How To Use Musical Form To Write Music

Have you ever been through something like this? Playing the guitar, you get an idea for a new, great sounding lick, but you struggle to turn it into a full song. Don't worry, you're hardly the first person this has happened to — all of your favourite musicians have been through this at one point or another. And even better, there is a solution.

If you're feeling a little distraught at this situation, there is hope — every other musician in history has had this problem once or twice in their lives and gotten through it. It's happened to me as it has happened to my teachers before me; but let's not get that deep just yet.

Instead, let's see this as an opportunity to stand on the shoulders of the giants to learn about how they got through these dark days. And it's called the study of "Musical Forms."

Learning to use musical form will help you "cast" an idea into an entire song. Once you start learning it, you'll find many examples. However, it's easiest to see in pop music, where the dominant form is intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, chorus.

However, there is a caveat. Almost all authors on the subject have one word of warning: Musical Form is not meant to be used when writing songs, but only for analyzing them,' that is, unless you want to write music that sounds just like everything else.

So how could this be used for composing music? What could learning to analyze music do for your original tunes? Trust me, there is a way use musical form in a way that'll help you create lively compositions. And it's not particularly difficult — when you learn it you'll easily be able to transform an idea into a composition. Here's a quick video lesson I made to help you learn how to do this yourself. Take a look at it now:

Now pick up your instrument of choice and go back to one of those ideas you wanted to turn into a song and get started!

Tommaso Zillio is a professional prog rock/metal guitarist and composer based in Edmonton, AB, Canada.

Tommaso is currently working on an instrumental CD, and an instructional series on fretboard visualization and exotic scales. He is your go-to guy for any and all music theory-related questions.

Tommaso Zillio