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Songwriting refers to the writing as well as the authorship of vocal music in pop or rock music . Composers create the form , harmony , melody and rhythm of the works, while songwriters write the text. Both can be done by the same person.

As a songwriter (English) and a songwriter is customarily known composers, not even texts such. B. Elton John , but not lyricists who do not compose, e.g. B. Bernie Taupin .

Singer-songwriters, on the other hand, are called authors who perform their works themselves, and mean a form of performance in the tradition of Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell . However, the demarcation is fuzzy and the transition is fluid, since numerous singer-songwriters, for example Carole King , also write songs for other performers as pure songwriters.

The literal translation of "songwriter" is unusual for German text writers, while the common term songwriter means more singer-songwriter .

Song elements

Exemplary sequence of a songwriter song

Songwriting has its own methods, the technical terms of which also come from English and are mostly used - isolated or combined - in compositions: lick , riff , break , fill , stop and hookline . They should serve to increase the recognition value with the listener in order to increase the success.

A songwriter divides the song into parts - basic components - called verse (also verse ), bridge (also pre-chorus ) and refrain (also chorus ). There are also special - optional - parts such as the C part also called Middle 8 (o. Eight) or intermediate part (sometimes also called Interlude ), which describe a harmonic or rhythmic new part in the existing song. Finally there is the break part, which is a rhythmic, short phrasing and the intro or the outro of a song. However, there is no clear, universally understandable terminology. Which name is used for which part of the song depends, among other things, on different traditions and the music style used.


In contrast to the classical composer, the songwriter often has a much smaller line-up to orchestrate, since pop music is often interpreted by no more than five or six musicians. The line-up mostly includes harmony instruments such as the electric guitar , keyboard and bass , rhythm instruments such as drums and other percussion instruments. Synthesizers are almost always used nowadays , although most of them are digital.

The composition in the copyright sense consists of the melody part. The sung title line is called the hookline (not the song title, which may differ, but these usually coincide). The hook line or hook usually carries the musical conciseness and lyrically the main message of the song and creates the recognition value: It is usually a refrain line or the key word of the chorus: "Above the clouds", " Love Me Tender ", " Wind of Change " , “Women rule the world”, “Greek wine” - or sometimes the couplet line : “ In the Ghetto ”, “But please with cream”.

The so-called “hook” can also consist of an instrumental phrase (a famous example is the intro of Smoke on the Water ) - or in modern electronic music genres it can be characterized by noises or sound effects. The core of a hook is the recognition value.

Until the late 1970s, songs and hits were recorded in the form of sheet music. Nowadays songwriters are increasingly producing their ideas on the computer with synthetic instruments in order to be able to play a demo recording for the performers . You can still find sheet music mainly in song books (for example with guitar tablatures to replay).

See also


  • Michael Schymik: Songwriting intensive quickstart 2011, ISBN 978-3-940963-13-0 .
  • Edith Jeske, Tobias Reitz: Handbook for Songtexter Autorhaus Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-86671-096-2 .
  • Masen Abou-Dakn: Writing lyrics. Craft and dramaturgy in songwriting. Authors' House, Berlin, 2006, ISBN 3-86671-000-3 .
  • Volkmar Kramarz: The pop formulas. Voggenreiter, Bonn, 2006, ISBN 3-8024-0552-8 .
  • Markus Fritsch, Andreas Lonardoni, Peter Kellert: harmony theory and songwriting. Leu, Bergisch Gladbach, 1995, ISBN 3-928825-23-2 .
  • Jason Blume: 6 Steps to Songwriting Success: The Comprehensive Guide to Writing and Marketing Hit Songs. Billboard Books, New York, 1999, ISBN 0-8230-8422-1 .
  • Jack Perricone: Melody in Songwriting: Tools and Techniques for Writing Hit Songs. Berklee Press, Boston / MA, 2000, ISBN 0-634-00638-X .
  • Claudia Nentwich: song catcher. Paths to becoming a songwriter. Books on Demand, Norderstedt, 2007, ISBN 978-3-8334-6508-6 .