually the part of the song that repeats the most and the part listeners remember. If you create a strong chorus, you’re halfway home to creating a good song. The chorus is also where the song’s title, or hook, will be sung. Determining whether you have a strong chorus or not will also help you decide if it’s worth your time to continue working on an idea or moving on to another one.
Writing the whole song to loops
Let’s assume you have found a loop with a cookin’ groove and have written a strong lyric and melodic hook to it. Where do you go from here? Although you could, ideally, you don’t want to write your verse to the same loop you used for your chorus. It’s best to find a loop in the same key, tempo and general rhythmic feel that would work well with your chorus loop. A slight rhythmic variation may actually be desired, but in most cases, not a complete change of beat. Hopefully you have a set of loops that were designed to be used together, but also have enough variation to serve as different song sections. In the best case scenario, if you are working with a set of loops that has sections like verses, pre-choruses, choruses and bridges; you have the essential loop ingredients to write a complete song. Many loop makers have packages called “song construction loops or kits.” These are most likely to have the main sections you need to create songs. You can find some great song construction loops at piano-loops.com and at acousticguitarloops.com. Their loops contain very detailed song sections. Their sets include verses, pre-choruses, choruses, breakdown choruses, intros, turnarounds, endings and more. Their loops offer some of the most variety to be found in song loops. Once you have the right loops you need to work with, you can write your other song sections.
Writing the other sections
If you wrote your chorus first, then you may want to write your first verse next. If you want a pre-chorus in your song, then you might write a pre-chorus after you have written your verse. The idea is, you have set your hook or title with chorus. The next logical step would be to create a verse that sets up the story you are telling in your chorus and gives the story it’s starting point. The pre-chorus comes next as a way to lead us from the verse’s starting point, into the chorus hook. Your song doesn’t have to have a pre-chorus, but if you choose to use one, it’s best to write it after you have written the verse. The last main section to write after you have written your verses, pre-choruses and choruses is the bridge. Ideally, the bridge should have a different feel from all other sections of the song; musically, melodically and lyrically.
Loops are here to stay. They are not only the future, but they are the now. Consider that many music creators today, have only worked with loops. They have never played an instrument, nor even need to. Using loops does not make your creations less legitimate. It’s the end result that counts. The end result is a good song. For those that would call working with loops not “authentic,” consider that their way of thinking is actually antiquated. Loops are predominant in how mainstream music is produced today. Loops can open up the lyric-only songwriter (or any songwriter for that matter) to a whole new world of inspiration and possibilities. Song construction loops are your best bet for writing complete songs, although any loop can be enough to inspire you and get new ideas started. So grab some loops, try writing to them and see what you come up with. Don’t forget to have fun!