"Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch (which governs melody and harmony),rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. The word derives from Greek μουσική (mousike; "art of the Muses")."
Having quoted this, I'm going to focus on a few things that I think that are essential if you are writing music.
Music is change. In contrast with a picture, a painting, music is a artform that is governed by time. It's not static, it's not stationary. A song changes, evolves in a timeline. Therefore, change is the number one musical element in any work. This exercise will really help you understanding this basic principle and thinking of this process consciously is a key element in writing a good song.
Select the top 5 songs you like at the moment. Preferably not all in the same genre. One song at a time, make a timeline with pen and paper of the duration of one of the tracks. Start deconstructing it into different sections. In almost every song you should find at least 3 different sections (breakdown, build, drop, chorus, verse, etc) putting labels into them does not matter, just label them A,B,C, D etc. Your objective is to identify this sections, identify variations within a given section like A1, A2, B1, B2. And make some outline of what instruments are used, the changes, new instruments that are added, removed etc. Make this for the five songs. As you progress you will be more aware of this process and will be able to adding them to your own songwriting process.
Remember, it's all about keeping it interesting. Small changes go a long way, introducing small variation within one section is extremely usefull. Here is a list of some quick techniques.
- Half time/Double time your percussion. E.g. If you have a hi hat hitting in every beat and upbeat, make it so in the next phrase you have it only on the beat.
- Half time/ Double time your melodic elements. Same as before.
- Make a 'dialog between instruments'. Make it as it the different elements are having like a conversation. First one instruments plays a few notes, then another 'replies' with another set of notes or maybe the same ones.
- Silence. remove instruments, sounds, fx.
- Groove. Writing music in the computer with every note quantized takes out the human error from the recording. This takes the warmth and feeling of a musical piece. Try playing the parts and not quantizing the notes in the midi editor. Put some of the kicks, snares or percussive elements with just a tiny amount away from the main beat.(Or just use the groove options that many DAW offer)
I know all of my posts might feel kind of messy, but its somehow the point of the blog. Making something spontaneous, as it comes to my mind.
Hope this helps you.