December 2017 Assignment

Build a song around a song title

What to write about? There are times for every songwriter when words are not flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup, not slithering while they pass and slipping away across the universe. Sometimes it’s more like, HELP!

When coming up with an entire song seems daunting, don’t write an entire song. Write just one element of a song’s component parts. Last month we talked about writing hooks. For the December songwriting assignment let’s talk about writing another part of a song — the title.

A memorable title might make it easier for song consumers to find your download, but marketing is not what this assignment is about. We’re using a title to spark a song idea.

Write a few words that you think might make a good song title. Below it write another. And another. And another. When your list reaches about 20 potential song titles, pick the one that jumps out at you the most and think about what makes it notable.

Now give the phrase a melody in which each syllable corresponds with a single note — that’s called “prosody.” If your title is “I Love You All the Time,” six syllables, lay those words over a melody with six notes: I Love You All the Time.

Pick one lyric-note combination in the phrase and raise the note to a point higher than the other notes in the melody. Sing that lyric-note with an accent:


I Love You         the Time.


Finally, tap your foot, sing your title with the accented lyric-note and hold that word for four foot taps.

                  All – ll – ll – ll

I Love You                          the Time.


So, there’s a title that will probably end up being your song’s first line, hook or both. You’ve consciously drilled deeply enough into your phrase that subconsciously, without thinking about it, a rhyme to the words “all” or “time” has become evident, waiting to become part of a lyric that expands into a story idea that becomes a song.

You’re not the first songwriter to come up with a song that originated with the title.


    “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music

    “A Hard Day’s Night”

    “Eight Days a Week”

    “Back in the USSR”

    Song title first will help the song write itself

BMI: Four Dos and Don’ts When Writing Songs


    Writing your first song

Song title name generator