Lesson 1: Inspiration

We've all marvelled at the great song smiths, Lennon and Mc Cartney, Bjorn and Benny, Vanda and Young, and even Beethovan, or Bach, but how does it all start? The answers are as varied as the songs, but the one thing they have in common is inspiration. You see or hear something and you suddenly feel that this fragment could develop into something greater. You must be an optimist. You must believe that every seed has the potential to grow into a plant, and that any fragment has the potential to build into a finished work of art. Not every seed makes a gigantic tree, some will become an orchid or a cherry tree. Each has its own beauty.


A piece of music could start as a single chord change ("On Broadway" made famous by the Drifters, and later by George Benson), or the rhythm made as a car is driving across a bridge ("Jive Talking" by the Bee Gees) or just 2 notes (Beethovan's 5th symphany. Everyone recognises that da da da daaaah). The inspiration for a song could be a single word... moonlight... yellow... jealousy... Everyone of those words were sparking feelings and inspirations as I was writing them, but I was reminded that there are those who have gone before me and already written songs on those themes, but don't ever let that deter you.

This inspiration often turns out to be the "hook" that attracts people to the song, and keeps them coming back over and over. Everyone can sing the guitar riff for "Smoke on the Water" or "Pretty woman", or the keyboard riff in "Dancing Queen".

How then does this spark of inspiration become a hit song. Determination and sweat... Most works of genius are 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. A song is made up of many components: Lennon and Mc Cartney







Tones of the Voices and Instruments

Effects and Mixing

and its highly unlikely that any more that one or two of these would come as part of the inspiration. Most of these come as part of the perspiration phase. We must also never underestimate the power of promotion and advertising that often makes an unlikely singer into a megastar simply by familiarisation. The more something is heard the more it is accepted. On the other side, many a great song has never realized its potential because it has gone completely unnoticed... like some of mine.

Over the next 10 lessons we will look at the elements on the above list, and how each can be developed into a complete musical composition, but before we do it is important that we understand some of the basic building blocks that are required, so that you will know what paths are available to develop fragments that are your inspiration. The first of these building blocks is "notes", and we will look at what they are called and how they are written.

If you are ready then move on to the next lesson. Click here to go to the lesson about dots and lines (notes on the staff), or click here to return to the Music Theory and Song Writing index page.