Songwriting Advice

How To Write An Alternative Song

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Alternative music often carries a unique, genre-defying sound that sets it apart from the mainstream. Creating an alternative song can be a great way to express yourself and expand your musical horizons. In this article, we'll take you through the process of writing a thought-provoking alternative song from start to finish. And with the help of Lyric Assistant, you'll soon realize that crafting the perfect song doesn't have to be complicated.

1. Define your concept

First and foremost, think about what you want to convey through your song. Is there a particular message or emotion you want to get across? Ponder on it deeply and allow yourself to be inspired by the world around you. Jot down any ideas or imagery that come to mind, as these can become the building blocks for your lyrics.

2. Choose your musical elements

To make a song truly alternative, you'll need to think outside the box when it comes to your music. Experiment with different instrumentations, rhythms, and melodies. Embrace unconventional time signatures and playing styles. This will help you create a soundscape that complements your lyrical concept.

3. Create a song structure

While alternative music is open to experimentation, having a solid song structure can help guide your writing process. Decide on the different sections of your song, such as verses, choruses, and bridges. Having a structure in place helps to keep your song cohesive and ensures that it flows smoothly from start to finish.

4. Write your lyrics

Using your chosen concept and song structure, start crafting your lyrics. Be mindful of your word choices, ensuring that they fit both your theme and your music. When writing alternative music, it’s not necessary to follow traditional rhyme schemes or verse structures, but try to maintain a balance between expressing your creativity and keeping the lyrics accessible to a wider audience.

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5. Collaborate and refine

Once you have a rough draft of your song, it can be helpful to collaborate with others. Share your work with fellow musicians, friends, or even online communities. They may offer valuable insights and suggestions to help refine your song. Be open to constructive criticism and use their feedback to make your song even better.

6. Record and perform

Finally, bring your song to life by recording a demo or performing it live. Invest time and effort into creating a quality recording and mix, as this will allow your song to shine in all its alternative glory.

How To Write An Alternative Song Example

To give you an idea of the process, let's imagine writing an alternative song with an environmental theme.

Concept: The harmful effects of plastic pollution on our oceans

Music: acoustic guitar, unconventional percussion (e.g. water bottles), eerie chorus melody, sudden tempo changes

Structure: Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus-Outro

Lyrics: Vivid imagery of ocean life affected by pollution, anthropomorphism of nature, call-to-action for change

With those elements, you can begin crafting a powerful alternative song that encompasses the essence of the environmental message you want to convey.

In conclusion, writing an alternative song can be a thrilling journey, allowing you to explore unconventional ideas and express your creativity. To make your alternative songwriting process even easier, give Lyric Assistant a try. With Lyric Assistant, you can pick your genre, topic, structure, and desired sound, and our AI-powered tool will write a unique song for you within minutes. Start crafting your alternative masterpiece with Lyric Assistant today, and let your creativity soar to new heights!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an alternative song?

Alternative music, often used interchangeably with “alternative rock”, is a genre that emerged in the 1980s and became widely popular in the 1990s. It's defined by its departure from the mainstream rock music of the time, incorporating a diverse range of influences, often experimenting with sounds, song structures, and lyrical themes.

How do I start writing an alternative song?

The first step is usually coming up with a core idea or emotion you want to convey. Begin with an instrumental riff, a lyrical concept, or a melody. You can also start by experimenting with unique sounds or playing techniques to find a hook that inspires you.

What should I write about in my alternative song?

Alternative songs often address personal or societal themes. Your lyrics could be introspective, political, poetic, or abstract. Look inside your experiences, your thoughts on contemporary issues, or even your imagination for ideas.

Does my song need to follow a traditional song structure?

No, one of the hallmarks of alternative music is its freedom from conventional song structures. While many songs follow the verse-chorus-verse format, feel free to experiment with unconventional song arrangements.

How can I make my song stand out?

Be bold in your choices. Use unexpected instrumental or rhythmic changes, play with genre blends, or try writing lyrics that tell a story in an unconventional way. Experimentation and authenticity are key in alternative music.

