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By - Douglas

What is a song?

What comes to your mind when you hear the word Song? How do you normally come to a conclusion that what you are hearing is not just a speech but a song? In this post, we are going to talk about essential elements of a song. Well, we won’t really get scholarly about it as such to scare you. The information shared is to make it easier for young composer to get basics of songwriting.

A song could be words flowing with a sweet melody dictated by rhythm. Where there are no words, I prefer calling that a tune. From my simple description, you can easily tell there are three things: Words, melody & rhythm. Today, allow me to focus on the first aspect.


It almost sounds like an offense to musicians to say a song has words instead of the word lyrics. Yet there are a bunch of folks who get a little confused when you mention the term.  But since you are reading this, and we are musical here, let’s use the tools of trade.

Depending on individuals, composing a song can start from anywhere. So what’s in the lyrics? There are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Who’s the song for?
  • Who’s singing?
  • What am I telling them?
  • When am I telling them?
  • Why am I telling them?
  • How am I telling them?

Let’s look at the questions one by one:

Who’s the song for?

One must have a target audience. The audience is determined by the following:


This question will help you choose your language wisely. Songs meant for kids should be easy to understand in terms of vocabulary. The kids should not struggle to find action points because they don’t have much time to analyze theories and imaginations.

Youths want something that is real life. Language needs to be moderately difficult and popular at the same time. Songs for youths need to call for exercise of energy. The song should feel like we’ve got the whole world watching us.  If you want to reach out to this category, you’ve got to familiarize with their day to day communication skills and/or style. Again, your lines need to be easily understood. Remember this is a “switch off if it doesn’t make sense” stage.

The elderly want to trace their lives in your music. Can they see how foolish they were but are now aging with wisdom? Can they see a narration of how merciful God has been to them all these years? Your language dare not be light. Share a story, use imagery, season your song with adages and you’ll get fans.


What/whom you believe in influences your writing whether or not you know it. If you are a Christian, it’s imperative to understand your bible well. This not only helps you write songs for God’s glory, but also to avoid misleading His people. We’ve heard songs which elicit a lot of questions and even name calling from the first day they land on social media platforms. Much of this is because there are people who don’t have clue of what they are singing about. Music is not just beats and melody. The theme is very important.

Current Affairs

Politics, sports, tragedies or ceremonial functions can influence our writing. The only challenge with such song is that they are short lived. However, my advise usually is for one to analyse the situation and come up with lines that will live beyond the occurrence. Songs like Happy Birthday were definitely composed for individuals. However, we still sing today because there are birthdays always and we can customize them with names of interest.


The theme you intend to put across is easily understood when the right mood is set. Is it somber, happy, nostalgic or melancholic? Music in memory of a loved one needs to be soothing, bringing out the good times you shared well. If we want to praise God the lyrics need to tell us to get out of our chairs and dance ourselves out.

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