My 9 Steps In Writing A Piano Song

Since I started sharing my songs, a few people have asked me how I actually write a song with different instrument sounds. So…I will try my best to give an answer to that, but it’s tough to describe. Obviously there is no right or wrong way to write, but this is what I do.

 First, I usually don’t mention this too often, but I don’t write my songs down by hand or with a computer program. That’s because I can barely read piano music. I write by listening, and by sound only. That’s why it’s hard to describe how to do this.

1. I write the whole piano part of the song first. This is the longest part of the whole process for me because to me this is the main part of the song that I build every other part of the song around, if that makes any sense. This by itself usually takes me about 2-3 weeks to do. 

This is the type of keyboard I use--a yamaha ypg-235.

This is the type of keyboard I use–a yamaha ypg-235.

2. Once I have the piano part finished, I record it, but it is not perfect, it’s more of a draft. I need to have it recorded because I have to listen to it while I write the next part.

These are the headphones I'm currently using. My dog destroyed my better one.

These are the headphones I’m currently using. My dog destroyed my better one.

3. Next, I write the harmony, which for me is usually the string instruments. I have the piano part playing, and write the harmony over the piano recording. This part usually takes me a few days, a week tops. This is actually my favorite part of writing a new song because I feel like once I get the harmony written, the song really starts to come alive, and have a real feeling to it.

This is how a song looks when you record it.

This is how a song looks when you record it.

 

4. Then I record the string sounds over the piano, again as a draft. It is not perfect, but I need to have it recorded to go to the next part, which is when I write the music for the next sound, which is usually bells or a music box sound.

The bells part of the song usually doesn’t take that long for me to write. If you listen closely to my songs, you’ll see that this part of my songs usually follow a repeating pattern over and over again.

5. Once I get to this step, it’s time for me to record a finished copy of the song, even though the song is not finished yet. All of my songs are memorized, and once I get to this point in writing a song, I really can’t have any more than this in my head. Recording a finished copy of the song also takes me a while. I usually end up doing maybe 10-15 takes on the recording until I’m happy with it.

 

This is audiobox. It takes the sound from your keyboard and loads it into  whatever music software you have.

This is audiobox. It takes the sound from your keyboard and loads it into whatever music software you have.

6. Once it’s recorded, I also have to listen to it many times and make sure there are no mistakes with the actual music, and also make sure there are no skips or anything in the song from the equipment being too loud while recording. This is called clipping and it is extremely annoying, and will make your music sound terrible.  Obviously I try to avoid this happening at all, but occasionally it does, so that means I have to record it again. So, after recording and listening to the piano part, I go through the same process with the other instrument sounds.

7. Also, now is when I adjust the volume of each instrument, and do the fine tuning of the recording itself. I use PreSonis (software) with an audiobox to do this, but there are many other programs out there. I’m really still learning how to master a song like this. This is a whole other skill besides writing music, and is still very new to me. But I’m getting there!

8. After I have a finished copy of these 3 instruments in the song, I usually add 2 more simple harmonies. Another string harmony, and maybe something else depending on the song. It’s usually something very simple, and again in a repeating pattern. And then once it’s all recorded, I listen to everything again, another 10 times at least and make sure it all sounds good and I fix any imperfections. 

9. The very last thing I do, is name the song. For me, this is tough to do. I usually end up asking my husband and family to help me come up with a name. Many times I go along with something someone else suggested. Even though I wrote the songs, it’s not like I have lyrics in my head, or write the songs about anything, so I like to get other peoples’ interpretation of what they think the songs means to them. And that’s basically it! That is how I write a song. Thank you for reading this if you made it this far. I never really tried to describe how I do this before. 

What about you? Do you write music or have any advice for other musicians out there?

About ldellavella

I'm a musician, mother, wife, sister and friend.
This entry was posted in creative process and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to My 9 Steps In Writing A Piano Song

  1. pianolearner says:

    great to see the process explained 🙂

    Like

  2. Pingback: Creative Process- Writing A Layered Piano Song | Lindsay's Piano Music and Life

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