What instruments are typically used in alternative songs?

While guitars, bass, drums, and vocals are the backbone of many alternative tracks, there's a world of possibilities. Keyboards, synthesizers, unconventional percussion, and even orchestral instruments can be used.

Do I need to know music theory to write an alternative song?

While knowledge of music theory can be helpful, it's not a prerequisite. Many successful alternative musicians are self-taught and learn by ear. Understanding the basics, however, can help you make more informed choices in your songwriting.

What are some tips for creating a compelling melody in an alternative song?

Try starting with a strong motif and vary it throughout the song. Play with different scales or modes. Use your vocal inflections to add emotion, and don’t be afraid to step outside standard melodic lines.

How important are lyrics in alternative music?

Lyrics can be incredibly important in alternative music, often driving the song’s narrative or theme. Some alternative songs are known for their poetic, provocative, or cryptic lyrics. Aim for a strong emotional connection with the listener.

Can I incorporate elements from other music genres?

Absolutely, alternative music is known for its fusion of various genres. Mixing elements from hip-hop, folk, electronic, or jazz can give your song a unique edge and help it stand out.

Should I write the music or the lyrics first?

There is no right or wrong order. Some songwriters find that creating the musical backdrop first helps set the mood for the lyrics, while others prefer to write lyrics and then compose music that complements the narrative.

How do I create a demo for my alternative song?

A basic demo can be created using digital audio workstations (DAW) like GarageBand, Logic Pro, or Ableton Live. Focus on capturing the essence of your song; it doesn’t need to be perfect. Use this demo to refine your ideas and arrangements.

What recording equipment do I need to record my alternative song?

For a simple home setup, you’ll need a decent computer, a DAW, an audio interface, microphones, headphones, and possibly some studio monitors. Remember, the quality of your idea is more important than the quality of your gear.

How do I know when my song is finished?

Often, a song feels finished not when there's nothing more to add but when there's nothing more to take away. Trust your instincts, but also seek feedback from others to help you identify any elements that might still need work.

What should I focus on when revising my alternative song?

Concentrate on the clarity of your message, the catchiness of your melody, and the effectiveness of your arrangement. Ensure each part supports the overall feeling or story of the song.

How can I make sure the song is cohesive?

Aim for thematic and musical consistency. Ensuring that your lyrical content, melodic elements, and instrumental parts complement each other helps maintain cohesiveness.

Can my song change tempo or key?

Yes, changes in tempo and key can be powerful tools in songwriting to convey shifts in emotion or intensity, although they should be used judiciously to maintain flow and coherence.

How do I ensure the verses and chorus are distinct?

Differentiate them through melody, chord progression, rhythm, and dynamics. Your chorus should generally be the most memorable part, often with more energy and emotional weight than the verses.

What’s the best way to receive constructive feedback on my alternative song?

Share your work with musician friends, songwriting groups, or online communities. Look for feedback from people who can give informed, constructive criticism that respects your artistic vision.

Is it okay to take inspiration from other alternative songs?

Drawing inspiration from other artists is a natural part of the creative process. Just be sure to make the song your own and avoid directly copying someone else's work.

How can I protect my alternative song once it’s written?

Depending on your location, the moment you create and fix your song in a tangible form (like a recording), it is automatically copyrighted. However, you can also formally register it with a copyright office for additional legal protection.

What do I do if I’m experiencing writer’s block?

Take a break, seek new experiences, or try writing something completely different to shake things up. Collaborating with other artists can also provide a fresh perspective and inspiration.

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About Toni Mercia

Toni Mercia is a Grammy award-winning songwriter and the founder of Lyric Assistant. With over 15 years of experience in the music industry, Toni has written hit songs for some of the biggest names in music. She has a passion for helping aspiring songwriters unlock their creativity and take their craft to the next level. Through Lyric Assistant, Toni has created a tool that empowers songwriters to make great lyrics and turn their musical dreams into reality.

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