Worrying that becoming a songwriter is impossible because you can’t sing? Well, don’t lose hope just yet! Singing and songwriting although are closely related, they are still quite distinct in their areas of work. Anyway, below is a short and straightforward answer to your question.
Can a Person Who Can’t Sing Become a Songwriter?
A person who can’t sing can definitely become a songwriter. There are many songwriters who wrote great hits without knowing how to sing. Although it helps, writing a good song isn’t just about having a good vocal track for the song. Instead, if you want to become a songwriter, focus on:
- Learning music theory fundamentals
- Breaking down and analyze lots of songs
- Learning an instrument
- Understanding song structures
- Learning chord progressions
- Writing meaningful lyrics
- Writing better melodies
Learning music theory fundamentals
If you want to be a good songwriter, knowing basic music theory is a must. Unless you’re only focusing on writing lyrics and being just a lyricist is your goal. In that case, you may be able to write without music fundamentals.
You don’t need to know how to sing when learning music theory. Theories are, as the name suggests, just theories. If you know the logic behind the theories and how to apply them, you’ll have no problem writing songs without singing.
For composers who want to write melodies and music though, learning theories such as key, tempo, scales, chords, and so on is basically essential for music writing. This is because you can shape and design your song in the exact way you want your message to be presented.
If you find learning music theory too difficult, although we still recommend you push through with it, if you can find other musicians to work with, you can indeed writing songs without music theory.
The way it works is you can record the melody you wrote, and send it off to your music producer or other co-writers. If they are experienced, they should be able to transform the melody you wrote into a full-fledged song.
Breaking down and analyze lots of songs
One of the best ways, if not the best, is to analyze and dissect lots and lots of good songs. Not only you’ll get a head start by knowing what kinds of structure and chords work best in certain situations, but you’ll also discover tiny details that make the song great!
The trick here is not to choose random songs. Instead, pick out the ones you like the most and similar to the songs you’re aiming to write. Most preferably in the same music genre. Then, by analyzing them, you’ll find striking similarities that you can absorb and put into your own songs.
Don’t worry, this is not stealing, nor infringing the rights, if what you’re doing is just referencing and learning from the songs, instead of straight-up copying those songs.
Breaking down songs does not require you to sing at all. In fact, most of the time will be spent listening and jotting down points.
Learning an instrument
If you don’t know how to play any instrument, now is the time to pick up one and start! It doesn’t really matter what instrument you choose, although we recommend the piano/keyboard, ukulele, and guitar. The point of this is to have a tool in your arsenal so that if you want to convey your ideas in music form, you have more ways to do so.
For example, you want to write a song with a particular melody line, and you feel like it is essential to the song. In that case, unless you choose to sing the melody, using an instrument is actually the best way to convey the idea.
If you know how to play at least one instrument, no singing is required in your songwriting process. If you don’t want to sing nor play an instrument to present the melody, one other option is to write the melody in a digital audio workstation (DAW). By writing using a MIDI file, you can edit the melody however you like, choose a virtual instrument, and voila! You have got yourself an audio file with the melody.
Understanding song structures
Songs generally are made up of different sections, including verse, pre-chorus, chorus, interlude, bridge, intro, outro, etc. Each of these sections have their own function and best practices of applying them. The order in which we arrange them, and the length in bars for each section are up to the songwriter. But how should we do that? Are there any rules?
Here’s a simple song strucuture:
Although a song structure like the one mentioned above is very common, it isn’t the only way to do so. There are literally thousands of ways to make up a song structure. If you have no idea where to begin, I strongly recommend you choose a few of your favorite songs and listen to them. Look at how they place different sections and maybe you can create a similar song structure.
By doing that you have eliminated lots of trial and error. Over time you’ll get a better understanding of song structures, so you’ll be able to freely design song structures as you please.
Again, in this process no singing is required.
Learning chord progressions
When we talk about the feelings and mood of a song, chord progressions can be one of the most influential components in a song. Most of the time the chords are played by accompanying instruments, so no singing is needed.
Unless you’re working on an a capella song, which is a song that consists of only voices, but that is another topic of its own.
Writing meaningful lyrics
The best way to convey the message of your song to the audience is by writing great lyrics. With correct use, song lyrics can be extremely influential to the listener. With a single quote from the lyrics, the audience may even remember the first time they heard the song.
Lyricists don’t need to know how to sing at all. However, if they can write lyrics to a beat, it would be much easier to match music to it later on by a composer.
Writing better melodies
Along with the lyrics, the melody is one of the most important pieces of a song. Without it, there’s nothing to sing to. Although you don’t have to sing to write melodies, it certainly helps. This is because playing the melody on an instrument is different from actually singing it.
Singers need to breathe, and articulations for the lyrics are important when presenting the melody by voice. So if it’s possible, find a singer that can sing the song for you if you’re not comfortable singing the song.