Songwriting IV - Adding Accompaniment
First off, congratulations!
You have made it to the final part of the course! You have put in an incredible amount of work on your original song, and now you're ready to create your finished product.
1. Make some decisions: Do you want accompaniment that is bare or more dense? Remember that there's nothing wrong with having just piano or guitar, especially when you're trying to finish a song so quickly. Typically, an arrangement will have at least one chordal instrument (piano, guitar, or ukulele are some examples), bass (which can also be played by the piano / keyboard), and drums/percussion. When choosing what instruments to involve, consider what you have at your disposal. What instruments do you play? Are you working with other students/musicians, and each of you can contribute an instrumental part? Are you using a DAW (digital audio workstation, ex. Garageband) that has a number of virtual instruments that you can make an arrangement with?
If you decide to use more than one instrument in your arrangement, go through the following steps.
Note: Assuming you're working alone, you will want to record each part on a DAW as you come up with it and continue layering parts. This sounds daunting, but remember that you can keep it simple for now and add embellishments later, if you want. Also, you can always copy and paste sections that repeat in your song!
2. Create a base: Since you already have chords for your song, record these on whatever chordal instrument you've chosen. You will then layer parts on top of this.
3. Layer parts through improvisation: Admittedly, it's a little hard to improvise if you're recording parts on a DAW. True improvisation is more feasible if you're writing in a group, and you can have one person play the chord progression and other instrumentalists improvise parts. The goal here is to trust your ear and your instinct. Try to "hear" bass, percussion, and any additional instrumental melodies as you're listening to the chords.
At any point, you can add in your vocal melody, but don't wait too long to do this because you want to make sure the rest of your arrangement makes sense with the main melody. If you don't sing, employ the help of someone who you know who sings, or play the melody on an instrument sound for the time being. That said, I encourage you to try singing your song!
As always, you'll most likely find yourself bouncing around between instruments and making adjustments as you go.
Optional -- share / perform your song: If you're comfortable, we would love to hear what you've created! Share your demo or a recording of you playing it in the forum.
And... you're done! (for now)
You should feel extremely proud, especially if this was the first song you ever wrote, and even more so if you did it all alone. Songwriting is hard, especially when you're responsible for every aspect of the song. Even if you aren't 100% happy with your finished song, remember that you can always come back to it and make changes, or just write a different song!
Ideally, songwriting should be therapeutic and a form of self-expression. Whether or not you choose to share your work, songwriting will help you release your thoughts and emotions in a healthy way. If you find it enjoyable, keep at it! Over time you will not only improve your songwriting skill, but you will find your authentic voice as a musician and songwriter and become more comfortable expressing yourself in this modality.